Can rookies make big impacts in fantasy football? Of course.
But while rookies have helped their owners cash in lately, there’s still value in treading carefully. There’s no shortage of talent, but many skill position rookies face roster logjams, while those who could see time usually are on bad teams that can risk throwing a rookie right into the fire.
Still, there may be some gems hidden in this class, with others that probably should be avoided unless they break out during the season. Keep in mind, just because we consider a guy a bust doesn’t mean he isn’t worth a flier in the late rounds. They just aren’t players you should expect big things from.
Let’s take a look at five potential rookie stars and five potential rookie busts.
FIVE POTENTIAL ROOKIE STARS
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants. Of all the 2018 rookies, Barkley is the guy you can bank on most to be a meaningful contributor to his team. Not only is his game tailor-made for the NFL, but he sits atop the Giants’ depth chart at the running back position. And in his first season at the helm in New York, you can bet Pat Shurmur will be itching to see how he can best utilize the Penn State product.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos. Sutton is in a pretty good situation. He likely will be Denver’s third wideout behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, meaning he can avoid opponents’ top defensive backs. The SMU product also could benefit from the production of quarterback Case Keenum, who is coming off a career year with the Minnesota Vikings.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals. Kirk could be a bit of a gamble given how wide-open the Cards’ wide receiver battle is behind Larry Fitzgerald. But it’s for that reason that he very well could be worth the risk. He was tremendous receiver in the slot at Texas A&M who has the ability to make plays. At the same time, his success could be contingent on the performance of quarterback Sam Bradford, who’s had an up-and-down career under center.
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears. The Bears’ offense could be interesting this year, especially with Mitchell Trubisky now in his second season under center, and Miller could be a big part of it. The Memphis product projects as a serviceable slot receiver whose speed will translate well to the NFL. He could be particularly useful in PPR leagues, as his ability to get open in tight areas should produce plenty of targets.
Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos. With only Devontae Booker standing in front of him, Freeman very well could become the Broncos’ lead back. He’s a hard runner who can split out in short-yardage passing situations, and if he’s fully healthy, the Oregon product easily can be a useful fantasy back.
FIVE POTENTIAL ROOKIE BUSTS
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers. There’s no questioning Moore’s talent, but it may be tough for the rookie to find targets. Cam Newton isn’t exactly a pocket quarterback, and he has a good rapport with Devin Funchess, Greg Olson and Christian McCaffrey. It’s reasonable to think Moore will take some time to get situated in the Panthers’ system — and Newton’s circle of trust — in Year 1.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills. Let’s be clear: Only in the most extreme of circumstances should any rookie quarterback be taken. We’re even talking 15-plus team leagues with two starting quarterbacks. But if you find yourself considering Josh Allen, don’t. His accuracy is a major concern, and seldom did the Wyoming product play stiff competition in college. And when he did (say, the Senior Bowl), he crashed and burned. Stay away from Allen.
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots. Michel has plenty of upside, but a knee injury that has sidelined him the entire preseason is an obvious red flag. The Georgia product faces an uphill battle to get healthy and vie for touches in a crowded Patriots backfield.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns. As bad as the Browns have been lately, they actually have plenty of guys worthy of touches. In addition to Chubb, Cleveland has Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson in the backfield, and new quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a new wideout in Jarvis Landry. So, what does that mean for the Georgia product? While his skill is unquestioned, he’ll hardly be the focal point of his team’s new-look offense.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions. It’s hard to imagine Johnson getting enough touches to justify drafting him, even with FLEX usage in mind. He’s competing for carries with Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah and LeGarrette Blount. And with Blount likely to see heavy work in goal line situations, Johnson’s scoring opportunities probably only will come from big plays, which you shouldn’t bank on.
Thumbnail photo via Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports Images
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