Most fantasy rookie drafts took place shortly after the 2018 NFL draft. However, most start up dynasty drafts are happening now or just around the corner. With dynasty drafts, the key is to find the future NFL stars before your other leaguemates do. Some of these players will take a year or more to turn into a fantasy stud, but when they do, fantasy owners are happy to have him on their bench.
For the dynasty value of first round rookies check out my Fantasy Football Expectations for First Round Rookies. Now obviously players like Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and others have great shots to become fantasy studs, and early on. However, below I picked 16 sneaky rookies that may not have much of an impact as a rookie but can become future fantasy studs.
- Dante Pettis, WR, 49ers
Currently Pettis is fourth on the depth chart behind starters Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin as well as Trent Taylor. Given the proven players in front of him, Pettis is likely to only have an impact as a rookie on special teams. During his years at Washington, Pettis had nine punt return touchdowns. After the 2018 season the 49ers can get out of Garcon’s contract with zero dead money and likely will in order for Pettis to start. A passing duo of Jimmy Garoppolo to Pettis could become a staple for the next decade.
Kyle Shanahan was direct in saying Dante Pettis is not replacing Trent Taylor at this time. Or Marquise Goodwin. Or Pierre Garcon.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) May 23, 2018
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos
Clearly the Broncos aren’t happy with their current wide receivers as they drafted two, including Sutton. The Broncos made Sutton the third wide receiver drafted when they selected him 40th overall. Currently Sutton is third on the depth chart and could see some impact snaps early on as a rookie. Demaryius Thomas is coming off his worst season since 2011 and the Broncos can release him next offseason, while saving $15 million against the cap, opening up a WR1 role for Sutton.
- DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Broncos
Much like Thomas, the Broncos can save just over $10 million dollars against the cap by releasing Emmanuel Sanders after the season. The 2017 season was one to forget for Sanders, who had his worst season since joining the Broncos. Currently, the Broncos are projected to have just $17 million in cap space in 2019, further providing evidence that one if not both of Sanders and Thomas will be on another team next season.
- Ito Smith, RB, Falcons
Smith was a draft crush for many NFL draft junkies and the Falcons also love him. After signing Devonta Freeman to a five year, $41.25 million contract prior to last season, the writing was on the wall for Tevin Coleman; this will be his last season in Atlanta. With Coleman expected to look for a starting job elsewhere in 2019, the Falcons grabbed Smith to pair with Freeman going forward. While Smith won’t have any fantasy value this season, next year he should step into Coleman’s role and career 9.8 fantasy PPR points per game.
Falcons used 126th overall pick in fourth round on Southern Miss RB Ito Smith, which is notable because RB Tevin Coleman is headed into the last year of his rookie contract.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 28, 2018
- Tre’Quan Smith, WR, Saints
Even after signing former Bears’ wide receiver Cameron Meredith, the Saints used their second pick in the draft on Smith. The Saints can save $6.55 million by releasing both Meredith and Ginn after the 2018 season. The Saints have proven in the past they trust younger wide receivers as Michael Thomas had 121 targets as rookie despite Brandin Cooks being the number one wide receiver. While Smith is currently fourth on the depth chart, he could easily steal snaps away from Meredith and Ted Ginn Jr. as a rookie while stepping into a starting role in 2019.
- Mark Walton, RB, Bengals
The Bengals are still behind Joe Mixon despite a disappointing rookie season. However, Walton is likely to take over the Giovani Bernard role next season. Over the last three season, Bernard has averaged 11 fantasy PPR points per game. Much like last season when the Bengals drafted Mixon despite having Jeremy Hill on the roster, they took Walton a year before they expect him to make an impact. The Bengals can release Bernard after the season and save $3.8 million against the cap.
- Jordan Lasley, WR, Ravens
First things first, Lasley has to make the Ravens final roster and with several wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, it might be hard. However, I believe he will make the final roster and will be a starter next season if not sooner. Currently Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown and Breshad Perriman are clearly ahead of Lasley on the depth chart. However, both Brown and Perriman will be free agents after the season and the Ravens can save $4 million by releasing Snead. Lasley will have the inside track for the starting role opposite of Crabtree in 2019 when Lamar Jackson should take over as the starting quarterback.
