Over the past few years, rookies have been a big commodity for fantasy football, and I love it. There is something about rookie selections in fantasy that is so tempting. Since you can get most rookies for a bargain, it feels good when you can grab one in the draft and at this point in the season, you are plugging them into your lineup every week.
It is no shock that each year you have new talent that comes in and changes the teams they are on. However, it is a shock when we look back and think about how cheap we could have picked these players in our fantasy drafts. In 2014, Mike Evans’ average draft position was around 100, and Odell Beckham Jr. largely went undrafted in fantasy that year. These players were game changers and still remain at a high level of value today. The next year, Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon both got plenty of respect going into their rookie season. Both of whom were being drafted, on average, within the 3rd to 5th rounds. However, Stefon Diggs, David Johnson, and Jay Ajayi essentially went undrafted in most drafts that year.
2017 Rookie Class
After consecutive years of rookie excellence, it led us to 2017, where we saw players like Kareem Hunt, who was drafted 86th overall and became a top five running back on the season. Evan Engram, who was drafted 23rd overall in the draft, and largely went undrafted in fantasy, became a week in and week out starter at the tight end position. Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Deshaun Watson, Evan Engram, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alvin Kamara, Cooper Kupp, Kareem Hunt, Kenny Golladay, and Tarik Cohen. This list leaves out a few players that would fall into this rookie class that are now having a profound effect in football, but I should get to my point.
Over the past few years, we have a boosted respect and a higher expectation for the incoming rookie classes. I noticed that it has had an effect on the drafting strategies for fantasy football players, especially this year. This year, the rookie class was hyped a great deal between the draft and the beginning of the season. The overall average draft rankings for rookie players this year were:
- Saquon Barkley (NYG): 7
- Royce Freeman (DEN): 54
- Kerryon Johnson (DET): 65
- Sony Michel (NE): 71
- Rashaad Penny (SEA): 95
- Ronald Jones (TB): 118
- Derrius Guice (WSH): 128
- Nick Chubb (CLE): 134
- Calvin Ridley (ATL): 135
- DJ Moore (CAR): 138
- Michael Gallup (DAL): 150
As you can see, rookies are starting to get more respect in fantasy football drafts. When you look at these draft positions, you can see that drafters are not taking much of a risk either. After all, the majority of these players were taken on average after the 8th round. Not a bad deal if you ask me. especially since your later round picks are your wait and see candidates. This year, we have already seen some of these rookies rise to a significant level, while others we are still waiting to see what happens.
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