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2017 dynasty rookie fantasy draft results, analysis

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Out of the tens of millions of people who participate in fantasy football, most play in re-draft leagues. That's where you select a new roster before each season. Many of the diehards (or fantasy nerds like me) also participate in leagues that more closely resemble the actual NFL, where you have one "traditional" draft followed by yearly rookie drafts. That's what we call a "dynasty" league.

To give you an idea of what such a draft will look like for 2017, here are the results of our in-house draft at NFL.com. The league is comprised of 12 teams and uses a PPR scoring system that rewards players for return yards and touchdowns. Each team is allowed to roster 24 players (10 starters) along with two reserve spots. Remember, these players were all drafted with the intent of being retained on an unlimited basis. So unlike traditional fantasy football, choosing poorly can have serious long-term repercussions ... think "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

Enjoy!

Round 1

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Fournette has a clear path to the top spot on the Jaguars depth chart, and his underrated skills as a pass catcher could turn him into one of the league's true featured backs. If the Jaguars continue to improve their offensive line in the coming years, Fournette could end up being a potential top-10 fantasy running back in the very near future.
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers: McCaffrey might be best known for his elite skills as a receiver, but he was also effective as a runner between the tackles during his time at Stanford. Veteran Jonathan Stewart, 30, will no doubt give way to McCaffrey atop the Carolina depth chart sooner rather than later (if not now then in 2018). He could be a better version of Reggie Bush.
3. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings traded up to land Cook in the second round of the NFL draft, and he'll be allowed every chance to earn a starting role ahead of Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon as a rookie. While a backfield committee is possible to start this season, Cook should emerge as the main man. The Florida State product has three-down upside at the pro level.
4. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: Mixon might have been picked higher in the NFL draft had it not been for his off-field issues, but no one can deny his potential as a three-down back in the NFL. While Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard remain in the mix, the smart money is on Mixon to take the job and run with it. This is the last year of Hill's current contract with the Bengals, too.
5. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans: The NCAA's all-time leader in receiving yards (5,278), Davis' rise to stardom might not be immediate with the addition of Eric Decker to what is a crowded core of wideouts in Tennessee. He should emerge into a future superstar at the professional level, however, making the Terrell Owens clone a lock first-rounder in all dynasty league drafts.
6. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints: Kamara will be a far better dynasty selection in fantasy land, as his immediate future is limited with both Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson ahead of him on the depth chart. Neither back is a lock to remain on the roster in 2018, however, so Kamara's role could expand in the very near future. He could end up being quite the PPR asset down the road.

7. Samaje Perine, RB, Washington Redskins: The Redskins won't hand the starting job to Perine, as Rob Kelley did well in that role a season ago. But even in a worst-case scenario, the Oklahoma product will no doubt see a shared role in the backfield as a rookie. His long-term potential is massive, however, which is why he'll be well worth a first-round look in rookie-only dynasty drafts.
8. Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: Williams could be hard pressed to make an impact as a rookie, as he's dealing with an injured back and has a ton of competition for targets in what is a crowded Chargers pass attack. On a positive note, the Clemson product has the tools to emerge into the team's eventual No. 1 wide receiver. Fantasy fans just might have to wait a season or two.
9. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie tight ends almost never make a major impact for fantasy owners, so Howard won't be worth more than a late-round flier in re-drafts. But in dynasty, he'll have far more value. The talented pass catcher has No. 1 fantasy tight end potential in an up-and-coming offense with a young quarterback in Jameis Winston at the helm. There's a lot to like.
10. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Hunt has sleeper potential as a rookie, especially in PPR formats where his skills as a receiver will make him more valuable. With that said, he still won't be handed a true featured role with incumbent starter Spencer Ware in the mix. Considering the success of running backs under coach Andy Reid, however, Hunt's long-term potential is tantalizing.
11. John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: Ross, who broke Chris Johnson's record 40-time at the Combine (4.22), will be given a chance to earn a starting role as a rookie ... barring any setbacks in his return from shoulder surgery. I'd project him as more of a long-term prospect from a fantasy perspective, however, as the Bengals have a crowded core of pass catchers on their current roster.
12. Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills: Jones didn't have the same name value of Davis or Williams, but he could lead all rookie wideouts in targets if he earns a starting role opposite Sammy Watkins in what is an otherwise unimpressive core of wideouts in Buffalo. With Watkins slated to be a free agent after this season, Jones could end up being even more prominent in the Bills offense moving forward.

