College football fans like myself have a big edge in fantasy football. If you know what rookies to target every year, you can win your league in the later rounds. Did you strike gold on Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara a year ago? Well this year, there’s another good crop of rookies out there. Picking the right one can make or break your fantasy season. Let’s take a look at which rookies you should target in 2018 for your fantasy football draft?
5. Saquon Barkley (Giants)
This one is too obvious so I’m going to put Saquon Barkley 5th on the list. If you’re in a normal snake draft, you may not even get a chance to draft the Giants running back but then again, you’re also probably someone who would rather play checkers instead of chess so there’s that. Barkley is probably going to be a stud and drafted in the first round of most fantasy leagues. However, I’m not sure he’s totally worth the hype. Barkley is a home run hitter but this offensive line stinks. Defenses will also stack the box a lot because, well, Eli Manning is the quarterback. Barkley may turn out great but there is a scenario out there where he turns into a glorified Reggie Bush. Just be careful how high you want to target him until he proves otherwise.
4. Calvin Ridley (Falcons)
Ever see that commercial with the Doublemint twins? That’s how defenses operate when they go against Julio Jones. There is never a scenario where Julio Jones doesn’t see a double team. The man that benefits the most from that is Calvin Ridley. Julio caught a measly 3 touchdowns last year. Ridley is the perfect fit for this offense and is destined to reel in his fair share of deep touchdowns. His knack for getting open deep down the field is excellent and is regarded as a really good route runner. If you’re in need of a flex, counting on Ridley to get the job done on certain weeks isn’t a bad option.
3. Sam Darnold (Jets)
Last year the fantasy experts told you not to draft any of the rookie quarterbacks. Then Deshaun Watson lit the world on fire and was the number one fantasy quarterback until he went down with a knee injury. Dyntasy leagues obviously need to take Darnold but don’t be shocked if Darnold factors into leagues this year. In a really bad AFC, the Jets honestly might be a darkhorse playoff team. Darnold isn’t a lock to start right away but in the worst case scenario, keep an eye on him. In two-quarterback leagues, you better believe the Jets quarterback needs to be owned.
2. Ronald Jones (Bucs)
Everyone wants to find the next Alvin Kamara. If there is any rookie who can match his play style and production right away, Ronald Jones might be your best bet. Jones is a 5-foot-11, 208 quick twitch back who hits the hole like lightning. He’s not afraid to run through defenders either despite being on the smaller side. Jones ran for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns during his final year at USC behind a putrid offensive line. I don’t love the quarterback situation here but I believe in Jones’ talent. Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers shouldn’t scare anyone either from taking the Bucs second-round pick.
1. Royce Freeman (Broncos)
Royce Freeman is the all-time leading rusher in the history of the Pac 12. Normally when you think of Oregon running backs, you think of twigs like LaMichael James and Kejon Barner who flame out of the NFL on a regular basis. However, Freeman is closer to LeGarrette Blount as a 230-pound bulldozer. Freeman actually runs like Blount too as a nimble/finesse runner despite his size. Freeman is going to eat at the goal line as well. Also, Devontae Booker flat out STINKS. I don’t think Case Keenum is good either but it’s pretty clear that Denver is going to be a run-heavy team.