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Fantasy Football 2018: Where to Draft the Rookie Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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Typically when drafting rookies for fantasy football, wide receivers are the best bet for dynasty formats as their shelf life is the longest. However, in redraft leagues, quarterbacks and running backs are usually the first to be drafted.

Often wide receivers have to learn the NFL playbook and work their way up the pecking order. Sometimes, a player is a standout rookie, but this year’s crop doesn’t seem to have one of those. Here are the rookie wideouts and one tight end to keep on your radar come draft day and where to consider taking them.

D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

While the Carolina Panthers revamped their wide receiving corps in the offseason, the addition of Moore means that there are more mouths to feed. He will start the season behind Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith, although it is possible he can work his way into two-wide sets instead of three-wide. The offense is going to feature plenty of Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen in the passing game as well, limiting Moore’s outlook. He’s being taken in the later rounds, which is the right spot for him.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Gallup will start the season behind Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley I the pecking order. The receiving corps isn’t quite what it used to be with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten both gone, but Dak Prescott will make it work. Trying to see where Gallup fits in will be tough as there may not be enough targets to go around to make him fantasy relevant, especially early in the season. He is a WR4 with upside.

Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears

The appeal with Miller is that he will likely be the Bears' slot receiver. Mitchell Trubisky needs someone who can fill in the slot for the times he just can’t get the ball downfield. The Bears need someone in that position and this year it appears it’s going to be Miller. He will play and will see targets. In PPR formats, he’s a low WR3 and worth a pick in the later rounds.


Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

The upside of Ridley is that he’ll be playing opposite Julio Jones, who demands most of the defense's attention. If Ridley slides in at No. 2 that should leave him plenty of room to operate on the other side of the field. To get there, the first-round pick will have to pass Mohamed Sanu on the depth chart. At this point, Ridley is certainly worth drafting in the late rounds, but don’t plan on starting him right away.

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Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' depth chart is still up in the air, but it does seem that Kirk may slot behind Larry Fitzgerald as the No. 2 WR. If so, this would give him fantasy value, however, no official announcement has been made. In addition, the limitations of Sam Bradford may hinder Kirk’s ability to become fantasy relevant. He has looked good in the preseason, but the real test will come in Week 1. Kirk should be owned, but don’t reach for him.

Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos

With Case Keenum at the helm, the Broncos' receivers should be factors downfield once again. Sutton will start out third in line, behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. He will have to fight for targets, but if he can work his way into the lineup, he will have fantasy value. Sutton is worth a late-round pick in redraft leagues.

Mike Gesicki, TE, Miami Dolphins

Rookie tight ends are historically tough to trust, although every now and then one breaks through (see Evan Engram in 2017). However, Baltimore's Hayden Hurst recently underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot and he will miss the first few weeks of the season, at minimum. That leaves Gesicki as the only other rookie TE with appeal, but the jury is definitely still out on him following a poor showing in the preseason. He still has plenty of potential and the preseason is not necessarily the best measure for how rookies fare when the games count, but for now Gesicki is a TE2 that can be drafted in the later rounds or might be available on the waiver wire.

-- 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

(Top photo courtesy of www.atlantafalcons.com)