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NFL Rookies to Watch in Week 5: Fantasy Football Dynasty and Redraft Leagues

Bijan Robinson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

First-year players of all positions have been making quality contributions for fantasy managers already. Texans QB C.J. Stroud and Colts passer Anthony Richardson have both put forth great stat lines, as has current TE2 Sam LaPorta of Detroit. Miami's De'Von Achane and Atlanta's Bijan Robinson have also starred, with both currently ranking as top-six running backs through four weeks.

Rookie wide receivers have gotten in on the fun as well. Texans receiver Tank Dell has had some strong performances, Baltimore's Zay Flowers has had a solid start, and Arizona wideout Michael Wilson had an impressive game last week. The big surprise though has been Rams WR Puka Nacua. Nacua is currently the league's WR4, placing him ahead of superstars like Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and A.J. Brown.

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.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Redraft Leagues

Anthony Richardson (QB, IND)

Anthony Richardson is one of the most athletic quarterbacks to ever enter the NFL. His 4.43-second 40-yard dash speed, elite arm strength, and 6'4", 244-pound frame make for a silly combination. He was a raw prospect, though, and a particularly glaring deficiency in his profile was his accuracy. That has shown up in his play so far; Richardson is 26th in catchable pass rate, 22nd in true passer rating, and 34th in clean pocket completion percentage. His PFF passing grade on the season is just 57.6.

For fantasy purposes, however, Richardson's inconsistency has not prevented him from dominating. He is third in fantasy points per game among QBs with multiple starts. Keep in mind that he exited one of his three appearances after just six minutes of game time. Richardson is also first in fantasy points per dropback with 0.89. His rushing production has been a big boost so far, as he's second in rushing yards per game at his position and has four rushing touchdowns already.

Richardson and the Colts will be facing Tennessee this weekend. It will be interesting to see if the Florida product can maintain the momentum he picked up in the second half of his game versus the Rams last week. After facing a 23-0 deficit, Indianapolis stormed back to force overtime behind Richardson's efforts. Richardson has already established himself as a clear QB1 moving forward, but how high of a QB1 is still to be determined.

Bijan Robinson (RB, ATL)

When Bijan Robinson became the highest-drafted running back since Saquon Barkley in 2018, the expectations for him were immediately immense. Even so, the young Atlanta Falcon has not disappointed thus far. Despite having just one touchdown on the year, Robinson is the RB6 in PPR formats and the RB8 in points per game. The elite back shows no signs of slowing down, either, as he has the seventh-most weighted opportunities and expected fantasy points per game of all RBs.

A big reason for Robinson's success is that he is so all-around capable. He is third in rushing yards, sixth in true yards per carry, and eighth in breakaway run rate. He is also third among RBs in receiving yards, leads all tailbacks with 19 receptions, and has the second-most routes run for his position. Robinson's 6.3 yards per touch put him as the third-best RB. His hype was all warranted.

Robinson posted 137 scrimmage yards last week in London on 19 opportunities. He will have the chance to have an even better game this week versus Houston. The Texans have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and they're just one of five teams to permit five or more rushing touchdowns to RBs this year. Robinson is set to cook as a high-end RB1 this week.

Sam LaPorta (TE, DET)

Rookie tight ends generally have a reputation for being slow to produce. That has not been the case for Detroit tight end Sam LaPorta. The former Iowa Hawkeye leads all tight ends this year with 242 receiving yards, and he is third at the position with 22 receptions. LaPorta is the fourth-leading TE in targets with 27, and his 22.0-percent target share also places fourth among his peers.

LaPorta's efficiency metrics solidify the notion that he's the real deal. His yards per route run, yards per target, and yards per team pass play all rank second for tight ends. He also places fourth in QB rating per target, third in fantasy points per route run, seventh in fantasy points per target, and sixth in EPA. LaPorta has quickly seen his value rise in all formats, and he has earned his rightful status as a top tight end option for fantasy managers.

Week 3 was LaPorta's best week so far; he put up eight catches for 84 yards and a score on 11 targets. He may need to perform similarly on Sunday with star receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown listed as doubtful with an abdominal injury. LaPorta's reliability will make him a sure target in St. Brown's absence even with young receiver Jameson Williams returning from suspension. He and the Lions will face Carolina on Sunday.


NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Tank Dell (WR, HOU)

Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has gotten heaps of praise for his excellent play for the Texans so far, but Houston's rookie wideout Tank Dell has also received quite a bit in his own right. Dell's first strong showing was in Week 2 when he posted seven catches for 72 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis. He followed that up with five grabs for 145 yards and a score in Houston's 37-17 upset win over Jacksonville.

Dell is only 5'8" and 165 pounds, so most observers assumed he would be restricted to a slot role in the NFL due to his small stature. Surprisingly, the rookie has lined up out wide on 72.3 percent of his snaps this season. Robert Woods and tight end Dalton Schultz have both gotten more snaps in the slot than Dell. The former Houston Cougar's ability to be effective in multiple roles ought to be very encouraging for dynasty managers.

Last week's Texans game featured a Nico Collins explosion rather than Dell dominance. Dell had just one catch on three targets for 16 yards, making it his least productive game as a pro through four weeks. Houston will now take on an Atlanta defense that has allowed the third-fewest receiving yards to opposing receivers. Keep an eye on Dell to see how he fares against this tough matchup.

Michael Wilson (WR, ARI)

Michael Wilson's college career at Stanford did not go as he'd planned. Wilson spent five years in Palo Alto, but he played in just 36 games as he could not escape the injury bug. Still, Wilson caught 134 passes for 1,662 yards and 11 touchdowns in those 36 games. Moreover, he was a team captain in 2022, won a senior award for dedication and devotion twice, and also picked up a university-wide award for academic, athletic, and leadership excellence in 2021.

Wilson's talent and passion clearly could not be extinguished by his injuries, and the Cardinals selected him in the third round of this year's draft. Wilson has already begun rewarding them. The rookie had 56 yards in Week 2 and 86 in Week 3. He then went on to have his best game yet with seven catches on seven targets for 76 yards and two touchdowns last week versus San Francisco.

Wilson is currently third among all wideouts in both yards per target with 14.8 and fantasy points per target with 3.11. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs also has a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting Wilson this year. The early returns for the Stanford product are promising, but this success needs to be sustained. Check out Arizona's game versus Cincinnati this Sunday to see if Wilson gets similar usage and production as last week.

Marvin Mims Jr. (WR, DEN)

Marvin Mims Jr. has made an impact in Denver already in his young NFL career. He made just two catches for nine yards in his debut, but he had 113 yards and a score on his two catches the following week. The Broncos got stomped by the Dolphins in Week 3, but Mims still posted three grabs for 73 yards plus a 99-yard kickoff return TD. Last Sunday, Mims again made the most of his few opportunities, catching both of his targets for 47 yards.

The efficiency rankings for Mims are basically just ones across the board. He is first among receivers in yards per route run, yards per target, yards per reception, fantasy points per route run, fantasy points per target, and production premium. His aDOT of 22.7 also leads his position, and six of his 11 targets have been classified as deep. Mims needs to get more involved in the offense to increase his sample size here, but his numbers are currently staggering.

The New York Jets, who are tied for the fourth-fewest yards allowed to WRs this season, will pose a tough matchup for Mims. The most important thing to keep an eye on will be if Mims can get more than his career-high five targets and/or surpass a 40-percent snap share for the first time. Additionally, see if his efficiency metrics regress downward from their current top placements.

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