While some may still be sleeping from their NFL Draft hangover, us over at overtimeheroics.net are already fully charged. The time between the draft and training camp is prime time for fantasy analysis, so we went right at it. A list was made to project the top fantasy performers in their rookie years. Then one player was chosen from that list in each round.
Whether it is Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, or Kyler Murray, recent fantasy rookies have been extremely valuable. The key to drafting fantasy rookies is tracking their playing time. The more snaps that they are going to be a part of, the more fantasy value they have. Some rookies end up buried on the bench despite elite potential. For example, Jordan Love has a high-end fantasy quarterback potential but is stuck behind Aaron Rodgers. Because Love won’t be making an impact this year, he wouldn’t be someone on this list.
Round One |Clyde Edwards-Helaire | RB | Kansas City Chiefs
AP News/ Vasha Hunt
Going from a little known prospect to the first-round is already enough to make a man grin from ear to ear. Add-in getting picked by the Kansas City Chiefs, that smile may never go away. Enter Helaire, suddenly thrust into the middle of the most electric team in the league. Compared by his future coach Andy Reid to longtime Eagle Brian Westbrook, Edwards-Helaire would love to find that kind of success. Kansas City made Damien Williams into a second-round draft choice last year, and he does not have nearly the pass game chops as Edwards-Helaire. Don’t expect him to be a bell-cow by any stretch. Coach Reid has shown no inclination to give a running back 30 touches in a game. Most of his work will come through the air. My projection here is somewhere close to Alvin Kamara’s rookie year.
Reasonable projection: 600 yards rushing, six TD’s, 700 yards receiving, 70 catches, five TD’s
Close Call | CeeDee Lamb | WR | Dallas Cowboys
Round Two| Denzel Mims | WR |New York Jets
AP News/ Jerry Larson
Mims is an athletic marvel with rare 4.39 speed for a man who is measured at 6’3 and weighs 207 pounds. Along with the game-breaking physical abilities, Mims profiles correctly here because of the Jets’ lack of talent around him. Immediately set to start out wide opposite Breshad Perriman, Mims should be in line for plenty of targets. As Sam Darnold goes into his third year, the pressure is on, and using Mims to stretch the field will make life easier for everyone. Mims goes into Robby Anderson’s old role that has produced over 90 targets every year. If Mims can turn a few of those missed Anderson targets into catches, he will be the fantasy steal of the second round.
Reasonable projection: 57 Catches, 800 Receiving yards, seven TD’s
Close Call | Michael Pittman Jr. | WR | Indianapolis Colts
Round Three | Antonio Gibson | WR/RB | Washington Redskins
Speaking of Kamara, Washington hopes that maybe they have found an even better receiving version of him. Primarily expected to be used as a wide receiver in the slot, Gibson is actually a running back by trade. If he can get comfortable running the ball in the NFL, they could have a big-time fantasy playmaker here. All of the main running backs currently employed by the Redskins are plodding runners. There is nothing electric about them. Washington’s offensive line is not the strength of the team, so the coaching staff must get creative. Getting Gibson the ball on draw plays, inside zones from the shotgun, and even jet sweeps, will all open up the offense. The worst-case scenario here is Washington only uses him as a receiver and severely limits his fantasy upside.
Reasonable projection: 500 yards receiving, 4 TD’s, 350 Yards rushing 3 TD’s
Close Call | Zach Moss | RB | Buffalo Bills
Round Four | Akeem Davis-Gaither | LB | Cincinnati Bengals
Photo: App State Athletics
Individual defensive player leagues are going to love this player and fit. Davis-Gaither goes into a slightly crowded Cincinnati linebacker room, albeit one that struggled last year. He is going to have to beat out either fellow rookie, Logan Wilson, or 2017 sixth-round pick Jordan Evans. With the way that Davis-Gaither plays, that won’t be an issue. His game tape is fast and aggressive. He covers tight ends and backs and also is efficient in the run game. Last season alone, he racked up 101 tackles with 14.5 going for a loss. He is not Darius Leonard, but he will get the job done for fantasy owners.
Reasonable projection: 90 Tackles, 3 tackles for loss, three sacks, three interceptions, four forced fumbles.
Close Call | Joshua Kelley | RB | Los Angeles Chargers
Round Five | Justin Rohrwasser | PK | New England Patriots
Bryan Walters/ OVP Sports
Round five lacked for instant offensive or defensive fantasy contributors. That led me down an unusual path of evaluating kickers. Rohrwasser will likely step in for Stephen Gostkowski as the new kicker, a role that does not change much on that team. They certainly have had a lot of continuity. If you combine that with the fact that Rohrwasser was the first kicker taken, and in the fifth round at that, it seems that Rohrwasser will be given every opportunity to win the job. If he succeeds, he has a chance to be a considerable fantasy sleeper at the end of your draft. New England is expected to get sloppy QB play, and they lack red-zone targets. If the team can move the ball through the run game and dink-and-dunk passes (they always have been), then maybe that leads to more stalled out red zone trips that turn to field goals.
Reasonable Projection: 30-35 on field goals, 33 extra points made
Close Call | Collin Johnson | WR | Jacksonville Jaguars
Round Six | Shaun Bradley | ILB | Philadelphia Eagles
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
Brought in with fellow 2020 draft pick, Davion Taylor, Bradley is part of the duo that Eagles fans hope will fix their linebacking corps. Fresh off of being a second-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in 2019, Bradley faces little pressure from the incumbents. The playing time will surely be there, and the production will have to follow. Rookie linebackers tend to pick up steam towards the end of the season. While some are hitting the rookie wall, most linebackers are at their best. Bradley should have a similar rookie season to that of Alec Ogletree’s rookie year in 2013.
Reasonable projection: 85 Tackles, 3 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles
Close Call | Quez Watkins | WR | Philadelphia Eagles
Round Seven | Eno Benjamin | RB | Arizona Cardinals
Getty Images/ Christian Petersen
Rookie fantasy prospects from the seventh round are few and far between. Philip Lindsay was a marvel of a fantasy player for someone who didn’t even hear his name called in the draft. However, he is the exception and not the rule. You need a perfect storm, and Eno Benjamin might have fallen into the ideal situation here. With only Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds ahead of him, Benjamin could be in line for a surprise rookie season. Here is a stat to keep an eye on. Last season, Benjamin caught more passes than Drake and Edmonds combined. Benjamin could be a handy, James White type player, especially in PPR formats.
Reasonable projection: 250 yards rushing, 1 TD, 500 yards receiving, 50 catches, five TD’s
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