Fantasy Football: Here come the rookies

July 05, 2017 - 5:19 pm
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Joe DiBiase reporting
@DiBiaseWGR

 

This could be a huge year for rookies in fantasy football. With two running backs drafted in the top ten of the NFL draft, rookies will have opportunities to flourish. Here's a run down of the top rookies, where they're being drafted, and where you should draft them. 

All rankings included are based on fantasypros.com average PPR rankings of all experts . All average draft positions (ADP) and rankings are based on position, not overall.

 

Running Back


Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville

ADP: 11th / Consensus Rankings: 12th

Fournette is expected to not only start for the Jags, but to dominate touches. Either Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon are likely to be cut, clearing the way for Fournette to get goal line and receiving work. After dominating for two years at LSU, he'll be getting lots of hype, making his price very steep. His talent is incredible, and could be a treasure in keeper leagues for years to come. 

Fournette is currently going in the late 2st round, early 3nd round. That's the highest of any rookie at any position. He's only slightly above Christian McCaffrey in both rankings and ADP, so he may not be the first rookie taken in you're league. In PPR leagues, McCaffrey is starting to look like the better pick. Carolina plans to use him as much in the pass game as in the run game. 

The argument between Fournette vs. McCaffrey is likely to heat up as drafts get closer, but for now most have Fournette ranked slightly higher. There's also a possibility Joe Mixon throws his name into the ring.The sky is the limit for the new Jags RB.


Christian McCaffrey, Carolina

ADP: 16th / Consensus Rankings: 14th

Expect big production from McCaffrey. Personally, I believe he finishes as the top rookie and a top ten back by the end of the year, especially in PPR. The backfield in Carolina still has Jonathan Stewart, and we saw what Stewart with DeAngelo Williams did for fantasy lineups. The tandem made it difficult to start either guy consistently. The difference this time is McCaffrey's talent should propel him to get the touches necessary. Some scout said leading up to the draft that if McCaffrey entered as a WR, he'd still be a 1st round pick. This could allow McCaffrey to be on the field even when Stewart is. 

In PPR leagues McCaffrey is going in the mid 3rd round, while a lot of experts say he should be going late 2nd. In standard leagues he's going closer to the early 3rd round, but even in standard he should at the very least be a reliable RB2. In PPR he should be a bona fide RB1. Feel confident making him you're 3rd player selected.

On the downside McCaffrey probably doesn't get a high touchdown number. Jonathan Stewart is a more physical back, and not to mention Cam Newton as a rushing option in short range. Carolina does have the 2nd easiest schedule in the league in terms of last years run defenses, so there should be enough to feed everyone.


Dalvin Cook, Minnesota

ADP: 22nd / Consensus Rankings: 25th

Cook is a tough nut to crack. He's got the talent to be a huge producer for your fantasy team, but he may not get the opportunity to do it. The Vikings paid Latavius Murray in the offseason to join a backfield that already has Jerrick McKinnon. Murray is a back that had little production with a lot of opportunity in Oakland, but he got the deal from Minnesota and will compete to start.

If Cook is named the starter at any point he's immediately a starter on your team regardless of matchup. He's a name to pay close attention to in camp. If Mike Zimmer decides to go with Murray or even McKinnon to start the season, Cook could drop to the later rounds. High boom, high bust potential for Cook if drafting him high. Round 6 seems fair at this point. 

 

Samaje Perine, Washington

ADP: 40th / Consensus Rankings: 36th

The Redskins selected Perine in the 4th round this year. Perine split time with Joe Mixon at Oklahoma, and still set the school record 4,122 yards. He has the body to be a three down back, and just has Rob Kelley to overtake for the job. Kelley was not highly sought after, after going undrafted last year. He outplayed Matt Jones for the starting job, an easy feat to accomplish, and averaged under 4 yards per carry the rest of the way. 

Kelley figures to be the starting back going into the season, but this could be a Jordan Howard situation where the rookie overtakes the starter by default after a few weeks. If Perine ends up with the job he should be a reliable RB2 at least. 

