By: Andrew Nason and Cam Farnham
Fantasy football season is right around the corner, and while you probably have a list of guys from last season who you’re targeting in your upcoming draft, there are plenty of young players with no fantasy history who are ready to make an impact on your office pool. Here are some rookie players who should make an immediate fantasy impact this season, and where you can likely draft them.
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Houston Texans
I wouldn't normally take Watson in a fantasy draft, considering he's a rookie on a Texans offense that relies a lot on its defense, but I wanted one quarterback on this list. Watson and Cleveland's Deshone Kizer are likely the only rookie QB's who will get the chance to start a significant amount of games, and the fact is, the only reason you would ever draft a Cleveland QB is if you lost a bet.
Draft Position: Waiver Wire
Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
One of my favorite guys in the entire draft, McCaffrey is the ultimate Swiss Army knife. He elusive between the tackles and is almost untouchable in open space. Look for him to pick up a lot of yards, on the ground and through the air. The touchdowns will come with time, as Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton are likely to be the goal line options to start the season.
Draft Position: Round 3-4
Leonard Fournette, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite a seemingly crowded Jacksonville backfield that also features TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory, make no mistake, Fournette, the number 4 pick in the draft, will be the top dawg to start the season. If he can improve his pass catching, he's a top 10 fantasy back without question.
Draft Position Projection: Round 3
Joe Mixon, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals
Had it not been for the videotaped assault on a woman in 2014, Mixon could have potentially been the 1st back selected in this draft. A perfect combination of a work horse and a home run threat, Mixon's arrival almost assures Jeremy Hill's time in Cincy is over and Gio Bernard's touches will go down.
Draft Position Projection: Round 5
Kareem Hunt, Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
The Jamaal Charles era in Kansas City is over, and while Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West have been very serviceable the last couple of years, KC is looking for a new, featured back in its run happy offense. The Toledo product Hunt was a late riser through the draft process who's elusiveness as speed could translate into big time fantasy potential.
Draft Position Projection: Round 12
Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
Another team searching for the replacement for a star running back, the Vikings got Cook in the 2nd round after character concerns pushed his stock down. While those are a concern, they also got one of the most productive backs in college football history and a guy who, if he can work on his fumbling issues, can be a star in this league.
Draft Position Projection: Round 6
Samaje Perine, Running Back, Washington Redskins
Mixon's running mate at Oklahoma isn't here because I think he's a great back, but he is in a great situation. With seemingly only one hit wonder Rob Kelly in front of him, Perine has a chance to win the starting job and take the blunt of the early down carries for the Redskins this season.
Draft Position Projection: Round 10
Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota is on the rise, and now, with Davis and recent free agent pickup Eric Decker, he has the weapons to make the jump to elite status. The 5th overall pick should see plenty of targets as the likely 1.B option across from Decker.
Draft Position Projection: Round 8
David Njoku, Tight End, Cleveland Browns
Gary Barnidge is out, and in comes the ultra-athletic Njoku out of the right end factory that is Miami. Expect him to win the starting job in Cleveland and see the majority of the snaps at right end.
Draft Position Projection: Round 15
Adam Shaheen, Tight End, Chicago Bears
The Bears offense is, well, pretty lacking in terms of a pass catchers. Shaheen has the potential to be a match up nightmare in the league, running a 4.79 40 at 6'6 and just shy of 280. The Bears have to throw the ball somewhere right?
Draft Position Projection: Round 16/Waiver Wire