It seems every season more NFL rookies are ready for primetime, which means they’re ready to contribute to our fantasy teams.
Last year, rookies Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Jeremy Hill, Tre Mason and even linebacker Chris Borland all performed well above what we expected on draft day.
Which rookies should you draft and stash or draft and start, let’s talk about the best rookie or two on each NFL team. Start him players should be drafted or put on waiver wire speed dial in all leagues because they will get opportunities early. Stash him players should be drafted with the intention of holding them for a year or two in dynasty and keeper leagues to see if they develop into stars.
Other impact rookies:
2015 NFC West impact rookies
At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, Tyler Lockett is not a what NFL teams look for in their wide receivers. A few slot diminutive receives have had success out of the slot. Even fewer have turned into stars. But when the 5-foot-10, 186-pound Antonio Brown is one of our top-3 fantasy wide receivers, we have to keep our minds open about Lockett’s potential. He is the son of former Kansas City Chiefs WR Kevin Lockett. He broke his father’s receiving record at Kansas State, piling up 187 catches, 2,777 yards and 22 touchdowns the last two seasons. He’s behind Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse this season. Like Brown, he may need a few years to get his shot. Stash him.
San Francisco 49ers
Roster church in San Francisco means young defensive players will get their opportunity to shine. The 49ers went defense for three consecutive picks, getting DE Arik Armstead in the first round and LB Eli Harold in the third round. Both project to get opportunities this season. Armstead is a 6-foot-7, 292-pound freak who has been compared to Calais Campbell. Harold is also a big outside linebacker at 6-foot-3, 247 pounds and has the tools to be a game-changing pass rusher. Considering how much the 49ers lost, we have to consider starting both of them. Start Armstead. Start Harold.
RB Duke Johnson is 6-foot-1, 224 pounds, giving the Cardinals a nice complement to starter Andre Ellington. Johnson was injured this preseason, but in his debut he rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries and had two catches for 15 yards. He had 17 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and a return touchdown at Northern Iowa. At the Senior Bowl he flashed more of his explosive Swiss army knife potential. He had 43 rushing yards and a touchdown, a 16-yard catch and 82 return yards. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cardinals end up with a committee or if Johnson takes the lead role away from Ellington. Start him.
St. Louis Rams
RB Todd Gurley is considered the superstar running back out of a strong 2015 draft class. He just participated in his first full practice with the Rams, who won’t rush the 6-foot-1, 231-pounder from Georgia. Gurley had a tumultuous senior season. He started the first five games, was suspended for taking money to sign memorabilia then tore his ACL in his return. He also suffered an ankle injury in 2013, but when he was on the field he was a dominating electric force, including a 198-yard, 3-TD game on just 15 carries against Clemson last season. He is an injury risk, but the ceiling is so high he should be a top-3 rookie pick in 2015. Start him.
Draft well. May variance be in your favor.