Rookies rarely wind up being huge factors early in the fantasy season. However, since they often improve throughout their first year, they present opportunities for the type of late-season surges in production that can swing the fantasy playoffs.
This year, an unprecedented number of incredible rookie WRs entered the league and quickly earned their stripes. Sammy Watkins (WR, Bills) and Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Panthers) didn’t waste any time becoming weekly fantasy starters. We’ve also seen Mike Evans (WR, Buccaneers), Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, Giants), Brandin Cooks (WR, Saints), Jordan Matthews (WR, Eagles) and Martavis Bryant (WR, Steelers) emerge in the past few weeks. All of these players already have turned into solid startable options and still offer an upside to improve upon previous results.
Meanwhile, fellow wideouts John Brown (WR, Cardinals), Jarvis Landry (WR, Dolphins) and Donte Moncrief (WR, Colts) have also shown flashes. While none should be relied upon yet, all are worth stashing in deeper leagues.
Beyond those players, there are still many rookies that have demonstrated the upside to becoming excellent fantasy options should greater opportunities emerge due to injuries or late-season promotions. For instance, Jeremy Hill (RB, Bengals) already rose to the occasion when injuries made him a short-term workhorse back this season.
Terrance West (RB, Browns), Isaiah Crowell (RB, Browns), Carlos Hyde (RB, 49ers), Bishop Sankey (RB, Titans), Ka’Deem Carey (RB, Bears) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (RB, Ravens) are similarly talented and could emerge as end-of-season game-changers if given greater workloads. Meanwhile, Davante Adams (WR, Packers) and Cody Latimer (WR, Broncos) would need injuries to occur to those starting over them, but both are in such high-powered offenses that they would present massive upside in those scenarios.
Alex Case is amNewYork’s fantasy football columnist.