While fantasy football owners in dynasty leagues have been analyzing the rookies (and likely drafting them) for months, those in redraft leagues may not be as familiar with those players that were taken by their NFL teams back in April. Rookies can struggle in their first season in the NFL, but some break through and excel. Fantasy owners need to know which rookies to draft and when to draft them.
The quarterback pool is somewhat shallow this year, but there are plenty of running backs that fantasy owners in redraft leagues may look to take a chance on.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Murray is the first rookie quarterback off the board in most drafts, and it’s not close. He’s currently being drafted as the 13th quarterback and the other rookies are not being drafted even as a backup. In the preseason so far, Murray has struggled a bit. He has the weapons to be successful in Arizona, but he needs to put it all together. He’s a QB2 in redraft formats.
Dwayne Haskins, QB, Washington Redskins
In dynasty leagues, Haskins is certainly a top pick as he is likely the Redskins quarterback of the future. For 2019, however, Colt McCoy is still in the picture, although he is not expected to play at the start of the season. Case Keenum also is on the roster and the main competition for Haskins. It seems like the Redskins will likely use Keenum to start the season, but Haskins will play at some point (depending on how Keenum does). Haskins is currently the 31st quarterback off the board and should remain on the waiver wire except in two-quarterback leagues.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
The New York Giants are sticking by Eli Manning until he falters even more than he already has. Manning will be the starter and Jones will sit on the bench as long as possible, perhaps all season. In the preseason, Jones has looked... okay. He threw a touchdown in the second preseason game, but he also had two turnovers. This will likely be what fantasy owners will get in his rookie year, assuming he sees the field. He’s only worth drafting in two-quarterback leagues.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
The first rookie off draft boards is likely Jacobs. He was drafted to be a three-down back for Oakland. However, Jacobs still will have to hold off Doug Martin and Jalen Richard for carries and receptions. Martin shouldn’t be too hard to surpass on the depth chart as he’s been declining since his last great season in Tampa Bay in 2015. Jacobs is the 21st running back off the board, putting him as a low RB2.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
Just behind Josh Jacobs as a low RB2 is Montgomery. He’s in Chicago alongside Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis. Jordan Howard is no longer there, so the running back duties will somehow be shared between the three. Both Cohen and Montgomery can catch the ball out of the backfield, and the Bears will likely utilize both in their offense. Montgomery should be ahead of Davis on the depth chart, but the preseason and early weeks will show how this shakes out. Montgomery should be drafted in the fifth or sixth round.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Somewhere in the middle rounds, Sanders is being drafted as a low RB3. The problem for Sanders is Jordan Howard. Both running backs will operate in a committee and take touches away from each other. Sanders could end up being the lead back and therefore have great value in the eighth round or so. Howard had the chance to be a lead back in Chicago and didn’t really grab the role when he had the opportunity. It’s a situation to monitor, but Sanders could be worth the draft pick.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
With the struggles that Todd Gurley has faced, the Los Angeles Rams needed to grab a rookie in the draft to possibly fill in if Gurley is out for any length of time. Malcolm Brown is still listed behind Gurley on the depth chart, but Henderson may end up being the better handcuff to own. He’s being drafted in the 10th round or so, as the 39th running back off the board. He shouldn’t be drafted as someone fantasy owners are intending to start, but Gurley owners should absolutely grab their handcuff.
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
Another handcuff is Singletary. He’s not getting a ton of fantasy buzz (he’s the 50th running back being drafted), nor should he at this point. Singletary has more value in PPR formats, as he can catch the ball better than he can run with it. However, this is still LeSean McCoy’s offense and Frank Gore is his backup. With both of those running backs on the wrong side of 30, it is likely that Singletary will find the field at some point but he’s just a late-round stash at this point.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
Harris had a lot of preseason buzz, but then he suffered a hand injury. However, in the Patriots second preseason game, he looked like a solid player, both running and catching the ball. Harris will be behind Sony Michel on the depth chart. Michel has missed time last year and this summer with a knee injury. It’s likely that he will miss time in the regular season as well. Harris is worth a late-round draft pick or as a handcuff to Michel.
Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Hill is another late-round draft pick (he’s currently going in the 16th round). The Ravens acquired Mark Ingram in the offseason and he’ll be the top back. Kenneth Dixon, if he can stay healthy, will be involved in the passing game. Hill has shown that he can excel as a rusher, but he doesn’t have a ton of value in PPR formats right now. Ingram owners probably want to grab him as a handcuff, but other than that, he can stay on waivers at this point.
Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Another rookie that is a handcuff is Mattison. Dalvin Cook tore his ACL in his rookie season (2017). He returned and was out there in for Week 1 last season but he pulled his hamstring, which caused him to miss some time. He ended up playing in 11 games. Odds are that Cook will get injured at some point again, and Mattison will step up. Ameer Abdullah also is on the roster, but it seems like Mattison will be Cook’s handcuff. He’s worth taking in the late rounds for the Cook owner.
— 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.
(Top photo by Tony Gonzales/Oakland Raiders, courtesy of www.raiders.com)