The NFL Draft is just a week away, and the pool of prospects this year is rich with exciting offensive talent. There are potentially impactful fantasy assets at every offensive skill position in this year’s rookie class. Mini-camps will begin to pick up around the league after the draft and fantasy drafts will follow. Let’s take a look at 10 rookies who could be great finds for both real NFL owners and fantasy owners this season. In the process, we’ll discuss an ideal NFL destination for each rookie.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Ideal destination: Carolina Panthers (8th overall)
The Panthers need to juice up their running game, where the plodding Jonathan Stewart provides little intrigue. Fournette is a perfect fit for their power scheme and would command a substantial volume of work immediately. Imagine having to account for both Cam Newton and the 240 pound Fournette in short-yardage situations. Fournette is a lock for 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns as a rookie if he goes to the right team.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Ideal destination: Philadelphia Eagles (14th overall)
Cook may fall further than this due to concerns about his character and durability. However, that doesn’t mean the Eagles aren’t a potentially great fit for his skills. Cook doesn’t project as a 300-touch feature back right away, but he’s explosive enough to capitalize on every opportunity. Think of Jamaal Charles early in his career when imagining Cook’s potential with the rising Eagles offense.
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Ideal destination: Oakland Raiders (24th overall)
McCaffrey may not make it to the Raiders at 24, but it’s still mouth-watering to contemplate such a pairing. The former Heisman runner-up hails from just across the bay at Stanford, and brings a lot of versatility to the table. He would be a three-down player, possibly lining up at wideout on some downs for one of the most rapidly improving offenses in the NFL. This would make him one of the most intriguing fantasy assets in 2017, regardless of position.
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Ideal destination: Green Bay Packers (29th overall)
Mixon may slide to the middle rounds as teams are scared away by his off-field issues. However, there are rumored to be some teams in the first round who are infatuated in the Oklahoma product’s talent. Having drawn comparisons to Le’Veon Bell, the likely number one pick in most fantasy drafts this summer, Mixon could easily be the most productive rookie in this class. This is especially true if he lands with a team like Green Bay who needs him and could utilize his talents.
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Ideal destination: Jacksonville Jaguars (35th overall)
The Jaguars have attempted to invest in their ground game with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, but neither seems to be working out. Kamara is a balanced, efficient runner who could be the perfect complement to a Blake Bortles-led passing attack. Kamara likely wouldn’t be a lead back right away–he didn’t even hold that role at Tennessee–but would offer plenty of upside as an efficiency-dependent flex play. Think Tevin Coleman.
John Ross, WR, Washington
Ideal destination: Washington Redskins (17th overall)
The Redskins have over 200 targets to make up for after the departures of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson. As it turns out, John Ross has been compared to the latter due to his game-breaking speed. However, I don’t think this comparison does justice to Ross’ overall talent. He’s a versatile wideout who runs excellent routes and just so happens to be one of the fastest men ever to play in the NFL. Combine that with a pass-heavy offense and one of the best quarterbacks in football, and Ross could easily be a top-15 fantasy wideout with the Redskins.
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Ideal destination: Tennessee Titans (18th overall)
The Titans have yet to give Marcus Mariota a true number one target, yet he’s still developed into one of the game’s best young quarterbacks. Just imagine what he could accomplish with Davis: a physical, 6’3″ specimen with arguably the best hands and most polished route-running in this class, at his disposal. The Western Michigan product would immediately become the number 1 receiver on the Titans, and that’s rare for a rookie wideout.
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Ideal destination: Detroit Lions (21st overall)
Matthew Stafford is one of the game’s best quarterbacks, but he’s lacked a true number one target ever since Calvin Johnson left the game. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are good receivers, but they are finesse wide-outs and neither is a bona fide number one wide receiver. Williams, with his physicality and ability to high-point the ball, would be the perfect target for Stafford. He might not get as many targets as Davis will with the Titans, but the potential for touchdowns is huge.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Ideal destination: Indianapolis Colts (15th overall)
The Colts drafted two tight ends, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, when they made Andrew Luck their franchise quarterback. Both are now gone, and Jack Doyle is the only experienced tight end on the roster. Doyle is a good player, but he’s not a true number one tight end. O.J. Howard was criminally underused at Alabama, but is one of the truly freakish athletes in this draft class. The sky would be the limit for Howard if he’s catching passes from Luck this fall.
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Ideal destination: New York Giants (23rd overall)
Speaking of athletic freaks, Njoku fits that bill as well. The Giants, who fielded Will Tye at tight end in 2016, have a dire need at the position. And Njoku should be available when they pick 23rd overall. The only problem with landing in New York: Njoku would be, at best, Eli Manning’s fourth target. However, Njoku’s good size and freakish athleticism give him intriguing touchdown potential. Picture Rob Gronkowski’s rookie year: low volume, low yardage, high touchdowns.