Fantasy Forensics: Rookies to Target in Your Draft

Dalvin Cook/Twitter

Before your league conducts its fantasy draft for the 2017 NFL season, it’s always a good idea to have your own draft board before you make your picks. Everyone knows Le’Veon Bell or Odell Beckham Jr. are great players, but many fantasy football players aren’t exactly sure what to make of the incoming rookies or when to draft them.

No one is taking a rookie in the first round, or spending a big chunk of money on a rookie in an auction draft. But rookies can still be extremely valuable, and they can swing your league in your favor if you can steal the right ones in your draft.

Luckily for you, I’m presenting to you four different rookies who I think can make a massive impact on your team this fall. You might have to take some earlier than you probably anticipated, but this is a loaded rookie class with several players in positions to make an immediate impact.

What You Don’t Nole, Now You Nole — Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Cook is the most well-rounded rookie running back, and there are a few reasons I like him coming into the year:

  • He has great hands and loves open space, which fits the Vikings offense perfectly considering his quarterback, Sam Bradford, has probably never attempted a pass over 15 yards
  • The Vikings *tried* to improve on their offensive line and running game this offseason. If their abysmal O-line can at least become a serviceable unit this fall, Cook has the opportunity to have a heavy workload.
  • Their big money free agent, RB Latavius Murray, has been banged up all offseason, so Cook has gotten a lot of first team reps. If Murray’s injuries linger, we will see Cook getting touches early and often.

If Al Davis Were Alive, This Guy Would Be a Raider — John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Ross ran a 4.22 at the combine and is exactly what this offense needs. Star receiver A.J. Green draws double coverages, and tight end Tyler Eifert will keep safeties and linebackers occupied in the middle of the field. Now, they have Ross to take the top off the defense. If everyone stays healthy, look for this Bengals team to have a top 10 offense and for Ross to look more like Desean Jackson than Darius Heyward-Bey.

OJ “Why Would You Go By That Nickname After 1994” Howard — TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here’s what we know from last year: Jameis Winston will feed his primary targets; Jameis Winston loves throwing to tight ends (especially in the red zone); and OJ Howard is the best TE prospect since Vernon Davis and Kellen Winslow. Winston made no-name Cameron Brate into a viable fantasy starter last year, and I see them throwing the ball even more this year with all their new weapons. He might not be a day 1 impact player, but I’d rather draft him now than get beat on the waivers after he puts up a six catch, two touchdown performance against the New York Giants in Week 4.

Cody’s Deep Sleeper Sponsored By Tequila at 3 a.m. — Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Marlon Mack was a great player for a good South Florida team last year. Reports from training camp are very positive, and for the fifth straight year I will go on the record as saying that this is the year that Frank Gore finally breaks down and loses his starting job. If Gore does indeed start declining, I think Mack will leapfrog Robert Turbin and become a starter. In deeper leagues or leagues with bigger benches, I’d take a late round flyer on Mack.