Well, fantasy football fans we are back with actual football. Now it is time to take a nice long and hard look at some NFL rookies. Some went undrafted and while others were selected during the NFL Draft. Below are a few rookies that I believe will make their respective rosters even if they are on the bubble. These are not highly touted players, but instead, I am going to present my favorite rookie sleepers.
For this article, I am skipping players taken in the 3rd-round and above. Simply, those rookies are more or less guaranteed starters in the NFL. I want to find those rookies that will surprise you to the point where you may want to stash them on your dynasty roster or play them in redraft this year. We begin with a few rookie sleepers who were drafted by NFL teams.
Trace McSorley is one name to look out for. He was drafted in the 6th-round (197th overall) by the Baltimore Ravens. A QB from Penn State, McSorley is an interesting case as he can play RB and WR which is an interesting dynamic. For obvious reasons, he will not be taking over the starting job from Lamar Jackson since Jackson has so much more potential.
However, he can be deployed in other ways like during his preseason Week 1 opener when he took over for Jackson and did semi-okay. McSorley went 9 for 22 with 85 yards and 1 interception. It’s a mixed back so take it as you will but he also had 3 rushes for 16 yards so he can make plays on the move. McSorley is a name to watch for going forward. He currently sits 3rd on the QB depth chart but he can be bumped up to second-stringer. To be a starter, McSorley would have to have the role of either WR or RB. He is certainly a wild card for fantasy.
Tony Pollard is another name most people should watch out for. He to is in an interesting position as Ezekiel Elliott is currently holding out because he wants a bigger contract. The 4th-round (128th overall) RB from Memphis can use this time to solidify his #2 spot on the Dallas Cowboys roster.
During this Week 1 preseason game, Pollard rushed 4 times to get 16 yards while switching out between Mike Weber and Darius Jackson for reps. He was not involved in the passing game like many believed he would be even though he did go out for targets. With Jackson handling most of the special teams’ reps, Pollard could be the number two back if he can beat out Alfred Morris who the team just signed in an effort to get more depth.
Ryquell Armstead is another running back to watch out for in the coming weeks. The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him in the 5th-round (140th overall) for his power running. NFL scotuing gave him a 5.60 graded ranking saying he has the potential be an NFL starter and they are absolutely right with this team. On the depth chart, he is listed as RB3 behind Leonard Fournette and Alfred Blue. Behind him, he has Thomas Rawls and Devante Mays. Armstead has a great chance at being 3rd, and potentially being the primary backup to Fournette. That could be very valuable as Fournette has had health concerns in the NFL.
In the preseason game against the Ravens, Armstead led the team in rushing yards with 22 (on 8 carries) He did so while being swapped out with Blue every other time. Armstead also caught his only target for 6 yards.
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Next, we have the undrafted rookies who are making waves for fantasy football. While these guys could be doing great, they could still get cut because their respective teams made higher investments at those positions.
Elijah Holyfield is the first name to keep an eye out for. He was a star at Georgia and he was projected to be drafted within the top few rounds. However, after running a 4.78 in the 40-yard dash, Holyfield’s stock plummeted. To illustrate how bad that time was for an RB, the Jets 3rd-overall pick Quinnen Williams, a DT, ran 4.83 40 which was the fastest out of the D-line group. Get the idea now? Things didn’t get any better for Holyfield as he ran a 4.87 at Georgia pro-day.
Fortunately for Holyfield, the Carolina Panthers picked him up after the draft. While he will have to fight for a spot behind Christian McCaffrey, I feel he can do it. Currently, Holyfield is sitting 5th on the depth chart behind Cameron Artis-Payne, Reggie Bonnafon and 5th-round rookie Jordan Scarlett. In the preseason game versus the Bears, Holyfield led the RB group with 9 rushes for 26 yards and 1 TD. He also played a role in the passing game catching 2 of 4 targets for 13 yards and 1 TD. I should also note he did lose a fumble, but Scarlett did not play so going forward this will be interesting.
Greg Dortch was a sensation in college and he was projected to be a first-rounder during his freshman year. During his sophomore year his team Wake Forest even took down Lamar Jackson’s Louisville in a battle that took a toll on Dortch like one would not believe. Having landed on the goal post, Dortch was unaware of the perf small intestine which was slowly bleeding in his stomach and had to get surgery.
Fortunately, he came back the next year and put up mega numbers that he thought were good enough to get him drafted. However, the reality of a small-school player hit Dortch as hard as that goal-post. He was not drafted but there were a few that attempted to sign him as a UDFA. Dortch decided to join the New York Jets. Since Andre Roberts was allowed to leave as a free-agent Dortch has a shot at being the Jets primary return-man.
His preseason week 1 game showcased his receiver talent as he caught 4 of 6 passes. Dortch managed to produce 20 yards and snagged a late-game TD. On special teams, he had 3 returns going 42 yards with an average of 14 yards per return. His longest was 32 yards. Dortch did fumble so there is that but he is still just a fresh-faced rookie. He has a good shot of making this roster as a UDFA.
C.J. Conrad is my final interesting name on this list. I say interesting because he is not in a terrible spot. Going undrafted from out of Kentucky, the TE didn’t get as much work as he probably should have which hurt his value in the draft. The New York Giants picked him up after he went undrafted.
Going to preseason week 1, Connard was used primarily as a blocking TE. However, in the preseason opener, he caught both of his targets for 7 yards so he has some potential. Unfortunately, being behind Evan Engram will cap Connard’s potential upside. Still, expect them to run him in 2TE sets because of the current lack of WR depth, at least in the early going.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to check out all of the football analysis available on Full Press Coverage.