It is June, which means one thing. Fantasy football drafts are on the horizon. Anyone who has ever won their league will tell you it is never too early to start targeting players for your draft.
For the first time in recent memory, Penn State players could have a heavy presence in fantasy football. Here are five former Penn State Nittany Lions you need to draft this year, along with a projection on what round you should be able to grab them.
*Projections are based on a standard 16 round draft*
DaeSean Hamilton, WR Denver Broncos
I’m buying ALL the DaeSean Hamilton draft stock this year. This guy absolutely killed both the Senior Bowl and the combine, but still went under the radar leading up the draft. The Broncos selected him with the first pick of the fourth round back in April.
As he showed during Senior Bowl and combine, Hamilton is a great route runner. It may not happen immediately, but once he settles in with his new team, I expect Hamilton to put up very respectable numbers. You’ll be able to snag him in the late rounds, so the value is there.
Projection: 16th round or post-draft waivers.
Mike Gesicki, TE Miami Dolphins
Big, athletic tight ends are all the rage in the NFL these days, and Gesicki is just that. And guess what else? He is already the best tight end on a depth chart that includes AJ Derby and Gavin Escobar.
Ryan Tannehill, who is coming off a major knee injury, just lost his best wide receiver in Jarvis Landry. That means there are plenty of targets available in Miami. Gesicki, at 6’5’’, 247 lbs., is a matchup nightmare. He should get a plenty of action, especially in the red zone, to justify the late round pick he will command in your draft.
Projection: 11th round.
Jesse James, TE Pittsburgh Steelers
James enters his third season with the Steelers having increased his production each year. He played 16 games in 2017 and saw 63 targets, converting 43 and 3 touchdowns. His nearly four targets per game is a clear sign he’s earned the respect and trust of QB Ben Roethlisberger.
He’s currently TE2 on the depth chart behind new addition Vance McDonald, but should still see plenty of work in third down and two tight end situations. It’s no secret tight end is one of the least deep positions in fantasy, so James will have value despite his possibly limited usage. With Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster spreading the field on the outside, look for the Steelers to give plenty of love to the tight end this season.
Projection: 13th round.
Allen Robinson, WR Chicago Bears
Since putting up 1400 yards and earning his first pro bowl selection in 2015, Robinson hasn’t been able to get it going. He had just under 900 yards in 2016, and missed all but one game last year due to injury. But I’ve got two words. Mitch. Trubisky.
Entering year two, it’s clear the Bears expect Trubisky to make strides consistent with a second year QB. See Wentz, Carson. See also Goff, Jared. They’ve added Robinson and Trey Burton, giving Trubisky plenty of new toys to play with. Robinson will be the Bears WR1, and figures to get plenty of looks from his young QB, especially in the red zone.
Projection: 5th round.
Saquon Barkley, RB New York Giants
No, not much surprise here. Barkley is widely renowned as the best running back prospect to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. Plus, have you seen this dude’s quads?
Barkley, the number two pick in this year’s draft, will be the Giants’ workhorse. He can run the ball and can catch passes out of the backfield, which will make him a stud in standard scoring leagues as well as PPR leagues. He figures to be a top five ranked RB in most formats, so you’ll have to grab him quick if you want him.
Projection: mid-late 1st round.
IDP Leagues – Sean Lee, LB Dallas Cowboys
Had to show some love to the IDP (individual defensive player) leagues. Most standard IDP leagues award one point per tackle to defensive players. In this format, Sean Lee is a stud.
While injury is a concern for Lee, when he is on the field, his production is unquestionable. In 11 games last season, Lee registered 101 combined tackles (70 tackles and 31 assisted tackles). Lee is a sure bet for consisted points week to week. But you’ll need to have a back-up plan, because Lee has not been able to stay healthy the past few seasons.