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Fantasy Football Rookies to Watch in Week 2


Each week in this column, we'll highlight a few first-year players who are worth keeping your eye on. Not all of the players listed below are must-starts, but all of them are in a position to be viable fantasy options. If any of these names are sitting out on your waiver wire, you should keep a close watch on them.

Ideally, some of these names will help fantasy players get some roster depth which can minimize the negative impact of injuries and bye weeks.

Initially, some of these names will seem fairly obvious. As the season progresses, expect this column to pay more attention to under-the-radar options.

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The Flashy Show-Stealer

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

Before I get too far into this, let me make one thing clear: You should not overreact to McLaurin's monster debut game. Yes, he looked tremendous, but let's hold off on anointing him as the next Randy Moss. With all that said, McLaurin looked like Case Keenum's go-to receiver for the majority of the Redskins matchup with the Eagles. That's important to note because there was a perception that McLaurin might not break out until his former college quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, saw playing time later in the year. His 125-yard Week 1 performance -- which would have looked even better had Keenum not overthrown him on another wide-open deep route -- proved he doesn't need his alumni connection to produce.

 

The Star Replacement

Mecole Hardman (WR, KC)

Tyreek Hill is going to miss at least a handful of weeks after exiting last week's game with a sternoclavicular injury and Sammy Watkins can't catch every pass Mahomes throws. By default, there will be targets for rookie speedster Mecole Hardman. Although Hardman didn't record a catch and was only targeted once against the Jaguars, there is now a gigantic void in arguably the best offensive team in the NFL. The talk coming out of the draft was that Hardman was essentially Tyreek Hill 2.0, and now he'll have a chance to prove he can stride in Hill's shoes. Just don't overreact if Hardman doesn't light the world on fire against Oakland.

 

The Unknown Backup

Gardner Minshew (QB, JAX)

Nobody expected to be talking about the Jaguars' sixth-round pick this early in the season. Or possibly ever. Nick Foles' broken collarbone during Sunday's action against Kansas City shoved the rookie quarterback into the spotlight late in the first quarter. And he looked as comfortable as he did strangely seasoned, completing 22 of 25 for an outrageous 88% completion rate. If Minshew can command this offense as confidently as he did last week, he has enough weapons around him to be a viable fantasy option against Houston.

 

The Questionable Committee Leader

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

It turns out Doug Pederson wasn't lying when he said the Eagles backfield would remain a committee. The good news is Sanders led his team in carries out of the gate with 11 carries. The bad news is Darren Sproles of all people was nipping at his heels with nine carries, and the 36-year-old was much more efficient. Sanders had a 21-yard touchdown run called back by a holding call away from the ball, however, which would have given him a respectable stat line. As he gets more comfortable in his role, expect Sanders to pull away from Sproles, Jordan Howard, and the rest.

 

The Sneaky Overachiever

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

Donte Moncrief looked bad in Week 1. Real bad. Three receptions for seven yards on 10 targets bad. Meanwhile, the rookie third-round pick showed promise on the rare occasions he was targeted. Johnson played just 35.8% of offensive snaps and saw just five targets, but he looked decisive and quick-footed. He has big playmaking ability which the Steelers so desperately need. The whole offense should look better against Seattle than it did against New England, and it will be interesting to see how Johnson fits into the equation when the game script is less lopsided.

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