2017 fantasy storylines: Don’t count on a rookie fantasy superstar

There have been some huge fantasy rookies in recent years, but Daniel Kelley says we might not see that this year.

| 1 month ago
Dalvin Cook

(Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

2017 fantasy storylines: Don’t count on a rookie fantasy superstar

(This week, some of the PFF Fantasy team will be offering up their forecasts for some of the biggest storylines of the 2017 season. It’s Time Machine Week.)

I was a baseball guy before a football one. And in baseball, changes in the game — both in youth baseball education and in medicine — have changed baseball’s aging curve. Once upon a time, players entered the league, got predictably better for a bit, peaked in their late 20s, and fell off from there. These days, though, players are peaking earlier, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout exist, and the aging curve looks like a ski hill.

But football isn’t baseball. Football players aren’t supposed to be that good, that fast. And we’ve been spoiled in recent years. There was the Odell Beckham Jr./Mike Evans incredible rookie receiver class of 2014, followed by Todd Gurley, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in 2015. Of course this past season, the incredible pair of Dallas Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott) stole headlines. At a glance, it might seem like the football aging curve is moving the same way as baseball’s.

What I see it as, instead, is that we’ve been spoiled. It’s fun to see the nice shiny new things — and the rookies in recent years have been phenomenal — but it’s not a new normal, any more than quarterbacks will keep winning Super Bowls at age 39 because Tom Brady did it.

What has worked out for recent rookies is perfect situations. Elliott ran behind one of the best offensive lines we’ve ever seen. Beckham emerged when Victor Cruz got hurt. The same for Prescott and Tony Romo. Mike Evans rose as Vincent Jackson receded. Gurley was the only weapon the Rams had. They were all good, certainly, but they also found themselves in fortunate scenarios.

And those scenarios just aren’t presenting themselves in the 2017 NFL Draft. To check that, let’s look at where some of the top fantasy options are slated to go in our latest mock draft:


Mitch Trubisky, UNC: third overall, Chicago Bears

Trubisky going to the Bears might give Chicago the foundations for its first franchise quarterback in some time, but how would that work for fantasy? We’ve already covered how quarterbacks with Trubisky’s level of experience don’t often become fantasy producers, especially not right away. Now put him on a Bears team with possibly Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller as his top pass-catching weapons? The Bears might take Trubisky, but they’d be wise to let him learn for a year until they can put a whole arsenal around him.

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| Fantasy Editor

Daniel Kelley is the fantasy editor for Pro Football Focus. He has previously appeared at SB Nation.

  • steve ross

    If cook goes to PHI or IND I think you have a top 12 RB easily in fantasy. CLE is better off with a QB or TE, like Howard at 12 than a RB. They can be competitive with Crowell and Duke.