Fantasy owners may have watched the NFL draft in late April, but as the 2019 season looms ahead, owners should look at the rookies that may have an impact on their teams. While some rookies have the talent, where they fall on the depth chart for their team certainly impacts their fantasy value. While it is still early to judge their impact, these are the top 10 rookies that fantasy owners should keep an eye on.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Isaiah Crowell was projected to be the primary running back in Oakland before the Raiders took Jacobs in the first round. Then a little more than a week later, Crowell tore his Achilles during a team workout. That basically cements Jacobs as the starter with the expectation that he will be a three-down back. Jacobs may not be heavily involved in the passing game to start the season but his projected workload is enough to ensure that he will most likely be the first rookie taken in fantasy drafts. Jacobs is an RB2.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
The Bears needed someone to replace Jordan Howard (traded to Philadelphia), so the traded up in the third round to grab Montgomery. While Montgomery could be a three-down back, Tarik Cohen and free-agent acquisition Mike Davis are still in the picture. There should be plenty of short passes to running backs in Matt Nagy's offense. Montgomery could emerge as the RB1 on Chicago's depth chart, but he's more of an RB3 for fantasy purposes.
Miles Sanders, RB Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles added Jordan Howard to the backfield but also drafted Sanders in the second round. Sanders has been dealing with a pulled hamstring and is losing valuable offseason workout time with his new team. Sanders could assume the top spot on the depth chart at some point this season, but expect Howard to be No. 1 for Week 1. Sanders has plenty of upside but be sure to not reach for him in redraft leagues. For now, Sanders is an RB3.
Darrell Henderson, RB, Los Angeles Rams
If it could be guaranteed that Todd Gurley is healthy and would stay that way throughout the season, Henderson wouldn’t be on this list. However, Gurley fantasy owners haven't forgotten how he struggled at the end of last season. The health of his knee has been an ongoing topic of discussion and there have already been multiple reports stating that the Rams aren't viewing Gurley as a bell-cow back moving forward. Because of his knee, Gurley is not expected to take part in OTAs or play in the preseason. Henderson could be the one who benefits most from Gurley's absence. If he fares well in the preseason, Henderson could become more than just a Gurley handcuff as there's no way to know exactly how many touches Gurley will get once the season starts. Henderson is an RB3 with upside and one of the rookies whose ADP could change the most between now and August.
Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Murray will be the Week 1 starter for the Cardinals, but it's hard to tell if he'll find success in the desert. He's currently the 11th quarterback coming off of the board in fantasy drafts, but that may be a little high. He's a QB2 for sure, but fantasy owners should watch him in the preseason before treating him as a QB1. Murray has some weapons, and hopefully, David Johnson will be used more this season, but not all rookie quarterbacks have a season like Patrick Mahomes. One factor working in Murray's favor, though, is his ability to make plays with his legs. The league has turned into a one where mobile quarterbacks excel, and Murray certainly fits that bill.
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions
While rookie tight ends typically don't fare well in the NFL, Hockenson is being drafted as a TE1. The tight end market is tough in 2019, so he will likely be between the 10th and 13th tight end off the board. The Lions needed a tight end, and as long as the offense is designed to make use of that position (which we assume it will be), Hockenson has the opportunity to make a fantasy impact in 2019.
N’Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
Arguably the best wide receiver for fantasy purposes in 2019, Harry joins a team that has one established option at the position. Julian Edelman is still the pass catcher to own in this offense (running back James White remains a strong option, especially in PPR leagues), but Harry is already in the WR3 conversation. Harry figures to have some sort of impact as a rookie, but his fantasy value is capped by the fact that Tom Brady may not throw as much to the outside as he gets older.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Hardman is known for his speed and it's hard to not assume that was one of the reasons he was taken in the second round. With Tyreek Hill's future in Kansas City uncertain, Sammy Watkins becomes the No. 1 wide receiver but Hardman has the opportunity to see a bunch of targets right away. Patrick Mahomes showed last season he can get the ball to anyone, anywhere in 2018, so if Hardman can get on the same page with his strong-armed QB, he could develop into a WR3 for fantasy.
DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Seattle traded up to get Metcalf at the end of the second round, a move that made even more sense following the release of Doug Baldwin, who subsequently announced he was retiring due to injuries, in early May. Metcalf has some flaws but he should be a solid deep threat for the Seahawks. The problem here is that this is still a run-first team and Russell Wilson doesn't throw the ball deep compared to other offenses. While it is possible that may change with Tyler Lockett and Metcalf, it’s not likely in 2019. Metcalf has potential, but should only be drafted as a WR4.
Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
It seems that the 49ers drafted Samuel because they were either done with or not sure what to do with Marquise Goodwin. Dante Pettis will likely be the No. 1 receiver, but the pecking order after that is anyone's guess. San Francisco also drafted Jalen Hurd, but Samuel was taken higher (second round, 36th overall) and should get the first crack at starting. Samuel is worth consideration as a late-round flier for fantasy purposes and is definitely one to keep an eye on during the preseason.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
The primary knock against Brown is injuries. He is still recovering from Lisfranc surgery, which is not an easy injury to come back from. It can take a while for the player to get back to his pre-injury form. Brown had the surgery in February and the recovery period can last between six and eight months. Brown isn't participating in minicamp or OTAs. The Ravens will likely want to see him in the preseason but they won't rush him back either. If healthy, he'd be a no-brainer fantasy option because of his opportunity to become the No. 1 target right away, but as of now, Brown is a late-round flier.
— 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 James Plain/Oakland Raiders, courtesy of www.raiders.com)