2018 Fantasy Football Rookies

Most fantasy football leagues may only compete four months out of the year. But, when you are a die-hard fantasy competitor, like myself, competing is a year round endeavor. Close to a decade ago I joined a fantasy football league; it forever changed my life. Similar to a boulder falling into a river or creek, the flow of the current had been disrupted. Now, during football season, I spend countless hours studying trends, offensive schemes, player statistics and opportunity etc. Ironically enough, every year I make frivolous attempts to sell my fantasy player spreadsheets to my league and here I am writing articles for the very same people I try to sell it to for free… Probably because I am self-absorbed and when I was offered the opportunity to contribute my expertise I jumped on it, if you will…

Diving into the meat of the article, I am going to cover the most relevant fantasy players from the 2018 draft going into the upcoming season. This years draft had many fantasy implications and high potential, valuable contributors. Some people have reservations about drafting rookies in fantasy and yes, there are some statistics to back up staying away from certain positions, but one that is tried and true is the running back position.

Top 5 2018 Fantasy Relevant Running Backs

1. Saquon Barkley (NY Giants): The 2x Big Ten Offensive player of the year offers the highest upside of any rookie in the draft class. He will immediately be thrusted into a lead back role with tremendous opportunity and upside. He will be the “Emmitt Smith” to Odell Beckham’s “Michael Irvin” up in MetLife Stadium. Perceived as a better talent than Ezekiel Elliot, who during his rookie season was taken in many drafts in the first round, I see Barkley with similar upside. Fantasy Draft Potential: 1st to early 2nd round with early 1st round upside.

2. Ronald Jones II(TB Buccaneers): After drawing comparisons to Jamaal Charles, the Buccaneers drafted Jones early in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft. After cutting ties with Doug Martin, the Buccaneers have an opening for Jones to run away with the job. The informal incumbent starter Peyton Barber, displayed flashes of relevance after seizing the job last year. If Jones can display the ability, he has a tremendous opportunity to find himself on top of the depth chart. Fantasy Draft Potential: 4th-5th round if he opens the season as the starter.

3. Rashaad Penny (SEA Seahawks): The 2017 Consensus All-American is an intriguing fantasy prospect. Drafted by the Seahawks who haven’t had a true “lead dog” running back since the departure of Marshawn Lynch, Penny offers draftable upside, but it is currently limited. He has the build of an all around well rounded running back, but there have been questions about his ability in pass protection. Even with the high pick spent by the Seahawks on Penny, it is hard to put a narrowed estimate of where he may be draftable. Taking into account how the Seahawks have recently used their backfield, he is a candidate to observe in the pre-season based upon his usage, then draw your own conclusions. Fantasy Draft Potential: Currently in rounds 7+ primarily on speculation, but 4-5th if he can seize the job.

4. Derrius Guice (WAS Redskins): Touted as the 2nd best running back in the draft, Guice’s draft stock took a hit because of character concerns and off-field incidents. He currently finds himself in a backfield with incredibly talented scatback, Chris Thompson. Guice should easily surpass Rob Kelly and Samaje Perine as the early down back for the Redskins. Fantasy Draft Potential: 5th+ round.

5. Nick Chubb (CLE Browns): Personally, two years ago, after watching Nick Chubb’s horrific “Joe Theisman’esc” knee injury he suffered against Tennessee, I never thought he would play football again. Rushing for over 1,000 yards in every season but the one he was injured in, including two seasons after, Chubb proved all the doubters wrong. This guy is a competitor at the highest level in which most people would have quit after such a devastating injury, Chubb pushed forward. He will compete for the starting job with Carlos Hyde, who offers a similar skillset. Fantasy Draft Potential: 8th+ round.

Names worth noting: Royce Freeman (DEN Broncos), Kerryon Johnson (DET Lions)

It is more uncommon for Rookie Wide Receivers to make an immediate fantasy impact in their first season. For the most part, they are treated like interns, do what we ask of you now and at some point you will have an expanded role. That is not to say it plays out that way every time, but in most cases.

Top 3 2018 Fantasy Relevant Wide Receivers

1. Calvin Ridley (ATL Falcons): Praised for his speed and elite route running, Ridley was projected to be the 1st receiver off the board. This turned out to be the case. Falling to a team in a vertical offense, he landed in an ideal situation. Granted, he will share the field with Julio Jones who is the receiving superstar for the Falcons, Ridley will benefit from single coverage while defenses will be focusing on Julio. Fantasy Draft Potential: 9th+ Round.

2. Christian Kirk (AZ Cardinals): Now I’m not putting him here because I’m a Homer, I’m putting him here because there is a significant need for talent behind Larry Fitzgerald in this offense. This is also Mike McCoy and Steve Wilks first season with the cardinals as well as Kirk’s. So, there is potential for them to get him involved. With the departure of John Brown and Jaron Brown, there is an opportunity for him to carve a decent role in the offense. Fantasy Draft Potential: Late round flier.

3. Dante Pettis (SF 49ers): The NCAA record holder in punt return touchdowns was drafted by the 49ers. Now because he is on this list doesn’t mean I think he has value right away. But, the receiving core in the Bay Area isnt the sexiest and he could very well earn a starting gig before the end of the season. Fantasy Draft Potential: Late round flier.

Rookie quarterbacks do have value. For the most part, if you are going to draft a rookie QB, id recommend him being your QB2. Years ago, I took RG3 during his rookie season and it worked out pretty well… before ol bendy knee.. BUT HE’S BACK!

TOP 3 2018 Fantasy Relevant Quarterbacks

1. Lamar Jackson (BAL Ravens): I know what you’re thinking, “But Matt, he isn’t even the starter”. I get it, Joe Flacco is still the starting quarterback, but Ozzie Newsome made some interesting moves this offseason acquiring RG3 and now Lamar Jackson. The team has obviously made these moves to diversify their playbook. Considering Joe Flacco isn’t close to the type of quarterback his backups are. Now the reason I have Lamar Jackson as the number one on this list is because of his athletic abilities. If he ends up seeing the field, he could end up putting up Deshaun Watson like numbers. The Ravens also have the only rookie TE worth taking a flier on in drafts, Hayden Hurst, who could end up seeing a bulk of targets with Jackson at the helm. Fantasy Draft Potential: Near the end of your draft.

2. Josh Rosen (AZ Cardinals): Josh Rosen is so hot right now, No Homer. Yes, I am stoked about this pick. The Cardinals have been in dire need of a youthful top-talent. Carson Palmer with his feet of lead and now Sam Bradford with his knees of glass… This was what we call a “come up” in the lingo on the streets. Described as the most NFL ready passer in the draft, Rosen has an opportunity to start this season. Based upon the amount of money the Cardinals dished out for Bradford, Rosen won’t see that opportunity until a benching or injury happens. I predict he will start at some point this year. Fantasy Draft Potential: Near the end of your draft.

3. Sam Darnold (NY Jets): Im not the biggest Darnold fan, not because he isn’t talented, but because he just doesn’t seem passionate. He most likely will see playing time this season if the Jets start losing games. Josh McCown is turning 60 and is going on his 3rd hip replacement. Fantasy Draft Potential: Near the end of your draft.

Names worth Noting: Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen.

Most likely these guys won’t get drafted at the start of your season, but at some point one or more of them will get the chance to play and be able to contribute to your season.

Well, thats all I got for now! I hope you enjoyed this article and more to come. I usually do a Weekly Troll Vlog, where I talk smack to my current week opponent and shame them on social media after the start of the season. Hit me up on twitter @MPFantasysports or Email: mattpotvin@thefantasywhisperers.com