Despite sporting the “rookie” title, the NFL’s freshman class makes an impact annually. When drafting in fantasy football, the notion of a rookie shouldn’t sway your decision. Last season, rookie running back Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing, while Leonard Fournette finished eighth. This year, running backs headline the rookie class once again, a good sign for dynasty league participants. Here are the top five rookies for fantasy football this season.
1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
Barkley should be a first-round pick in all leagues, as he offers a combination of talent and usage. He runs a 4.40 forty-yard dash, and he can squat up to 525 lbs. During his career at Penn State, he tallied up 3,843 yards over three seasons. Now with the Giants, Barkley will receive a ton of touches. He has little competition in the backfield, and head coach Pat Shurmur uses a run-heavy offense. Barkley is a can’t miss player.
2. Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A track star on the side, Jones has the speed to take it to the house every carry. Like Barkley, he has little competition among the Tampa running backs, but he has to deal with a questionable offensive line. So far this pre-season, he’s struggled to find space near the line of scrimmage. However, if the offensive line rounds into shape, Jones will unleash his speed into the open field.
3. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos
A large 230 lb back, Freeman was called a “bell-cow” by Denver GM John Elway. Freeman has the size and youthfulness to take a beating, as he showed at Oregon. Totaling 5,621 yards at the University of Oregon, Freeman gives results. He is in a nice situation in Denver, as Devontae Booker is coming off a rollercoaster year.
4. Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Penny was a surprising first round pick in April’s draft, but that should be taken as an indication for head coach Pete Carroll’s liking of what he has in his new rookie tailback. Finishing with an impressive 7.8 yards per carry last season at San Diego State, Penny now gives Seattle another option in the running game, along with Chris Carson. Penny’s stock is currently down due a hand injury that is sidelining him.
5. D.J Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
Finally, a receiver. Moore’s speed and play-making ability earned him the reward of being the first wide receiver taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. Combined with the speed of running back Christian McCaffrey, the Panther’s spread set suits Moore well. Quarterback Cam Newton has failed to develop good rapport with his receivers, but Moore could break that trend.