These five rookies will make an instant impact for their new teams, as well as your fantasy squad.
1.Saquon Barkley, RB New York Giants:
The second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley was far and away the best player available this year. The Giants get a true three-down back who can contribute in both the run and passing game. New York also selected road-grader Guard Will Hernandez in the second, who is a major upgrade for their o-line and will help to open up plenty of holes for Saquon. Look for Barkley to leap-frog Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman and Orleans Darkwa by opening day. Expect a season similar to Todd Gurley’s rookie campaign, as 1,300 yards of total offense should be the floor for Barkley. Saquon is absolutely worth a late first round fantasy draft pick.
2. Calvin Ridley, WR Atlanta Falcons:
With the 26th pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons nabbed arguably the best receiver in the draft. A solid route-runner with decent speed, Ridley will get plenty of one-on-one looks opposite of Julio Jones. Historically receivers tend to struggle some in their rookie campaigns, but with consistent hands and an above-average football IQ, expect Ridley to top 50 receptions and 600 yards in 2018. Worth a late round grab.
3. Rashaan Evans, ILB Tennessee Titans:
After losing their leading tackler from 2017 in Avery Williams, the Titans were aggressive in moving up and nabbing Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans with the 22nd overall pick. A versatile player who amassed over 150 tackles and 15 sacks in college, Evans should be in the Titans’ starting lineup by week one and will be a three-down player. Rashaan will be a borderline LB1 in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues.
4. Royce Freeman, RB Denver Broncos:
The hard-charging Royce Freeman should get plenty of touches for the Denver Broncos in 2018. Following the release of C.J. Anderson, the 71st overall pick out of Oregon will battle with incumbent Devontae Booker for Denver’s starting job. Even if Booker does win the gig, expect Freeman to be the Broncos’ short-yardage and goal-line back. After totaling 60 career touchdowns for the Ducks, it won’t be a reach to expect at least seven scores for Freeman this year. He’s a late round sleeper.
5. Bradley Chubb, DE Denver Broncos:
The Broncos were ecstatic to see Chubb still available at number five in the 2018 NFL Draft, and so should IDP players. Lining up opposite of Von Miller, Chubb will get a ton of one-on-one pass rush opportunities. Though somewhat miscast in a 3-4 defense, expect Denver’s D-Coordinator Joe Woods to be creative in using the explosive Chubb, making the expectation of eight sacks in 2018 a real possibility. A true DE-2 in IDP leagues.
Rashaad Penny, RB Seattle Seahawks: will battle it out with Chris Carson for the starting role.
Mike Gesicki, TE Miami Dolphins: should start immediately, lots of targets available with Landry gone.
Dante Pettis, WR San Francisco 49ers: a dynamic kick returner, should be an underneath target early on.
Christian Kirk, WR Arizona Cardinals: provides a much needed deep threat with John Brown moving on.
Derrius Guice, RB Washington Redskins: if he stays disciplined, expect a big impact this year.