Welcome back to Part 2 of our Rookie Preview, covering the breakouts and “scrubs” of the groups, instead of the studs and the sure things. (Part 1 can be read here.)
I’m keeping the same theme from the previous article, but instead of the studs who will be going early or in the middle of our drafts, I will break down the fantasy relevance of each prospect that has significant fantasy relevance, but should possibly fly under the radar, and maybe even talk about where we should draft them, if/when we find them in the draft.
You ready? Let’s do this!
They’re Gonna Win You Championships: WR Edition
I’m going to spend some time talking about rookie WR’s that could be drafted in the later rounds (especially because most of the attention will be focused on Treadwell, Coleman and Fuller). Here’s a few names to keep an eye out for-
Let’s go in order. I listed Fuller above in my “mainstream” WR list because of name recognition based on where he’s drafted, but Sterling Shepard could easily have a better year, as both are in similar situations (an argument could be made that Shepard is in a better one). Shepard comes into the Giants in a situation with a greatly improved O-Line from even last year with the addition of Ereck Flowers. We now see an offense with a solid O-Line, an improving defense, a great Head Coach who knows the offense from being the former OC, and raw talent in the forms of Shepard and other 2016 pick Paul Perkins to go along with OBJ.
Here’s the issue with Shepard. His fantasy potential all hangs in the balance with the availability of Victor Cruz. Many, including Cruz, thought he would be back to full health in mid-to-late May, but now that has changed, and his recovery timetable is anyone’s guess. If Cruz somehow manages to miss out on OTA’s/Training Camp/Preseason or even misses games, or, fails to return back to his former self and struggles a bit (which isn’t out of the question), then we’re looking at the Giants #2 receiver, and immediate fantasy impact.
Shepard has a great schedule in 2016, with plus-sized matchups in weeks 9 and 16 (Championship Week) against the Eagles, to go along with the other matchups against teams like the Steelers in Week 13, Baltimore in Week 8, and Cleveland in Week 12. Monitor Victor Cruz as Training Camp nears.
Next up is Michael Thomas, who is in another great spot, but is more of a sleeper than Shepard. Thomas has found himself in a very likely #2 role, which is very hard to believe, although he may find himself the #3 behind TE Colby Fleener. The Saints have had some disappointments at Wide Receiver apart from Brandin Cooks, as both Willie Snead and Brandon Coleman have been utter disappointments. Many reports have claimed that Thomas has taken over the “Marques Colston” role left by the former WR.
It can be seen that Thomas could only be the deep threat, but with the lack of good wideouts the Saints have, Thomas will find himself growing in the role, even with the great speed he has. The only bad thing about Thomas’ fantasy potential is the very hard schedule he faces, as the Saints face the Seattle in Week 8, Denver in Week 10, and Atlanta twice.
Finally, Kolby Listenbee, who is by all means a deep, deep sleeper, and should not be drafted at all. Listenbee is another Torrey Smith-like player we have on our hands. He brought tremendous ability to strech the field at TCU to compliment Josh Doctson, and should take over the deep threat role for the Bills. The best case scenario for Listenbee is a couple breakout games (which result in three straight weeks of 0 points) with the tremendous arm strength of Tyrod Taylor. It also helps that the Bills will face the Steelers in Week 1, and Pittsburgh in Week 14 (Fantasy Quarterfinals).
They’re Gonna Win You Championships: HB Edition
Keeping the same theme from the previous section, as I’m going to list some rookie WR’s that should (possibly) fly under the radar a bit aside from Ezekiel Elliot. Seriously, it’s Elliot and then everyone else. That’s how big of a gap we’re dealing with here.
