NFL Rookie Highlights, News & Notes: Preseason Week 2
As we become closer and closer to the regular season, fantasy drafts may appear on your calendar. Drafting can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when indecisiveness and unpredictable selections come your way. Sometimes in these drafts, we have to make high-risk, high-reward choices that may make or break your season. These risks often come in the form of rookies. Because of this, Dynasty Sports Empire brings you this week’s edition of the Rookie Roundup.
A quick recap: “Starters” are the rookies I suggest picking up immediately, whether it be via the draft, trade, or waiver wire, these rookies are imperative for you to acquire. “Bench Players” encompass the first-year players that you should keep an eye on. To add, “Practice Squad Players” are rookies that I would ignore, as they do not provide any significant fantasy value. Let’s get started!
5. Kasen Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Taking the fifth starting spot this week is preseason breakout Kasen Williams. Not a very highly touted prospect, it was definitely a surprise to see him shine. While some may say it was merely a meaningless exhibition game, Williams showed flashes of what he could do during the regular season. He went up against an amazing corner in Xavier Rhodes and taught him a lesson. The only drawback is his depth chart position- fourth. This may very understandably scare some, but I am optimistic about his role. First off, the receivers ahead of him are not great. Tyler Lockette and Jermaine Kearse have both shown to be exceptional specialist, but not overwhelming four down receivers. Doug Baldwin is the only one with a proven role. Considering the fact that he showed out as a difference maker, Pete Carrol will find him some snaps, and you can expect that number to grow as the season progresses. Go grab Kasen Williams.
4. Mack Hollins, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Let’s keep things simple, shall we? Jordan Matthews was a slot receiver… Philadelphia dealt him to Buffalo. Nelson Agholor is a slot receiver… and he isn’t very good. With this in mind, one would configure that an opening is available for the slot receiver role for the Philadelphia Eagles. This assumption would be correct. Mack Hollins may be the perfect man for the job. Hollins has exhibited his talent so far this preseason, carving up a Green Bay secondary and ruthlessly finding his way into the end zone. A team that lacked wide receiver talent last year has successfully solved its conflict with not only Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, but Mack Hollins; good job Howie Roseman. As the starting slot receiver opening fell into his hands, the only possible problem would be his quarterback’s play. Coming off a roller coaster of a rookie season, Carson Wentz looks much improved as a passer. If he improves nearly as much as what it looks like now, Hollins and his co-receivers are in for big years.
3. Evan Engram, TE/WR, New York Giants
An interesting pick to say the least, Evan Engram has a ton to offer from the offensive side off the ball. Currently, Engram is expected to start at tight end, but the versatile pass catcher will see snaps across the entire field. Engram is miss-match material, holding a 6’3″ frame and good speed for his listed position. He is a problem for opposing defenses, something his pass-happy quarterback, Eli Manning, will use to his advantage. The first round pick may end up as a top red zone threat for this team as well. Engram has sky-high potential in almost a perfect landing spot for him. I recommend picking up Evan Engram before your friends do.
2. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams knew that this off-season was going to be focused around helping former number one overall pick, Jared Goff. After recruiting new, and awesome, head coach Sean McVay, their plan was sent into motion. All pro tackle Andrew Whitworth was signed, and the team drafted both Gerald Everett and Cooper Kupp. Kupp, the now number two receiver behind newly acquired Sammy Watkins, is a ball magnet that seems to always have the ball in his general area. If Jared Goff plays even remotely well, Kupp is in for exceedingly large numbers, especially in PPR leagues.
1. Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills
Another rookie that was effected by the Sammy Watkins trade was former Eastern Carolina University star Zay Jones. Zay Jones has won the number one receiver spot on the Bills roster without playing a snap in a real game. Expect Tyrod Taylor to lean on him in the passing game. This comes to fruition at an even larger extent when the Bills’ rebuild is mentioned, as this team will be down a ton in many games. What do teams do when they are losing? They throw the ball down the field. If Zay Jones can outperform the lock down corners against him, he might just be the best rookie wide receiver this season.
5. Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins
Many teams across the entire league utilize a committee to obtain the maximum potential of each and every one of their backs. The Redskins are one of these teams. Robert Kelly looks to be the lead back, with Christian Thompson catching passes, Matt Jones serving as depth, and rookie Samaje Perine receiving many red zone attempts. The powerful back has a chance to put up Blount-like numbers as his attempts will surely be limited, but his touchdown percentage should be up there with the best of them. Perine and all of his touchdown-hogging upside has a lot of potential, but the committee approach to the run game scares me off. A new offensive coordinator and a contract year for a big name quarterback can lead to a drop off in rushing attempts across the board, especially for rotational backs like Perine. While there is potential, I would like a look at Washington’s offense before I pull the trigger on the former Oklahoma bruiser.
