Don’t bet on the rookies to be fantasy stars right away

Brandon Marianne Lee explains why she's exercising caution when it comes to this year's crop of fantasy rookies.

| 1 week ago
(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

Don’t bet on the rookies to be fantasy stars right away

Earlier this month I took stock of this year’s rookie class and their land spots with a couple of my colleagues, Dan Schneier and Michael Moore. Our editor, Daniel Kelley, compiled our thoughts about if the top prospects from this year’s class would be fantasy starters this year and beyond.

To be considered a “fantasy starter” the running backs and wide receivers had to be top-20 fantasy scoring players and the quarterbacks and tight ends had to be top-10. Here were the official rules:

The premise: You can keep Player X for as long as you want, but you have to decide on that duration right now.

The cost: You can keep the player indefinitely at the cost of the last starter at the position. So a tight end will cost you the draft slot of the 10th tight end off the board, while a wide receiver will cost you the 20th receiver.

Ends up, I’m a Debbie Downer.

Initially, I only gave Leonard Fournette and Corey Davis starter status. After some back and forth over email, I reluctantly added Christian McCaffrey to the list.

But it’s not as simple as that. The top-tier rookies from this draft class may not be fantasy starters this year, but that doesn’t mean they will never be fantasy starters. I was told to give the player a zero if I didn’t think they would be starters in Year 1, regardless of how I feel about their future in the NFL. Since those were the rules, I stuck to my guns, and here is why.

Below, I’ll look at the rookies from the last three years who would have qualified in their rookie seasons.


  • Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (No. 6 fantasy QB)
    fourth-round pick, Mississippi State
    Overall 2016 ADP (per Fantasy Football Calculator): 145
  • Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (No. 2 RB in standard and PPR)
    first-round pick, Ohio State
    Overall 2016 ADP: 6
  • Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (No. 9 RB in standard, No. 10 in PPR)
    fifth-round pick, Indiana
    Overall 2016 ADP: outside of 165
  • Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints (No. 9 WR in standard, No. 7 in PPR)
    second-round pick, Ohio State
    Overall 2016 ADP: 128
  • Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (No. 15 WR in standard, No. 22 in PPR)
    fifth-round pick, Oklahoma State
    Overall 2016 ADP: outside of 165

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Brandon Marianne Lee is a PFF Fantasy contributor, a SiriusXM host, co-founder of Her Fantasy Football and was a finalist for FSWA's Newcomer of the Year in 2014.

  • Jack Bradshaw

    Great article, thanks for the thorough analysis. Just a heads up – Jameis Winston came into the league in Mike Evans’ second year.