Fantasy Football: Top 3 Rookies To Target In 2017

Last year it was Prescott and Elliott who dominated as fantasy football rookies. Who will be the top three rookies in 2017? We debate.

There are a number of intriguing rookies who will enter the NFL this season. However, very few of them will become fantasy relevant in their rookie years. It is rare for a first-year player to A. get a starting job, and B. be good enough to produce with that opportunity.

Yet we know from just last season that rookies can dominate their positions. Who will be the breakout rookie stars of fantasy football in 2017? Teams aside, these are the top three.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss fantasy football in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

Quarterbacks hardly ever become good right away, let alone fantasy football relevant. Dak Prescott was the exception that proves the rule. Even Carson Wentz, a young QB who everyone loves, is not projected to be anything close to usable for fantasy purposes in 2017. Consensus rankings have him 19th at the position, which isn’t even deserving of a bench spot in standard leagues. And this is as a sophomore.

So, as far as locating fantasy football rookies, rule out all quarterbacks. Of the remaining guys, who would you want this coming season?

Obviously we don’t yet know which teams these guys will be playing for. Instead, this exercise is to find which guys feel like the best fantasy fits just based on skill set. For example, I prefer Dalvin Cook to Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. Many rankings have Cook as the third guy in this top three, but I feel his talents could be best suited for fantasy production (assuming he is given a chance to produce).

My top three fantasy rookies are Cook, Mike Williams, and Joe Mixon. Those are the guys I feel possess the best skills to translate to fantasy if given a starter’s workload. Mixon is arguably the best all-around back in the draft. No one knows where to take him because of his legal issues in the past and off-field character, but since I set my caveat that this player would be getting a chance to play, Mixon definitely makes my top three.

Fournette is good, but I worry about his three-down usefulness at the next level. Can he play on third downs? The reverse goes for McCaffrey. I don’t know if he will be on the field beyond passing downs and select formations. Williams has to be in my top three because he is my top receiver in this draft. He isn’t a burner, but Williams is capable of being a go-to threat for a new club.

Outside of the top backs and receivers, tight end O.J. Howard is getting lots of love. He may go early in the draft, but I’m dubious that he is immediately anything beyond a waiver-wire tight end for fantasy.

Dan Salem:

Very few rookies make a huge fantasy football impact, yet we see several wide receivers do it every season and at least one running back. You failed to mention Ezekiel Elliott, who had a fabulous fantasy season as a rookie in Dallas. I believe a lot has to do with the team, in terms of which rookies can excel. But there is already a top three for fantasy rookies, and I’m willing to bet hard on past production.

My top three fantasy football rookies are Mike Williams, O.J. Howard, and Christian McCaffrey. A rookie’s ability to slot into a team’s passing game is my prime factor in our top three. Last year I bet hard on Elliott, because he was a Cowboy and stood well above his rookie running back peers. This season the same logic applies to Williams and Howard. Both players are making headlines for their star potential and both will land on a team with an immediate opportunity to start and excel. I believe they do.

Tight end is a fickle position, but Howard is special. He’ll get every opportunity to take over a game, and I expect him to seize each one. Imagine him in Tennessee or Carolina. Then there’s our star rookie running back. One of these backs is going to excel and my money is on McCaffrey. His stock is shooting up as the draft approaches and his ability to catch passes makes him a huge fantasy football asset.

Our other backs will get opportunities, but McCaffrey is a solid bet to get the most. Many teams feature more than one running back, so the player who catches passes has the highest value. That is McCaffrey among our rookies.

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