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NFL Rookies to Watch in Week 3: Fantasy Football Dynasty and Redraft Leagues

Jahmyr Gibbs - fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Plenty of first-year players have begun making their marks across the NFL. Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson has lived up to his hype thus far, totaling 255 scrimmage yards in two games. Vikings wideout Jordan Addison has performed well, averaging 16.2 fantasy points per game. Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers has also impressed with 13 catches in his two appearances.

However, the most shockingly dominant rookie through two weeks has been Los Angeles Rams receiver Puka Nacua. Nacua was merely a fifth-round draft choice out of BYU, yet he has already caught 25 passes for 266 yards. No other player has ever made even 20 grabs through their first two career games; the one who came the closest was San Francisco's Earl Cooper back in 1980 with 19.

Whether you're a redraft manager or a dynasty manager, being ahead of the curve with rookie players is vital to your team's success. For that reason, each week I will be breaking down which rookies you should be watching out for. This column will be split into two parts: one pertaining to players most relevant in redraft leagues, and the other for rookies particularly worth watching in dynasty formats.

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NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Redraft Leagues

Jahmyr Gibbs (RB, DET)

Former Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs entered his rookie season with high expectations. Taken with the 12th-overall pick in this year's draft, Gibbs became the second-highest drafted RB since 2018 behind just Bijan Robinson. Given his comparisons to Alvin Kamara throughout the pre-draft process, fantasy managers eagerly anticipated his expansive, multi-faceted role alongside David Montgomery. Gibbs had an ADP of RB11 in the month leading up to the season.

Through two games, though, Gibbs sits as the RB26 in PPR formats. He played just 27 percent of Detroit's offensive snaps in Week 1, and his mere nine opportunities in the season opener concerned fantasy managers. Last week, Gibbs played 48 percent of the team's snaps and had 16 opportunities (seven carries and nine targets). This increase in usage was encouraging, but he averaged only 2.4 yards per carry and 5.6 yards per reception.

This week, Gibbs's role is set to expand even further. This is because Montgomery is doubtful with a thigh injury he sustained in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's bout versus the Seahawks. Gibbs will have many more chances to contribute to Detroit's ground attack this week to go with his receiving production. Make sure to catch the Falcons-Lions matchup on Sunday to assess the likelihood of Gibbs reaching his lofty potential this season.

Zay Flowers (WR, BAL)

The Baltimore Ravens made receiver Zay Flowers the 22nd player drafted this spring. Flowers was an extremely productive and dynamic weapon for Boston College in 2022, catching 78 passes for 1,077 yards and 12 touchdowns. Flowers posted a 94th-percentile College Dominator, ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, and plays larger than his 5'9" frame. The Ravens figured Flowers could step in and be an immediate difference-maker for quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Thus far, Flowers has delivered for Baltimore. In his debut, Flowers led the Ravens in receptions (nine), targets (10), and receiving yards (78). He followed up that performance with a four-catch, 62-yard showing against the Bengals last week. The highlight of his day was a 52-yard grab on a deep pass from Jackson. Five of Flowers's 15 targets on the season have been in the red zone, tied for the most in the league.

Flowers will be looking to build upon his strong start to the season this week versus Indianapolis. The Colts have yielded the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season; Calvin Ridley, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell have all found great success against Indy already. Flowers will have a solid opportunity to score his first career touchdown on Sunday. Also, check to see if his target volume can return to his Week 1 usage despite the presence of star tight end Mark Andrews.

Sam LaPorta (TE, DET)

Tight ends George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, and Noah Fant have all made names for themselves in the NFL after spending their college careers with Iowa. Another former Hawkeye tight end, Sam LaPorta, has started his career off well. In the season opener, LaPorta caught all five of his targets for 39 yards. Last week, he made five grabs on six targets for 63 yards. LaPorta has finished as the TE8 in both weeks so far this year.