First up, C.J. Prosise. I love this man, and I’m very excited to what he brings to the table. With the departure of Marshawn Lynch in the offseason, with the addition to Rawls’ injury status being up in the air, Prosise has the ability to become the Seahawks’ featured back in Week 1. Again, it depends on Rawls and how he bounces back, if he bounces back, in Training Camp. Despite the fact that he is 220 pounds, Prosise feasted in his final year with ND, to the tune of 11 TD’s on only 157 carries, with a whopping 6.6 YPC. Again, he’s 220. It also helps that he’ll possibly have the 3rd easiest schedule amongst HB’s in 2016, with great matchups against Miami (Week 1), San Francisco (Week 3), Atlanta (Week 6) and New Orleans (Week 8).
Next up is Jordan Howard, who is in a similar position that Prosise finds himself in. With the departure of Matt Forte early in the offseason, the Bears organization picked up Jordan Howard in the draft. Now, it has to be noted that Howard is a 5th round pick, so by no means necessary is he a safe option nor a guaranteed option to start Week 1, but signs are pointing to the Coaching Staff giving Howard more time over Jeremy Langford. We won’t know for certain whether or not he’ll be a starter or a PPR option until Training Camp gets underway, but if Langford’s play stalls or he gets injured, Howard has potential to burst onto the fantasy scene. If all things are equal, at least pick up Howard as a handcuff.
One great story about Howard is the fact that he transferred to Indiana from UAB when their football program got shut down, and Howard says he’ll be playing for UAB on his sleeve when he’s in the NFL, which is a great thing to hear from a very fine young man.
Finally, we have Paul Perkins, who finds himself in a slightly similar situation that Howard is in, with the fact that not only is he the 3rd-down back as of now, but with an injury to Rashad Jennings, he should find himself the #1 option, with Shane Vereen most likely taking over on passing downs or 3rd downs if Perkins should find himself the starter. I don’t know when he should be drafted, if he should be drafted, but his situation should definitely be monitored when the Preseason kicks off.
A Whole Lotta Maybes: HB Edition
I’m going to keep it short, but here are some names to definitely look up if they intrigue you, but due to the fact that they shouldn’t see too many opportunities unless there is a lack of talent or injury, they don’t intrigue me at the HB position
- DeAndre Washington, Oakland Raiders – Feel free to hit up Razzball’s own Stan Son on Twitter @Stan_Son for his thoughts as Razz’s only Raiders fan, but we’re banking too much on the fact that Latavius Murray will suck in 2016, and until he does, I don’t think Washington is worth our time
- Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins have shown us that they like Jay Ajayi too much with the whole fiasco with Lamar Miller last year, and I highly doubt Drake changes anything coming into 2016. Also doesn’t help that Ajayi/Drake has the hardest schedule of any HB. No thanks
- Tyler Ervin, Houston Texans – He’s talented, but Houston spent too much on Lamar Miller, and Alfred Blue should be their handcuff
A Whole Lotta Maybes: WR Edition
Like the previous section, I’m going to keep it short, but here are some names to definitely look up if they intrigue you, but due to the fact that they shouldn’t see too many opportunities, they don’t intrigue me at the WR position.
- Pharaoh Cooper, L.A. Rams – Facing the Legion of Boom and Arizona twice a year in addition to Atlanta? No thanks
- Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals – I could see him having an impact, but with the addition of Brandon LaFell in addition to Eifert, Green and Bernard out of the backfield, there are too many mouthes to feed
- Leonte Carroo, Miami Dolphins – Eh. I don’t like the situation he’s in, behind Landry, DeVante Parker, and possibly Kenny Stills. I don’t care that Adam Gase in the QB Whisperer
- Demarcus Robinson, Kansas City – The Chiefs aren’t loaded at the position, but I rather have someone else
A Whole Lotta Maybes: TE Edition
Like the previous section, I’m going to keep it short, but here are some names to definitely look up if they intrigue you, but due to the fact that they shouldn’t see too many opportunities, they don’t intrigue me at the TE position.
- Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons – They hired a very impressive TE’s Coach early this year, but even though Hooper should find some targets, especially in the Redzone, there are too many other TE’s I would prefer over Hooper.
- Tyler Higbee, L.A. Rams – He’s talented and young in a talented and young offense, and should find himself the #1 TE, but the same info about Hooper applies to Higbee.