News & Analysis

Fantasy football rookies: How this year's class is measuring up

Oct 13, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) warms up prior to facing the Atlanta Falcons at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies are the ultimate wild cards in fantasy football. For every Saquon Barkley, who came in with huge buzz and followed through on it, there’s a John Ross, who is in his third season and has two good games … and those both came this year.

Some rookies hit the ground running and are good right away. Some take a few games — or even a few years — to become productive. For this season, we’re going to check in periodically on the top rookies this year and see how they compare to the paces set by the top fantasy rookies over the last 10 years.

To do that, I’ve broken down the top rookies (Weeks 1-16 only) at each position over the last decade up to this point in the season. And then I’ll look at this year’s rookies and see who is measuring up so far (with bye weeks coming in force, some paces might shift a bit this week, but the general tracking holds).

Quarterback

Player Team Year Weeks 1-6 Total
Cam Newton CAR 2011 147.6 369.1
Robert Griffin III WAS 2012 152.1 322.7
Dak Prescott DAL 2016 111.2 296.4
Andrew Luck IND 2012 96.8 288.7
Jameis Winston TB 2015 80.2 273.1
Russell Wilson SEA 2012 81.3 265.3
Baker Mayfield CLV 2018 57.9 232.0

 

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

(Weeks 1-6: 118.5 fantasy points)

Murray had his first three-touchdown game Sunday. He’s had multiple touchdown passes or a rushing score in all but one game so far, and has thrown for 300-plus yards three times in six weeks. He’s ahead of pace for every rookie in the last decade except Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III.

Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

(Weeks 1-6: 96.2 fantasy points)

Minshew had his first bona fide bad game in Week 6, generating no touchdowns, throwing his second interception, and managing only 163 passing yards. He was one of three quarterbacks (along with Murray and Patrick Mahomes) to put up at least 16 points in every week up to that point, so while Week 6 was a disappointment, Minshew’s still ahead of the game, and ahead of the paces of Jameis Winston, Russell Wilson, and Baker Mayfield.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

(Weeks 1-6: 73.7 fantasy points)

Jones had a monster first start in Week 3, but since then he’s been quieter, averaging 189 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions per game in his last three. He’s still ahead of Mayfield’s pace from last year (like Jones, Mayfield didn’t start from Week 1).

Running back

Player Team Year Weeks 1-6 Total
Saquon Barkley NYG 2018 157.1 359.7
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 2016 121.1 327.4
Alvin Kamara NO 2017 66.7 289.6
Kareem Hunt KC 2017 145.5 287.7
Doug Martin TB 2012 59.1 287.6
Trent Richardson CLV 2012 104.6 254.7
Eddie Lacy GB 2013 39.4 228.4
Phillip Lindsay DEN 2018 71.9 222.8
Christian McCaffrey CAR 2017 88.7 220.2
Jordan Howard CHI 2016 71.8 218.6
Alfred Morris WAS 2012 89.3 216.8
Todd Gurley LAR 2015 36.4 212.7
Leonard Fournette JAX 2017 130.2 212.6
David Johnson ARZ 2015 64.5 202.9
Jeremy Hill CIN 2014 52.8 201.9

 

Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders

(Weeks 1-6: 80.7 fantasy points)

Jacobs is easily the leading fantasy rookie running back so far despite having his bye in Week 6. That’s in part testament to his good play and in part an indictment of the rest of this year’s rookie running back class. Jacobs is a fair shade behind the pace-setting rookies over the last decade, but there are plenty of strong rookies he’s beating.

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

(Weeks 1-6: 60.1 fantasy points)

Jordan Howard’s presence has really ruined Sanders’ upside so far. Howard has seized the No. 1 job in the Philadelphia backfield, and while it’s still a committee overall, Sanders having the No. 2 role in a committee does not portend a big rookie point total.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

(Weeks 1-6: 50.7 fantasy points)

Montgomery has to be one of the most disappointing fantasy draft picks of the 2019 season. He had risen to a third-round value in many drafts by the end of draft season, but he has yet to have a game with 70 rushing yards or more than 13.8 PPR points in a game. There’s still time for him to turn that around, but not many signs yet that it’s coming.

