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Fantasy Football Rookies To Watch In Week 1


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 minimizes the negative impact of injuries and bye- weeks.

In this first week, 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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Rookie Quarterbacks to Watch in Week 1

Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

All eyes will be on the first overall selection from this year's NFL draft when the Cardinals take on the Lions this Sunday. Murray will be tasked with running first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury's fast and furious Air Raid offense. He'll have to do so behind an offensive line that allowed Josh Rosen to be sacked 45 times and is currently ranked 30th overall by Pro Football Focus. Murray's arm strength and scrambling abilities will be put to the test as we find out just how effective the former Oklahoma quarterback can be as a ringleader of this potentially game-changing offense.

 

Rookie Running Backs to Watch in Week 1

Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders

Jacobs was the first running back taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, but this offseason has been relatively quiet for the supposed star of the Oakland backfield. The fact that we never once saw the former Alabama rusher's face during HBO's Hard Knocks series suggests he's more interested in grinding than in stardom. Despite never seeing more than 120 rushing attempts in a collegiate season, Jacobs figures to be the focal point of the Raiders' rushing attack. We'll have to wait until Monday night to see the results of his first offseason with Jon Gruden.

David Montgomery, Chicago Bears

Montgomery has looked like a star for the Bears' offense this offseason, bulldozing his way through the NFL's top defense in practice and dominating in his very limited preseason game snaps. Exactly how much Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen cut into the rookie running back's production should be plain to see in the Bears season opener against the Packers. Chicago traded up to get Montgomery using their first overall pick, so the expectation is he'll get a significant workload out of the gate. Still, Davis was effective in his role with the Seahawks last year, amassing 514 rushing yards and 214 receiving yards on 34 receptions while averaging just 37.9% of offensive snaps. Cohen, meanwhile, is one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league. Montgomery is talented enough to be a true workhorse, the only question is whether Chicago views him that way.

Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

With LeSean McCoy headed to Kansas City, we finally have a little bit of clarity with the Buffalo backfield. But just a little bit. Singletary isn't viewed in the same tier as fellow rookie running backs Jacobs, Montgomery, and Miles Sanders. He doesn't have the same clear path to production, either. Frank Gore may be old and T.J. Yeldon may not carry much stardust on his shoulders, but they should collaboratively cut into Singeltary's 3rd down and goal-line work. We just have to hope he can be efficient with the touches he sees.

 

Rookie Wide Receivers to Watch in Week 1

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

First-round draft capital and a complete dearth of receiving weapons in the Ravens' offense should put Brown in a great situation to produce. The only problem is his quarterback, Lamar Jackson, who turned three fantasy viable receivers into pumpkins last season after he took over for Joe Flacco. Baltimore's primary receivers were all ranked inside the Top 36 for fantasy heading into Jackson's tenure. None of them cracked the Top 70 while Jackson was at the helm. For Brown, these first few weeks will be about establishing a connection with his sophomore QB and carving out a role for himself in the offense. The Ravens need their top pick to get involved quickly, which he should be able to do against a bottom-feeding Miami defense.

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck's sudden retirement has left the entire Colts offense in limbo. Expectations are much different for Indy's skill position players now than they were a couple of weeks ago, as we're not entirely sure how Jacoby Brissett will distribute the ball. Of all the rookie wide receivers, Campbell has the widest range of outcomes to start the season. He's come on strong following a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice for a couple of weeks, but the setback kept him from getting valuable training camp reps. Still, Campbell appeared to have rockets strapped to his back in the Colts final preseason game and could end up second or third on the team's depth chart when this week is over.

Keesean Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

After enduring a draft-day slide into the sixth round, KeeSean Johnson ended up the third receiver drafted by Arizona this year. That's admittedly not a great situation. But Johnson has stepped up over the offseason, leapfrogging fellow rookies Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler on the depth chart. Even with recent signee Michael Crabtree poised to steal snaps once he gets more accustomed to the offense, Johnson should be heavily utilized in an offense that will regularly trot out four wide receivers.

 

Rookie Tight Ends to Watch in Week 1

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

We all know how hard it can be for a rookie tight end to pay off in fantasy. Most don't come out swinging like Rob Gronkowski or Evan Engram. Hockenson is the most well-rounded tight end prospect of this year's crop but finds himself on a team that may not be very pass-heavy. New OC Darrell Bevell has put his teams 16th or lower in passing attempts every year since 2010. Bevell's teams have ranked 10th or better in passing touchdowns four of the last six years, however, which gives Hockenson some nice upside.

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

There's a lot of upside on the Bills' receiving corps, but not a lot of proven commodities. John Brown, Zay Jones, and Robert Foster are all field-stretchers, leaving Cole Beasley as one of the few underneath options. With Tyler Kroft still recovering from a foot injury, Knox, who profiles as one of the most athletic tight ends from this draft class, should see a decent amount of targets by default.

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