NFL

15 NFL Rookies With Actual Fantasy Value

The consensus thus far among fantasy “experts” (that term deserves quotations because most — i.e. Matthew Berry — have absolutely no clue what they’re talking about) are in agreement that Leonard Fournette has the most potential of any rookie in pretend football. My question for all of these pundits: did you watch Blake Bortles throw passes last season? Teams are going to put 11 guys in the box against Jacksonville.

Fournette’s potential — much like in his years at LSU — will be stymied by a quarterback who tosses more ducks than a male cheerleader at Oregon. Leonard will have value purely from his usage-rate, but he’s not atop our list. Here are the top 14 fantasy rookies for 2017-18:

15. Kareem Hunt

Spencer Ware is obviously the starter, but we all know the chances of a Kansas City running back playing a full season are slimmer than Kate Moss’ torso before a photo shoot. Hunt doesn’t have any immediate upside, but he’s worth a late-round handcuff pick…




14. D’Onta Foreman

If you’ve ever watched Alfred Blue run, you already know Foreman’s going to be Lamar Miller’s backup going into the season. But does he have a chance to take early-down carries away from Miller? The short answer: absolutely. Texas was terrible last season, but Foreman (2,028 yards, 30 touchdowns) was incredible, as were his numbers at the combine for a 6’0 man who weighs 233 pounds (4.45 40-yard-dash, 33-inch vertical). He might not get much action at the outset, but he’s definitely worth a late-round flier…

13. Jamaal Williams

You know the old axiom: a Green Bay running back only has value if he’s actually a receiver. That might be true heading into next season, but it’s clear the Packers are high on Williams, and considering his main competition is a converted wideout, Jamaal might have fantasy upside sooner rather than later…




12. John Ross

An underrated key to Atlanta’s offensive success last season? Bringing on an explosive playmaker (Taylor Gabriel) to team with Julio Jones. The Bengals learned from the Falcons and gave Andy Dalton and AJ Green the fastest man in football. Ross will probably throw a zero or two up in fantasy, but he’ll start hitting home runs (think five catches, 120 yards, two touchdowns) sooner rather than later…

11. Deshaun Watson

Dak Prescott 2.0? Not so fast. Watson and Prescott have similar intangibles, but Deshaun won’t have the best offensive line in recent memory protecting him in the pocket. That being said, Dabo Swinney’s adopted son will most definitely be the starter and be a sneaky fantasy play in certain match-ups…




10. David Njoku

With Terrelle Pryor in Washington and Gary Barnidge out the door, who else are the Browns going to throw to? They were obviously high on Njoku, a freak athlete out of Miami, and considering their offensive “depth” chart, he figures to be fantasy relevant almost immediately…

9. O.J. Howard

Logic would tell you that Tampa Bay has Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Cameron Brate as a proven tight-end, and that there’s no room for Howard to make an impact Year 1. Well, logic would tell you not to steal crab legs from a supermarket, but here we are. Jameis Winston loves throwing to tight ends, Evans and Jackson on the outside will open up a ton of room between the hashes, and Howard’s too good of a weapon not to be utilized. Just ask Lane Kiffin…




8. Dalvin Cook

Cook will start the season behind Latavius Murray, but he’ll end the season atop the depth chart. Murray’s a solid runner, but Dalvin’s too talented to remain on the bench the whole season. The only question is when Cook will get an opportunity to become Chef…

7. Samaje Perine

Perine’s situation in Washington is almost exactly the same as Cook’s in Minneapolis. The (Insert Derogatory Name for Native Americans Here)s have incumbent back Rob Kelley, but Perine has more skills and upside than his predecessor. If you’re in a league that has a lot of bench spots, draft either Perine or Cook and pray that they get a fair shot…




6. Curtis Samuel

The Panthers just got Ted Ginn with not-terrible hands and I’m the only one who thinks he has upside? I’m banking on Cam Newton and Carolina having a bounce-back season, and I think the uber-fast Samuel (who will line up in the slot) has a ton of upside. Ginn could be naked in sub-zero temperatures and wouldn’t catch a cold, but had ten touchdowns in his first season with the Panthers. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Curtis do the same…

5. Joe Mixon

So he sucker-punched a girl in the face? Mistakes happen, guys. You can’t judge a man off a gruesome, disgusting video of him punching a girl in the face! Okay, you can, but that doesn’t mean he won’t usurp Jeremy Hill’s role as the lead back in Cincinnati…




4. Leonard Fournette

Finally, we get to Lenny. As you read in the intro, we love the talent, hate the quarterback, and don’t believe in the system. Fournette is definitely a beast though…

3. Zay Jones

The Bills swooped up the all-time Division I career receptions leader (399) and single-season receptions leader (158) with the 37th pick and won’t waste any time incorporating Zay into the offense. Sammy Watkins is the No. 1, but he’s less reliable than a pre-recession Chevrolet engine — take our word for it: Jones will be a PPR stud as a rookie…




2. Corey Davis

Excellent hands, excellent route runner, big (6’2, 205), and joining a team desperate for a No. 1 receiver. What’s there not to like about the marriage between Corey Davis and the Tennessee Titans? The all-time leader in FBS receiving yards, Marcus Mariota and Davis are going to form a lethal combination…

1. Christian McCaffrey

The Panthers surrounded Cam with two versatile weapons in the aforementioned Curtis Samuel and Ed’s kid, a running back who can also line up in the slot. Carolina fans have their beefs about Ron Rivera, but he proved in Newton’s rookie year that he knows how to create an offense that plays to its strengths — with McCaffrey as the team’s new running back, expect him to get 15-20 touches a game and be a solid RB2 (and part-time WR) throughout the 2017-18 season…

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