Fantasy Football Rookie Sleepers (Dynasty Leagues)
Last season, Mike Tagliere put together a start-up dynasty league with some of the top minds across the industry including Sean Koerner, Andy Behrens, Jamey Eisenberg and JJ Zachariason among some other terrific analysts. I’m fortunate enough to be in this league with 28 player rosters and an upcoming 6-round rookie draft. As you can imagine, I’ve been doing due diligence for the rookie draft and have a list of 70+ skill position rookies who I wouldn’t mind drafting. It makes sense, of course, that the best time to write an article about rookie dynasty drafts is fresh off digging deep into all of these names. Today, I’ll give you eight names I’m keying in on after the first two rounds.
Picks 20 to 35
Jordan Wilkins (RB – IND)
With running backs in dynasty, it isn’t so much about the projected longevity of a player’s career or even his skill set. Rather, I’m focused almost entirely on his path to touches. Outside of the obvious names who will fly off the board in the first round, Wilkins has the fewest obstacles to make a serious impact as a rookie running back. Just take one look at this depth chart and you’ll see a bunch of third-down backs from Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin to Nyheim Hines and Josh Ferguson. Then there is some seemingly obscure potential workhorse back named Wilkins. In fact, he happened to stand out in his film prior to the draft. Add in an Andrew Luck led offense and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m crossing my fingers about nabbing him in the third round.
J’Mon Moore (WR – GB)
You (and everyone else) might be excited about Equanimeous St. Brown and while his athletic ability and college production are certainly intriguing, I can’t say I’m with you. The reason why is that the Packers are clearly higher on Moore, whom they selected 74 picks earlier. Clearly, he isn’t going to get many targets as a rookie unless injuries happen higher on the depth chart, but it is worth noting that Randall Cobb is soon to be less relevant and that the best quarterback in NFL history turns mediocre talents like Greg Jennings, Davante Adams, and dare I say J’mon Moore, into all-world fantasy assets.
Picks 35 to 50
Braxton Berrios (WR – NE)
At this point, most of the world is unaware of Berrios, but if your league is competitive, there will be one or two owners in your league who are willing to reach for him. I’m making sure no one beats me to the punch by grabbing him as early as the late third round if I have to. The Patriots wide receiver depth chart may not be top heavy, but it is certainly deep with Jordan Matthews, Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Cordarrelle Patterson and potentially even Kenny Britt ahead of Berrios. In fact, there is a chance he doesn’t make the team, but there is also a chance he becomes the next Edelman, and perhaps even better. You can’t say that about anyone else in this stage of the draft so I’m buying a lottery ticket.
Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)
You may have heard that Jason Witten retired. Oh yeah, Dez Bryant is gone too. Dak Prescott has virtually no one to pass to at this point so targets are up for grabs. Rico Gathers is expected to win the job, and has plenty of talent, but he was also injured all of last season so it is far from a lock. One realistic scenario is that Schultz wins the job in the pre-season and finishes as the top rookie tight end. He may not be the best blocking tight end in the world, but he can run routes and catch passes. In fact, his best comp might just be Witten himself.
Jaylen Samuels (RB – PIT)
Of everyone on this list, Samuels is without question my favorite value. I will be getting ALL the shares of him this season. Maybe I will even join extra leagues just to make sure I can draft Samuels a few more times. Le’Veon Bell is an unrestricted free agent next year and might just walk away from Pittsburgh if they don’t pay him up. That would leave Samuels as the most likely player to take over in what may be the best situation for a running back in the NFL. Even if not, let’s just say he is Bell’s handcuff, Bell has missed more than a fair amount of time over the years, and when he has, DeAngelo Williams was 95% as effective as Le’Veon in that time. Samuels may not be as talented as Williams, but the situation cannot be understated.
Boston Scott (RB – NO)
Last season, Kamara entered as the third option in a stacked New Orleans backfield after being selected in the 3rd round. This year, Scott will likely be the number two back until Mark Ingram returns from suspension. That isn’t to say that Scott’s talent rivals Kamara’s or anything along those lines. Rather, it is to show that the Saints use multiple backs, and with touches comes an opportunity to prove himself and win a significant role like Kamara did. Scott isn’t going to win any awards or ever be an all-purpose back, but he can make a marginal impact as a rookie and that is more than you can say about anyone else outside the top 50 rookies.
Roc Thomas (RB – MIN)
Thomas is in a similar situation to Scott, minus the Ingram suspension. He signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent and ought to step right into the Jerick McKinnon hole. Remember, Jerick was an afterthought in drafts because of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. I am, of course, not predicting an injury, but those things happen, and if it does, the freak athlete and former top high school prospect could end up making a McKinnon-like wave in fantasy.
Stacy Coley (WR – MIN)
Have you seen the Vikings depth chart? The top is pretty with Adam Thielen and the oft-injured Stefon Diggs, but beyond them are Laquon Treadwell and Coley, who just might beat out Treadwell, as a 7th round pick rookie, to start in 3-WR sets. This is especially interesting considering Kirk Cousins loves to spread the ball around to numerous receivers. It is worth noting, that Coley would have been selected higher if not for questions about his off-the-field behavior and on-the-field attitude. If he can sort that out, we may just be looking at the next Diggs or Keelan Cole, who goes from unknown to rookie weapon.