Round 2

13. Joe Williams, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Williams has emerged into one of fantasy's favorite deep sleepers. Carlos Hyde is entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Niners.
14. Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers: A versatile offensive playmaker who has been compared to Percy Harvin, Samuel could soon emerge as a prominent weapon for the Panthers.
15. Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers: Williams doesn't possess three-down back potential at the next level, but he could develop into an early-down and goal-line specialist.
16. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Houston Texans: Foreman looks like the favorite to back up Lamar Miller as a rookie, but the veteran is a major road block to his immediate fantasy value.
17. Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Frank Gore has to slow down or retire at some point, right? When he does, Mack could wind up earning a prominent role for Indianapolis.
18. Adam Shaheen, TE, Chicago Bears: Shaheen is unlikely to make an immediate fantasy impact, but you have to like his chances of becoming Chicago's No. 1 tight end starting in 2018.

19. Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Godwin has almost no re-draft value in a crowded Buccaneers pass attack, but he does have an attractive ceiling as a dynasty prospect.
20. David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns: Njoku could lead all rookie tight ends in targets after the Browns released Gary Barnidge, but his value is in his long-term potential.
21. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: McNichols, who is coming off shoulder surgery, will have a lot of competition for touches as a rookie. He's mostly a dynasty prospect.
22. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: Engram has much more appeal in dynasty leagues and could emerge into a viable No. 1 tight end down the line for Big Blue and fantasy fans.
23. Carlos Henderson, WR, Denver Broncos: Henderson is a long-term dynasty prospect who finds himself stuck behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders ahead of his rookie year.
24. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans: Watson might not be the next Dak Prescott, but he could make an impact for fantasy owners sooner than later due to his skills as a runner.

Round 3

25. Jake Butt, TE, Denver Broncos: Butt is coming off a right knee reconstruction and unlikely to make an immediate impact, but there's some dynasty potential.
26. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers: The Packers drafted three running backs including Jones, who some scouts consider the best long-term back of the bunch.
27. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Smith-Schuster has a long road to making any kind of consistent fantasy impact in a crowded Steelers offense.
28. Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Rams: The Rams are expected to feature tight ends in their offense under coach Sean McVay, so Everett has long-term appeal.
29. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Alex Smith is under contract for two more years, but Mahomes is the obvious future face of the Kansas City franchise.
30. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Conner could wind up with deep-league, re-draft value if he earns the second depth chart spot behind Le'Veon Bell.

31. Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears: Trubisky could see some playing time as a rookie, but he's mostly an under-the-microscope, dynasty-league prospect.
32. Taywan Taylor, WR, Tennessee Titans: It won't happen this season, but Taylor could emerge into a starter opposite Davis in Tennessee's long-term offense.
33. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams: Kupp projects to be the Rams slot receiver as a rookie, but his dynasty prospects are far more attractive in fantasy.
34. DeShone Kizer, QB, Cleveland Browns: Kizer should see starts as a rookie, and his skills as a runner make him an appealing option for all dynasty leaguers.
35. DJ Pumphrey, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Pumphrey isn't likely to make an immediate impact, but he looks like the future heir apparent to Darren Sproles.
36. Kenny Golladay, WR, Detroit Lions: Golladay looks like the favorite to open his rookie season third on the depth chart behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.

Round 4

37. Chad Williams, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Williams is a very interesting prospect who could wind up as Larry Fitzgerald's eventual successor for the Cardinals.
38. ArDarius Stewart, WR, New York Jets: Stewart's rookie season could be slowed due to thumb and groin surgeries, but there's a lot of long-term upside here.
39. Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams: A Combine standout (at times) with a ton of physical skills, Reynolds is a long-term prospect for owners to monitor.
40. Ryan Switzer, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Switzer figures to be a return specialist as a rookie, but his long-term appeal is as the future slot man for the Cowboys.
41. Wayne Gallman, RB, New York Giants: Gallman won't have much value in fantasy land unless Paul Perkins falters in his role as the team's new featured runner.
42. Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are loaded with good, young talent at wide receiver, so Westbrook will have a steep hill to climb.
43. Bucky Hodges, TE, Minnesota Vikings: Hodges is a tremendous athlete, but he'll be worth little more than a late-round flier in most dynasty league drafts.
44. De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Denver Broncos: The Broncos depth chart is unsettled behind C.J. Anderson, but Henderson isn't a lock to make the 53-man roster.
45. Chad Hansen, WR, New York Jets: Hansen might open his rookie season third on the depth chart in New York, but Stewart's eventual return will push him back.
46. Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears: Cohen projects as a third-down back at the NFL level, but he won't carve out a prominent role with Jordan Howard in the mix.
47. Amara Darboh, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Darboh will be hard pressed to see playing time in what is a crowded Seattle pass attack. He's a dynasty prospect only.
48. Jehu Chesson, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Chesson is buried on the Chiefs depth chart and is barely worth a late-round selection in most dynasty drafts.


Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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