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Dynasty League Rookie Round Up - Week 4

Each week, I'll take a quick look at the top rookies in dynasty fantasy football leagues. I'll review their recent performance (PPR scoring) and offer some thoughts about their upcoming games as well as their long-term dynasty value.

Last week, I offered my dynasty rookie rankings. This time around, I'll look at four rookies with interesting usage or opportunities. It's important to stay up to date on things like contract situations, snap counts, and opportunity rates.

Things change fast in the NFL and one or more of these players could become a valuable dynasty asset sooner than you think. Here are my outlooks on some under-the-radar rookie players that could be trending up or down based on usage.

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Under the Radar Rookies to Watch

  • Zay Jones leads all rookie wide receivers in snaps per game and percentage of team snaps. Through three games, he's also second among rookie WRs in target market share. This is important because even though the production hasn't followed, he's clearly trusted and involved in the offense. Don't be surprised to see him gain redraft value as the season progresses. In dynasty, he's a slam-dunk hold, but also a player you might try to acquire since his production has yet to match his opportunity.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster also hasn't lit up the scoreboard, but consider the following. Two of Martavis Bryant's three games this year have been duds. He's still ahead of Smith-Schuster, and probably will be all year. But he's turning into a bit of a boom or bust guy. It's easy to see him losing looks if he can't string together a few consecutive good games. It also costs the Steelers nothing to release Bryant next year, which could happen if he doesn't become more consistent and/or convince the team he's got his substance abuse issues under control. Then there's Eli Rogers, who has a year's experience on Smith-Schuster, but they've got almost identical usage so far this year. In other words, Rogers (undrafted, no cap impact to cut) isn't doing anything to fend off Smith-Schuster, who's already on the field for half of Pittsburgh's snaps. He's earning a role this year, and there are multiple scenarios that give him a full-time gig next year.
  • Chad Williams has barely seen the field through three weeks in Arizona. That's okay. He's a guy I'm trying to roster before his price goes up. Here's why. John Brown has already missed two games this year and is a pending free agent. Jaron Brown will be 28 before the season is over and is also a pending free agent. That leaves just J.J. Nelson and (maybe?) 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald. Considering how often Arizona runs 3-WR sets, that basically makes Williams a starter next year. It will be important to see if he can earn some positive momentum this season, in order to alleviate concerns about Arizona drafting or signing a prominent free agent. But that's why I'm moving to get him now so that the cost is relatively minimal. If I need to cut bait later, it won't hurt much.
  • Jonnu Smith, for those in leagues deep enough to roster a developmental tight end, is a player to be aware of. He's gotten some attention after scoring touchdowns in consecutive games, so maybe wait until the buzz dies down. But definitely put him on your radar. Consider that Delanie Walker has just one year remaining on his contract, but can be released with minimal cap damage. I'm not saying he will be released, only that there's no financial reason the Titans need to keep him. Then consider Marcus Mariota's effectiveness when targeting tight ends. He averages 8.5 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting Walker. Obviously, Walker gets some credit for that. But Mariota also averaged 8.3 adjusted yards/attempt when targeting Anthony Fasano, who is nobody's idea of a stud tight end. Those marks are topped only by Rishard Matthews in the pantheon of Mariota's receiving targets (who've received more than 25 targets). If Walker leaves, about 20 percent of Tennessee's targets are up for grabs, which adds to Smith's appeal. As a final recommendation, I'll note that his athletic comps include Dustin Keller and Dallas Clark, among others. You'll have to wait awhile, but the future looks pretty good for Jonnu Smith.


More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy