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  • What to know about 16 rookies who could be fantasy draft targets.
By Conor Orr
July 04, 2019

This story appears in the 2019 Fantasy Football special issue of Sports Illustrated. For more great storytelling and in-depth analysis, subscribe to the magazine—and get up to 94% off the cover price. Click here for more.

Fantasy football season is here, and each year a new crop of NFL rookies enter the league with question marks. How good will they be, and how quickly will they contribute? Here’s a rundown of the most fantasy relevant rookies for 2019.

QUARTERBACKS

Kyler Murray, Cardinals

There are no greater mysteries this season than what new coach Kliff Kingsbury's offense will look like and how he will use Murray. Among rookies, there is no one with greater upside. However Kingsbury blends the Air Raid attack he ran at Texas Tech with the RPO-based system Murray thrived in at Oklahoma, the No. 1 pick in the draft should have plenty of opportunities to score both on the ground and through the air. At Oklahoma, nearly every play contained the possibility of a home run. The Cardinals will try to create that same threat, despite their lack of playmakers. Among other first-year QBs, only Washington's Dwayne Haskins is likely to see the field this year.

RUNNING BACKS

Josh Jacobs, Raiders

The first-round pick from Alabama is this class's best bet for a fantasy boom. While he isn't a Saquon Barkley-level talent, the 5'10", 220-pound Jacobs runs hard, catches well and doesn't give up the football. DeAndre Washington and/or Jalen Richard will get some third-down snaps, but Oakland coach Jon Gruden has shown he is willing to put rookie backs to work.

Miles Sanders, Eagles

Philadelphia has one of the deepest running back corps in the league. Where will the second-round pick out of Penn State land on the depth chart? His obstacles are not insurmountable—the Bears traded Jordan Howard to Philadelphia for a reason, and Josh Adams's usage settled last year after a midseason spike—so don't be surprised if Sanders emerges, though it may not be until later in the season.

Darrell Henderson, Rams

I wouldn't take Los Angeles's drafting Henderson in the third round lightly. Even if Todd Gurley is past the knee issues that limited him down the stretch last year, coach Sean McVay learned that he needs to diversify his offense. Henderson was a human highlight reel for Memphis, with incredible footwork and subtle change-of-direction ability.

David Montgomery, Bears

Montgomery, from Iowa State, is another third-round prospect with potential. While Chicago's offense accentuates the versatile Tarik Cohen, Montgomery offers a great combination of physicality and patience that fits the Bears' zone-concept runs. At 5'10" and 222 pounds, he could see action in goal line situations right away.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Marquise Brown, Ravens

Analysts have compared the 5'9", 166-pound speedster from Oklahoma with DeSean Jackson, which sets his fantasy expectations: In one game Brown might haul in a 75-yard touchdown pass while in another he might struggle to be targeted. Pay attention during the preseason to whether Lamar Jackson is throwing more deep balls.

N'Keal Harry, Patriots

Coach Bill Belichick wouldn't spend a first-round pick if he didn't think Harry, from Arizona State, could contribute right away. Harry fits in well with their quick-passing offense. He may have the biggest fantasy upside of any rookie wideout.

Deebo Samuel, 49ers

The second-round pick from South Carolina is another buy-low fantasy prospect. Samuel joins an offense in search of dependable receiving talent. Described by analysts as a true fighter, Samuel will acclimate quickly to the physical man coverage in the NFL.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Eagles

Arcega-Whiteside, a second-round pick, may have a tough time cracking the field this year, especially with the return of DeSean Jackson and the retention of Nelson Agholor. But the Stanford product will be an understudy at multiple positions.

A.J. Brown, Titans

In the run-up to the draft, many said that Brown outperformed his more muscular and highly publicized Ole Miss teammate, D.K. Metcalf. The Titans desperately want a counterweight to Corey Davis, who is developing but needs help to crack open a defense.

Mecole Hardman, Chiefs

The selection of Hardman in the second round probably telegraphed Kansas City's expectations for Tyreek Hill, who is facing a possible suspension. While the 5'10", 187-pound Hardman isn't an exact clone of Hill, he's going to run a similar route tree and punish teams who employ the popular Cover 3 defense against Mahomes.

Parris Campbell, Colts

The second-round pick from Ohio State is, like Hardman, another threat from all over the field. He could be taking handoffs in jet-sweep formations as Frank Reich's offense evolves in Year 2.

Andy Isabella, Cardinals

Picked in the second round, Isabella is a deep threat and a top route-runner. Isabella did everything at UMass; in one package he was the primary running back. The Air Raid offense is ideal for players with this kind of versatility.

D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks

At 6'3" and 228 pounds, Metcalf can outmuscle almost any defensive back. This makes him a good fit for an improvising QB such as Russell Wilson.

TIGHT ENDS

T.J. Hockenson, Lions

Hockenson, from Iowa, is a great bet for fantasy players who miss out on the first wave of tight ends. The No. 8 pick should be on the field plenty, and he will be a difficult matchup right away.

Noah Fant, Broncos

Joe Flacco loves tight ends who get open in that five- to 15-yard range, and Fant was a master of that at Iowa. Hockenson's occupying defenses helped, but Fant could see plenty of balls early.

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