Not to worry Chad Kelly, the league is full of one-time Mr. Irrelevants and undrafted free agents who worked their way onto the field. It’s not like Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch have locked up the starting gig in Denver forever. In fantasy football, Kelly could become the next Kurt Warner and make an impact like Antonio Gates, Priest Holmes or, more recently, Isaiah Crowell. Just because you're picked last or ink a deal as an undrafted free agent doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself a coveted fantasy football target.
Below are my top 15 fantasy football rookies post-NFL Draft with the FOX Fantasy department’s first batch of 2017 player rankings to come on May 8.
Joe Williams - 49ers RB
Carlos Hyde truthers might need a brown paper bag to breathe into, but Kyle Shanahan could create a viable running back committee in San Francisco. The former offensive coordinator of the Falcons was able to get the most out of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. So, why not Hyde and Williams? As Pro Football Focus’ Scott Barrett pointed out, it wouldn’t be the first time Shanahan upgraded fantasy running back production off the jump. Also, let’s keep it real – Hyde is going to miss time due to injury at some point.
Jamaal Williams - Packers RB
This is an insurance policy if the whole “Ty Montgomery is our starting running back” plan doesn’t pan out. The Packers just cut Christine Michael. So, Williams slides in as the team’s “RB-2” a few days after the Draft. That’s good living.
D'Onta Foreman - Texans RB
You hate to think of a fantasy football season without Alfred Blue, but it might happen. Foreman is currently stuck behind Lamar Miller and Blue, but Miller’s 4.0 yards per rush ranked 26th last year. Until the Tom Savage vs. Deshaun Watson quarterback competition plays out, it’s really tough to get too excited about Foreman, but he’s definitely lurking.
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Curtis Samuel - Panthers WR/RB
Like Christian McCaffrey, Samuel is a collegiate RB/WR playmaker for Cam Newton. With Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen running vertical routes, Samuel can be used in a variety of ways underneath like Julian Edelman.
Mike Williams - Chargers WR
I wrote about Williams after the first round last week. The Chargers offense is very crowded with Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry and other big targets. There is a chance Williams' fantasy stock ticks upward over the summer months, but I need to have an idea how Philip Rivers feeds all these targets AND makes Williams fantasy relevant in Year 1. Then again, Drew Brees has found a way.
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Zay Jones - Bills WR
Big news out of Buffalo on May 2 was the Bills declining Sammy Watkins’ fifth-year contract option. The oft-injured Watkins has been unable to stay on the field due to a variety of injuries. Tyrod Taylor lost Robert Woods to free agency, and LeSean McCoy can’t do everything. So, the 6-2 Jones – a rookie target out of East Carolina – becomes a highly coveted fantasy target right away. Along with Watkins, he’s competing against Philly Brown and Andre Holmes.
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David Njoku - Browns TE
Another first-rounder I wrote about last week, Njoku’s arrival pushed veteran tight end Gary Barnidge out the door. So, Brock Osweiler and/or Cody Kessler has a 6-4 big target who ranked behind only O.J. Howard in most tight end draft rankings. He can definitely flirt with TE-1 fantasy status by Week 1.
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Evan Engram - Giants TE
Engram is technically a receiver who happens to play tight end. It’s the type of tight end target Eli Manning hasn’t had in a decade. So, he’s got Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and now a TE/WR style route runner in Engram. Can the o-line allow the passing game to progress in 2017? Eli also needs to stop being his own worst enemy.
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Samaje Perine - Redskins RB
The Redskins are shopping Matt Jones, and Robert Kelley does not have the starting gig locked down. So, Perine could easily work his way into 10-plus touches per game before the end of September.
Joe Mixon - Bengals RB
The Bengals are in wait-and-see mode with Gio Benard as he rehabs a knee injury. Rex Burkehead inked a deal with the Patriots. They were basically left with Jeremy Hill and his 3.8 yards per rush. Despite the lack of depth and competition for touches, Mixon will have to work around sieve city, better known as the Bengals offensive line. That's the only downside of his fantasy outlook.
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Dalvin Cook - Vikings RB
I must admit, it was odd to hear Dalvin Cook labeled “Adrian Peterson’s replacement” during draft coverage. After all, the Vikings signed Latavius Murray not too long ago. Murray’s 4.0 yards per rush don’t have the masses swooning and there is the occasional fumble, but for Cook to push Murray out of the way to become a fantasy RB-2 by Week 1 seems unlikely.
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Despite DeMarco Murray’s heavy workload out of the backfield, I still believe Davis leaps over Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker in the target pecking order.
Leonard Fournette - Jaguars RB
At this point, the main thing I’m interested in learning is how many touches could T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory vulture and where on the field the Jaguars expect those touches to come. Otherwise, Fournette is a fantasy RB-2 in his rookie season.