Perine is currently being drafted late 7th round, early 8th. If he gets the job in camp, he'll rocket up draft boards. 
 

More Top Rookie RBs: Kareem Hunt, KC; Joseph Williams, SF; Jamaal Williams, GB; Marlon Mack, IND

 

Wide Receiver 


Corey Davis, Tennessee

ADP: 38th / Consensus Rankings: 45th

You'll notice that no rookie wide receiver is going near where the top rookie RBs are going. Davis is capable of stepping into Tennessee day one and being the number one receiver. Davis will not only be the main target, but the main deep ball target, giving him the potential to have some huge days.

Davis is being drafted way higher than he's ranked. He's a sexy pick, but probably isn't a guy you can start at the beginning of the year. The middle of 7th round is where you currently need to take Davis to get him. He's certainly got boom potential, but there are better values for you're WR3. 


John Ross, Cincinnati

ADP: 52nd / Consensus Rankings: 62nd

40 yard dash star John Ross has been added to a passing game that already has A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. He'll be able to stretch defenses to free up A.J. Green, while probably getting some big production for himself. If Green gets injured, like he has at times in the past, Ross could see an uptick in production. 

The last time the Bengals had a solid second receiver in Marvin Jones his stat line was 65 catches for 815 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's probably a fair prediction for Ross, but with his big play ability, he'll have some huge fantasy days and some duds as well. 
 

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

ADP: 49th / Consensus Rankings: 57th

Williams like Davis and Ross is going higher than his ranking. The difference here is Williams has a QB that can and probably will end up 40-50 times in games. Keenan Allen is a great talent, but hasn't played a full game in about two years. Tyrell Williams could be on the way up, Travis Benjamin is the deep threat, but Mike Williams is the more talented receiver. Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry will command targets from the TE position as well.

Williams is better for dynasty leagues. He's splitting targets with a lot of guys, but there is potential. If Keenan Allen were to be injured again, Williams could be the #1 receiver for Philip Rivers which is a certain starter. He's going in the 13th round, which is a high upside late round flier. 


Zay Jones, Buffalo

ADP: 58th / Consenus Rankings: 64th

Jones should be the number two receiver for the Bills. Being the all-time FBS receptions leader, he has just Andre Holmes to beat out for major playing time. Assuming Sammy Watkins is healthy, Watkins will get the majority of focus from the defense including double teams.

Jones is a possession receiver among other things, so he should have added value in PPR leagues. Jones is currently going in the 14th round, almost undrafted. Taking a flier on him late, would be about as good as you could do there. Jones should see playing time, and has the talent to turn the opportunity into solid production. 


More Top Rookie WRs: Curtis Samuel, CAR; Josh Reynolds, LAR; Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT; Carlos Henderson, DEN

 

Tight End


OJ Howard, Tampa Bay

ADP: 12th / Consensus Ranking: 21st

Howard is going waaaaaay higher than he should be. Most experts have him in the low end TE2 range, while he's being drafted as a TE1. Howard was the most talented tight end in the draft by everyone's account, but is going in the 10th round. That's about 4 rounds higher than David Njoku, who's ranked ahead of Howard by more than some. 

Add to the fact you have to overdraft Howard, with the prescience of Cameron Brate. Brate has looked good and developed chemistry with Jameis Winston. On the bright side a 1st round selection in him means he won't be an afterthought by any means. 


David Njoku, Cleveland

ADP: 23rd / Consensus Rankings: 22nd

Njoku is a way better value than OJ Howard. In Cleveland he'll have something Howard won't get. Garbage time. Unless drastic improvement comes Cleveland's way, they'll be playing from behind a lot. Meaning the Browns will be passing a lot. Njoku has the talent to take that and run with it. 

Not being a great blocker may take Njoku off the field once and a while, but his ability as a receiver will be hard to keep him on the sidelines for too long. If you have a decision between Howard in the mid rounds or Njoku late, go with Njoku. 


More Top Rookie Tight Ends: Evan Engram, NYG; Jake Butt, DEN; Bucky Hodges, MIN; Jordan Leggett, NYJ

 

 

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