Early Undervalued Rookies (2019 Fantasy Football)
The 2019 NFL season is fast approaching, and with it comes fantasy drafts. Drafts won’t reach peak popularity until August, but it’s never too early to start evaluating players, developing a strategy, and completing mocks. Many have labeled this year’s NFL Draft class as one of the worst skill-position groups in years, but that just doesn’t hold water. There are plenty of talented rookies entering the league, and more than a few will be valuable fantasy contributors right off the bat. While Average Draft Position (ADP) will change throughout the offseason, let’s take a look at some early undervalued rookies based on current ADP.
Darrell Henderson (RB – LAR): RB52, 148 Overall ADP
Todd Gurley is far from healthy, despite his recent assertion that he’s not hurt. After dealing with an arthritic knee that limited him last season, Gurley’s role should be scaled back in 2019. Henderson’s selection in the third round is telling, especially considering Gurley’s league-leading 22 TDs last season. C.J. Anderson thrived in the Rams’ offense, and Henderson has a realistic chance to average double-digit touches right off the bat with plenty more in store if Gurley misses any time. With an overall ADP of 148, he can be had after the 12th round in most 12-team leagues.
Noah Fant (TE – DEN): TE23, 190 Overall ADP
Fant currently ranks as a back-end TE2, and that’s criminal considering Joe Flacco’s history of throwing frequently to the position. The Broncos’ receiving corps carries a lot of question marks — mainly Emmanuel Sanders‘ health and Courtland Sutton’s consistency — into the season. Enter Fant, a proven athlete and a player likely to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Expect him to return TE1 value at a bargain price.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WR – PHI): WR97, 267 Overall ADP
It’s a crowded receiving corps, but Arcega-Whiteside has reportedly been dominating red zone looks in practice and could be NFL-ready. After Zach Ertz, Philadelphia’s pecking order among receivers is very much up for grabs. Alshon Jeffery is extremely talented but has an injury history. DeSean Jackson showed last year that he’s still capable of big plays, but he lacks consistency. Arcega-Whiteside could easily carve out a role in the offense and parlay it into some quality production. He’s ranked way too low at WR97 and is currently going undrafted outside of deep leagues.
Parris Campbell (WR – IND): WR70, 172 Overall ADP
Campbell finished his Buckeyes career in style, going 90-1,063-12 in 2018 to become just the fifth Ohio State receiver to top 1,000 yards in a single season. He brings a ton of athleticism and killer speed to the NFL, and he even paced all receivers at the NFL Combine with a 4.31 40-yard dash.
This is must-see television. Parris Campbell with the super impressive 40-yard dash time, compared to other notable star WRspic.twitter.com/lazrzZMAG3
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 2, 2019
Campbell will play behind T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess, but he has a realistic shot to become the Colts’ third option in the passing game. Andrew Luck tossed 39 TDs last season after returning from a terrible shoulder injury, and there will be plenty of targets and scores to go around for all in their deadly aerial assault. Campbell is clearly an undervalued rookie right now.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF): WR76, 191 Overall ADP
There’s been quite a lot of hype around Dante Pettis after a big finish to last season (20-359-4 over his final five games). But let’s be realistic — his magical stretch was not with Jimmy Garoppolo, and it came about as the result of a depleted receiving corps. The Niners spent two valuable picks on receivers in this year’s draft, including Samuel, who fits the bill physically and athletically as San Francisco’s new number one. You can grab him late in drafts, so he’s absolutely undervalued right now.
D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA): WR61, 155 Overall ADP
I still don’t understand the lukewarm expectations for Metcalf this season. At worst, he’s the second option in Seattle’s passing game, with Tyler Lockett his only real competition for targets. Physically, he’s an outstanding athlete, and he has tremendous skills as a receiver. He may be entering the league a little raw, but Metcalf has a golden opportunity to make some noise in Seattle as a rookie. With an overall ADP of 155, he won’t cost you much on draft day.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC): WR60, 154 Overall ADP
Tyreek Hill’s playing situation is still in flux despite a recent report that he will not face criminal charges in relation to a domestic abuse case involving his three-year-old son. Even though Hill is out of the woods legally, the Chiefs have yet to reinstate him, and there’s a high probability of facing a suspension from the NFL. Enter Hardman. The Chiefs spent a second-round pick on the speedster from Georgia, and should Hill miss time, Hardman would be a huge beneficiary. He’s a high-upside pick who can be had now in the 13th round of 12-team leagues. That’s value.