Rookies are exciting. As soon as the first night of the NFL Draft is over every April, fantasy players around the world start projecting stats and getting excited at the possibilities that lie ahead for rookies. Did the best RB in the draft just get taken by a team with a great offensive line? Think about Ezekiel Elliott a couple of years ago. That was one of the highest rated runners in recent years going to an offense that had 2 Pro-Bowlers on the line. Fantasy players everywhere were salivating…and for good reason. In cases like that, you know there are going to be some great numbers put up, but it isn’t the case with every rookie. Keep in mind that for a lot of guys, it takes a while to adjust to the NFL. I have no problem with drafting several rookies that you think will do well; just don’t load your roster with a bunch of them in the first 6 or 7 rounds, or you’ll be disappointed.
Having said that, here are my top fantasy football rookies for 2018:
Saquon Barkley (RB, Giants): This one is obvious. Barkley is the most talented and dynamic player that was drafted in 2018. He has breakaway speed, great vision, and is a nightmare for defensive backs to tackle. Saquon is not afraid to lower the shoulder to get the extra yards. He will be among the NFL’s top running backs, and it won’t take long for his name to be in that conversation. Take his potential and add the fact that he is an every-down running back who excels in the passing game, and you have a top-5 caliber fantasy player… as a rookie. It will be something special to watch.
Calvin Ridley (WR, Falcons): Calvin Ridley is a talented receiver out of Alabama. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, who have another talented receiver from the Tide. Maybe you’ve heard of him… Julio Jones? That will be quite the WR duo in Atlanta. Calvin Ridley should put up pretty good numbers in the high-flying Falcons’ offense. He has one of the best QBs in the league slinging him the ball, and Julio will be getting most of the attention from defensive coordinators. I envision quite a few receptions for Ridley due to the volume of targets from Matt Ryan.
Sony Michel (RB, Patriots): Dion Lewis signed with the Titans, leaving Rex Burkhead, James White, and Jeremy Hill as the primary candidates to receive touches in New England’s backfield. The Patriots added dynamic playmaker Sony Michel to the mix in April, and he will make an immediate impact. Anyone who watched the UGA/Oklahoma Rose Bowl knows just how special Michel can be. He is rarely tackled by the first defender who tries. James White is mostly a pass-catcher, so Michel will likely be battling Burkhead and Hill for early-down carries, and he is simply more talented than both of them. Owning a Patriots’ running back in fantasy is often frustrating because they are rotated so much, but I don’t see how Sony doesn’t get the lion’s share of carries and several receptions per game.
There are several more rookies who will make noise in the preseason and early weeks of the regular season, so make sure you tune in and watch! Fantasy football is more than just numbers…especially in preseason. The eye test can tell you who is worth drafting.