2016 ALL-ROOKIE FANTASY TEAM

 

NFL OTAs are among us, and with that comes limited reports from national and local media outlets with insight as to which rookies are impressing and which are off to a slow start. Even though your fantasy football draft is likely 2-3 months away, it's never too early to start thinking about which rookies could make the biggest impact out of the gate. 

 

Below are some rookies worth taking a gamble on in 2016:

 

QB

PAXTON LYNCH | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 3,756 Passing Yards, 19 TDs, 15 INTs, 60.2% Completion

Many will have Jared Goff as their #1 rookie QB since he will likely be handed the starting job in Los Angeles from day one, but be cautious of falling for Goff just because he was the first QB taken in the draft. Jeff Fisher is going to pound the rock this year and make Todd Gurley the cornerstone of the offense. Last I checked, QBs don't get points for handing the ball off.

 

I have full confidence that Lynch will earn the starting job in Denver over Mark Sanchez. Lynch has a much more talented set of receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders than any other rookie QB, but the only thing that gives cause for concern is the Broncos offensive line looks extremely weak on paper, which is never a good recipe for a rookie QB. Look for Gary Kubiak to tweak the offense to get the ball out of Lynch's hand as quick as possible, and drafting talented receiving back Devontae Booker in the 4th round was no accident.

 

RB

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 1,488 Rushing Yards, 15 TDs, 478 Receiving Yards, 2 TDs

Elliott is a transcendent talent and when let loose behind an offensive line as prolific as Dallas', production will be high. In fact, it would probably be an upset at this point if Elliott doesn't walk away as Offensive Rookie of the Year this season with a 4.4 yards per carry average or higher. The fact that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and pick up blitzes makes him a 3 down back, so expect him to get plenty of snaps and keep the pressure off of Tony Romo, whom the Cowboys need to keep healthy if they want any shot of reaching the postseason. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden are in the mix, but make no mistake - this is Zeke's ship. He is the captain now.

 

DEVONTAE BOOKER | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 878 Rushing Yards, 7 TDs, 667 Receiving Yards, 5 TDs

We mentioned Booker above, but the former Ute could end up being the steal of the draft on offense. Although CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman are capable backs, Booker brings an extra dimension to the passing game as a receiving back and that could mean a lot of catches when paired up with a rookie QB with limited checks. Anderson and Hillman are also both on RFA tenders which means they will be free after the 2016-17 season, so John Elway and the Broncos are really hoping Booker performs well enough to be anointed "the guy" going forward. Think of Booker's role as similar to that of Shane Vereen's when Vereen was in New England. With the offensive line in Denver leaving something to be desired, Kubiak and the Broncos will have no choice but to try and get the ball out in space and change the point of attack.

 

WR

LAQUON TREADWELL | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 82 Recs, 1,031 Receiving Yards, 10 TDs 

How this guy slipped to the Vikings is beyond me, but one guy that won't be complaining is Teddy Bridgewater. Finally, Teddy will have the strong possession receiver that is best-suited for his playing style, a la Devante Parker at Louisville. We know Treadwell is not a burner, but we have already seen that Bridgewater has difficulty making the explosive plays to (now ex-Vikings) speedster Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson, who is buried on the depth chart. Treadwell may not beat many defensive backs with incendiary speed, but his strength after the catch and red zone presence will give Mike Zimmer and the Vikings the offensive weapon on the perimeter they have been thirsting for. As long as Treadwell can stay healthy, he will be a stud out the gate.

 

COREY COLEMAN | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 66 Recs, 879 Receiving Yards, 11 TDs
Coleman is going to get catches in Cleveland based purely on the fact there is no other receiver there that can do it. The Browns recently released Brian Hartline, making Andrew Hawkins theirs most experienced player in the wide receiver room. As long as Coleman can avoid getting bit by the injury big during his rookie campaign, he should be a popular go-to target for fellow Baylor alumni Robert Griffin III. Coleman is a human touchdown with legs, and if his production in college is any indicator of what type of success he will have in the NFL, you better buy now.

 

TE

AUSTIN HOOPER | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 62 Recs, 703 Receiving Yards, 5 TDs

The Falcons needed a pass-catching Tight End in the worst way, so Austin Hooper will have production almost by default. Matt Ryan missed having a suitable option up the middle in 2015, but with someone like Hooper in the mix, expect the former Stanford Cardinal to make some noise as a third or even second read on check downs.

 

Another dark horse rookie TE that can have a strong fantasy impact is LA Rams' Tyler Higbee, assuming of course he avoids penalty for his assault charge prior to the Draft. Similar to Hooper, Higbee is automatically the most talented TE on the roster and we all know that for a rookie QB, the tight end position is like a warm security blanket. If Higbee's off-field issues do prove to haunt him, Temarrick Hemingway could be a sexy sleeper pick in LA.

 

FLEX

WILL FULLER | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 51 Recs, 711 Receiving Yards, 6 TDs
This was a tough decision between Fuller and Derrick Henry, who will likely have a lot of TDs this season in the red zone, but Fuller is the pick purely based on the notion that he can reap the rewards of Deandre Hopkins double teams in 2016. Fuller gives newly-minted Texans QB Brock Osweiler a deep speed threat, and although he might not be the best option in a PPR league, expect him to rack up a ton of receiving yards.

 

K

ROBERTO AGUAYO | PROJ. 2016 STATS: 28/32 3 PTs (87.5%),  41/41 XP (100%)

I mean, he was a second round pick. If he's not here at the end of the year, Jason Licht has a problem.

 

D/ST

JAGUARS

Obviously, defenses don't consist of rookies, but the Jaguars defense are about as close as it gets. With the selections of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack in the first and second rounds this year, and Dante Fowler Jr. essentially entering his first year as a pro, the Jaguars have 3 young cornerstone players at each level of the defense to build a foundation around for the next decade. Pair this youth with free agent acquisitions Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson, and Prince Amukamara, and you could be looking at a defense that is causing a ton of turnovers and splash plays in 2016.

 

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