Final Preseason Edition of NFL Rookie Roundup
In what is probably the most brutal day of the football calendar, over a thousand players lost their jobs while only a third of those found a new home. Though these players landed on practice squads, barely made the roster, or are out of a job, one may think that these players are completely irrelevant in terms of fantasy football. In deeper leagues or dynasty leagues, this take is dead wrong. The rookies mentioned in this week’s edition of the Rookie Roundup were on the move over the weekend, finding a better fit for themselves, even if it meant less playing time in the near future (except for Zane Gonzalez). Considering many of these rookies were named to practice squads and are not actually on the roster, only three starters will be reviewed, along with six practice squad and bench players. The final Rookie Roundup prior to the 2017-’18 NFL season starts now!
3. Andy Jones, WR, Houston Texans
Andy Jones was waived by the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week and his football future was in jeopardy. Luckily, an across town team in the Houston Texans claimed him as they bolstered their receiving corp. Jones adds a layer of depth to the Texans weapons and will be seen in certain packages. If someone is moved or goes down with an injury, Jones should step up and receive more targets. As of now, his fantasy stock isn’t very high, so pick him up in 14+ team leagues as well as DSE’s very own dynasty leagues.
2. Zane Gonzalez, K, Cleveland Browns
The Browns’ special teams needed a boost, and Sashi Brown made his move on day three of the NFL Draft. He drafted Zane Gonzalez, a highly touted kicker who is supposed to be “their guy” for years to come. With a rookie quarterback (whom I love) in DeShone Kizer and a poor group of receivers, the Browns offense likely won’t be very high powered. Obviously, on the touchdowns they do score, Gonzalez will have the extra point honors, but they will also be kicking many field goals, where Gonzalez will make most of his fantasy points. He is accurate and can kick from distance, and is a sleeper option like Will Lutz last year. Unequivocally, his fantasy value is limited as a kicker, but I still recommend picking him up for your team.
1. Austin Carr, WR, New Orleans Saints
Another receiver claimed off of waivers this weekend was Austin Carr. This new landing spot propels his stock, making him a late round flier with high upside. Carr is currently listed as the fifth receiver but will see more and more time considering Ted Ginn is a threat in the return game, but not so much the passing game. Willie Snead coming back will hurt him, but if he makes a name for himself early, Drew Brees will find him a fair amount of targets. Speaking of Brees, he has the ability to make receivers into fantasy studs, so watch out for a big game from this new receiver in town.
6. Travis Rudolph, WR, New York Giants
An inspirational story, Travis Rudolph looks to make an impact on the pass heavy Giants offense. Right now, he is on the practice squad, but I would not be surprised to see him get the call early. The Giants were banged up for a large majority of the preseason, including injuries to its offensive targets. If any of these are lingering, Rudolph could be promoted and be receiving passes from Eli Manning in no time. A prospect I liked coming out, watch out if he is placed on the roster.
5. Kyle Sloter, QB, Minnesota Vikings
I have already mentioned a prospect I like, and now it is time for me to share with you a prospect I love: Kyle Sloter. Sloter was just outside of my top five quarterbacks in last year’s draft, and in a weaker class, would have been much higher. After signing with Denver and outplaying his competition, he was waived and in high demand. He signed with the Vikings’ practice squad for $20k/week, over double the average practice squad salary. With two injury riddled quarterbacks on the last year of their deals, Sloter may end up with playing time at any point over the next to season. Unless something happens where Sloter gets to start, I would not go after him, but keep an eye on him, as he is an awesome prospect.
4. Artavis Scott, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
The story over the last few years with the Chargers has been “talented but always hurt”. Whether it was Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, or even rookie Mike Williams, the Chargers could not rid themselves of an injury bug infestation. This is why Artavis Scott makes sense. With two injury prone receivers in front of him, it is likely one of them goes down again. While no one hopes for such an event occurs, if it does, the Chargers will be prepared with Scott on the practice squad. Personally, I would not go after Artavis Scott until further notice.
