Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott appears to be in the ideal situation to provide immediate fantasy production
While it was fun to speculate what would happen if certain players went to certain teams before the NFL Draft, now that all the picks have been made, we can actually look at the fantasy value for some of the rookies.
In dynasty leagues, values may be different, so this is just a look at redraft leagues for 2016. Here are the top 10 rookies for 2016, albeit still four months until the season actually starts.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, DAL
Without question, the rookie running back worth drafting is Elliott. He will likely be the first rookie off draft boards this fall, and the arguments for him make sense. He has the talent, he's on a team that will use him, and Dallas' offensive line is one of the best in the league. Elliott immediately steps in as the No. 1 running back for the Cowboys, sending Darren McFadden back to possibly handle third downs as needed. Alfred Morris will step in when Elliott needs a break, but this is going to be Elliott's backfield. McFadden, behind Dallas' offensive line ran for more than 1,000 yards (and he wasn't given more than 10 carries until Week 7). It seems great, but keep in mind Elliott is still a rookie running back. Rookies sometimes struggle as they start in the NFL. He's worth a pick in the early second round of drafts, but it's a reach to grab him in the first round.
Corey Coleman, WR, CLE
Coleman could have done well on a team that already had a solid No. 1 wide receiver, but instead he ended up on a team desperate for a reliable, productive target. With Josh Gordon likely out for the 2016 season (and possibly indefinitely), Coleman will step in as the go-to guy in Cleveland. With guys like Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins leading the receiver corps before Coleman joined, he immediately would become the top target for Robert Griffin III or whoever is under center for the Browns. He also has some value on special teams, if your league's scoring system includes return statistiscs.
Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
Originally when looking at Henry and the scouting reports, it seemed that he would work best in an offense that also has a pass-catching running back to come in and share the workload. It just so happens that the Tennessee Titans signed DeMarco Murray, who certainly can catch the ball. Henry will likely complement Murray, but may end up with goal-line work as well. At this point, it's Murray's fantasy value that takes a hit, while Henry has the potential to be a RB3.
Sterling Shepard, WR, NYG
Before the draft, Shepard wasn't one of the most touted receivers on the board, but now that he's joined the New York Giants, he'll have fantasy value this year. Besides Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants don't have another solid receiver on the team. Shepard will play alongside Beckham, and he'll likely begin the season as the third receiver (assuming Victor Cruz's healthy enough to finally return). Luckily for him, Eli Manning likes three-wide receiver sets. Look for Shepard to step in as a WR4 with potential to become a WR3 sooner rather than later.
Paul Perkins, RB, NYG
The Giants added both a wide receiver and a running back that may make an impact for fantasy owners this year. Perkins has been compared to Devonta Freeman (last year's No. 1 fantasy RB). With only Rashad Jennings truly ahead of him on the depth chart (Shane Vereen will just handle passing downs), Perkins will likely see a significant amount of playing time in 2016. Jennings owners should definitely draft him as a handcuff, but even non-Jennings owners might want to consider grabbing him in the later rounds of the draft.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, MIN
While the Vikings don't have the best track record in drafting wide receivers (Cordarrelle Patterson), it's worth taking another shot to see if Treadwell pans out. He'll fit right into their offense, opposite Stefon Diggs. While Teddy Bridgewater hasn't shown that he can make his receivers consistently look good, he may be given the opportunity to throw the ball more this year. As Treadwell continues to heal from his injury (a devastating lower leg injury from 2014), he should gain some of the speed he was lacking at the Scouting Combine back. He's a late-round sleeper for 2016.
Jordan Howard, RB, CHI
It's hard to say that a player that will be buried on the depth chart will have fantasy value, but Jeremy Langford is truly the only back ahead of Howard in Chicago. Langford did get a chance to be the starter when Matt Forte was injured last season, but he wasn't very consistent with his opportunity. He didn't hit 100 rushing yards in a single game, but he did play a role in the passing game. If Langford is used on passing downs, perhaps Howard can step in with goal-line carries, between-the-tackles carries and eventually, perhaps, the starting role. He's a late-round sleeper.
Josh Doctson, WR, WAS
The biggest strength that Doctson has at this point is his size (6-'2), which makes him taller than Pierre Garcon. Doctson does have potential to be a WR3 for fantasy purposes this year. Washington will likely try to use him in the red zone because of his size. Playing behind DeSean Jackson and Garcon, Doctson doesn't start the season with a lot of fantasy potential, but an injury to either receiver vaults him into possible fantasy relevance.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, BAL
While Dixon was a fourth-round pick, it is possible that he will not only see the field, but also have fantasy value this year. Javorius Allen showed that he isn't going to win the starting job. Justin Forsett will be 31 during the season, and he's likely not going to make it through all 16 games. Dixon will be the next man up. Forsett owners should be sure to draft him with the hope that Dixon can pass Allen on the depth chart.
Jared Goff, QB, LA
Goff is on this list mainly because he's the No. 1 overall pick. As it stands now, Goff doesn't figure to have much fantasy value this season in standard 12-team leagues. He may end up being a bye week fill-in, but that's about it. He's going to be the starter for the Rams, but it's not like the Rams have a ton of weapons to help him succeed. The Rams' offense is going to revolve around Todd Gurley, and unfortunately that doesn't help Goff. He needs better receivers in order to be fantasy relevant outside of two-QB leagues.
Michael Thomas, WR, NO
He's playing with Drew Brees and has potential to play in three-WR sets. There are always a lot of mouths to feed in New Orleans, but if Thomas can make his presence known, he can have some value.
Will Fuller, WR, HOU
He's going to be opposite DeAndre Hopkins and will step into a starting role. However, he does have Brock Osweiler throwing to him, which may be a downside. Hopkins is still an elite WR1, but if Fuller can carve out some targets the rookie also will have some fantasy value in 2016.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.