We’re practically halfway through July, and if you’re a football fan, you know what that means. Fantasy Football is right around the corner, and it’s time to start putting together a strategy. Here at CampusSports, we understand the importance of fantasy prep; dozens of mock drafts, hours of analyzing the numbers from last year, touchdowns, receptions, yards, bye weeks, everything.
But fear not because we are here to make your life just a little bit easier.
Here is a list of the top 10 rookies you should be targeting in your fantasy draft this year.
10: Sony Michel (New England Patriots)
There is denying the talent that the Patriots got with this pick, but the big question is how are they going to use it? The Patriots tend to have a carrosel of running backs throughout the season, each with fairly specific roles, whether it’s catching passes, goal-line rushes, 3rd down back, etc.
Michel has the potential to be at the top of this depth chart, right alongside Rex Burkhead and should be drafted as a flex with a lot of potential upside.
9: Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos)
The 6-foot-3 SMU product was drafted in the second round by the Broncos in this year’s draft, and finds himself in a fairly favorable position. With the addition of Case Keenum, Denver is hopeful to get their passing game back, and Sutton will likely be the third wideout on the depth chart.
Sutton will have the opportunity to lineup alongside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, which should provide him with the chance to catch a lot of open looks.
8: Royce Freeman (Denver Broncos)
The second Bronco to find his way onto this list, third round pick Royce Freeman has only Devontae Booker to compete with for the top spot on the depth chart after the departure of C.J. Anderson. While Booker was solid for Denver last year as he split carries with Anderson, he wasn’t great. He averaged just 3.8 yards per attempt, and only had one touchdown. Granted he was recovering from a broken wrist for the first half of the season, but Freeman is a big bodied running back with good speed (4.54 40-yard) and quite frankly many believe is simply the more talented back.
Denver is poised to see an improvement in their passing game as well this season with the addition of Case Keenum, which will likely open up the run game even more.
7: Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons)
The Falcons first round pick will likely start the season as the third receiver on the depth chart, but don’t be surprised if he is competing for the WR2 slot within the first couple months. A player many believe has the potential to be an offensive rookie of the year candidate provided he can get the touches, Ridley finds himself in a similar position to Steeler’s breakout receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster last year.
A talented receiver who the defense won’t be keying in on should have plenty of opportunity to make some big plays for what is already a dynamic Falcons offense.
6: Ronald Jones II (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The Bucs are in a pretty tough spot. Jameis Winston is facing a suspension, they released former pro bowl running back Doug Martin, and their run game last season was virtually nonexistent. While this spells out disaster for he Bucs, it turns into a great opportunity for Ronald Jones II. Jones is far and away the most talented back left on the roster, competing with Jaquizz Rogers and Peyton Barber who didn’t even combine to reach 1,000 yards rushing last season. A player with good acceleration and a capable pass catcher, Jones will likely get an opportunity to take over the backfield early on.
However, fantasy owner’s should note that even though Jones will likely be the lead back, he will be running behind a questionable offensive line that ranked in the bottom half of the league last year.
5: D.J. Moore (Carolina Panthers)
A player walking into a favorable spot, D.J. Moore will likely enter camp as the Panthers WR2. He will have a chance to show his talent right away as he will likely receive plenty of targets from one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Moore was impressive in OTA’s and this is a position that the Panthers need talent at. Devin Funchess is a good receiver, but he’s not a true number one, and while it is still too early to tell what Moore will be, the Panthers drafted him in hopes of finding their future WR1.
4: Derrius Guice (Washington Redskins)
The Redskins haven’t had a real three-down back in years, and Derrius Guice looks to be just that. The only question mark he has is his pass catching ability which really isn’t even that questionable. It’s simply that Chris Thompson is better at it and will likely be used more to catch passes out of the backfield until Guice proves he can do it consistently at this level.
The second round pick appears to have a good chance at being the feature back for the Redskins, but if they find themselves down like they often did last year, it puts a serious dent in Guice’s fantasy value, especially if Thompson is still the one catching the passes out of the backfield.
3: Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)
Gesicki had a great college career at Penn State, and although it isn’t common for rookie tight end’s to make an immediate impact, Dolphin’s quarterback Ryan Tannehill has already stated that Gesicki has shown “flashes” of being a serious threat. An offense that is looking to rebuild after a year of Jay Cutler, and the loss of star receiver Jarvis Landry, Gesicki will have every opportunity to make himself a feature of the new look Dolphin offense.
2: Rashaad Penny (Seattle Seahawks)
After a year of injury plagued running backs, the Seahawks spent a first round pick on Penny in hopes of him taking over the RB1 role. A talented back on what is still a very talented offense, Penny will get every opportunity to make himself the lead back.
With his only real competition coming from C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson, Penny should be drafted as a likely RB2.
1: Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
What should come as no surprise here, Saquon Barkley is the one player everyone seems to agree will be great. Considered by what seemed to be everyone except Cleveland as the consensus top prospect in the draft, Barkley finds himself in a favorable spot in New York. The Giants haven’t had a feature back in years, and Barkley appears to be the player that will change that.
Pair his insane potential with a dangerous passing attack that features the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, and the Giants look to potentially have one of the more dynamic offense’s in the league all of a sudden. There isn’t much more to say about this kid other than you should draft him if you get the chance because he will be off the board before the end of round two.