2017 Fantasy Rooks: Everyone Else

The 2017 NFL rookie class might have been the best ever when it comes to fantasy football.

Since the Running backs this year were so good, they got part one. Now, here’s part two of the highly anticipated series on the notable fantasy rookies of 2017, and a look ahead to 2018.

Once again, all fantasy numbers are based on PPR scoring.

Deshaun Watson

Watson’s the only Quarterback that is going to make this list.

Mitch Trubisky showed signs of good things to come in Chicago, but he’s not a guy I’m looking at to lead my fantasy team in 2018.

And DeShone Kizer? Well, no.

Deshaun Watson however, was an absolute stud.

Going into 2017, Bill O’Brien thought that the team had a better chance winning with Tom Savage (and his zero career touchdown passes) than Deshaun Watson.

62 passing yards, 2 lost fumbles and one 19-0 halftime lead to the Jaguars later, and O’Brien realized how absolutely horrendous of a decision that was.

Over the next six and a half games, Watson absolutely dominated. He put up 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air, and added 269 yards and two touchdowns on the ground

Unfortunately, Watson’s season ended with a torn ACL in practice heading into week nine, but there’s no denying this kid is incredibly special.

I get that there could be some skepticism in drafting Watson high in 2018, but you absolutely must draft him if you can.

His rushing ability gives him an incredibly high floor, he has a cannon of an arm, and he has arguably the best receiver in football to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins.

Definitely monitor his progress, but a fully healthy Watson should without question be one of the first three Quarterbacks taken next year in fantasy drafts, if not number one.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Schuster had a very interesting year off the field with the whole bike scandal #FindJujusBike, and he had a very productive year on it.

In 14 games, the youngest player in the league hauled in 58 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns on the way to finishing at WR20 on the year.

I expect JuJu to have just as much production in 2018 as well. Opposing defenses have to spend most of their time worrying about Antonio Brown, allowing the speedy Schuster to exploit a lot of one-on-one coverage.

Oh, and there’s also that Le’Von Bell guy in the backfield.

If Bell is back in Pittsburgh next year, that’s another guy the defense will be spending all week worrying about.

Definitely have him on your radar for a solid WR2 in 2018.

Cooper Kupp

There were a lot of reasons for the Rams resurgence on offense in 2017.

The offensive wizardry of Sean McVay, the breakout year from Jared Goff, and the MVP year from Todd Gurley (yeah, I said it).

But don’t forget about little Cooper Kupp in the slot.

In 15 games Kupp led the Rams in targets (95), catches (62), and receiving yards (869), while also scoring five touchdowns. This very impressive rookie year saw Kupp finishing as WR25 in fantasy.

I expect Kupp to have just as good of a 2018, if not better. The Rams are loaded with weapons, Goff is still getting better, him and Kupp are boys (they lived together for a while), and McVay is a genius.

Similar to JuJu, Kupp should absolutely be on your WR2 radar.

Corey Davis

Davis had a rough year due to injury as well as the fact that Marcus Mariota, quite frankly, was terrible.

In 11 games, the 5th-overall pick of the 2017 draft had 34 catches for just 375 yards and no touchdowns.

It was a disappointing year, to say the least, as Davis failed to reach double-digit fantasy production in 9 of 11 games.

There are some positives when looking ahead to 2018 however.

First off, Mariota will be healthy. He suffered a hamstring injury in week four, and didn’t play the next week.

Just how much that hamstring affected his play the rest of the year I don’t know, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that it did more than we thought. Regardless, it’ll be hard for Mariota to get any worse than he was this year.

Second, Eric Decker will be a free agent. He’ll be 31 next year, and is coming off a pretty lackluster season himself, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be back next year.

Last, and most importantly, Davis himself will be fully healthy next year. He was limited to just 11 games because of a hamstring injury he suffered in week two.

Just like with Mariota, I can’t say for certain just how much the injury affected his play, but obviously a hamstring injury will have some sort of negative effect on a guy who’s job it is to run faster than the guy guarding him. If the injury was nagging Davis all year, that would certainly be a fair excuse for his poor performance.

After a disappointing 2017, there are some signs for a potential bounce back 2018. However, after some of the throws I saw Mariota make this year, I’d definitely hold off on taking Davis until I know I have 3-4 other Wide Receivers on my team that I can trust.

Evan Engram

The lone bright spot in the Giants abysmal 2017 season.

Engram led the team in receptions with 64, and touchdowns with 6, and he was second on the team with 722 receiving yards en route to being TE5 on the year.

Engram’s 2017 is impressive enough on it’s own, but the fact that he was literally the only offensive player that opposing teams needed to worry about makes it even better.

Now the Giants do have the 2nd pick in this year’s draft, and even if they do take a Quarterback, I’d expect them to stick with Eli Manning to at least start the season.

Odell Beckham Jr. will be back and the Giants will have a new head coach, but regardless it’s hard to get worse than 2017.

If Engram can do what he did with this year’s team, he can put up good numbers with just about anyone around him. He’s definitely on my top-5 Tight End radar going into 2018.

George Kittle

Despite having C.J. Beathard at Quarterback for 10 of his 15 games on the year, Kittle quietly put together a very solid rookie season.

Kittle had 515 yards and 2 touchdowns on 43 catches and finished at TE19 on the year.

Now I know those numbers aren’t eye popping, but the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo will be his Quarterback for the entire season in 2018 is.

In the five games that Garoppolo started, Kittle averaged 8.6 fantasy points, which would put him at TE11 in a 16 game season.

Kittle also ranked eighth among NFL Tight Ends with eight catches of 20+ yards this year. That number is more than guys like Zach Ertz, Jack Doyle, and Kyle Rudolph, so the big play ability is there.

Kittle is going to be in a very good situation next year, and the fact that his 2017 numbers don’t jump off the page can actually help you. He won’t be on many people’s radars in 2018, but he should be.

Am I saying take Kittle where you’d take the big boys like Gronk, Kelce, and Ertz? Of course not. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kittle inside the top-12 fantasy Tight Ends at season’s end next year.

His numbers may not stack up with the big time Tight Ends, but for a (most likely) late-round pick, Kittle is going to be one of the highest value fantasy picks in 2018.

 

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Just wanna talk about sports? Need some life advice? Follow your boy on Twitter @MaxG95

 

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