LaPorta ran an impressive 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine this offseason. Add that to his 6'3", 245-pound build and 90th-percentile Agility Score, and you will find a very impressive athlete. LaPorta's standout qualities include his intangibles as well, though. He was named Iowa's offensive MVP in 2022, and he is known for his consistent effort level and reliability. LaPorta's outlook seems particularly bright, all things considered.

The Lions will take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if LaPorta can continue to grow his connection with quarterback Jared Goff and put forth a great stat line. Also noteworthy is that star wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown is dealing with a toe injury at the moment. While St. Brown was a full participant in practice on Friday, he will wear a steel plate in his cleat. If St. Brown is limited by his toe in any way, Goff may have to depend on the trustworthy LaPorta more than usual.


NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Kendre Miller (RB, NO)

Running back Kendre Miller spent his first two seasons with TCU in a rotational role, averaging 7.9 touches per game. In 2022, though, Miller emerged as a workhorse. He carried the ball 224 times for 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns in 14 games. Miller also helped the Horned Frogs advance all the way to the CFP National Championship in a magical season. He was out with an MCL sprain for the team's season-ending loss to Georgia.

Miller stands at 5'11" and weighs 215 pounds, giving him decent size at the RB position. He also possesses quality agility and a powerful running style. His receiving upside is limited though, as he caught just 29 passes across his three collegiate seasons. Miller's profile led the Saints to draft him in the third round of the 2023 draft, adding him to a backfield that already housed Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams. He has not yet played this year due to a hamstring injury, but he did flash his potential in the preseason.

This weekend will be a big one for Miller because he will be finally making his regular season debut with the Saints. Moreover, with Kamara still suspended and Williams out with his own hamstring issue, Miller will immediately step into a large role. For dynasty managers, Miller's game against Green Bay will be a great opportunity to see what kind of success he can have at the NFL level.

Josh Downs (WR, IND)

With Puka Nacua, Zay Flowers, and Jordan Addison receiving substantial attention for their stat lines so far, it is easy to forget about the more underrated producers. Josh Downs has quietly been making plays for the Colts in the early stages of this season. He made four grabs on five targets last week for 37 yards, and the week prior he caught three of seven targets for 30 yards. His 22-yard reception against Jacksonville showcased his top-notch ability to get open.

Downs is no stranger to being productive. His final two seasons at North Carolina saw him catch an astounding 195 passes for 2,364 yards and 19 touchdowns. The third-round pick also possesses an 89th-percentile Burst Score, which helps minimize the limitations imposed by his 5'9" height. His speed, quickness, and ability to catch balls in traffic are all excellent. Downs's impressive skillset has already led him to become the Colts' primary slot receiver.

Indianapolis will be without starting quarterback Anthony Richardson this week as he remains in the concussion protocol. Downs will be working with Gardner Minshew instead as they face Baltimore on Sunday. Tyler Boyd found some success versus the Ravens last week out of the slot, catching six of eight targets for 52 yards. If Downs can do the same, it would bode very well for his future prospects.

Dalton Kincaid (TE, BUF)

The Buffalo Bills made Dalton Kincaid the first tight end off the board in this year's draft. The team was enamored with his receiving ability, to be sure. His route running is elite; Kincaid displayed polish in this area to take advantage of mismatches. Kincaid caught 70 passes for 890 yards last year, and he found the end zone eight times. His 34.1-percent College Dominator was a 94th-percentile figure at the TE position.

Kincaid has been quite involved in Buffalo's offense already, catching nine passes in two games. He has been unable to separate himself from fellow tight end Dawson Knox in the Bills' pecking order yet, however. Knox was on the field for 29 pass plays last week compared to Kincaid's 24, and the route numbers were 24 to 23 in favor of Knox. Kincaid has just a slight 10 to 9 edge in targets on the season as well. Knox has been a larger factor than many fantasy managers envisioned.

With the Bills facing the Commanders this week, Kincaid will be striving to have his breakout game. Washington may make that difficult, though. The Commanders have been the seventh-toughest defense against opposing tight ends this season. If Kincaid can establish himself as the more reliable target between himself and Knox, his stock will rise further for fantasy managers.

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