With the draft in the rearview, it’s never too early to start thinking about Fantasy Football. Which rookies should you be targeting for long-term success in your keeper/dynasty leagues? It’s like a horse race, click here.
With that said, here’s my list as it stands right now…
1. RB Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders
21-year-old three-down back who hasn’t had the workload compared to other highly-drafted backs, he excels as a pass protector and pass catcher and is likely walking into 250 touches in his rookie year.
2. RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
Another three-down caliber back with a lower number on the odometer. I love the offensive infrastructure in which he’s landed. He may not get as many touches as Jacobs but should lead the Eagles committee in year one.
3. RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
In my opinion, Montgomery is the best draft value for a three-down back in this class. Jacobs and Sanders are more explosive, but Montgomery has enough burst to get the job done and his vision, cutting and passing game skills should vault him to the top of the committee early on.
4. WR N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
He’s a talented upfield player with catch-point skills. His inability to gain separation was concerning but he lands in a perfect spot to negate it with Patriots’ use of free release tactics. He may take a little while to get acclimated but with no Gronk and Josh Gordon’s uncertainty, Harry has a chance to be a featured weapon for a premier offense.
5. WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
I like Hardman a lot – hell, we have the same name – but this spot is more opportunity driven than pure talent driven. In Lance Zierlein’s scouting report, he opined that Hardman could develop into a lesser version of Tyreek Hill. Ironically, he’ll likely be replacing him. This pick carries risk but also carries a great deal of upside.
6. WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Samuel is likely the X from day 1 in SF, and will have the ability to move around the formation and make plays after the catch. His ceiling may depend on how much slot work he gets compared to Dante Pettis, but his floor is super solid.
7. WR Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts hand-picked Campbell to upgrade their slot receiver position. They also have confidence in his ability to play outside and produce in the intermediate and deep areas of the field. In the short term, he’ll provide value underneath on shallow routes and schemed touches but if his game becomes more well-rounded, he could outperform this slot.
8. WR Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
I know the narrative around the Ravens offense is that they’ll run the wing T and Brown will simply run 9 routes all day to keep the 8th man out of the box. While the landing spot likely won’t reap immediate big-time production, he wasn’t drafted 25th overall to be a decoy. He’ll get scheme touches and benefit from a more open and cohesive offense then say John Brown did last year before his fantasy fall with Lamar Jackson at the helm.
9. WR DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
The freakish linear deep threat that fell a bit in the draft, but he lands with one of the best deep ball throwers in the NFL. There’s also Doug Baldwin’s unfortunate health situation which puts his career in doubt. Wilson’s improv ability + DK’s catch point ability could lead to a fair share of chunk plays as early as this season.
10. QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Quarterback is usually not a position I tout in drafts but Murray is a unique talent in a unique situation. It also speaks to the flat structure of talent in this class. Back to Murray though, he’s an explosive dual-threat QB being dropped into a system that will accentuate his talents. Arizona will probably play from behind a lot and even though they’ve made couple OL adds they’ll probably be behind the 8 ball there as well. Murray could run around and put up some gaudy counting stats next season.
11. TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
He may be overly explosive but he’s one of the more complete players in this entire draft. His blocking, route running, and sure hands will likely make him a snap heavy starter from the jump. Even if he’s not a target hog he should be out there enough to return low end TE1 value.
12. WR Dionte Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
We close out the 1st round with a surprise third-round draft pick. As the arguments get less compelling, I’m going to side with the Steelers WR evaluation. Johnson didn’t test great but pops as an inside-outside threat on film in the Antonio Brown/Emmanuel Sanders mold.
13. RB Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
You may have to take him to stash for 2020, but Singletary could wind up being a feature back in an offense that has a mobile QB, multiple legit vertical threats and has prioritized improving the offensive line. He didn’t test great and his passing game ability is just a projection at this point but his cutting ability and vertical lend hope to his ability to make plays outside of what’s blocked.
14. TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Fant tested off the charts and has mismatch-creating ability. The Broncos have a good young group of pass-catching talent but Fant has the type of talent that could land him at the head of the group provided he makes himself an at least passable in-line blocker on the NFL level.
15. WR A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
Brown should walk right into a role outside opposite Corey Davis. He’s a bull after the catch which makes him an asset in the bubble screen and short game. The presence of newly signed slot receiver Adam Humphries will limit his volume, but he checks so many boxes it’s hard not to take him here.
16. WR Andy Isabella, Arizona Cardinals
The Cards emphasized the wide receiver position in this draft and decided to make Isabella their first selection in that run. He wins vertically and in the open field with 4.31 speed and is being dropped into an offense that will no doubt look to create space for him to use those jets.
17. RB Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams traded up 24 spots to grab the explosive Memphis back, who should have a change-of-pace role right away. In the short term, his upside is probably capped with Todd Gurley at the head of the depth chart but the move suggests there are concerns with Gurley from a health standpoint. If he were to ever go down, Henderson becomes the lottery ticket of all lottery tickets.
18. RB Justice Hill, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens hinted very early on in the process they wanted a home run threat at RB to complement the between-the-tackle bangers they have in the fold. They got just that with the acquisition of Hill and I could see him jump into a Tevin Coleman-Falcons esque role in year one.
19. WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Philadelphia Eagles
2019 looks like it’ll be mostly a redshirt year for JJAW but he could jump into a potentially big role in 2020. Nelson Agholor is a free agent and unlikely to return. Alshon Jeffery is still under contract but with the guarantees in his deal dwindling, they could reap savings by releasing him after this season. Arcega-Whiteside’s game is eerily similar and could have been in the team’s thinking when they made the selection.
20. WR Hakeem Butler, Arizona Cardinals
A draft twitter favorite, Butler fell a lot further than many of us thought he would. Butler landed in a good but suddenly crowded spot. Butler’s size, versatility, and talent give him a chance to carve out a year-one role and could grow with Kyler and their young receivers going forward. This is a bet on talent pick.
21. RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots
Harris going in the 3rd round wasn’t surprising, but the landing spot was. It’s a potential forward-thinking move by the Pats with Sony Michel’s injury concerns. Although Rex Burkhead and James White are on modest deals, they could gather savings by releasing either after 2019. You have to be ok with punting 2019 in all likelihood but if you’re willing to wait you may have something with Harris.
22. WR Miles Boykin, Baltimore Ravens
Boykin had the best overall testing profile of any receiver in the class. He had less than stellar QB play at Notre Dame and needs to clean up his approach to press/physical coverage, but his upside may be as high as any receiver in this class. The Ravens are pretty bare at outside receiver so he has a chance to start from day 1. Volume will be a concern, but big plays may be able to supplement some of it.
23. WR Jalen Hurd, San Francisco 49ers
Hurd was one of the more intriguing offensive weapons in this draft and he’s going to a spot that will highlight that versatility. It sounds like he’ll start off at WR but will be groomed to play some “move” tight end and running back. Kyle Shanahan said post draft that Hurd was an NFL-caliber player at either spot. That’s high praise that caught my attention.
24. WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
McLaurin doesn’t have a great deal of upside but his draft standing, chemistry with new franchise QB Dwayne Haskins and lack of stiff competition on the outside set him up well to carve out a substantial role by year 2.