Post NFL Draft Fantasy Football Outlook: Which Rookies Have the Best Chance to Breakthrough?

Eric Fishbin

Despite its longevity, the NFL Draft is the most exciting part of the offseason. Fans find out who they will be cheering for during the season and beyond, franchise quarterbacks are sought after and highly regarded prospects plummet unexpectedly for unknown reasons. The best part about it all is that

college kids’ dreams come true.

On Draft Day, fans of particular NFL teams usually wait to watch until their team is on the clock. After everything is decided, the fantasy football gurus emerge with their rookie forecasts. I’ll try to do the same.

Going fourth overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars was mighty running back Leonard Fournette out of LSU. Hoping to have the “Ezekiel Elliot effect,” Fournette will assume the starting role and should be targeted in fantasy drafts in the late-second or third round, seeing as top running backs fly off the board early on. Fournette is not going to be rushing behind a strong offensive line, but he will still find his way into the end zone frequently enough. I predict Fournette will have eight rushing touchdowns this season and rush for around 900 yards.

The seventh player off the board was Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, going to the Los Angeles Chargers. Philip Rivers is going to love his new target, standing tall at 6’4” and running a 4.53 40-yard dash. Williams has upside fantasy potential because he will become a top red-zone target

for the Chargers.

While Melvin Gordon should continue his tear, I believe this will help Williams settle into his role. His physicality will translate well into the NFL, and he should be drafted in the sixth to seventh round range.

Moving along to the tight end position, O.J. Howard may prove to be the steal of the draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howard is huge and powerful, possessing speed and quality receiving skills. As a Giants fan, I was devastated to see him go only four picks before my team was on the clock. Howard will help his quarterback Jameis Winston take the next step. The Bucs offense is no longer a joke, with receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and now Howard. Tight ends are valuable in fantasy leagues and the drop off between the top tier talent and middle is vast. Howard, as a rookie, will bridge the gap between the Gronkowskis of the league and the Charles Clays.

I see him finishing near the top-five and raking in 650 yards and having six touchdowns. This should make him an eighth to ninth round pick, but someone in your league may reach on him earlier.

Rookie quarterbacks are ridiculously unpredictable. Dak Prescott emerged last season for the Cowboys and was the sixth best QB in the league (fantasy-wise). Deshaun Watson was selected twelfth overall to the Houston Texans, who traded picks with the Browns to get him. I believe Watson will fall in love with fellow Clemson-product wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins, usually a top receiver in the league, had an overwhelmingly disappointing season last year, but with a new and hopefully stable quarterback his production level should spike considerably. 

Hopkins should benefit a lot from this pick. Watson, in turn, will be able to have some level of success while throwing it to Hopkins. I see Watson as a solid second quarterback in two-QB leagues, but he should not be taken before the eighth round. Statistically, expect interceptions to come, but his

rushing ability might make up for it.

Texans fans will hope for more, but I see Watson chucking around 20 touchdowns, running for six and throwing around 3,400 yards in the 2017 season.