News & Analysis

Ranking the 2018 fantasy football rookies

By Jeff Ratcliffe
May 1, 2018

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Sep 9, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs wide receiver Courtland Sutton (16) crosses the goal line for a touchdown during the first quarter at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Let the games begin. The conclusion of the NFL draft means the beginning of dynasty rookie drafts across the fantasy football landscape. Below you’ll find the 2018 rookie fantasy football rankings for the top 101 players in this year’s class along with a brief blurb on the top-50 and a few additional players from there.

If you’re interested in reading our pre-draft rookie fantasy scouting profiles, you can check them out right here: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

(Check out Jeff Ratcliffe’s rookie draft board and draft strategy peek here.)

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, NYG – The clear top option in this year’s class, Barkley is paved for healthy volume and will be an immediate RB1.

2. Rashaad Penny, RB, SEA – A PFF favorite, Penny is poised to step right in as a three-down back. Sure, the Seahawks line won’t do him any favors, but his projected workload is very healthy.

3. Sony Michel, RB, NE – A polarizing player in fantasy circles, but Michel is worth strong consideration as the Dion Lewis replacement in a very potent offense.

4. Derrius Guice, RB, WAS – Despite the draft day slide, Guice is still in a very good position for fantasy purposes and will step right in as the Redskins’ lead early-down back.

5. Ronald Jones II, RB, TB – He may not offer much in the passing game, but Jones is a dynamic home-run hitter who figures to be heavily involved on early downs.

6. Nick Chubb, RB, CLV – This wasn’t the best landing spot for Chubb given Carlos Hyde’s presence on the depth chart, but Chubb’s talent gives him a very favorable long-term outlook.

7. Royce Freeman, RB, DEN – One of the biggest beneficiaries of landing spot, Freeman will step right into the lead back role in Denver.

8. Calvin Ridley, WR, ATL – It’s tough to endorse Ridley over any of the top seven running backs given his landing spot as the No. 2 option in Atlanta. There’s a chance he becomes an eventual No. 1, but the wait could be frustrating.

9. D.J. Moore, WR, CAR – He has undeniable upside, but Moore is likely to start out as the No. 4 target option with a quarterback who hasn’t produced a WR1 in fantasy since 2011.

10. Courtland Sutton, WR, DEN – Expect at least one year of limited production from Sutton, but he still has plenty of long-term appeal as the eventual replacement for Demaryius Thomas.

11. Anthony Miller, WR, CHI – If there’s a player in this year’s class who has the potential to be the next Odell Beckham Jr., it’s Miller. You read that right. Don’t sleep on him.

12. Kerryon Johnson, RB, DET – Johnson will have the opportunity to produce in Detroit, but questions linger as to whether he’ll ever be more than a committee back. He’ll also be behind the Lions’ lackluster offensive line.

13. James Washington, WR, PIT – The downfield threat will step into a favorable offense as Martavis Bryant’s replacement. It isn’t the most optimal landing spot in the short-term, but Washington still has plenty of long-term appeal.

14. Michael Gallup, WR, DAL – With Dez Bryant out of the mix, Gallup will have the opportunity to produce immediately.

15. Christian Kirk, WR, ARZ – Like Gallup, Kirk should see plenty of the field in Year 1, and has a favorable long-term outlook getting paired with Josh Rosen.

16. Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL – You won’t be using Jackson in 2018, but his dual-threat ability still gives him the most fantasy upside out of this year’s rookie signal-callers.

17. Dante Pettis, WR, SF – The athletic receiver gets paired up with ascending quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and offers long-term fantasy upside.

18. Mike Gesicki, TE, MIA – A combine freak, Gesicki is this year’s rookie tight end who is most likely to surface on the redraft radar.

19. Baker Mayfield, QB, CLV – We aren’t sure when he’ll take over as the starter, but Mayfield’s talent and football IQ are very appealing for long-term fantasy purposes.

20. Dallas Goedert, TE, PHI – Landing spot certainly hurt his value, but Goedert’s athleticism still gives him long-term appeal at a notoriously thin position in dynasty leagues.

21. Antonio Callaway, WR, CLV – Sure, he’s volatile off the field, but Callaway is extremely talented and could pan out to be a dynasty steal if you can get him in the third round of rookie drafts.

22. Tre’Quan Smith, WR, NO – A downfield threat who figures to be Ted Ginn’s eventual successor in New Orleans.

23. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, DEN – The Broncos appear to have drafted Demaryius Thomas’ successor in Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders’ successor in Hamilton.

24. Sam Darnold, QB, NYJ – His short-term fantasy potential is minimal given the existing talent at receiver in New York, but Darnold has the long-term fantasy potential of someone like Matthew Stafford.

25. Josh Rosen, QB, ARZ – While he may not have an elite long-term ceiling, Rosen doesn’t possess the tools to be a future fantasy factor.

26. Mark Andrews, TE, BAL – We’d be higher on Andrews had he not landed on the same depth chart as Hayden Hurst, but of the two, Andrews offers more upside.

27. Kalen Ballage, RB, MIA – A very similar player to Kenyan Drake, Ballage will compete for reps in the Dolphins backfield.

28. Jordan Wilkins, RB, IND – Of the deeper names in this year’s rookie class, Wilkins is the best bet to emerge as a fantasy option. He has a chance of earning lead-back duties on early downs.

29. John Kelly, RB, LAR – He’ll start his career as Todd Gurley’s backup, which gives Kelly value as a handcuff.

30. Hayden Hurst, TE, BAL – Things looked good for Hurst until the Ravens drafted Mark Andrews in the third round.

31. DJ Chark, WR, JAX – A one-trick pony deep threat, Chark will likely be over-drafted in rookie drafts due to where he went in the actual NFL draft.