4. Taywan Taylor, WR, Tennessee Titans
Another team that attempted to retool their weapons for the team’s franchise quarterback was the Tennessee Titans. This was well accomplished, as Marcus Mariota, a budding star, now has Taywan Taylor, Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, and Eric Decker to throw to. The drawback with Taylor is his fourth role on the depth chart. With three talented receivers and a really good tight end surrounding Mariota, Taylor’s snaps will be minimal until further notice. His talent is undeniable, so if he wins a starting spot or someone goes down with an injury, Taylor may be the way to go.
3. George Kittle, TE, San Francisco 49ers
So far this preseason, George Kittle has impressed. The book on him going into the draft was that the Iowa product was a blocking first tight end. This proved to be true, but Kittle has made nice strides as a receiver, exemplifying his effective hands and run-after-catch ability that wasn’t really expressed back in the Big 10. Vance McDonald is still starting over him, and bad quarterback play is almost certain, so there are definitely reasons to not go after him. On the other hand, Kyle Shanahan is a genius, and now that he is in charge, everything goes through him. I am more than excited to see what he can do with that offense, and how he uses Kittle. Until then, I would just watch him.
2. Adam Shaheen, TE, Chicago Bears
A small school prospect, Shaheen has a lot to prove going into this season. The reason I would keep an eye on him is because he may eventually take the starting job from Zach Miller, and the Bears will be tempted to use their young talent. As of now, the always awful Mike Glennon will be tossing passes to his receivers, so any Bear has limited fantasy value. In a rebuilding year, the Bears may want to see what their future tight end can do. If so, watch out because both the ball and touchdowns will be coming his way.
1. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of my favorite backs in last year’s draft, McNichols is a deep sleeper for me and should be for you as well. Currently, he will see the field as a third down back, improving his PPR value. Additionally, Doug Martin is suspended to start the season, so if Jacquizz Rodgers, the backup, does not play well, McNichols may get his shot. If so, he will prove that he is a valid weapon in this loaded offense, and I wouldn’t be surprised with some high fantasy point totals. I expect his playing time to increase throughout the year, and he is worth stashing in certain leagues as he may be Tampa’s starter next season.
Practice Squad Players
5. Isaiah Ford, WR, Miami Dolphins
This one shouldn’t take very long. A few days ago, Isaiah Ford, who I was high on going into the draft, was placed on injured reserve. This means that he will not be on the roster, or any teams’ roster, for the entire season. Considering I prefer more than a guaranteed zero points a game from the players on my fantasy team, I would completely ignore Isaiah Ford.
4. KD Cannon, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Another receiver many enjoyed watching during the draft process this off season, Cannon has found himself in a predicament. Non-talent related issues caused Cannon to go undrafted, including his poor attitude. He first signed with the niners, but that didn’t last very long. Next, he arrived on the East coast to play for the Jets. Considering the title of this part has the team called the “Rams”, and not the “Jets”, you can figure that his tenure with the consensus worst team in football did not go well. Now, he is on the Rams, acting as a depth receiver, mainly being used as a deep threat. The bouncing aorund and depth role are enough for me to cross off KD Cannon from my fantasy draft board this season.
3. Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Chris Carson was an under-the-radar prospect this off season and Seattle found a talented player to add to their roster. Unfortunately, playing time will be scarce with Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise all in front of him. Carson doesn’t have anything to make him stand out among the Seattle backs, and his roster spot isn’t certain either. Unless someone gets hurt or severely under performs, Carson won;t be getting very many snaps, if at all. For now, I wouldn’t waste anything on Chris Carson.
2. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
San Diego State’s all time leading rusher was a day three pick for Howie Roseman’s eagles. Though no one’s spot is set in stone, LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Darren Sproles are all ahead of the little guy. A receiving threat like Sproles, he is more there for the future than anything else, and his snap count will prove this. He may get in on some packages, but is overall not worth picking up. As of now, Pumphrey is just someone I would ignore.
1. Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Mike Glennon received 15 million dollar from the Chicago Bears to play quarterback for at least this season. With Trubisky’s hype at what it is now, and the cellar-destined finish for this team, the fans may play a role in the organization’s decision making. A push for Trubisky will be made, as just the pure nature of how they acquired him does that to a team. If Trubisky sees the field at all, it will be late in the season, and he probably wouldn’t put up any eye-popping numbers anyway. To wrap up this week’s rookie roundup, I recommend that you ignore the second overall pick in last year’s draft, Mitch Trubisky.