1. Saquon Barkley – RB, New York Giants
2018 Projections: 252 carries, 1212 yards, 10 TDs, 57 receptions, 608 yards, 3 TDs
Outlook: In terms of rookies, it’s Saquon Barkley, and then everyone else. Barkley has the tools to be one of the great running backs in the NFL, and his career is starting in the perfect spot: the New York Giants, who have a high-powered offense, experienced quarterback, and improved offensive line. Expect Saquon to put up monster numbers and be a top-five fantasy running back in his rookie season on his way to the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
2. Derrius Guice – RB, Washington Redskins
2018 Projections: 212 carries, 972 yards, 7 TDs, 28 receptions, 215 yards, 1 TD
Outlook: Derrius Guice probably should have been the second running back off the board in April, but an altercation with the Eagles led to him dropping all the way down to the mid- second round. However, his draft position means absolutely nothing now, as the Redskins have already indicated that Guice will likely start at running back for them. I expect Guice to have a very good year, but not so much as a pass catcher because Chris Thompson will have that role.
3. Ronald Jones – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2018 Projections: 222 carries, 957 yards, 7 TDs, 32 receptions, 287 yards, 1 TD
Outlook: Ronald Jones is a speed back that stepped into the perfect situation in Tampa Bay, where there are no other legitimate options at running back. Doug Martin is gone, and Peyton Barber and Charles Sims are nothing to worry about. Expect Jones to be the starter week one, and perform well in an offense that has several weapons.
4. Rashaad Penny – RB, Seattle Seahawks
2018 Projections: 230 carries, 902 yards, 7 TDs, 20 receptions, 154 yards, 1 TDs
Outlook: I thought that Rashaad Penny was overdrafted by the Seahawks, but that doesn’t mean much in the scheme of things now. The point is that he’s clearly going to be the Seahawks number one running back since they drafted him in the first round. I expect Penny to be extremely solid in the running game, but his lack of pass-catching in college concerns me. He only caught 42 passes in his college career, including only 19 in his senior season. He won’t be as much as a threat in the passing game as some of the other rookies.
5. Kerryon Johnson – RB, Detroit Lions
2018 Projections: 199 carries, 825 yards, 6 TDs, 37 receptions, 287 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: The Lions haven’t had an extremely solid number one running back in who knows how long. They signed LeGarrette Blount in the offseason, and Theo Riddick is still there, but don’t expect that to slow Kerryon Johnson down for too long. Johnson won’t blow you away with speed, but his patient running style reminds me of Le’Veon Bell. Johnson will be the Lions number one running back this season and for the future, and I’m shocked at how low he’s ranked at in several other places.
6. Sony Michel – RB, New England Patriots
2018 Projections: 174 carries, 705 yards, 4 TDs, 34 receptions, 291 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: Despite the Patriots using a first round pick on Sony Michel, I’m extremely hesitant to pull the trigger on him in fantasy drafts. This doesn’t mean I don’t think he’ll be a good player, but it means the backfield in New England is extremely crowded with the likes of Rex Burkhead, Jeremy Hill, and James White. I think that Michel will take over the Dion Lewis role for New England, but you know it’s usually a week-to-week deal with Bill Belichick.
7. Royce Freeman – RB, Denver Broncos
2018 Projections: 181 carries, 702 yards, 5 TDs, 22 receptions, 196 yards, 1 TD
Outlook: Royce Freeman wasn’t a high pick in the NFL Draft, but comes into a great situation in Denver, where he could win the starting job right away. I expect Devontae Booker to split carries with Freeman for a while, but that doesn’t mean that Freeman can’t eventually win the job. He’s my seventh ranked rookie running back, but he does have the potential to be a lot better than that. It all depends on how many carries he gets because he won’t blow you away with his pass catching.