32. J’Mon Moore, WR, GB – Big and athletic, Moore is one of three wideouts the Packers drafted this year. Of the three, he’s the most appealing for both the short and long term.

33. Deon Cain, WR, IND – The Colts are thin at wide receiver, which gives Cain the chance to get on the field plenty in Year 1.

34. Keke Coutee, WR, HOU – There’s a lot to like about Coutee’s game, but his fantasy upside is limited as a slot receiver in a loaded offense.

35. Josh Allen, QB, BUF – He may be the first of this year’s rookie quarterbacks to see the field, but Allen’s deficiencies make him the riskiest fantasy option of the top five rookie options at the position.

36. Nyheim Hines, RB, IND – He’s dynamic and explosive, but is also undersized and figures to be more of a third-down back at the NFL level.

37. Mark Walton, RB, CIN – Is Walton Giovani Bernard’s eventual replacement? It sure seems that way.

38. Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, GB – He slid all the way to the end of the sixth round of the draft, which should give us some pause about St. Brown’s fantasy outlook.

39. Jaleel Scott, WR, BAL – Scott offers an intriguing height/weight/speed combination, but his limited resume at the college level makes him somewhat risky as a long-term option.

40. Jordan Akins, TE, HOU – An athletic move option landing on a thin depth chart is the recipe for potential future fantasy success.

41. Justin Watson, WR, TB – While he landed in a crowded house, Watson’s pro day testing numbers and productivity at Penn are worth a fourth-round rookie flier.

42. Chase Edmonds, RB, ARZ – The hyper-productive back figures to be David Johnson’s handcuff in 2018.

43. Daurice Fountain, WR, IND – There’s opportunity for Fountain in Indy, but he’ll need to prove that he’s able to hold his own after just one year of strong production at the FCS level.

44. Jordan Lasley, WR, BAL – Looks the part of an NFL receiver, but off-field issues and drops put a damper on Lasley’s long-term fantasy outlook.

45. Jaylen Samuels, RB, PIT – A versatile player who some have classified as a tight end. Samuels is an offensive weapon who views himself as a running back. He’s a darkhorse candidate to backup Le’Veon Bell.

46. Ito Smith, RB, ATL – A third-down back with dynamic upside, Smith has some appeal if he can work his way into the No. 3 job in Atlanta.

47. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, GB – Off the charts from an athletic standpoint. Valdes-Scantling profiles as a big-bodied downfield option who enters the NFL as a raw prospect.

48. Cedrick Wilson, WR, DAL – A sneaky deeper name to know after he landed on a thin depth chart in Dallas. Wilson led the nation last year with 4.58 yards per route run against the Power-5.

49. Braxton Berrios, WR, NE – A Wes Welker clone who could be the long-term slot option in New England.

50. Mason Rudolph, QB, PIT – There’s a chance he’s Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. There’s also a chance the Steelers draft another quarterback in the third or fourth round next year.

51. Justin Jackson, RB, LAC

52. Josh Adams, RB, PHI – The Eagles heavily used a UDFA last season in Corey Clement, so Adams is a name we shouldn’t overlook.

53. Bo Scarbrough, RB, DAL

54. Boston Scott, RB, NO

55. Javon Wims, WR, CHI

56. Damion Ratley, WR, CLV

57. Ian Thomas, TE, CAR

58. Christopher Herndon IV, TE, NYJ

59. Dylan Cantrell, WR, LAC

60. Trey Quinn, WR, WAS

61. Richie James, WR, SF

62. Marcell Ateman, WR, OAK

63. Akrum Wadley, RB, TEN – While he went undrafted, Wadley is an elusive and athletic back who offers upside as a receiving option.

64. Jarvion Franklin, RB, PIT

65. Tyler Conklin, TE, MIN

66. Auden Tate, WR, CIN

67. Simmie Cobbs, WR, WAS

68. Allen Lazard, WR, JAX – The big-bodied wideout wasn’t drafted, but he’s a name to remember if he’s able to make the team.

69. Vyncint Smith, WR, HOU

70. Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, BUF

71. Troy Fumagalli, TE, DEN

72. Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL – Jason Witten is retiring and Rico Gathers is unproven, so we’ll need to keep an eye on Schultz.

73. Trenton Cannon, RB, NYJ

74. David Williams, RB, DEN

75. Kyle Lauletta, QB, NYG – Of the deeper names at quarterback in this year’s class, Lauletta is the most intriguing.

76. Mike White, QB, DAL

77. Luke Falk, QB, TEN

78. Ralph Webb, RB, NE

79. Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN

80. Jester Weah, WR, HOU

81. Byron Pringle, WR, KC

82. Jalen Tolliver, WR, ARZ

83. Austin Proehl, WR, BUF

84. Roc Thomas, RB, MIN

85. Demario Richard, RB, ATL

86. Martez Carter, RB, WAS

87. Mike Boone, RB, MIN – He’s an athletic freak who posted off-the-charts testing numbers with a 42-inch vert, 11-foot-7 broad jump, and a 4.44 40-yard dash.

88. J.J. Jones, WR, LAC

89. Lavon Coleman, RB, HOU

90. Davon Grayson, WR, DAL

91. Ryan Nall, RB, CHI

92. Russell Gage, WR, ATL

93. Durham Smythe, TE, MIA

94. Will Dissly, TE, SEA

95. Ryan Izzo, TE, NE

96. Jordan Thomas, TE, HOU

97. Teo Redding, WR, DET

98. Jeff Badet, WR, MIN

99. Steven Dunbar, WR, SF

100. Taj Williams, WR, SEA

101. Steven Mitchell, WR, LAR

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