With each NFL season, an exciting crop of fresh talent is injected into the league. For fantasy football owners, these rookies hold league-winning potential. That makes rookies the most exciting and dangerous assets in fantasy because as we know, not every prospect turns into Odell Beckham Jr. or Ezekiel Elliott.
While you don't typically want to rely on rookie quarterbacks, every year at least one or two seem to emerge as a quality waiver wire pickup. Last year, that title belonged to Cowboys passer Dak Prescott, who took the league by storm and finished as a top 10 QB.
Don't draft any of these rookies, but simply file their names away for future use.
- Deshaun Watson will eventually get a chance to supplant Tom Savage in Houston and when he does, he is the most likely rookie QB to have fantasy value.
- Deshone Kizer is expected to see the field early this season for the Browns and he possesses all of the physical traits you want in a franchise QB.
- If Patrick Mahomes II enters the lineup for the Chiefs, he could be an intriguing player to watch thanks to a rocket arm.
There are at least four first-year backs that have the ability to finish top 10 in RB scoring.
- Joe Mixon in Cincinnati has the skill set of a three-down back and that makes him a rookie to target during the third round. He should pull away from Jeremy Hill before long.
- Leonard Fournette was drafted to be a workhorse in Jacksonville and the only thing that may prevent that is his nagging foot injury. His upside is still worthy of a third or fourth round selection.
- Christian McCaffrey is a dynamic back with a massive fantasy ceiling, especially in point-per-reception formats. He will split carries with veteran Jonathan Stewart, but his receiving ability will assure that he is a key part of the Panthers offensive attack every week.
- Dalvin Cook of the Vikings is another multi-faceted back that should see ample work between the tackles and as a receiver. He may lose a bit of work to Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon, but the backfield can be his to dominate.
- Kareem Hunt is having an impressive summer, breathing down the neck of incumbent Chiefs starter Spencer Ware. Do not be afraid to go as early as the sixth or seventh round for Hunt in your draft.
- Samaje Perine may start the year behind Rob Kelley in Washington, but he should push for work immediately. Perine is the type of mid-round selection that could turn into an every-week starter for you.
- Jamaal Williams is expected to be in a timeshare with starter Ty Montgomery in Green Bay. Williams is a grinder that could play a big role near the goal line in a powerhouse offense, giving him RB2 upside.
- Alvin Kamara has the receiving chops to be a dangerous asset in the Saints' offense, but the two backs ahead of him on the depth chart (Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson) might limit his playing time.
- D'Onta Foreman of Houston is a big back with nimble feet, but he is not worth drafting just yet.
- While Marlon Mack will be in the mix to back up veteran workhorse Frank Gore in Indianapolis, his explosiveness gives him plenty of upside should he start seeing regular work.
- Tarik Cohen of the Bears will need to settle for a change-of-pace role now, but he could eventually earn significant time behind Jordan Howard.
While there are only a handful of rookie wideouts to consider drafting, there are a good number of prospects to monitor.
- With Buffalo's trade of Sammy Watkins and the retirement of Anquan Boldin, Zay Jones stands to receive plenty of opportunity alongside newly acquired Jordan Matthews.
- Kenny Golladay has a chance to be a dangerous red zone threat for the Lions. He has opened eyes with an impressive summer and is worthy of a late round selection.
- Corey Davis has the build and skills of a go-to receiver, but the Titans' addition of Eric Decker and presence of Rishard Matthews may hamper his impact in Year 1.
- John Ross adds an exciting element of speed to the Bengals' offense, but may not see enough targets to warrant more than a spot on your bench.
- Mike Williams has been slowed by a back injury and is not expected to join the Chargers until at least October, but he has the talent to make an impact if healthy.
- Curtis Samuel is a RB/WR hybrid that adds a playmaking element to the Panthers' offense.
- Cooper Kupp has shown a strong rapport with Rams QB Jared Goff and deserves to be monitored in PPR formats.
The transition to fantasy relevance is typically toughest for rookie TEs.
- The likeliest candidate to break through is Browns rookie David Njoku. He is a dangerous receiving option that should see plenty of targets.
- O.J. Howard has potential to be a fantasy stud, but he may be used primarily as a blocker this season as Cameron Brate continues to handle the receiving duties.
- Evan Engram is built like a large wide receiver and gives the Giants another offensive weapon, but his production will be unreliable with so many other highly talented receiving options for Eli Manning to target.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network.
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