The 2017 iteration of the NFL Draft is now a matter of history, a raucous affair that did the fine folks in Philadelphia proud. Three nights of festivities were bookended by Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett (to the Cleveland Browns at No. 1) on Thursday and Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly (to the Denver Broncos at No. 253) on Sunday.
Now that we know where this year’s rookie class will begin their NFL careers, dynasty fantasy football leagues across the land will be firing up. And the first order of business for those intrepid fantasy owners is, for many, the best time of year.
It’s rookie draft time.
At this point every team is 0-0. Bad teams have visions of making the pick that will turn their teams around, as Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott no doubt did for many teams last year. Good teams have visions of adding the late-round gem that puts them over the top, a pick like Chicago Bears tailback Jordan Howard, who went late in the second round of most rookie drafts a year ago.
There will, of course, be those mid-round surprises who go on to make an unexpected impact in 2017. But despite a deep class at running back and one of the better groups of young tight ends in some time by just about the dawn of Round 2 in 12-team leagues fantasy owners are going to be well-served to look more to the future than the present with this bunch.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the Top 50 fantasy rookies in dynasty formats in 2017. And for those hearty souls who have jumped in with both feet and play in leagues that include individual defensive players, fear not …
They’re included too.
1.) Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville: Fournette isn’t the slam-dunk, mortal lock, no-doubt rookie 1.01 pick that Elliott was in 2016, but he’s arguably the best running back prospect this year and inarguably landed in the best situation for early production.
2.) Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee: Davis was my No. 1 wideout prospect entering this year’s draft, and his situation is favorable. If all goes as planned, he could be the top target for a rising young quarterback in short order.
3.) Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota: Cook might not have been the second running back drafted in Philadelphia, but he’s my No. 2 in fantasy. I’m pretty confident that by mid-season Latavius Murray will be wishing he’d signed somewhere else, as he watches from the bench.
4.) Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina: I’ll freely admit that I may be selling McCaffrey short here, he’s as versatile as he is talented and the Carolina Panthers obviously believe in him. If Carolina maximizes that talent and versatility, look out.
5.) Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: Many pundits viewed Williams as the most pro-ready wide receiver in the Class of 2017. He’ll be second fiddle to Keenen Allen in Los Angeles, though. At least until Allen gets hurt.
6.) Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati: This isn’t a pick for the faint of heart, and there will be fantasy owners who just want no part of Mixon after what happened in Norman, Okla. But the talent can’t be denied, he could be Cincinnati’s lead back in short order.
7.) John Ross, WR, Cincinnati: Cincinnati has caught more than a little flak for burning a Top 10 pick on the Washington speedster. However, reach or no, playing opposite A.J. Green is going to open up opportunities for the man who just set the Combine 40 record.
8.) O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay: Rookie tight ends are usually more whimper than bang early in their careers, and there are quite a few mouths to feed in Tampa Bay now. But if you’re drafting talent and upside, Howard will be a Top 5 tight end by 2019.
9.) Samaje Perine, RB, Washington: Selected in the fourth round by Washington, Perine isn’t as explosive as Joe Mixon. But he was a great value for Washington and has a great chance of being this year’s Jordan Howard. Odds are you can get him later than this.
10.) Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo: No one’s going to say Jones is the most talented receiver prospect in the 2017 draft. But situation is nearly as big in fantasy football as skill, and Sammy Watkins probably got hurt again while I was typing this.