This will be one of the weaker offensive draft classes in recent memory. There are no immediately great quarterbacks, the running backs appear to be in committee backfields, and the receivers always need time to adjust to an NFL offense.
There is some great value in dynasty/keeper leagues, but yearly leagues will see minimal value from this class. It has great potential to be a great crop of players in a few years, but for 2017, returns will be minimal.
These are the 13 2017 rookies that Fantasy owners must keep an eye on in the later rounds of their draft.
*Ordered by position in terms of impact in 2017*
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (ADP: 155)
He gets the nod for best player from me because he has the best offense of all the rookies. Rarely will a quarterback come into the league with a solid running game, one of the best receivers in the game (DeAndre Hopkins), and up and coming players in Will Fuller III and Braxton Miller.
Watson’s value takes a tumble because it appears that the Texans are perfectly content with letting him take his time and learn the game. Tom Savage is the incumbent, and eventually, Watson will replace him, but Watson’s main value lies in 2018 and beyond.
We all saw what Watson could do in Clemson, his games against Alabama were pure brilliance. That will shine through to the NFL just not this season.
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears (ADP: 279)
Trubisky gets the slight nod over Mahomes because Chicago will be forced to start their rookie quarterback this season. That is the issue, the team is just not very good.
On offense, there is Cameron Meredith, who at the very least will be a solid WR2 and Jordan Howard who was a great runner last season. Outside of those two, there is no long term talent on the team. Sure Kevin White is on the team but the Bears have been waiting for him to break out and stay healthy for years.
The team is in a transition and Trubisky had his doubters coming into the draft after only winning a handful of games at North Carolina. There is really no value here unless you get that desperate or just want to be a cheeky Bears fan. Just avoid Trubisky in 2017.
Patrick Mahomes II, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP: 311)
There is only one way I can sum up Mahomes. I love his throwing, I just hate the way he does it. Mahomes was one of the rawest quarterback prospects coming out of Texas Tech. He could make all the throws but often did them on the run or with terrible mechanics.
Mahomes has all the tools to be elite, he has a rocket for an arm, can scramble, and just has a knack for making plays.
His college highlights are Madden-esque. This though is the NFL and he will have to learn to be a pocket passer, and head coach Andy Reid will have no problem taking all of this season to teach him. With Alex Smith under center, the Chiefs can slowly bring Mahomes along.
Smith may be my least favorite quarterback because he is too conservative, but he wins games and that will keep him under center. This is still Smith’s team for at least another year.
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars (ADP: 22)
Have you heard of this Ezekiel Elliot guy? Guess he had a pretty good rookie season, man I wonder if Fournette can do the same thing?
Oh, you naive hypothetical Fantasy Football player. Elliot was a combination of great talent and the perfect situation, and while some may debate that Fournette is better than Elliot, do not expect the stats to reflect the notion.
Now, Fournette’s value sadly depends on Blake Bortles being able to find some semblance of an NFL quarterback. Bortles had a disastrous 2016 season and will need to bounce back in a big way to keep defenses from stacking the box.
Bortles will have Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee at his disposal once again. If the passing game clicks then Fournette will be a 1,300-yard rusher. If the passing game struggles once again then Fournette’s ceiling is around 1,000 yards.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 32)
This was my least favorite, favorite pick of the 2016 draft. I loved that Cam Newton got another weapon on offense, I just hated that it was another running back.
That is not a shot against McCaffrey, but rather an indictment on how futile the Panthers’ receivers have been as of late. No receiver had a catch rate higher than 57%. Seriously coach, put me in, I can produce those numbers at a vet minimum.
Now McCaffery is in the fold and that lack of true receiving threats may actually work out in his favor. He showed how dynamic he was at Stanford and will continue that play in the NFL even if he is “small” for the position.
The biggest drain to this value will be Johnathan Stewart and a bad Carolina offensive line. Stewart still has plenty left in the tank and will take most of the goal line touches, well the ones that Newton leaves for the running backs. The offensive line was porous last season and could hurt the running game once again.
McCaffery has plenty of value and will be a true PPR stud. He will be in the talks for Rookie of the Year but he will start slow as he waits for the Panthers to give him touches.
