Rookie Hype Check: Where the Top Players Should Come Off Fantasy Boards

Jason Plummer, Contributor

The 2018 NFL draft is one that left me feeling empty. There weren’t any standout offensive players besides the big 3 at QB and Mr. Barkley. Nonetheless, rookies will get drafted in fantasy drafts around the world this year, some deserving of where they get taken and some prematurely. What we’re going to do is look at some of the highlighted talent from this year’s draft and give a rough guess of WHERE THEY SHOULD GO in redraft formats. Not where they will go because some people think Saquon should be taken in the second round and I believe that’s a reach. Also, no rookie QB from this class is on a team where they will be fantasy studs right away. I wouldn’t suggest drafting any of them as your QB1 this season. So, with that in mind, here’s Saquon.

Saquon Barkley – Fifth Round, no sooner

Yes, he was probably the best player from this draft and has a skill set that fits any system, but the Giants seem to be snake bitten with productivity. They upgraded their offensive line with Solder at LT and bringing in Will Hernandez with their 2nd round pick was a great move but it still feels like this won’t be their year to perform. OBJ is too big of a star to not get targets, Shepard needs to get fed and so does Engram. This offense has too many mouths to feed and quite frankly, Eli is not good enough to make a feast. Saquon will be great at some point, just not this year. There are better PPR picks in the first four rounds.

D.J. Moore – Ninth Round

There is a plethora of WRs across the league that are very serviceable in PPR formats that will see volume beyond Moore. He perplexes me. Carolina needs a true #1 WR, they thought Funchess would be it and although I had him in 2 of my leagues last year and benefited when Cam was finding him, he still doesn’t feel like the “it” guy. They’re bringing in Moore to maybe be that guy but losing Norwell on the O-line could leave Newton exposed and Newton already has his moments where he’s streaky. Will Moore become a top 20 guy? It could happen. Is it likely enough that I will draft him high? Not a chance.

Calvin Ridley – Sixth Round

I feel confident enough to take Ridley in the sixth. He is debatably the best WR from this draft and fell into a great situation with the Falcons. Julio will take the double teams, which will allow Ridley to have 1on1 situations that he did well with in college. Combine that with Matt Ryan who can find receivers wherever they are along with a run game that can grind teams and keep the defensive front 7 honest? Ridley has a lot of potential to make an impact.

Rashaad Penny – Eleventh Round

He produced in college and is a runner. The issue? The Seahawks reached for him when they need help on the offensive line. Russell Wilson was their best runner last year because he had to run from defensives coming to sack him. That O-line is a massive weakness and putting a rookie runner in the backfield is asking them to take a beating. Could something magical happen? Yeah, he has talent and having Wilson as your QB definitely helps. However, I don’t have faith that their line can hold up and give him holes to run through.

 Sony Michel – Sixth Round

Admittedly, I’m a Patriots fan. Admittedly, I didn’t like this pick in the first round. Michel is dynamic and the Patriots lost a dynamic back when Dion went to the Titans. We know the Pats like to have dynamic backs that can run and catch out of the backfield. Michel projects to be that talented, but the Patriots have been a committee backfield for as long as I can remember. Michel could do really well because he’s playing for a team that schemes very well and has a great QB, not to mention a pretty solid Oline. He could also suffer from a lack of touches, imply because there are so many mouths to feed in New England. If he impresses Belichick in his first game, look for him to be very productive. If he doesn’t, he’ll wither away on your bench or in your starting lineup.

Christian Kirk – Eighth Round

Kirk received some great grades coming out of college and went to the Cardinals who have a steady QB, when healthy, in Bradford and a young gun who could dominate their division for the next decade if given the tools to succeed. Kirk is opposite Fitzgerald who hasn’t had a great #2 option behind him because both Browns previously had injury issues and the rotating QBs because of Palmers injury history. With Bradford and Rosen at the helm, there’s true potential for steady QB play. Kirk can work the field with Fitzgerald as the primary target, leaving him open for some big plays.

Nick Chubb – Tenth Round

This was a pick that surprised me and probably many around the league. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde in the offseason and he’s no slouch; given an opportunity Hyde is a very reliable RB2 option. I think Cleveland will be better this year than last with Tyrod at the helm and Hyde in the backfield. That leaves Chubb in an interesting position. Hyde is steady and good enough to keep the starting job but there’s also this sense in The Land that these draft picks need to get out and perform. The thought that they need to show production means there’s a chance Chubb can take the starting job away. Even if he can, Cleveland’s defense has to hold up and their offense has to come together scheme wise. He’s worth the late round pick but he also could be a waiver/free agency pick.

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