32 fantasy football impact rookies to watch

Credit: Paul Moseley

Credit: Paul Moseley

Most teams are close to concluding their offseason OTAs, so the newly drafted skill players we'll be focused on for our fantasy drafts have had a little taste of what life in the NFL will be like.

Some will have an early opportunity to make an impact, some will have to wait their turn. Regardless, you need to know every name on this list:


—Josh Rosen, Cardinals: There are two reasons I consider Rosen the only rookie quarterback worthy of keeping tabs on this season. His readiness to play and his ability plus the lack of belief in Sam Bradford making it through the 2018 NFL season unscathed.


—Saquon Barkley, Giants: Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette averaged 1,668 total yards and 13 total touchdowns their rookie season. Barkley is better and could be significantly more productive in the passing game. He's the only rookie worthy of a first round selection in your fantasy draft.

—Derrius Guice, Redskins: An Everest-sized chip on Guice's shoulder for falling deep into the second round and a system that fits him perfectly has me excited. If he flashes early in the preseason, he could be taken as high as the third round.

—Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: There's the matter of being able to pass protect at a high level, but once Penny conquers the skill, his upside is higher than anyone not named Barkley. You'll be pleased if you can select him anywhere outside of the third round.

—Royce Freeman, Broncos: Devontae Booker and De'Angelo Henderson won't hold back Freeman for long. He's been prolific at every stop. A fourth or fifth round investment could earn you Top 20 value.

—Ronald Jones, Buccaneers: Jones is a home run hitter who is expected to initially share carries with Peyton Barber heading into the 2018 season.

—Kalen Ballage, Dolphins: I'm a big fan of Kenyan Drake, but Ballage is capable of being special. If Drake remains healthy and productive, Ballage's ceiling this season could be as a touchdown vulture, which would make him worthy of a late flier.

—Sony Michel, Patriots: Michel's talent alone is cause for excitement, but you never know how Darth Belichick plans on utilizing his talent, or how frequently. Pay close attention during the preseason.

—Kerryon Johnson, Lions: Free-agent acquisition LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah are all reason to curb your enthusiasm, but it wouldn't surprise me if Johnson has carved out a significant role by the fantasy playoffs.

—Nick Chubb, Browns: Free-agent acquisition Carlos Hyde has played a full 16 games once during his four-year career (last year).

—Nyheim Hines, Colts: Hines will be an asset in PPR leagues if he truly becomes the Darren Sproles of Frank Reich's offense.

—Justin Jackson, Chargers: Jackson is a workhorse — 5,440 career rushing yards as a four-year starter at Northwestern — and a great pass catcher. If Melvin Gordon doesn't prove durable, Jackson could make a difference.


—Calvin Ridley, Falcons: Ridley has been "explosive" during OTAs, according to Atlanta's head coach Dan Quinn. His familiarity with the offense — offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian coached him during his freshman season at Alabama — should ease the transition to the NFL.

—DJ Moore, Panthers: Moore separates himself from Devin Funchess with his ability to make plays after the catch.

—Courtland Sutton, Broncos: Sutton and fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton (keep an eye on him as well) received first-team reps during OTAs. Denver is clearly fast-tracking the youngsters in hopes they can contribute right away.

—Christian Kirk, Cardinals: Kirk will certainly compete to be the No. 2 option behind future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald — No. 3 if you count the return of David Johnson. Regardless, he will receive plenty of targets from the slot, where he can utilize his world-class playmaking ability.

—Anthony Miller, Bears: I expect Miller to earn the starting spot opposite of Allen Robinson. He's personally set a goal of eight touchdowns his rookie season. You have to appreciate his confidence.

—Michael Gallup, Cowboys: Gallup will eventually slip into Dez Bryant's vacated role, thanks to a similar physicality. Allen Hurns is a stopgap and Terrance Williams has never met expectations.

—Equanimeous St. Brown, Packers: St. Brown is very talented and so is his quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

—James Washington, Steelers: College football's premier deep threat joins one of the NFL's most prolific offenses. If you thought Martavis Bryant had potential in this system ... wait till you get a load of him.

—Tre'Quan Smith, Saints: Smith will eventually replace Ted Ginn as Drew Brees' primary deep threat, which is a lucrative position to hold in fantasy football.

—Cedrick Wilson, Cowboys: Wilson's 694 deep pass receiving yards was good enough for second-most among NCAA draft-eligible FBS wideouts, according to Pro Football Focus.

—J'Mon Moore, Packers: See "Equanimeous St. Brown."

—DJ Chark, Jaguars: Chark is one of a few very talented wide receivers on this roster, but will Blake Bortles be able to take advantage.

—Deon Cain, Colts: The biggest question is obviously who will be throwing the ball to Cain. Regardless, only T.Y. Hilton is more talented and has more potential in this offense if Andrew Luck is under center.

—Dante Pettis, 49ers: Pettis is a taller DeSean Jackson with a more complete route tree and less top end speed, but similar big-play ability. If your league features bonus points for long touchdowns or special teams touchdowns, Pettis has extra value.

—Byron Pringle, Chiefs: Pringle was an undrafted free agent, but possesses similar potential to Chiefs top wideout Tyreek Hill.

—Marcell Ateman, Raiders: A disappointing performance at the NFL Combine caused Ateman's draft stock to crater, but there's potential here, especially in the red zone.


—Hayden Hurst, Ravens: There's a chance Hurst develops into Joe Flacco's top target as a 25-year-old rookie.

—Mike Gesicki, Dolphins: He's already "flashed a couple of times" during OTAs, according to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Miami has lacked consistent red zone weapons. Gesicki was drafted to address this.

—Ian Thomas, Panthers: If durability becomes an issue with Greg Olsen, Thomas will be a fantasy asset year one.

—Jordan Akins, Texans: Deshaun Watson's starting tight end will be a fantasy commodity worth investing in. The 26-year-old rookie is the most talented option in a current group of seven on Houston's roster.

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