Fantasy News & Analysis

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

Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) scrambles with the ball as New York Jets defensive end Kyle Phillips (98) defends during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-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).


Player Team Year Weeks 1-8 Total
Cam Newton CAR 2011 202.7 369.1
Robert Griffin III WAS 2012 190.2 322.7
Dak Prescott DAL 2016 139.3 296.4
Andrew Luck IND 2012 135.1 288.7
Jameis Winston TB 2015 120.0 273.1
Russell Wilson SEA 2012 103.5 265.3
Baker Mayfield CLV 2018 93.9 232.0
Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars

(Weeks 1-8: 147.2 fantasy points)

Minshew leapfrogged Kyler Murray in Sunday’s action, putting up his first career three-touchdown game to break a two-game mini-slump. Minshew now has a 13:2 TD:INT ratio on the season, with multiple touchdown passes in five of eight games. His pace puts him well behind the ridiculous numbers offered by Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III, but he’s ahead of the rest on the list here. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t ever supposed to see the field.

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

(Weeks 1-8: 143.4 fantasy points)

Murray sits just shy of Minshew so far, but their paths to their respective point totals could scarcely have been different. Murray has yet to throw one touchdown in a game — he’s gone without a touchdown in five of eight games (including four of his last five), then has two games with 2 touchdown passes and one with 3. Murray, of course, has more to offer on the ground, with 279 rushing yards and 2 scores so far (compared to the still-respectable 201 and 0 for Minshew). Murray still has the higher ceiling, of course, but you’d really like to see him offer a bit more consistency.

Daniel Jones, New York Giants

(Weeks 1-8: 115.1 fantasy points)

Jones hasn’t had a fantasy point total in the 20s yet. In four of his starts, he’s put up under 15.0 PPR points. In his other two, he’s topped 30. Those flashes are great, but until he can start offering something like weekly reliability he’s only on this list because I wanted a third entry.

Running back

Player Team Year Weeks 1-8 Total
Saquon Barkley NYG 2018 201.6 359.7
Ezekiel Elliott DAL 2016 139.9 327.4
Alvin Kamara NO 2017 99.0 289.6
Kareem Hunt KC 2017 171.0 287.7
Doug Martin TB 2012 116.7 287.6
Trent Richardson CLV 2012 128.9 254.7
Eddie Lacy GB 2013 82.4 228.4
Phillip Lindsay DEN 2018 108.7 222.8
Christian McCaffrey CAR 2017 110.5 220.2
Jordan Howard CHI 2016 104.2 218.6
Alfred Morris WAS 2012 110.2 216.8
Todd Gurley LAR 2015 92.3 212.7
Leonard Fournette JAX 2017 130.2 212.6
David Johnson ARZ 2015 75.7 202.9
Jeremy Hill CIN 2014 63.6 201.9
Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders

(Weeks 1-8: 107.2 fantasy points)

Nobody is going to touch the numbers that Saquon Barkley and Kareem Hunt were putting up in their rookie years, but overall, Jacobs has had a perfectly fine rookie campaign so far, especially considering his eight-week total includes the Raiders’ bye. Barring injury, it would be an upset if Jacobs didn’t end the year solidly somewhere on this list.

Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles

(Weeks 1-8: 87.1 fantasy points)

Sunday was easily Sanders’ best game so far, as he put up 118 scrimmage yards and a touchdown. Signs of concern? He only had three carries (one 65-yard score and two others), and he left the game with a shoulder injury. That performance kept him on the fringe of the relevant-rookies conversation, but he’s got work to do to rise up this list.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

(Weeks 1-8: 79.3 fantasy points)

Speaking of rookies who just had their best games, Montgomery just had 147 yards from scrimmage (he hadn’t topped 81 before that) and a career-high 27 carries in the Bears’ 17-16 loss. If what we saw Sunday is what we can expect from Montgomery going forward, he’ll shoot up this list, but let’s wait until we get it more than once before signing off.

Wide receiver

Player Team Year Weeks 1-8 Total
Odell Beckham Jr NYG 2014 39.9 260.5
Mike Evans TB 2014 70.6 228.7
Michael Thomas NO 2016 110.0 228.1
Kelvin Benjamin CAR 2014 125.1 225.9
A.J. Green CIN 2011 115.2 213.4
Mike Williams TB 2010 103.0 211.5
Amari Cooper OAK 2015 112.9 210.7
Calvin Ridley ATL 2018 103.5 194.3
Sammy Watkins BUF 2014 127.0 190.8
Tyreek Hill KC 2016 67.7 189.9
Keenan Allen LAC 2013 77.9 182.9
Julio Jones ATL 2011 61.6 179.0
Cooper Kupp LAR 2017 72.6 178.9
Jarvis Landry CLV 2014 56.9 178.6
Jordan Matthews PHI 2014 68.7 178.1
Terry McLaurin, Washington

(Weeks 1-8: 111.7 fantasy points)

McLaurin has really been the only rookie receiver fantasy managers have to pay attention to this year, with the others flirting with the fringes of fantasy relevance. McLaurin, though, was a bona fide starting fantasy receiver through Week 6. It’s been quieter the last two weeks (5 receptions for 50 yards across the two games), but he’s earned some fantasy leash. The offense around him could hold him in check, but he’s been good.

D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

(Weeks 1-8: 87.6 fantasy points)

Metcalf has certainly had flashes. He has 4 touchdowns and four games of 60-plus yards. Of course, he’s only done both of those things once. Sunday, he scored twice, which you love to see, but he only had one catch other than those and he totaled only 13 yards in the game. He’ll be a low-floor flex going forward, but his weekly ceiling could be high.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

(Weeks 1-8: 81.5 fantasy points)

Hardman has now scored in back-to-back games and has four touchdowns on the season. He's had some no-shows as well — 0 yards in Week 1, 9 in Week 4 — but he has sneaky weekly upside.  

Tight end

Player Team Year Weeks 1-8 Total
Evan Engram NYG 2017 82.2 173.6
Aaron Hernandez NE 2010 70.9 142.0
Rob Gronkowski NE 2010 38.1 134.4
Jermaine Gresham CIN 2010 61.1 123.1
Tony Moeaki KC 2010 64.1 117.9
Mychal Rivera OAK 2013 58.7 117.7
Hunter Henry LAC 2016 74.0 117.5
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

(Weeks 1-8: 55.0 fantasy points)

Years from now, Old Man Hockenson will wander his neighborhood, delighting small children with his tales of football glory in Week 1 of 2018, when he had 131 yards and everybody said he would be a superstar. Because since that game, Hockenson has 109 yards total, with no more than 32 in any game. He’s holding on to this list by the skin of his teeth.

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

(Weeks 1-8: 44.0 fantasy points)

Speaking of tight ends who aren’t really relevant, Fant doesn’t have a single 40-yard game yet. He’s averaging under 6.0 fantasy points a game. Being a rookie tight end is hard, friends.

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