2019 was not the most spectacular class of rookies to enter the NFL. In fact, multiple times, I’ve said that the running back class is the weakest we’ve seen in the last decade with the possible exception of 2010. As history shows us with rookies, it is not always the first ones drafted that make the biggest impact in fantasy. While Saquon obviously ran away with the 2018 rookie class MVP, the 2nd leading rusher of the group was the undrafted Phillip Lindsay.
When evaluating rookies, every analyst uses some combination of talent and opportunity, and I tend to lean more toward the talent side of those. Situation can change, and while players can improve, I tend to trust my evaluations in their skills.
Weighing too heavily on situation is how Rashaad Penny ends up as a top 5 consensus pick, or Parris Campbell in the first round of rookie supplemental drafts. To be fair though, I also evaluated Ronald Jones as a first rounder and the results have been, well, minimal so far. There is still some hope for RoJo as he has yet to be given the opportunity that usually comes with such a high draft stock.
For rookie profiles, go listen to my podcast with Donkey Teeth. The podcast started the pre-season as the Ditka, Sausage, and Fantasy Sports podcast, but has taken over the Razzball Fantasy Football podcast feed now. Here are the links to those rookie profile shows:
These profiles and ranks were done prior to any training camps, and while I pride myself on ignoring the noise from the pre-season, there are some players who have certainly seen their stock rise, and fall, before they’ve even taken one snap in the regular season.
I know, I know, I just got done saying that situation is not my preferred method of evaluating a player’s fantasy value. In my defense, the talent evaluation side lead me to make him my 4th rookie RB and 8th overall in a supp draft. In my film review, I actually preferred both Singletary and Montgomery over Josh Jacobs.
The only reason Devin fell to 4th among RBs was because of the cluster f**k that was the Bills backfield, and that has been resolved to some extent. Most of us assumed it would Lesean McCoy’s job with the occasional breather. With Lesean now in Kansas City, it appears Devin will split the touches with the ageless wonder, Frank Gore. Talent and opportunity have collided and I am putting feelers out in my dynasty leagues.
Maybe it’s my lack of faith in Mark Ingram within that offense, or my general infatuation for Justice’s abilities, but Hill was somebody I have happily taken in the second round of rookie supplemental drafts. His value has continued to climb, especially in PPR formats. His big play ability and pass receiving skills were what enticed me initially. With the information that he’s going to have a role in the offense, he has gone from late round flyer to an ADP of 150 and is now a borderline top 100 player in redraft based on recent ADP over at the NFFC.
The story of KeeSean even making his way onto a college football field is pretty interesting. This is one guy where my talent evaluation has not lined up with what I’ve seen on the field so far in preseason action.
KeeSean got the opportunity to showcase himself with the injuries to Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. With that opportunity, KeeSean has shown the good route running, quick breaks, and solid hands that made him an NFL prospect initially.
During film review, KeeSean showed nice breaks and an excellent comeback route, but didn’t necessarily finish the play by attacking the ball and would let defenders recover. I thought a more pro system may benefit him as the ball gets on receivers in a more timely manner following the break, and so far, so good.
I still question his upside and it’s a crowded receiving core with everyone healthy. However, KeeSean has shown a connection with Kyler, and according to news reports, is in line for a good amount of work in the first game of the regular season.
A bit of a Swiss Army knife in college who wasn’t set to have a fantasy friendly role in the offense. While the Ezekiel Elliott holdout has a lot to do with his touches, Pollard has flashed some of his multi-purpose skill set and speed to potentially take the primary running back job for the Cowboys if we don’t see Zeke suit up.
While his ADP is on the rise, I do have to take my role as the wet blanket seriously and remind everyone that Zeke is likely coming back at some point. Zeke has 2 years left on his rookie deal and has to play in order to make those years go away, but enjoy the Pollard ride for now.
Early pre-season darling Bruce Anderson popped initially, but then faded back into obscurity missing the 53 man roster in favor of Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, and Dare Ogunbowale. He was held on the practice squad, so, the Bucs aren’t done with him yet and another team could come in to sign him away, so, all hope is not lost.
However, we have to consider that his draft value, which was pretty minimal to begin with, has fallen even further. A small school guy from North Dakota State University that was the focal point of the offense and was asked to do a little bit of everything for the Thundar (Bison).
He’s an instinctual runner with functional quickness and moves to make guys miss. However, he’s not a big play threat at the NFL level likely and some concern whether his speed actually translates to this level. Still worth a late flyer supplemental pick, but has some work to do to find himself in a fantasy friendly place in the offense.
Maybe the best case in this draft class for why to draft on talent over situation. Nobody could have seen the Andrew Luck retirement coming, but pretty universally, it was agreed that Parris was not a top receiving talent in this draft class. His situation, however, did move some to put him in their first round of rookie supp drafts.
Parris is an all speed receiver with not much else working for him. His film review showed a minimal route tree, questionable hands, and missing some of the intangibles that can makeup for a lack of refinement at the position. Parris is falling down draft boards, and I’d argue, he never should’ve been up that high on them anyway.
Pretty easy here as we thought Darwin was playing himself into at least a split of the Chiefs running back touches. However, the recent signing of Shady McCoy has put a damper on that one. For redraft purposes, Darwin is even more of a lottery ticket now as he must find a way to beat out both Shady and Damien who are both getting paid a bit.
No longer the deepest of sleepers unfortunately. Bruce Anderson was among the fallers and Dare Ogunbowale is one of the reasons. Ogunbowale has shown off at camp and has put himself into position to take some work from the non-inspiring duo of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones.
When trying to find a comparison, Dare reminds me of Jordan Howard. He’s not overly fast or quick, but seems to be in the right place, reads his blocking well, and is also good in pass protection. While I’m not sure he has all of the running instincts of Howard, he does make up for that with better receiving ability. Scoop him up in redraft and dynasty, and we’ll see if he can wrestle the reigns from Peyton/Rojo.
Still a work in progress as he didn’t start playing football until his junior season in high school, but Travis Fulgham has the measurables to check the NFL boxes at 6’2″ 215 lbs with a 4.58 40. He didn’t flash in college until ODU made a QB swap during his senior season that bolstered his production, along with fellow ODU and Lions receiver Jonathan Duhart (assigned to the practice squad).
Fulgham has made some impressive plays during the pre-season and earned himself a spot on the 53 man roster. While he’s behind Kenny G and Marvin Jones (could be traded), outside of the slot role that Amendola should fill, I believe Fulgham is the next receiver up. It is a flyer, but one that is basically free with the last picks of rookie supplemental drafts or as a free agent.
Another one of my guys from film review, and another one that was late to football as he only started playing his senior year of high school. Warring was placed on the IR after dealing with concussion symptoms, but this is likely a move to keep him on the roster without making him part of the 53 man. The Texans don’t have an heir apparent or even a clear option for the TE1 position, and I believe Kahale can grow into that role.
Warring measures in at 6’2″ 252 lbs. and ran a 4.67 40, which is not the 4.50 40 that Noah Fant ran, but Fant is a freak. Warring showed above average hands with the ability to go get the ball above defenders or reach out and extend for the ball rather than letting it get on him and body catching like so many tight ends. He had a strong connection with his QB in college and was a trusted option in the offense.
The route running is still inconsistent, but there are moments of brilliance when he looks like George Kittle out there for a second. I said it on the podcast, and I’ll say it here, Kahale has a bit of a learning curve, and I’m not proclaiming him as the best TE for the future, but there are moments when Warring goes up over guys or runs down the field that one can squint and see a young Gronk.