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As we head into the unofficial start of summer, also known as Memorial Day Weekend, fantasy football drafting is on everyone’s mind. Well maybe not everyone, but if you are a dynasty fanatic like I am you are ready for some rookie drafting. This year’s rookie draft might be the deepest I have seen in a very long time, and I have been playing dynasty for over 15 years. So with so many options who do you take? Well lucky for you I am here to help guide you through your rookie draft. Because this is a rookie draft I am assuming you already have a team in place. So without further delay lets get this draft started.
1. Leaonard Fournette – In this draft you could actually take two different guys and they would both be great picks. The other first overall pick here would be Corey Davis, but I want to talk about Fournette first. I give a slight edge here to Fournette because 20 plus carry running backs are on the endangered species list, and when you have the opportunity to draft a back as talented as Fournette that is going to be a workhorse for team its too hard to pass him up. He should step in as an immediate starter and look for him to carry the ball over 250 times for over 1,100 yards and eight to ten touchdowns.
2. Corey Davis – Like I mentioned in Fournettes description Davis could easily be the first overall pick which would make Fournette the second overall pick. The only reason why I would take Davis before Fournette is if I was already deep at running back and needed the wide receiver more. Built like Julio Jones and A.J Green, Davis is a big bodied receiver with excellent hands. To make things even better he gets drafted to a team that is up and coming with a young developing quarterback and they are void of a true number one receiver. I could easily see Davis bringing in 70 plus receptions for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.
3. Christian McCaffrey – I think McCaffrey has a very solid future ahead of him, problem is for at least this year he will have to share the backfield with Jonathan Stewart. While I think McCaffrey brings more to the table than Stewart does, there is no need to run McCaffrey non stop when you can let Stewart take some of the pounding running backs take each week. As a result I think McCaffrey is looking at around 150 carries for 700 yards and three touchdowns. What will save him is his receptions, not as many as most think, but I can see him getting around 40 receptions for around 320 yards and maybe a touchdown or two.
4. Dalvin Cook – Cook at one point was considered the best back coming out this year, but a poor combine and some poor choices caused him to fall from the first round. To make matters worse he lands on Vikings team that has a lot of mouths to feed. They already had Jerrick McKinnon and before the draft the signed Latavius Murray. But what about the passing game you ask? Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have turned into a solid one two punch. Last years top pick in Laquon Treadwell is finally healthy and the added the troubled but very talented Michael Floyd recently. Lets not forget they have Kyle Rudolf coming off his best year as a pro. I think eventually Cook becomes the primary back, but it is going to take some time for that to happen. If he manages 125 carries and pushes 600 yards count your blessings. Throw in 35 or so receptions and possibly five total touchdowns and he is looking like an average flex play this year, but it will get better as it goes for him.
5. Mike Williams – Before the draft I was convinced Williams was the most NFL ready receiver and I still do. The only reason why he is sitting at five and not one is mostly because of where he was drafted. If Keenan Allen is healthy, he is the number one. Melvin Gordon broke out last year and I expect more of the same from him. Antonio Gates is beyond getting old, but Hunter Henry looks ready to take over for him. While I suspect Williams can beat out Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman those guys won’t be forgotten. The best thing for Williams is one of those three is cut or traded before the season. Assuming Allen stays healthy too (which is a leap in itself) I see Williams catching 55 – 60 balls for a little over 800 yards and five touchdowns.
6. Joe Mixon – Another guy that probably would have been drafted higher if not for questionable behavior. Similar to McCaffrey, Mixon may have to wait a year to show his full potential. His best hope is Giovani Bernard takes longer to return than expected. Because despite being the best back in Cincy they still have Jeremy Hill and Gio who are not great but still pretty good. If anything I expect Gio to remain as the third down back and even if Hill does lose the bulk of the carries to Mixon, I would bet Hill still gets all the goal line work and the short touchdowns. Resulting in right around 200 carries for 850 yards and three touchdowns.
