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Dynasty Rookie Value Picks (Fantasy Football)

by Andrew Swanson | @FFtoday_Andy | Featured Writer
May 29, 2017

The Packers’ new running back could have a huge fantasy future ahead

With the 2017 NFL Draft in the books and the speculation over which player would be drafted by what team no longer in question, fantasy owners can now focus on who to target in dynasty startup and rookie drafts this summer. First round picks Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross will no doubt be early round targets for dynasty managers. But for owners without early round picks or those who traded their first round pick last season, there are more than a few late round values that could provide fantasy dividends for years to come. While some of the players listed below have little or no value this season, players like Jamaal Williams and Zay Jones could be draft steals in 2017 and beyond.

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Jamaal Williams (RB – GB)

The leading rusher in each of the last four seasons at BYU, Williams ended his college career with an impressive 1,375, 12 touchdown senior season for the Cougars. Off-field issues while in Provo and some injury concerns from his junior season somewhat hurt his draft stock, but landing in a perfect situation in Green Bay makes Williams an interesting dynasty pick in 2017.

Williams is the type of between the tackles bruising back that the Packers are missing, with incumbent starter and converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery lacking the physical game Williams possesses. At 6’0”, 212 LBS, Williams is a physical specimen that could give head coach Mike McCarthy a much-needed short line and goal line back, but his lack of elusiveness and his propensity to force runs into non-existent holes could limit his value as a rookie.

Opportunity and the right situation is a huge factor in predicting the success of rookie looking to make their mark in the NFL. The Packers cleared out their running back corps this offseason by allowing Eddie Lacy to sign with Seattle while releasing veteran backups Don Jackson and Christine Michael after the draft. If Williams can beat out fellow rookie RBs Aaron Jones and Devante Mays, he will find himself in a prime opportunity as the backup to Montgomery, a former wide receiver that has struggled to stay healthy.

Joe Williams (RB – SF)

In keeping with the theme of talented running backs from Utah schools who fell in the draft due to off-field questions, Joe Williams found an interesting landing spot in San Francisco. A former high school star from Allentown, Pennsylvania, Williams jumped around from Connecticut to junior college, and eventually to Utah in his vagabond college career.

A suspension stemming from credit card theft and a subsequent temporary retirement from school destroyed Williams’ draft stock, with some teams reportedly taking him off of their boards altogether. But there is no doubting his talent, and first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan persuaded the 49ers front office to take a flyer on the former Ute.

Of the players listed in this piece, Williams may be the most exceptional athlete, with the ability to take the ball to the house while possessing a powerful 5’11”, 210 LBS frame. He also carries the most risk, as his behavior in college presents more than a few red flags.

I anticipate that Williams will be a practice squad player this season, barring a breakout performance in training camp. But with Carlos Hyde becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2018, and the recent chatter that Hyde has allegedly fallen out of favor with the coaching staff, Williams could emerge as a viable fantasy option in 2018 if he can stay out of trouble.

Zay Jones (WR – BUF)

Like Jamaal Williams, Zay Jones landed in an excellent spot for growth as the 37th overall pick to the Buffalo Bills. In a draft that saw three wide receivers taken in the top ten picks, Jones could be the best value in dynasty rookie drafts based on the fact that he could become the top option for Tyrod Taylor after this season.

The Bills declined the 5th year option for former 4th overall pick Sammy Watkins, opening the door for the former Clemson star to leave for another team after his contract season. With Watkins’ future with the team in serious doubt, Jones could be a great value at his current ranking of 18th overall and the 7th wide receiver on our Rookie Keeper Rankings.

At 6’2”, 201 LBS, Jones has the size to be a difference-maker across from Watkins as a rookie in 2017. The all-time FBS receptions leader with excellent hands and the ability to work over the middle, Jones comes from a football pedigree as the son of former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Robert Jones, and nephew to former Bengal quarterback Jeff Blake.

Some owners may scoff at drafting Jones because he landed in a run-first offense in Buffalo. Don’t let that fact dissuade you from taking arguably the best wideout in the draft, especially if you can land him at a great value late.

Marlon Mack (RB – IND)

Fantasy football writers and analysts have predicted the demise of Frank Gore for three seasons, yet the veteran ball carrier continues to prove everyone wrong while continuing to play well into his 30’s.

But with two consecutive sub-four yards-per-carry seasons with the Colts, the writing on the wall is clear, and Gore will eventually lose carries to a rookie running back, assuming that the inept Indy front office can draft a viable back.

It looks that after multiple seasons of missing on adding a viable replacement in the draft or via free agency, Chris Ballard, the new GM of the Colts, finally hit on a great option with University of South Florida star Marlon Mack.

In just 174 carries in 2016, Mack rushed for 1,187 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns as a USF Bull. He is a dynamic ball-carrier with shifty moves, but he lacks the power running style of Gore, and he struggled with fumbling in college.

Despite knocks against him on his power running and fumbling issues, Mack is going to give the Colts a much-needed spark in the ground game and could be a nice complementary back to Gore even as a rookie, before eventually taking over in 2018.

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Andrew Swanson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Andrew, check out his archive or follow him @FantasyProsAndy.

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