- D.J. Chark, WR, Jaguars
Many considered Chark as a raw prospect entering the draft and he will need time before he is ready to take over as a starter. The Jaguars are currently projected to be over the cap in 2019 and are unlikely to resign Donte Moncrief. While the Jaguars have young receivers they like in Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole, Chark should have the inside track to start opposite of Marqise Lee due to his height and speed. The two concerns with Chark: 1. Will he develop fast enough to jump ahead of other wide receivers on the depth chart 2. Will Blake Bortles take the next step forward in his development or regress?
- Ian Thomas, TE, Panthers
Earlier in the offseason, Greg Olsen was reportedly considering retirement and taking a job in television. Instead, the Panthers signed him to a two year extension worth $17.1 million that has Olsen under contract through the 2020 season. However, Olsen missed nine games last season with an ongoing foot injury and could decide to retire after the 2018 season. Thomas is considered by many to be a raw player but when Olsen retires or gets hurt again, Thomas steps into a key role in an offense where Cam Newton relies heavily on his tight end.
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 28, 2018
- Mark Andrews, TE, Ravens
Even though the Ravens selected Hayden Hurst in the first round, they still took Andrews in the third round. Clearly the team has plans for the young tight end duo. Many draft experts believe that Hurst is a much better blocker than Andrews. This is important because when the Ravens put Andrews on the field, he is more likely to be targeted than Hurst. Given that the Ravens lack a mismatch weapon in the slot, Andrews could turn into that for them as he lined up in the slot often at Oklahoma.
- Trey Quinn, WR, Redskins
Mr. Irrelevant isn’t so irrelevant actually. Jamison Crowder had a disappointing 2017 season and is a free agent after this season. The Redskins have several key players up for contract extensions including Preston Smith. If Crowder has another down year or the Redskins decide not to offer him a new contract, Quinn could take over as the starting slot receiver in 2019. Of course Quinn has to make the final roster this season first; which I expect him to do.
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Packers
With Jordy Nelson now in Oakland, Geronimo Allison is currently third on the depth chart. While the Packers did take two wide receivers in the draft before St. Brown, many draft experts thought he would go higher. Both Randall Cobb and Allison are free agents after the season but St. Brown could take over their role this season. Allison has just 35 career catches and will have to hold on to the WR3 role while Cobb could be a final roster cut casualty opening up the door for Brown to potentially start this year.
- Dalton Schultz, TE, Cowboys
Let’s play a game called “who will be the Cowboy’s week one starting tight end”, the correct answer? Nobody knows. The early favorite is Rico Gathers but he hasn’t play a game since he was drafted in 2016 because of injury. The Cowboys selected Schultz the day after Jason Witten’s retirement and was the only tight end the team brought in this offseason. Schultz was a solid college player at Stanford and I believe he has a 50-50 shot of starting week one. Witten had 87 targets last season and the majority of them will go to his replacement this year.
- Auden Tate, WR, Bengals
Prior to his slow 40 time at the combine, Tate was expected to be a day two selection. However, he fell all the way to pick 253 overall. Tate will have to earn a roster spot first but assuming he can, the path to making a fantasy impact is there. Brandon LaFell will be a free agent after the season, Tyler Boyd had just 22 catches last season and John Ross had one carry with a fumble as a rookie. The group ahead of Tate is unproven and below average. Tate could end up starting opposite of A.J. Green next season with Ross as the number three receiver.
- Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles
The Eagles traded up in the second round to snipe the Cowboys and select Goedert. However, many fantasy owners wished the Cowboys had gotten him instead. With Zach Ertz coming off a career year, Goedert isn’t likely to see many targets this season. Last year Trey Burton had just 31 targets as the Eagles’ TE2. However, Ertz has missed four games over the last two seasons and if he misses more time that will open the door for Goedert. Rarely are there “handcuffs” for tight ends but in this case, in dynasty leagues only, if you own Ertz you should make getting Goedert a priority.
Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert is going to a very solid pairing for PHI. Two players with similar skill sets and complement each other perfectly in Pederson’s offense.
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) May 24, 2018
- Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals
Last year when David Johnson went down for season with an injury there wasn’t a clear “handcuff” for him. However, Edmonds is now that guy. Johnson will be a free agent after the season and if for some dumb reason the Cardinals let him leave, Edmonds would be first in line to replace him. However, the odds of that happening are slim to none. For fantasy owners who have Johnson, make sure you grab Edmonds in case Johnson gets hurt again.