3. JoJo Natson, WR, New York Jets
JoJo Natson was my leading candidate for the Colts’ slot receiver job, but after a three fumble performance, his tenure with the Colts was over. Fortunately, the Jets picked him up and added him to the youth movement. “The Flea” may see an adequate amount of snaps at Metlife, as the Jets will look for help with the possibly the league’s worst receiving corp, as well as the fact that they are looking to keep the roster fluid, mixing and matching as many young talents as they can over the course of the season. His current role and quarterback play currently hold him back, but if he plays, he will shine.
2. Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Amba Etta-Tawo was an intriguing prospect out of Syracuse that may end up contributing to the offense this season. Bad quarterback play has frustrated talents such as Allen Robinson, and if wide out production slips, Etta-Tawo may be the next man up in Jacksonville. Once again, we will have to wait and see, but for now, he is an interesting player to keep an eye on. Talented, and could possibly have big games against the Colts, Texans, and other teams with weak secondaries.
1. Cole Hikutini, TE, San Francisco 49ers
As we have already seen, the youth movement is on in the Bay Area. Shannahan and Lynch’s new regime have brought upon a multitude of young talents to this team and Hikutini is another one of these promising young players. He may get promoted soon, as the team will certainly miss Vance McDonald. He and Kittle would make a fun, young, and effective tight end combo for their future quarterbacks to work with. If he is signed to the active roster, I would expect Jack Doyle-like numbers from the rookie.
Practice Squad Players
6. Alex Torgersen, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Torgersen was an undrafted free agent picked up by Atlanta. On the practice squad, he will provide depth if needed, but a ton would have to go his way in order for him to get playing time. He has talent, but as of now, he is in no way an option for me in any kind of fantasy league.
5. Damire’ea Stringfellow, WR, New York Jets
Stringfellow is in a very similar spot to his teammate JoJo Natson. The problem is, Natson is the better athlete and the better player, so Natson has a much easier path to the active roster. Stringfellow is more QB-dependent and with McCowm, Petty, and Hackenberg at the helm, this does not help out the practice squad receiver. I recommend ignoring him as he is not likely to put up any real numbers whatsoever.
4. Greg Ward, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Ward had a nice year out of Houston before he declared, but it was quickly revealed that he did not have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. Being very athletic helped Ward keep NFL doors open for him, as he converted to the wide receiver position. It will take at least a year for Ward to become relevant with this switch, so I would expect him to stay on the practice squad and off of any fantasy team.
3. Brad Kaaya, QB, Carolina Panthers
Another rookie that switched teams this weekend was Brad Kaaya. Once highly touted, this quarterback prospect fell to the third day of the draft, and was eventually cut by the Lions. He is still a talented player, but is behind Cam Newton and Derek Anderson. Unless Cam gets hurt or the season is lost, Kaaya will not see any playing time and won’t have a fantasy impact.
2. James Summers, RB, Arizona Cardinals
We all saw how David Johnson exploded onto the seen a few years back. A similar situation may occur in Phoenix, but the uprooting of David Johnson would take massive surprise events. Summers will most likely see some snaps as the backup this season, but for now is not relevant for your fantasy needs. His value may increase if Bruce Arians does not see his non-QB offense produce, as frustrations have already been noticed.
1. Bobo Wilson, WR, Denver Broncos
With Carlos Henderson being placed on the injured reserve, depth receiver is a position of need for Denver. It is possible that Wilson gets the call, but his impact will be limited with poor quarterback play and a plethora of targets in front of him. Though he may be signed sooner rather than later, I would not view him as a valid fantasy candidate.
In summation, many players were affected by the transactions this weekend. Some of these have fantasy implications, as their new landing spot may offer additional benefits, such as Drew Brees or more playing time. On the other hand, these moves left many jobless or on practice squads where they won’t be signed to the active roster. Hopefully, these rookies get their shot and are able to produce for our fantasy teams this season.