With the NFL Draft being over, fantasy owners can start plotting their picks for months down the road. A lot of fantasy eligible players were drafted, but not all will have successful rookie seasons. Here are rookies to target in fantasy football for 2018.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
This one is the biggest no-brainer. Barkley is going to be the workhorse back from day one for the Giants. He is capable of handling 20+ carries a game and also provides a good receiver out of the backfield. The Giants likely won’t use him as a returner, but he also is good at that. The most talented running back in the class will have an opportunity to get a lot of touches in his rookie season.
If he doesn’t work out as a great fantasy player, it will be due to his offensive line. It was addressed this offseason with the acquisition of Nate Solder. The Giants also got the best run blocker in the class in Will Hernandez, who will be clearing holes for Barkley for years to come. It still isn’t a great offensive line but it should be vastly improved over last season.
Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Taking a rookie quarterback in fantasy is always a risk, but if a rookie quarterback does pan out, it will be Rosen. He was selected with the 10th overall pick after the Cardinals traded up to get him. The Cardinals do have Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, but Bradford has been unable to stay healthy throughout his career, leaving opportunity for Rosen to take over if he doesn’t beat them out for the job at the start of the season.
Rosen is one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks in the class and playing on the Cardinals will help his development. David Johnson will return from injury to give him a running game and a safety valve of a receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is back for another season and the legend should be able to help Rosen come on more quickly. Arizona also selected Christian Kirk for Rosen to grow with. The offensive line wasn’t good last year, which could be an issue for Rosen if he does get snaps this season.
Calvin Ridley, WR, ATlanta Falcons
Ridley fell all the way to pick number 26 in the NFL Draft, but he ended up in a great position. Matt Ryan will love Ridley’s athleticism and route-running abilities and will likely try to get the ball to him often. He didn’t have the best quarterback play in college and projects as a better pro than a college player.
Steve Sarkisian could hold Ridley back if he calls plays the way he did last year. Ridley could also be the fourth option a lot of times with Jones, Sanu and Hooper. The hope is that he can end up being the number two receiver in the offense when it’s all said and done.
D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Moore was the first receiver selected in the NFL Draft and even if he isn’t the best receiver in the class, he is going to have a lot of balls thrown his way next season. Cam Newton has Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess to throw to and that’s about it. He figures to get the second or third most targets on the team.
In college, Moore excelled on almost entirely screens and slants, so he’ll have to adjust his game a little bit. He has good run after the catch ability but needs to show he can run routes down the field and be successful. If he does only excel at short routes, he is at risk of having Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel steal some of his targets.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks may have reached to select Penny in the NFL Draft but that likely means they have big plans for him. Penny is the most talented running back on the roster with the others being Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis, JD McKissic and Tre Madden. He should get the majority of the work in the 2018 season.
Penny had a great season at San Diego State and can stay on the field for all three downs with his receiving ability. The offensive line for the Seahawks still isn’t great, with Duane Brown being the only solid offensive lineman on the roster, so he may need to catch more passes for his yardage than if he were on a team with a normal offensive line.
Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones was selected early in the second round and will have a chance to be the starting running back. Doug Martin is now a Raider, while Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers leave a lot to be desired at the position. The Bucs will want to establish more of a running game this season to help open things up for Jameis Winston in the passing game.
Tampa Bay is another team that doesn’t have a great offensive line, but it is much better than the Seahawks’ and Giants’. Jones is quicker than fast and will have to use that ability in tight spaces. Winston will need to look for him out of the backfield as a receiver to maximize his potential.
Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
Guice fell in the draft due to reported character concerns so the Redskins scooped him up late in the second round. If he can stay focused on the field, he was a great value pick. Chris Thompson will be a great third down back for Alex Smith to use as a target out of the backfield, but Washington needed a workhorse back and Guice can fill that role.
There are holes on the offensive line, but they have a few really good offensive linemen as well. Guice has a good combination of speed and power and will be a good running back early on in his career if he sees the field.