7. O.J. Howard – This is where things start to get complicated. Howard is the best rookie on the board at this point, but he is a tight end and some people might need other positions more than tight end. That said unless you have Rob Gronkwoski, Travis Kelce, or Jordan Reed chances are Howard would be an improvement for you. Howard is a freak athlete and went to a great situation. A tight end friendly quarterback, in an offense that has been looking for some support for Mike Evans. The Bucs also added DeSean Jackson to play opposite Evans which means the middle should have plenty of room for Howard to roam. I can see Howard pulling in 65 receptions for 800 yards and eight touchdowns. That puts him right around mid WR3 in scoring, that is not a bad option at flex if you have a good tight end already.
8. John Ross – Ted Ginn 2.0 is what I call him. Incredible speed and separation skills just like Ginn. The difference should be less drops than Ginn though. In standard leagues Ross has more value and in PPR he loses some value because I just don’t see a high volume of targets coming his way. But what he will do is produce with limited targets. Many people poo poo on Andy Dalton but in all honestly he throws a nice accurate deep ball and because of that Ross will put some nice numbers up. Just not receptions. I see him only around the 40 reception mark, but totaling 700 yards and six to eight touchdowns is very possible too.
9. Zay Jones – This might be a little higher than most people have Jones, but I like the idea of production out of my first round picks, and to get a rookie that could easily be starting week one with the ninth pick is awesome. You could easily go with guys like Alvin Kamara or Samajae Perine here, but unless their backfields get a little less crowded, I will take my chances with the guy starting opposite of a star receiver. Zay’s ceiling will be contingent on Tyrod Taylor‘s progress, but even if it is minimal I could still see Zay snagging 50 – 60 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns.
10. David Njoku – Shortly after drafting Njoku the Browns sent Gary Barnidge out the door. Leaving Seth DeValve and Randall Telfer as the tight ends with experience. I say that loosely because they have a combined 12 career receptions. Enter Njoke and he has an immediate opportunity to not only start but contribute week one. Early reports have all signs pointing to Cody Kessler returning as the Browns starting quarterback and if that happens I think it hurts Njoku a little bit. If Brock Osweiler can find some way to take the starting job I think Njoke gets a big bump because Brock loves targeting his tight ends. Either way Njoku should haul in around 60 receptions for 700 yards and six or so touchdowns.
11. JuJu Smith-Schuster – While Martavis Bryant was serving his suspension last year the Steelers were desperate to find someone to start opposite Antonio Brown. They found no one, not for a lack of trying though. Bryant is back this year but we never know for how long so the Steelers went out Smith-Schuster in the second round. Smith-Schuster should have no problems making his way to third on the depth chart with the current Steelers receivers. Despite the number of stars that will demand touches, Smith-Schuster should carve out a role starting this season. If Bryant plays all year these numbers could go up, but I can see Smith-Schuster catching 50 balls for 650 yards and four touchdowns this season.
12. Curtis Samuel – While I always thought this guy had some potential to produce this season, he has moving up my board a lot lately. My reasoning is not because he is doing anything special, but rather the current Panthers receivers are moving backwards. Devin Funchess has been pathetic his whole career and Kelvin Benjamin apparently is having weight and training issues. With those two being the only guys that stand in Samuel’s way for playing time, there is a decent shot he gets a major role in the offense week one. Remember Philly Brown and Ted Ginn are no longer on the roster either. If Samuel lights it up early it is not a stretch to think he leads the receivers in receptions this season. Either way Samuel could catch 60 balls this year for 650 yards and three to five touchdowns.
So there you have it my first round rookie draft. If you think I forgot someone let me hear it. What does your first round look like? Be sure to be on the lookout for more dynasty advice throughout the spring. In the meantime you can checkout mine and the rest of the Going For 2 team’s dynasty rankings here: Dynasty Rankings
Also be sure to check out my Facebook group Dynasty League Problems where we talk fantasy football all year long or follow me on twitter @mikekelleydlp.
Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.