Impact Rookies for 2019 (Fantasy Football)
Most of the time, rookies don’t have a massive impact on fantasy football, though there are exceptions to every rule. Think about players like Saquon Barkley, Phillip Lindsay, Nick Chubb, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. They walked into the league and played at a high-level from day one.
Are there prospects like them in this draft class? Maybe. Today, we’ll try and identify those who have walked into a situation where opportunity will be there, or those who simply have too much talent to keep off the field in their rookie season. Keep in mind that this article is primarily focused on redraft leagues, though if you’re playing for a championship in your dynasty league in 2019, you may want to move some of these players up in the ranks.
Kyler Murray (QB – ARI)
When taken at No. 1 overall and then your team trades away last year’s first-round pick (that they traded up for), you’re starting. I have my questions about Murray’s game from an NFL standpoint, but as for fantasy, he’s going to rack-up points with his legs in Kliff Kingsbury’s fast-paced offense. Think about Lamar Jackson towards the end of last season with more pass attempts and slightly less rushing. He’ll be a borderline QB1 most weeks.
Josh Jacobs (RB – OAK)
When selecting a running back in the first round, you’re going to use him, a lot. Did you know that over the last six years, running backs who were drafted in the first-round average 283.4 touches their rookie year? Isaiah Crowell was never going to be a big threat to his touches, but after rupturing his Achilles, they had to fallback on Doug Martin. Jacobs should be in the RB2 conversation.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
Not only did the Bears select him in the third-round, but they traded up to ensure he was on their team. Despite not being a threat in the passing-game, Jordan Howard was able to finish as the RB20 in PPR formats while in his first season under Matt Nagy. While the Bears also signed Mike Davis, they told us all we needed to know when they traded up for Montgomery.
Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
We’ve witnessed Doug Pederson and the Eagles go after Dalvin Cook, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, and now Sanders. Fortunately for Sanders, he’s the one they used the most equity on, though they were going to use a second-round pick on Cook before the Vikings snagged him. The concern is that there’s been just one running back in Pederson’s offense who’s totaled more than 43 snaps in a game: Darren Sproles, the utility blade. Sanders isn’t Sproles, but he’ll still be used in a bigger role than Howard due to his receiving ability. He’s likely going to wind-up in the high-end RB3 conversation.
N’Keal Harry (WR – NE)
I’ve got some concerns about Harry the player, but he landed in a great spot. Harry can win contested catches consistently and with Rob Gronkowski out of town, Tom Brady will need a receiver like him in the red zone. Knowing the Patriots lost Gronkowski, Chris Hogan, and Cordarrelle Patterson, they have some targets to go around. Even wide receivers who are drafted in the first-round only average 66.7 targets their rookie season (over the last six years), so it’s tough for them to make a big splash, but Harry might see more than that by necessity.
D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA)
Sure, he fell to the second-round, but his landing spot may have actually helped his stock now that we know Doug Baldwin was released. This will slide Tyler Lockett into the slot, leaving Metcalf to battle with David Moore for targets on the perimeter from Russell Wilson. The slide to the second-round shouldn’t bother you either, as second-round receivers average just one fewer target than first-round receivers in their rookie season.
Parris Campbell (WR – IND)
This was a tough one because I love the landing spot, but I want to dial back expectations for Campbell. He’s walking into a situation where he may be fifth in line for targets. T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, Nyheim Hines, and Marlon Mack are all competing for targets, so Campbell is no sure thing his rookie year. However, we did see Chester Rogers get 72 targets last year, though injuries helped. Campbell is a far better football player and much more explosive than Rogers.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC)
Even before the Tyreek Hill off-the-field news, the Chiefs had a hole to fill in their offense. Chris Conley left in free agency, creating an opening for the primary slot receiver in Andy Reid’s offense, somewhere Demarcus Robinson doesn’t really play. So, Hardman has a role even with Hill on the field, though it seems unlikely Hill is on the field to start the season, creating an even bigger role/need for Hardman. This is all not to mention Sammy Watkins‘ degenerative foot issues that could cause him to miss time.
T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET)
It’s always tough relying on a rookie tight end in fantasy, but when your team spends a top-10 pick on one, you should probably at least consider him. Tight ends drafted in the first-round over the last six years have averaged 57.3 targets in their rookie year, which is enough to do some damage, though he’ll have to compete with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in the red zone. He should get some of the targets over the middle of the field that were vacated when Golden Tate left.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN)
Another first-round tight end who should have plenty of opportunity right out of the gate. Truth be told, Fant wouldn’t be here if not for Joe Flacco winding up in Denver. Over his career, he’s targeted tight ends much heavier than most quarterbacks, similar to the way Andrew Luck has done throughout his career. The last time the Ravens (and Flacco) didn’t target tight ends at least 107 times was way back in 2010, and it’s not like he’s had the best-of-the-best at the position.