Rookies can be the difference in any fantasy football season, so making good decisions is where you can turn your team into a winner.
While the preseason gives coaches an opportunity to evaluate those they may wish to keep on the roster, it truly is a boring time for fans. Seriously, who really wants to see the four guys who were fighting for the six outside linebacker spot or which 340-pound guy will be the eighth offense of lineman, maybe appearing in nine plays all season?
It’s not a lot of fun but, because it is time for the preseason, that means that it’s time to start talking about fantasy football. This should be another exciting season in the NFL, and there are a number of rookies who should make a dramatic impact.
It is the rookies where a person can find a gem who becomes the difference maker for them during the season. Think about last season, where Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing yards and the Chiefs Harrison Butker made 38 of 42 field goals, including four beyond 50 yards. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had 58 receptions for 917 yards and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp had a 62 catch season for 869 yards.
Clearly, a rookie can make a huge difference and is usually the area where the smart fantasy football owner can set themselves apart from the competition. If you’re looking to get on top in your league, here are 10 rookies to pay attention to. Don’t be surprised if you see a number of running backs, as their talent skills usually translate to the NFL quicker.
Nine Fantasy Football Rookies You Should Consider Drafting
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants – Barkley was taken with the second overall pick in the draft after having three outstanding seasons at Penn State University. The running back gained 1271 yards on the ground in 632 through the air last season, scoring 21 touchdowns, and will immediately step in as the number one back in New York.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks – Penny is going to get the number one job in Seattle right away, especially after rushing for 2248 yards and 23 touchdowns at San Diego State University. He’s durable enough to handle 18 to 20 carries per game making him a great fantasy pick.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns – If Cleveland could find some form of running game it would definitely help this team to reach six wins this season, so expect Chubb to get every opportunity to be the number one running back. He gained 1345 yards and 15 touchdowns at Georgia last season and there is really no other in his pathway.
Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos – After having a huge season in 2015, gaining 1836 yards and 17 touchdowns, Freeman took a step back in 2016, gaining less than a thousand yards. However, he rebounded for 1475 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Because the Broncos love to run, he will likely see plenty of time on the field.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns – Some will tell you that the overall number one pick is not going to be the starter for Cleveland, especially with the team acquiring Tyrod Taylor, but don’t be deceived. It is likely that Taylor will begin the season as the starting quarterback, but no one is expecting him to hold that job for long. If Mayfield is the future for Cleveland then the future needs to be by week five or six.
Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jones rushed for 1550 yards at USC last season, scoring 19 touchdowns. To be honest, this is the real dark horse for a fantasy owner, as he will likely have the biggest impact of all, especially with a team that has an established, winning quarterback who is on the rise.
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers – The same reason to like Jones is why you should like Moore. He is on a team with an established quarterback and comes with good size and speed. He was the Big Ten Receiver of the Year in 2017, making 80 receptions for 1033 yards and eight touchdowns.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots – This will likely be another dark horse that no one expected to have a big season, but could very well do so. You never know exactly how New England will use their running game, but they do like to have a back who will get the tough yards near the end zone and score lots of touchdowns. Michel may not rush for a thousand yards, but he could very well score 15 touchdowns.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys – With both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, Dallas is going to be looking for a big-play receiver for Dak Prescott, and Gallup maybe the guy. He had 100 receptions last season for 1413 yards at Colorado State and will be given every opportunity to be the number one receiver for the Cowboys.