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Fabiano's Top-30 Pre-NFL Draft Rookies


I'll admit it ... ranking rookies before the NFL draft is often times an exercise in futility. How can you possibly forecast a player's value before he's actually on an NFL roster? The answer is simple. You can't! However, that shouldn't preclude us from taking a look at the players who are more likely to become prominent in the world of fantasy football based on their skills and abilities alone. Case in point ... Saquon Barkley was the consensus top rookie in the 2018 class before he landed with the New York Giants. He went on to record historic numbers and is now a surefire top-three pick in 2019 drafts.

So, take this list of my current top 30 fantasy football rookies to watch (in re-draft leagues) with a grain of salt. It's based on talent, collegiate success and projected potential at the next level. But keep in mind, it could look somewhat different once the NFL draft (April 25-27) in Nashville, Tennessee concludes.

1. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama: Jacobs is the consensus top running back in the 2019 class, and he'll be the first pick in dynasty leagues if he lands with a running back needy team like the Oakland Raiders or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A potential three-down back who averaged 5.3 yards per rush and caught 20 passes in his final collegiate season, Jacobs could end up being a top-50 selection in re-draft leagues.

2. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi: Metcalf is a physical specimen who ran a 4.33 40-yard dash and put up 27 reps on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine. He's ranked at No. 2 on this list based on his ridiculous athletic gifts and upside, but there might not be a bigger risk-reward wide receiver in the entire 2019 draft class. He's projected as a first-round selection in most NFL mock drafts.

3. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State: Harry is a strong, physical wideout who broke 38 tackles in his three seasons with the Sun Devils, per Pro Football Focus. He also recorded 515 yards after the catch in 2018, and his ridiculous grab against USC was on the level of Odell Beckham Jr. There are a number of wide-receiver needy teams in the league, so Harry could move up if he lands with the right franchise.

4. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State: Montgomery is coming off a season that saw him finish with a 4.7 yards-per-rush average and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He also hauled in 22 passes as a receiver and had a combined 58 combined catches in his last two seasons with the Cyclones. While he does need to improve as a pass blocker, Montgomery has the tools to emerge into a valuable asset for fantasy fans.

5. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma: Brown, who has drawn comparisons to DeSean Jackson due to his size (5 foot 9, 166 pounds) and skill set, finished his final year in college with 75 catches, and 10 touchdowns. The playmaking wideout also broke 17 tackles, per Pro Football Focus. A blazing speedster, "Hollywood" could be the first wide receiver to come off the board in the first round of the NFL draft.

6. A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi: Brown ran most of his routes out of the slot during his college days and would be a great fit for an NFL team that runs a lot of RPOs. While he doesn't possess top-end speed, Brown did force 17 broken tackles and produced 34 explosive plays, per Pro Football Focus. A reliable pass catcher, Brown dropped just five of 90 catchable passes thrown in his direction in 2018.

7. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama: The second-ranked running back in the 2019 NFL draft class according to Maurice Jones-Drew, Harris is a powerful runner who averaged 5.8 yards per rush last season. However, he can also be an asset as a pass catcher at the next level. From a fantasy perspective, Harris would be a nice fit for coach Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers in the second or third round.

8. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State: Butler is a big bodied wide receiver at 6 foot 2 and 227 pounds, but he's more than just a possession receiver. In fact, he averaged 22 yards per catch and has more receptions of 20-plus yards than any other player in the 2019 draft class. While he also dropped 17 passes in his last two years in college, Butler has a ton of upside and is move up fantasy rank lists.

9. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State: Sanders' stock is on the rise, as he comes out of college with very little tread on his tires after playing behind Saquon Barkley for two years. While he needs to work on his pass protection and ball security, he did average 5.8 yards per rush with 24 catches in his lone season as the top back at Penn State. He could end up being a real fantasy sleeper with the right team.

10. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis: An explosive collegiate playmaker who averaged almost nine yards per rush in 2018, Henderson had more runs of 20-plus yards (27) than any other back in the 2019 class. He also combined for 63 catches in his three years at Memphis. Henderson could end up being a nice option for a team like the Buffalo Bills or Houston Texans in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.

11. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: Fantasy fans looking for a high-end tight end prospect should look no further than Hockenson. A sure-handed receiver, he dropped just one of 51 catchable targets per Pro Football Focus. Hockenson will be a viable first rounder in most dynasty league drafts.

12. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina: Samuel had durability issues at the collegiate level, but he was a major standout at the Senior Bowl. He was also a tackle-breaking monster, busting 21 on 62 catches in his final season with the Gamecocks per PFF. Samuel can also be a special teams asset.

13. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa: Fant and Hockenson could be the first pair of tight end teammates to be drafted in the first round together. An athletic freak, Fant had 519 yards and seven touchdowns in his final collegiate season. His downfall? He's dropped 11 passes on 80 catchable balls since 2017.

14. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford: Arcega-Whiteside scored a combined 23 touchdowns in his final 23 games at Stanford. He's also great going up and getting the football, recording the most contested catches (19) this past season of anyone in the class per Pro Football Focus. Arcega-Whiteside can also stretch the field and figures to become a nice red-zone option in the NFL.

15. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic: Singletary is a small running back at just 5 foot 7 and 203 pounds, but he did rack up 5.2 yards per rush and 22 scores in 2018. He was also an ultra-elusive runner for the Owls, averaging 0.36 missed tackles last season per Pro Football Focus.

16. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: I don't typically rank quarterbacks this high because the position is so deep, but Murray is a special prospect who completed 69 percent of his passes and rushed for 12 touchdowns in his final collegiate season. He could make an immediate fantasy impact.

17. Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia: The younger brother of Atlanta Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley, Riley scored nine touchdowns on just 43 receptions during his final season at Georgia. His overall numbers weren't great, but the Bulldogs had an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side.

18. Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State: Harmon, who comes in at 6 foot 2 and 221 pounds, finished with over 2,100 yards and 11 touchdowns over his final two years with the Wolfpack. Per Jeff Ratcliffe at Pro Football Focus, Harmon caught 17 of 30 contested catch opportunities in 2018.

19. Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State: Campbell is coming off a breakout season for the Buckeyes, producing 90 receptions and 12 touchdowns as the top option in the passing game for Dwayne Haskins. He was also very sure-handed, catching 82 percent of the 111 targets he saw last season.

20. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State: Hill rushed for over 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns during what was a productive career with the Cowboys. He was also a star at the Combine, ranking first among backs in the 40-yard dash, the broad and vertical jumps. He also caught 31 passes in 2017.

21. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
22. Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
23. Andy Isabella, WR, Massachusetts
24. Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
25. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
26. Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
27. Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State
28. Benny Snell, RB, Kentucky
29. Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri
30. Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram for the latest fantasy football news and analysis!