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (ADP: 54)
Vikings’ fans do not check under their bed for monsters, they check under their bed for their 2016 offensive line.
I tried to make how bad that offensive line was for running backs funny, that is what you get. Sorry, but it was just that bad. PFF ranked them as the 4th worst in the NFL and it did not get much better in the off season.
The Vikings drafted Cook to replace Adrian Peterson but they had already signed Latavius Murray. Cook’s value eludes me, he can be a great runner but the line will not be opening a lot of holes and Murray will be stealing a lot of touches.
I would avoid Cook and let him be a headache for someone else.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 40)
I love Joe Mixon the football player. He is my 2017 Rookie of the Year. Yes, I know all about his past but when I am drafting my hypothetical football team of players, past transgressions do not cross my mind.
If you hold his past against him I completely understand, but this is not about his personal life, this is about his football life. Mixon has all the talent in the world and comes into a good situation. Giovani Bernard is coming off an injury and Jeremy Hill has lost the magic he once had, the job is for the taking.
Defenses will be focusing on A.J. Green, allowing Mixon to power behind one of the best offensive lines…. Wait I am receiving a call… Yes, Yes… I see… He went where? Cleveland and LA? Interesting.
Sorry, everyone, my sources have informed me that Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth have left for the Browns and Rams respectively. Now you see why even though I love the talent potential, an offensive line can ruin an offense. See the Minnesota Vikings’ 2016 offense.
If the offensive line can hold up, then Mixon is the best rookie in this draft class. If Hill and Bernard steal carriers and they fail to replace Zeitler and Whitworth, then Mixon will struggle to be your RB2. Draft with those things in mind.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 91)
Davis finally gives quarterback Marcus Mariota a true number one receiver. Coming out of Western Michigan, some worried about Davis adjusting to the elite level of talent.
Owners need not worry as Davis will be relied on from day and should have plenty of targets. The Titans signed Eric Decker, and he should help Davis come along in the NFL. The Titans’ run game and defense will not allow defenses to double Davis, he will be able to work one-on-one consistently.
He has the highest upside of any rookie wideout and owners should draft him as a depth player and expect him to turn into a solid flex player.
Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 174)
Jones gets the nod here because of what he has around him. Defenses need to double fellow receiver Sammy Watkins and worry about quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy.
Defenses will be forced to go one-on-one with Jones and he has the talent to take advantage of opposing corner backs. His ADP has him in the last rounds of the draft and owners should grab him, at the very worst Jones will be a good bye week replacement.
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: 143)
Andy Dalton is a great quarterback when he is surrounded by elite talent. The Bengals still have A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, now they need Ross to develop quickly.
He can be a great deep ball player, he has the combine record with a 4.22 40 yard dash. If the Bengals take advantage of his speed like the Chiefs did with Tyreek Hill last season, then Ross will be a steal. He is worth a pick and stashing him on your bench while the Bengals figure out how to deploy him in their offense.
Mike Williams, LA Chargers (ADP: 154)
Williams may be in the best spot for this year’s receivers, but he already has been hurt. He could need back surgery and that will take him out for most, if not all of his season. That places him low on my list.
If he can get healthy and on the field, he has all the talent to produce. He will have to work to crack a deep receiving corps that already has Keenan Allen, Travis Benjamin, and Tyrell Williams. Philip Rivers will love having a tall receiver like Mike Williams.
He can be a great spot start for owners this season, his health is just an issue right now.
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: 120)
Howard was drafted as the final piece to the Bucs offense. They added DeSean Jackson in the offseason to add a pure vertical threat, and Howard will have plenty of space to work in the middle of the field.
Howard’s value takes a slight hit because Cameron Bate emerged as a threat last season. Bate had eight touchdowns last season, so Howard will have a lot of competition in the red zone. Wide receiver Mike Evans is a great jump ball player, so Howard will likely be a third option inside the 20.
In a volatile tight end spot, Howard will be a good player to draft late and see what his value can be. Expect him to be just a spot start player this year.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 221)
I believe in the Browns, kinda, well just a little. The offense has potential and if everything falls perfectly, Njoku can be a stud. Do not bother drafting him but keep a very close eye on him for a waiver pickup.
|2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit|
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