Wide receiver

Player Team Year Weeks 1-6 Total
Odell Beckham Jr NYG 2014 19.2 260.5
Mike Evans TB 2014 58.3 228.7
Michael Thomas NO 2016 74.7 228.1
Kelvin Benjamin CAR 2014 96.6 225.9
A.J. Green CIN 2011 98.9 213.4
Mike Williams TB 2010 69.3 211.5
Amari Cooper OAK 2015 78.8 210.7
Calvin Ridley ATL 2018 94.2 194.3
Sammy Watkins BUF 2014 69.1 190.8
Tyreek Hill KC 2016 33.1 189.9
Keenan Allen LAC 2013 68.2 182.9
Julio Jones ATL 2011 61.6 179.0
Cooper Kupp LAR 2017 57.5 178.9
Jarvis Landry MIA 2014 42.6 178.6
Jordan Matthews PHI 2014 57.6 178.1

 

Terry McLaurin, Washington

(Weeks 1-6: 93.8 fantasy points)

Even with a game missed to injury, McLaurin is better than all but three of the top fantasy rookies over the last decade. As our Scott Barrett noted in his piece on the fantasy stats to know from Week 6, McLaurin’s per-game pace of 18.8 points would be third among rookies since the merger. It’s hard to see McLaurin maintaining this pace all season, but he’s the top fantasy rookie receiver so far, and it’s not that close.

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

(Weeks 1-6: 71.6 fantasy points)

Brown missed Week 6, and has been fairly quiet since his monster Week 1, but he still has elite upside in a DeSean Jackson sense. Expect him to have more big games the rest of the way, but expect him to also have some disappointing outings.

D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

(Weeks 1-6: 61.6 fantasy points)

Metcalf has at least 60 receiving yards in four of six games, but has only topped 70 once. It’s been a run of so-so performances that make for a good-enough fantasy point total, but not a lot of huge individual fantasy days. Will Dissly‘s likely season-ending injury, though, could lead to more work for Metcalf going forward.

Tight end

Player Team Year Weeks 1-6 Total
Evan Engram NYG 2017 64.2 173.6
Aaron Hernandez NE 2010 55.2 142.0
Rob Gronkowski NE 2010 27.6 134.4
Jermaine Gresham CIN 2010 49.8 123.1
Tony Moeaki KC 2010 49.4 117.9
Mychal Rivera OAK 2013 31.8 117.7
Hunter Henry LAC 2016 68.0 117.5

 

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

(Weeks 1-5: 39.6 fantasy points)

Obviously, Hockenson hasn’t had a chance to play Week 6 yet, with the Lions going Monday night—and as of the most recent update, he’s no guarantee to return from the concussion that knocked him out of Week 4. So this is a four-week pace for him (the Lions had a Week 5 bye), and Hockenson is ahead of pace of all put the top two rookies through four weeks. Most of that came in Week 1, so it would be nice to see more consistency out of Hockenson, but in total it’s a good start.

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

(Weeks 1-5: 34.7 fantasy points)

Fant is 4.9 points behind Hockenson’s pace … despite playing two more games. Yes, he’s beating the paces of Mychal Rivera and (notably) Rob Gronkowski in their rookie seasons, but Fant isn’t really a relevant fantasy rookie so far.

Read More PFF Analysis

Fantasy Featured Tools

  • Sort through our expert fantasy player rankings by analyst and league type.

  • Sort projected player stats and fantasy points by position, week, and category.

  • Research past fantasy performance with sortable player stats including PFF-exclusives like aDOT and fantasy points per opportunity.

  • Run your fantasy season here. Import your league settings to access Season GM, Waiver-Wire, and Player Comparison in your scoring system.

PFF Edge
Unlock Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft
Learn More
$39.99 / yr
$9.99 / mo
PFF Elite
Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS
Learn More
$199.99 / yr
$34.99 / mo