Now that we have had some time to digest the NFL draft and its aftermath, us fantasy footballers are excitedly waiting to add some of the rookies to our fake teams. Fantasy Football drafts are right around the corner. Deciding which players have fantasy worth in 2018 comes down to assessing the likelihood of playing time. The following players are ranked in order of anticipated opportunity and corresponding value.
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rookie #1
Calvin Ridley | Atlanta Falcons | 6-0, 189 | Alabama
It really won’t be a big surprise if Ridley overtakes Mohamed Sanu as the second receiver behind Julio Jones. Furthermore, Jones is no stranger to injury, which would open the door for the rookie. All things even, look for Ridley to begin his career working out of the slot as a replacement for Taylor Gabriel. Being dynamic, Ridley can line up everywhere and allow Julio and even Sanu to move into the slot to take advantage of mismatches.
Fantasy gamers will have to accept some degree of frustration when deploying Ridley. He will disappear for several games in 2018 simply because of game flow and there being so many mouths to feed in the offense. Draft him as a WR4 or flex target.
Fantasy Football WR #2
J. Moore | Carolina Panthers | 6-0, 210 | Maryland
Moore sits nearly atop this list because of his ability to do a little bit of everything and Carolina’s desperation for someone to step up in the passing game. The former Terrapin should start from the get-go, or at least early on, and he’s capable of being moved all over the field.
The Panthers brought in Torrey Smith, as well, but the veteran is a shell of his former self and offers next to nothing. Cam Newton has the most comfort with tight end Greg Olsen, and Christian McCaffrey will catch a million passes from the backfield. Moore should be targeted early in his career, though the consistency is in doubt. He has a brilliant future in the NFL, yet gamers may want to demonstrate modest expectations on draft day. Think WR4 or a weak flex with downside to be a No. 5 producer.
FANTASY FOOTBALL WR #3
Christian Kirk | Arizona Cardinals | 5-10, 201 | Texas A&M
Maybe this is a hair on the optimistic side, but Kirk’s opportunity is as exciting as any rookie receiver. The Cardinals need someone to step up in the receiving game to complement Larry Fitzgerald. Kirk was a quick study at A&M and is poised to challenge for a starting role in the summer. Second-year receiver Chad Williams could see more action, but he is completely unproven. Brice Butler offers some size and hasn’t been able to put it all together through two career stops. J.J. Nelson remains in play for a larger share of targets, even if he’s mostly one-dimensional.
Quarterback play could prove to be detrimental, especially if the offense switches during the season to a rookie. Kirk would be better off if Josh Rosen won the starting job in the summer, since it would give them time to work together. Watch both rookies’ situations as the next few months progress. Treat Kirk as a low-risk, high-reward WR4 or flex with more value in PPR.
FANTASY FOOTBALL WR #4
Michael Gallup | Dallas Cowboys | 6-1, 205 | Colorado State
If we were talking opportunity alone, Gallup could easily top this list. Dallas has a mess of targets to replace after Jason Witten retired and Dez Bryant was shown the door. The rookie wideout has just two years of production, but there is no doubt he made the most of his time at Colorado State. Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are the biggest competition for targets.
Dallas will rely heavily on the running game but experience problems with stacked boxes if none of these receivers step up. The Cowboys will have to sort this out over the summer, and gamers need to keep tabs on how it pans out. For now, from a floor-ceiling estimation, Gallup can be a weak WR2 or a lowly roster filler.
Deon Cain | Indianapolis Colts | 6-2, 202 | Clemson
Looking for pure-play upside and opportunity? Cain can get downfield and will have defensive attention paid to T.Y. Hilton working in his favor, all provided he can win the No. 2 job out wide and put Ryan Grant into the slot. It is rare a sixth-round receiver finds fantasy value in his first season, but the Colts are really that thin at the position, and Cain slid a few rungs down the draft ladder.
All of this is predicated on a healthy Andrew Luck, of course. As the theme of this analysis seems to be headed, fantasy owners should watch this situation with a close eye. In best-case scenario, Cain will have matchup utility as a flex play due to a low-volume style.
Cedrick Wilson | Dallas Cowboys | 6-2, 197 | Boise State
Son of a former NFL receiver by the same name, the younger Wilson could step into a decent situation. The ‘Boys have a bunch of targets to replace without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and none of the replacements are world-beaters. Wilson will join a crowded but underwhelming cast of receivers, including third-round pick Michael Gallup. Stash Wilson’s name for now and watch the offseason play out. He has routine flex potential if everything works out.
Anthony Miller | Chicago Bears | 5-11, 201 | Memphis
Talent is not the issue, as one can glean from his statistics over the past two seasons. Miller enters an offense being commanded by a first-year head coach and a second-year quarterback learning said offense. In a blustery city. Playing for a run-heavy offensive philosophy. With at least two receivers ahead of him in the pecking order. Miller could emerge as the year progresses and/or an injury paves the way to full-time action. He has the makings of an NFL star receiver — in time. For now, spend a pick in the final quarter of your draft.
Courtland Sutton | Denver Broncos | 6-3, 218 | SMU
Sutton will battle Jordan Taylor, Carlos Henderson and DaeSean Hamilton, a fellow rookie, for the No. 3 duties. The SMU product should be a fine addition to fantasy rosters — in 2019 drafts. Unless something happens to Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders, Sutton will see a few scraps here and there this season. He’s merely a late-round flier.
D.J. Chark | Jacksonville Jaguars | 6-9, 199 | LSU
Speed is the name of Chark’s game, and as a second-round pick, expect the Jaguars to let him put it on display. Blake Bortles has plenty of arm to air it out and give Chark a chance for the home run. Jacksonville doesn’t have a ton of talent at the position, though this roster is loaded with scrappy bootstrappers. Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook figure to absorb most of the targets. Chark will be challenged by Jaydon Mickens, Keelan Cole and possibly Rashad Greene. We cannot forget this is a run-first system. Chark will shine at times and disappear more often than not as a rookie. Spend no earlier than a late-round choice on him in any single-year setup.
J’Mon Moore | Green Bay Packers | 6-3, 207 | Missouri
Moore has downfield skills and could be used on the outside to help replace Jordy Nelson. The slot role should be dominated by Randall Cobb, and Moore’s game doesn’t translate to that area of the field anyway. Fantasy owners are looking at a sneaky option for a serviceable flex play, only if Moore can win a starting spot away from Geronimo Allison.
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