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Fantasy Football 2018: Where to Draft the Rookie Quarterbacks and Running Backs


In most 10- or 12-team fantasy leagues, a handful of rookies will be taken by owners eager to see what the newest entrants into the NFL can for their team. Obviously in dynasty or keeper formats, the landscape changes and more rookies will be drafted.

However, for those taking part in a redraft league and are curious how to value the 2018 class, here are the quarterbacks and running backs to pay attention to on draft day and when to consider adding them to your roster.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Mayfield will end up being the Browns starter at some point this season, but the job belongs to Tyrod Taylor until then. Currently in redraft leagues, Mayfield isn’t even being taken. However, in two-quarterback leagues, he is worth a draft pick. Until then, he should remain on the waiver wire. It appears that the Browns will have a decent offense this year, but it’s not worth a gamble on Mayfield on draft day.

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

While Jackson has shown glimpses of not only being a mobile quarterback but also a decent passer, he will still be Joe Flacco’s backup. He hasn’t shown nearly enough in the preseason to even threaten Flacco's job security. Flacco is 33, but he typically stays healthy. Jackson will be next in line if Flacco were to miss time, but in redraft leagues, he’s not worth a draft pick.

Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Another backup is Rosen. He suffered a thumb injury in the preseason, and while it is believed to be a minor issue, it doesn’t bode well for his chances of immediately wresting the starting job from Sam Bradford. However, Bradford isn’t typically the picture of health, so it seems evident that Rosen will take over at some point. Until then, he can stay on waivers in redraft formats.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

To no one's surprise, Barkley is the top rookie in almost any format. He’s shown in the preseason that he has the potential to live up to the hype. However, he did suffer a hamstring injury that has limited his practice time and from appearing in much of the preseason action (not that missing a preseason game is an indicator of anything). He is currently being drafted in the first round, and assuming he can stay healthy, is a clear RB1. He’s going to be a bell-cow back for the Giants and is worth the early draft pick.

Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos

Currently, Freeman is going around the top of the fourth round, which seems a little high. He’s going to share work with Devontae Booker. Booker will likely open the season as the starter with Freeman getting his opportunities. He doesn’t seem to be involved in the passing game, so fantasy owners will have to hope that he’s going to be the go-to goal-line back. Since touchdowns are fluky, let someone else take Freeman in the fourth round.

Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots

Going in the seventh round, Michel is kind of a gamble. He’s missed the preseason with a knee injury that required a scope at the beginning of August. The Patriots liked him enough to use a high draft pick on him, but it’s not clear how well that will translates to the NFL. The knee injury is a bit of a concern, as it’s not a guarantee he’ll bounce back 100 percent from it. Wait till after the seventh round to gamble on him.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Penny is being taken early in the eighth round. He was a popular target early in the preseason, but suffered a broken finger in mid-August, which required surgery. The timeline on that recovery was three to four weeks, which would creep up on the start of the season. In the meantime, Chris Carson has taken over the lead running back role for the Seahawks. It’s entirely likely that Penny can stake his claim once the season begins and challenge Carson for the lion's share of carries, but it’s a gamble that shouldn't be taken until the eighth round, if not later.

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Chubb has the potential to be a solid running back. However, he’s playing for the Browns and he has both Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson ahead of him on the depth chart. While Johnson is primarily a receiver out of the backfield, Hyde will likely get the majority of the carries with Chubb relieving him. If Hyde were to go down, Chubb would get the opportunity, but at this point, he should just be drafted as a handcuff to Hyde.

Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

Similar to Chubb, the problem for Johnson is the people ahead of him on the depth chart. He could have potential, but he has to contend with Ameer Abdullah, LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick. The four backs are too many for fantasy owners to contend with, and it’s going to be hard to trust any of them. Blount will likely get the work at the goal line. Riddick is usually involved in the passing game, but how the touches are distributed is anyone's guess. Johnson is a late-round flier at this point.

-- Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Athlon Sports’ 2018 Fantasy Football magazine, available for purchase online and at newsstands everywhere.

Athlon Sports 2018 Fantasy Football Magazine

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