Fantasy football is constantly changing. While all great players eventually fade away with reduced production, there are always new risers that can make or break a season.
A few years ago, Odell Beckham Jr. came out of nowhere and exploded onto the fantasy scene. He ended up winning a lot of fantasy leagues for people. Last season, most people were on Dalvin Cook as the best of the rookie bunch, but it ended up being Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt who played lights out for both their real life teams as well as fantasy owners.
Successfully determining which rookies will have the best first season can go a long way to lead you to your league’s playoffs and a potential fantasy championship.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn’t even entertain trade offers for the second pick in the draft. He was locked in on taking Barkley, and the team is surely planning on feeding him the rock early and often to start his career. In bolstering the line, the Giants also picked up a beast in OG Will Hernandez to plow the way for their new star running back.
Also helping Barkley’s cause is a passing attack full of talented receivers, in Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and prolific tight end Evan Engram. These guys will attract a lot of defensive attention, likely leaving less defenders in the box for Barkley to contend with. If Eli Manning can regain his old form, Barkley should also have plenty of scoring opportunities in 2018 and beyond.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks
Penny was definitely underrated coming into the draft and the Seahawks really took a leap of faith in drafting him with the 27th overall pick. Many draft boards had other runners ahead of him, but the Hawks got their guy. Seattle’s offensive line needs to play better, but the offense should improve this season, giving Penny ample scoring opportunities, which he had regularly capitalized on during his collegiate career.
Head Coach Pete Carroll commented on his first-round pick, saying, “he is also going to be a three-down back for us and he can do everything.”
Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys
While there were perhaps more talented receivers drafted ahead of him, Gallup is in the best position to succeed coming out of the gate. The receiver-starved Cowboys recently released Dez Bryant and Jason Witten’s retirement is apparently imminent, with rumors hinting he will be joining the MNF broadcast team.
Dallas doesn’t have the luxury to wait, and they will likely thrust him into the starting lineup immediately. If he can develop a rapport with Dak ahead of the season, Gallup has a good chance to lead all rookie receivers in fantasy this season.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots
The Patriots selected Michel at the end of the first round. The team let Dion Lewis walk in free agency, and while they desperately needed a replacement, this draft was very deep at the RB position. Michel has plenty of talent, and while the Pats traditionally shy away from three-down backs, they have also consistently generated several productive fantasy RBs on a yearly basis. Look for Michel to start off strong for the perennially potent Pats.