Fantasy football draft season is upon us! Over the past few years, managers who put a lot of emphasis on grabbing rookies in their drafts have been rewarded with sleeper stars and draft bargains like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Chase Claypool and Brandon Aiyuk. Of course, a key cog in that success is selecting players who may have a shot at being a big part of their offense.
Also, the reality of this fantasy situation is that there are far more disappointments than rookies blowing up the stat sheets. It’s not exactly finding a needle in the proverbial haystack, but knowing what to look for (depth charts, personnel, etc.) will help us avoid busts and hit some of the rookies that are producing on the field. .
SEE ALSO: Potential Rookie Busts
In an effort to win the late round of our fantasy recaps, here’s my look at eight rookie sleepers who could exceed expectations in Year One.
Note: Players are listed based on current average draft position (ADP) data.
Kendre Miller, RB, Saints
Miller joins several Saints in the backfield but sees a bigger role as Alvin Kamara faces a suspension. If that happens, the TCU product could stop seeing work in the offense behind Jamaal Williams. He’s a little one-dimensional, as he hasn’t been used much as a receiver, but he could be a player to watch if Kamara is forced to miss time this season.
Jonathan Mingo, WR, Panthers
Mingo is an athletic wideout who posted a 51-861-5 line in his final collegiate season. He still needs some work to make a big impact at the next level, but it’s not like the Panthers are loaded with wideouts. Veterans Adam Thielen and DJ Chark are ahead of him entering camp, but Mingo could carve out a big role and perhaps pass one of them on the depth chart.
Roschon Johnson, RB, Bears
Johnson landed in a place where he could compete for a prominent role in the Windy City. The Bears have both Khalil Hebert and D’Onta Foreman ahead of him, but the rookie runner could cause the latter to be released or move down the depth chart. This may be by committee, but Johnson is still interesting as a late-round flier in redrafts.
Rashee Rice, WR, Chiefs
Rice landed in a big spot, as the Chiefs traded up in the second round to land the SMU wideout. With JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman out of the mix, Rice will compete with Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore for targets. Catching passes from Patrick Mahomes has helped his stock, so Rice is worth a look later.
Marvin Mims, WR, Broncos
The Broncos moved up five spots to draft Mims, a speedy receiver who averaged 13.5 yards per target over his final two years in college. The Broncos have a crowded wide receiver room with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Marquez Callaway on the depth chart, but coach Sean Payton won’t be shy about using the rookie when he comes out of camp.
Tyjae Spears, RB, Titans
Spears is coming off a monster season with the Green Wave at Tulane, rushing for nearly 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also put up 22 catches, so Spears could also be used as a pass catcher. While he hasn’t had a chance to start, Derrick Henry is entering his age 29 season and has a ton of damage. If Henry misses in time, Spears will be a league winner.
Jayden Reed, WR, Packers
Reed should get a chance to serve as the No. 3 wideouts in Green Bay behind Christian Watson and Romeo Dobbs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we don’t know what to expect from the new No. 1 quarterback Jordan Love as a passer. That makes Reed a deep sleeper in a Packers pass attack looking for playmakers coming out of camp.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Packers
Musgrave battled injuries in college, but when he played, he was productive. A big target at 6’6″ and 253 pounds, he will compete with fellow rookie Tucker Kraft for the top spot on the Packers depth chart after the loss of Robert Tonyan. With questions in the pass attack, the Musgrave could be an interesting late-round flier in fantasy redrafts.