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Rookies to Target & Avoid (Fantasy Football)

Aug 17, 2019

David Montgomery could end up returning more value than any other rookie in 2019

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As final-round fliers, mid-to-late round depth picks, or discounted fantasy starters, rookies can provide great value at a relatively low cost, giving them a critical role in this game we love so much. However, knowing which first-year players are primed to have the biggest impact on their teams’ offense is arguably one of the most difficult things to decipher.

A rookie’s potential in year one is most dependant upon their situation. Some things to consider are whether the rookie is only one injury/trade away from being relevant (Nick Chubb last season), if they play in a productive offense (Calvin Ridley in 2018), or if they’re either starting or have a decent shot at moving atop the depth chart by midseason (Lamar Jackson last year). The new athletes that meet at least one of these criteria typically wind up having some level of success, whereas those who don’t usually become a wasted draft pick. Our featured experts have taken all this and more into account to choose which rookies you should flock to or fade in your drafts.

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Q1. Which rookie do you think is the best draft day target based on his current ADP?

David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
Half-PPR ADP: 46th Overall | RB22
“If there’s one position you can trust when it comes to rookies, it’s the running back position. Many will run to Josh Jacobs, but he plays for a weak offense with a bad offensive line. Instead, get the cheaper running back in Montgomery, who’s getting more hyped up by the day. He appears to be headed for the Jordan Howard role in the offense, only with more work in the passing game. Did you know that despite Howard’s shortcomings in the passing game, he finished as the No. 20 running back in PPR formats last year? Montgomery is going as the RB22 right now.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

David Montgomery at 46th overall is ridiculously low. The guy warrants a top-25 overall pick even in redraft, yet he can oftentimes be had in the third and fourth rounds. That’s insanity. He is the clear top-ranked runner from this 2019 rookie running back class. He and Darrell Henderson are my must-own players for 2019 (even as rookies).”
– Smitty (SleeperU)

Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
Half-PPR ADP: 77th Overall | RB31
“I get why David Montgomery and Josh Jacobs are pushing themselves up draft boards, but Sanders remains the target for me. While the first few weeks of the season might see him as a hit-or-miss flex option, I am looking forward to November and beyond in that Philadelphia Eagles offense for this very talented running back. I expect safeties to play a bit deeper with DeSean Jackson back in Philly, which should open up some extra space for Sanders. The Eagles also smartly drafted Jason Peters’ protege in Andre Dillard, so the offensive line should continue to play well.”
– Dennis Esser (Coach Esser)

Devin Singletary (RB – BUF)
Half-PPR ADP: 142nd Overall | RB50
“Singletary is the perfect late-round stash at No. 142. By midseason (when you’ll need that 12th-ish rounder to contribute) I anticipate Singletary to have passed LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore on the depth chart. The 31-year-old McCoy had a steep decline in 2018 and looks washed. Gore saw a jump up in yards per carry last year, but really if you look at his total stat line, he’s been on the downward slope for several years and, at age 36, I’m not betting on a big year.”
– Dave McKay (The Fantasy Sports Brain)

Q2. Which rookie are you most likely to fade based on his current ADP?

N’Keal Harry (WR – NE)
Half-PPR ADP: 106th Overall | WR42
“It’s fairly easy to choose Harry here, as he’s being drafted as the No. 42 wide receiver, which is just outside starter territory in fantasy leagues. He’s more likely to be dropped by you than winding up as an every-week staple in your lineup. He struggled with separation at Arizona State and that’s translated to the pros, as he’s been outplayed in training camp by multiple receivers, according to reports. He’s impressive when it comes to contested catch situations, but he needs to earn Tom Brady’s trust to get those. Rookie wide receivers have a much harder time producing right away than running backs do.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

N’Keal Harry is too rich for my blood at No. 106. At that pick, you’re probably counting on him to be an every-week starter at the flex position. I have a hard time relying on any rookie receiver and the Josh Gordon reinstatement makes Harry even harder to draft.”
– Dave McKay (The Fantasy Sports Brain)

Josh Jacobs (RB – OAK)
Half-PPR ADP: 38th Overall | RB20
“Jacobs is the guy I don’t like as much as everyone else. He has nice size and was a solid touchdown producer at Alabama, but his resume is tiny. He has never rushed for over 641 yards at the college level, so it’s hard to trust that he has the makings of an every-down back at the pro level. I’m not calling him an all-out bust, but I am certainly suggesting we pump the breaks on anointing him the next elite running back.”
– Smitty (SleeperU)

“I think Josh Jacobs has a lot of tools that make him very intriguing as a fantasy running back, but his current price tag suggests he is a no-doubt RB2 that I have to spend a premium pick on. I can’t do that with the Oakland Raiders’ offense. I don’t like their offensive line at all and Derek Carr would have to have a huge bounce-back year to make Jacobs worth that draft spot. I will gladly wait and take Phillip Lindsay, Sony Michel, or Tevin Coleman later.”
– Dennis Esser (Coach Esser)

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Thank you to the experts for naming their rookies to target and avoid. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and for more great advice, subscribe to our podcast below.

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