By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) – 26 June 2019
We all know the mega-stars drafted early who are already projected as starters and are being projected to be wearing rookie achievement crowns come the end of the 2019 season. Some of you will draft these guys in the latter rounds of a traditional fantasy draft, and some will be high on waivers.
But what about those guys that are not big names, but are one injured colleague away from having a significant impact in the upcoming fantasy season?
Here are five names of rookies who are not necessarily the big names but are in an idealistic situation to have major fantasy success if the giant chocolate chip and maple pecan cookies, that they were persuaded to buy from a doe-eyed six-year-old girl scout, crumbles their way.
I’m not recommending you draft them all, but I am recommending that you monitor the waiver wire for these names like a hawk.
Alexander Mattison – RB – Minnesota Vikings
Big things are predicted for Dalvin Cook in his third season leading the Vikings backfield if he can stay healthy. Cook’s problem is he has only played in 15 of 32 regular season games. In addition, the Vikings moved on from backup RB Latavius Murray and instead opted to go down the draft route. Alexander Mattison is not a household name, but the third-round pick can be someone that could be an instant plug-and-play success. The former Boise State star opted to try the NFL after just three seasons in college, just like former smurf-turf Super Bowl winner Jay Ajayi. Mattison’s last two NCAA games saw him rush over for 200 yards in each contest. Mattison is a hard-nosed runner who has never missed a game. A fluent Spanish speaker and former wrestling champion Mattison has brains and brawn and is in an ideal place to make a big initial impact.
Benny Snell – RB – Pittsburgh Steelers
Another Junior who elected to enter the NFL draft a year early. Snell joined a select club in 2018 as one of only four running backs in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Not bad considering one of those four is Herschel Walker. With the Steelers RB James Connor being possibly the biggest breakout star of 2018, Snell has landed in a place where the immediate pressure is off him, but this situation is one hit from being back-stage to the spotlight. Snell owns a plethora of University of Kentucky records, and just in case you are wondering why the name Snell rings a historic NFL bell (not a LeVeon named one) his great uncle is Matt Snell (who ran for 121 yards in the Jets upset win over the Colts in Super Bowl III).
Josh Oliver – TE – Jacksonville Jaguars
Unlike Mattison and Snell, Josh Oliver has a legitimate shot at being the Jaguars starting tight-end from Week 1. The 6ft 5 inch Oliver played at the rather innocuous San Hose State Spartans and did nothing worth noting until his senior year. His competition in Duuuuuuval is none other than former Cowboys tight-end Geoff Swaim. With Napoleon Dynamite oops sorry Nick Foles now leading the offense the Jacksonville tight-end spot should see a boost and with Leonard Fournette due a significant bounce-back this is ideal spot for Oliver to be one of those rare fantasy relevant rookie tight-ends. Evan Engram bucked the trend a few seasons ago proving rookie tight-ends can make a difference, and Oliver has the physical toots to catch 50 balls plus in the Florida sunshine.
Terry McLaurin – WR Washington Redskins
The Redskins wide-receiver production in the past couple of seasons has been akin to eating American cheese, bland, unimaginative and very disappointing. Since the departure of DeSean Jackson (now back in the NFC East for a second stint with the Eagles) and Pierre Garcon the Washington wide-receivers have failed to impress. The supposed future star Josh Doctson’s career has never taken off and Jamison Crowder is now catching passes from Sam Darnold in the Big Apple. This leaves the door wide open for anyone who can show consistency. The Redskins drafted Terry McLaurin from Ohio State to re-join his signal-caller Dwayne Haskins in an NFL uniform. Haskins is not guaranteed the starting quarterback Week 1 but right now he will be targeting McLaurin early and often in camp. Someone has to step up for the Redskins and whilst later pick Kelvin Harmon could become a red-zone vulture, hopefully its McLaurin who will be establishing himself as a reliable PPR option and a potential cheap DFS consideration.
Hunter Renfrow – WR Oakland Raiders
Fans, colour commentators and team-mates alike will be focussed on the hands and route running of Antonio Brown in the Silver and Black (still the best looking uniform in the NFL).
Doubling Brown or putting a team’s top corner on him will leave the slot more open for the Raiders and this is where Renfrow can become a PPR monster. The former walk-on has had an amazing college career with Clemson, winning two National Championships, catching the winning score from Deshaun Watson in the 2017 title game. At 5ft 10inches Renfrow is the archetypal slot dude, and likely someone Bill Belichick had on a draft list (on this note watch out for Patriots second-year slot wideout Braxton Berrios – you have been warned). Renfrow can establish his credentials in the return game before he does anything impactful in the Raiders offense. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney described Renfrow as ‘Clark Kent’, but he has the opportunity to be a short Superman in Oakland.
Honourable mentions, and guys you should be monitoring;
- Kelvin Harmon – WR Washington Redskins
- Trayveon Williams – RB Cincinnati Bengals
- Caleb Wilson – TE Arizona Cardinals (Mr Irrelevant).