Rookies were all the talk last season in the NFL with the emergence of Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and Jordan Howard. Plenty of other rookies joined in with successful campaigns too, such as Tyreek Hill (WR), Hunter Henry (TE), Corey Coleman (WR), and CJ Prosise (RB) all had quality first seasons in the NFL. There is a fresh new batch of elite talent hitting the field this season. These are the top five rookies to target in your fantasy football draft this season.
Leonard Fournette (RB) Jacksonville Jaguars
Get the thoughts of Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie season out of your head. The former LSU product will have a solid rookie campaign, expect around 1,000 rushing yards and solid RB2 numbers. Just do not bank on this rookie having the same impact that Elliott did his rookie year. Fournette is talented, but does not have the same offensive line that Zeke had his rookie season. The Jaguars should rely more on their run game this year as this may be a make-it or break-it season for quarterback Blake Bortles.
Joe Mixon (RB) Cincinnati Bengals
There is an official three-headed running back monster in Cincy, but how long will it truly last? Veterans Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard have been battling injuries and inconsistent seasons over the last two years, and find themselves as the odd guys out. Mixon only played one season for the Oklahoma Sooners due to a video of him punching a woman in the face going viral. If Mixon can stay out of trouble, he will be the starting running back for the Bengals by at least midseason. Mixon has been drawing dual-threat comparisons to Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell during OTA’s and training camp.
Zay Jones (WR) Buffalo Bills
Jones had only three games in 2016 with East Carolina under 115 receiving yards. Jones could easily become the top target in the Bills offense, given the health history of fellow wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Bills are more of a run-based offense, but could use someone with decent size in the red zone like Jones.
Christian McCaffrey (RB) Carolina Panthers
McCaffrey is an explosive player and will be utilized on both offense and special teams his rookie year with the Carolina Panthers. The 2015 Heisman runner-up played in only 11 games in 2016 for the Stanford Cardinals. However, he still posted videogame-like numbers ending the season with 1,603 rushing yards, and chipping in 310 receiving yards and 16 total touchdowns. Look for McCaffrey to become a valuable safety net for Cam Newton this season.
John Ross (WR) Cincinnati Bengals
Two rookie Bengals on the same list! Posting the ridiculous 40-yard dash time of 4.22 seconds at this year’s NFL combine, it is easy to say that Ross is lightning-quick. Ross posted 17 receiving touchdowns for the Washington Huskies last season in his senior year at college. This young receiver finds himself in a great situation to become the next best targeted wide receiver behind AJ Green.
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