8. Michael Gallup – WR, Dallas Cowboys
2018 Projections: 61 receptions, 782 yards, 7 TDs
Outlook: Ahhhhhh… The first rookie wide receiver in these rankings. First off, I normally like to rank running backs ahead of receivers because they’re touches are usually more guaranteed, so that’s why the first wide receiver is at #8. Second of all, Michael Gallup is going to give you the most production out of all rookie wide receivers as he may be the #1 or #2 wide receiver on day one for the Cowboys. The only threats to Gallup are Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns, and I don’t think either of those players are that impressive. Dak needs someone to throw to, and Gallup is that guy. Gallup caught 100 passes for over 1400 yards this past season at Colorado State
9. Calvin Ridley – WR, Atlanta Falcons
2018 Projections: 53 receptions, 697 yards, 5 TDs
Outlook: Calvin Ridley doesn’t necessarily enter the best situation, as Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu will likely take away a lot of production from him. However, I think he is clearly the best receiver from this draft class, and can easily perform well enough to be an important part of this Falcons team. I usually like receivers coming out of Alabama, and Ridley is playing in a high-powered offense, so that should benefit him in his rookie year.
10. Nick Chubb – RB, Cleveland Browns
2018 Projections: 123 carries, 478 yards, 5 TDs, 10 receptions, 72 yards, 0 TD
Outlook: Nick Chubb is an athletic freak, and I think he has an extremely bright future in the NFL which is why he’s ranked this high. However, right now, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson are going to be ahead of him on the depth chart. Hyde and Duke have proved they could be very solid NFL running backs over the past few seasons, and they’re going to take a ton of the production away from Chubb. Until one of them goes down, Chubb isn’t going to be very high on any of my lists.
11. D.J Moore – WR, Carolina Panthers
2018 Projections: 41 receptions, 532 yards, 3 TDs
Outlook: D.J Moore was the first wide receiver off the board at the NFL Draft in April. While it seems as if the Carolina Panthers have been shallow at wide receiver for ages, I still don’t think that D.J Moore will produce a ton this year. I think that Devin Funchess will still be the #1 wide receiver this year, and newly signed Torrey Smith will be the #2 receiver. In addition, the Panthers still have Curtis Samuel who was injured last year, and I expect him to get a lot of playing time. Expect Moore to play a role, but not a big one.
12. Anthony Miller – WR, Chicago Bears
2018 Projections: 39 receptions, 510 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: I think that Anthony Miller has a ton of potential this season with the Chicago Bears. Right now, he has Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Kevin White ahead of him on the depth chart, but Robinson is coming off injury, Gabriel has never been anything special, and White is always injured. If Miller plays well, he could see time as the #2 or #3 wide receiver for sophomore QB Mitchell Trubisky.
13. Josh Rosen – QB, Arizona Cardinals
2018 Projections: 12 G, 2773 yards, 15 TDs, 10 INT
Outlook: I think that out of any rookie QB, Josh Rosen has the best chance to start Week 1, which makes him my highest ranked rookie QB. What also helps Rosen is a great running back in David Johnson and Hall of Fame wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald to take some of the pressure off of him. Look for Rosen to not only perform in his rookie year, but to perform extremely well.
14. Sam Darnold – QB, New York Jets
2018 Projections: 12 G, 2674 yards, 14 TDs, 9 INT
Outlook: Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen are going to have similar years in my opinion. What worries me about Sam Darnold is the lack of offensive talent surrounding him. He’ll be throwing to Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor in his rookie season, with Isaiah Crowell as his running back. This could prove to be difficult for Darnold, but I think he’s the best quarterback in the class.
15. Mike Gesicki – TE, Miami Dolphins
2018 Projections: 46 receptions, 526 yards, 4 TDs
Outlook: Mike Gesicki is going to be the starting tight end for the Dolphins week 1. He’s a freak of nature, and clearly the most athletic tight end in his draft class. While he isn’t a great blocker (the Dolphins drafted Durham Smythe to do that), Mike Gesicki is an elite pass catcher, who hasn’t dropped a pass the last two seasons in college, and possesses traits of Jimmy Graham and Zach Ertz. If he wasn’t on the Dolphins, I’d probably have him ranked a lot higher, but I still expect him to be the best tight end in his class.
16. James Washington – WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
2018 Projections: 35 receptions, 497 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: The Steelers just have a knack for drafting wide receivers, and with Martavis Bryant gone to Oakland, the third wide receiver spot is wide open. The reason he’s ranked this low, is that you know he’s not going to move past #3 on the depth chart, where the other receivers ranked ahead certainly could. However, I think Washington is a safe bet to have a decent year at the #3 spot on the depth chart.
17. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
2018 Projections: 34 receptions, 428 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: It’s no secret that Christian Kirk has a ton of potential in an offense that is extremely shallow at the wide receiver position. However, although I think Josh Rosen will start at quarterback, you never know. If Sam Bradford is in at QB, I’m not sure I like Christian Kirk at WR too much. Kirk’s situation will largely depend on how he performs in training camp/preseason and the quarterback situation. If he plays well, I could see myself moving him up this list to the top 12-13.
18. Hayden Hurst – TE, Baltimore Ravens
2018 Projections: 39 receptions, 455 yards, 5 TDs
Outlook: Hayden Hurst was the first tight end off the board for a reason. He’s widely regarded as the best all-around tight end in the 2018 class. His abilities to catch passes as well as block will give him significant playing time, and an opportunity to be a weapon for the Ravens offense. He’s not as explosive and athletic as Mike Gesicki, but he should still have a pretty solid year for Baltimore.
19. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
2018 Projections: 87 carries, 339 yards, 2 TDs, 10 receptions, 93 yards, 0 TDs
Outlook: Nyheim Hines likely won’t be drafted in any fantasy leagues until extremely late as Marlon Mack is set to become the lead back in Indy. However, if Hines has a good preseason, and Mack isn’t playing well during the season, you never know what can happen. Hines was a sleeper running back pick for many in the 2018 NFL Draft class, but I’m not sure we’ll see much of him this season.
20. Baker Mayfield – QB, Cleveland Browns
2018 Projections: 6 G, 1442 yards, 7 TDs, 5 INTs
Outlook: Due to the arrival of Tyrod Taylor, I don’t think Baker Mayfield will play until the Browns are likely out of it. That could be in week 8, or it could be in week 15. We really have no idea. When Mayfield does step in, he has a ton of weapons at the running back and wide receiver position to smooth his transition from college to the NFL. I think the Browns finally found their future QB in Baker Mayfield, but you won’t see him much this year.
21. Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins
2018 Projections: 71 carries, 296 yards, 1 TD, 7 receptions, 67 yards, 0 TD
Outlook: Kalen Ballage is going to be the third string running back in Miami. If Frank Gore wasn’t in the equation, then I’d likely have Ballage a lot higher on this list because I don’t trust Kenyan Drake to be a lead running back. If one of Drake or Gore gets injured, expect Ballage to step in and get some carries, but I don’t expect much from Ballage as of now.
22. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
2018 Projections: 2 G, 396 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INT, 26 carries, 162 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: I don’t expect Lamar Jackson to play a lot this season. The two games I’m projecting him to play would be the end of the season when the Ravens are out of contention. However, expect Jackson to have some designed plays for him even when Joe Flacco is the starting QB. It should be something to keep an eye on.
23. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
2018 Projections: 2 G, 405 yards, 3 TDs, 4 INTs
Outlook: Josh Allen is likely going to watch and learn behind A.J McCaron and Nathan Peterman this season (not the best to learn from). The only time I expect him to play is weeks 16 and 17. Allen has tremendous arm strength and size, but will need to show he can improve his passing accuracy before he becomes the Bills starting QB.
24. DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Denver Broncos
2018 Projections: 28 receptions, 303 yards, 2 TDs
Outlook: DaeSean Hamilton is looking like he could start in the slot for the Broncos. Hamilton’s route-running is perfect for an NFL slot-WR, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he does better than I’m projecting. Obviously, with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders still there, it is going to make it harder for Hamilton to see targets.
25. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
2018 Projections: 24 receptions, 326 yards, 1 TDs
Outlook: Courtland Sutton is likely going to be hiding behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders this season, unless Sanders is moved to the slot. Sutton doesn’t play in the slot, so if Sanders doesn’t get moved there he won’t see much time. However, the big-play ability of Sutton is certainly intriguing. We’ll see if he can make some noise in his rookie year in Denver.
*These rankings are based on 2018 projections, and are not dynasty rankings*