Rookies every year are becoming a more integral part of NFL offences, thus making them big parts of our Fantasy Football lineups. Impressive rookie years out of both Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette in recent memory have led to Fantasy Football team managers using high picks on rookies more often.
Let’s evaluate the upcoming 2018 talent, here are my 2018 rookies in order of how I think they’ll produce.
As a quick reminder: all intents and purposes, WinColumnSports uses ESPN PPR scoring when it comes to evaluating players.
1. Saquon Barkley, RB
This should be no secret to anybody; Barkley was highly coveted in the NFL draft, and in my opinion should’ve been the #1 overall pick. He “fell” to the New York Giants at #2 and will be tasked with carrying most of the RB touches.
I currently have Saquon Barkley as an RB#4 in PPR formats. He slips a bit more in standard scoring, but we don’t evaluate for standard. (Bell, Gurley, Johnson, Barkley).
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur has a good track with utilizing running backs in both the run and pass game and Barkley won’t be an exception. He probably won’t get as much workload as the three guys in front of him, but has the talent to potentially be a 1,000/1,000 at some point in his career.
Expect Barkley to be the first rookie taken off the board in all scoring formats.
2. Rashaad Penny, RB
Let’s not forget that the Seahawks have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, so Penny isn’t really in an ideal situation. He did, however, have the most missed tackles forced in college football last year with San Diego State.
Penny, who’s only 5’11/220, has explosive speed (40 yards, 4.46); combine that with the ability to make people miss and once he gets downfield he’ll be a tough guy to bring down. He may have to compete for touches with Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise, though I fully expect him to get most of the workload.
Penny might not be the best running back in this draft, but he may very well be the best playmaker.
3. Derrius Guice, RB
Derrius Guice was one of the question marks in the draft, as his off-field attitude allowed him to slip to the Redskins at #59 despite being pinned by almost everybody as a first-round talent.
First, off it goes without saying that Guice will be the #1 RB on the depth chart heading into his rookie year as he’s simply better than Samaje Perine and more versatile than Chris Thompson. However, Guice will lose some touches to Chris Thompson, who last year showed he can be an elite passing-down RB.
It’s worth noting though that Chris Thompson is incredibly injury prone, even dating back to college. It might be worth reaching on Guice, who by the end of the season has the potential to be an every-down back for the Redskins.
4. Ronald Jones, RB
I believe Ronald Jones will be the Bucs #1 RB by the end of the year, if not at the beginning. He doesn’t have to beat out any quality talent as both Peyton Barber and Charles Sims finished in the bottom third of the league according to PFF evaluation.
The Buccaneers do enjoy running the ball, but they really haven’t had the man to do it as Doug Martin has gone in and out of suspension over the years. Ronald Jones should provide some stability for the Bucs going forward, and will be an integral part of their offence.
The 2018 rookies really drop off after #3, but I think that Ronald Jones is the best in tier 2.
5. Sony Michel, RB
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know a lot of things, but one of the things I can be sure on every year is the Patriots rostering 4+ RB’s who will all make an impact. I don’t think the Patriots drafted Sony Michel so high to have him sit on the bench, and he’ll have a role in that offence. The only question is how big of a role will he get.
Michel will fit in well with an offence that likes to get the ball out of Brady’s hands as quick as possible. Michel, just like Penny is an exciting playmaker that can truly excel with limited touches.
It’s worth noting that the Patriots currently have Burkhead, Hill and James White all under contract. Michel will be part of a very, very crowded backfield.
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