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In this column each week, we will look at rookies who have either performed well the previous few weeks or who have a favorable matchup in the upcoming week. These may be high-profile names or under-the-radar depth players; the only thing that matters is that they are first-year pros ready to make a name for themselves.

Ideally, a lot of the names on this list will give some much-needed depth to fantasy teams. Injuries happen and by the time fantasy playoffs come around, depth is absolutely essential. It's a given that not every one of the highlighted rookies is going to develop into the next superstar. However, if one of these players helps a fantasy team get some more wins, the objective will be met.

For Week 1, we have a limited track record to analyze, but there were certainly some standout performances from the new crop of NFL players.

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Rookies to Watch

The Young Savior

Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

The New York Jets staff was ecstatic when Sam Darnold was still available at the third overall spot in the 2018 Draft. This week, they are more than ecstatic as they have learned that Darnold may be the real deal. The 21-year-old threw for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns in his Week 1 match-up against the Detroit Lions. More notable was his veteran-like composure. He began by throwing an interception returned for a touchdown on his first drive. There's a lot of young quarterbacks that would let that faze them, but not Darnold, who finished the game off very strong. Darnold has a favorable Week 2 matchup against the Cleveland Browns and is a solid QB option in deeper fantasy leagues and should be a low-owned option for DFS. As for right now, he is not a must-play in any format but he may be worth putting on your bench- he is only owned in about 10% of leagues. Darnold certainly holds upside playing in the AFC East (minus the New England Patriots). He will play the relatively lousy Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills' defenses twice this season.

The Locked-In Starter

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

The New York Giants took some heat for drafting Barkley second overall in the 2018 Draft, ahead of Sam Darnold (above). After Barkley's Week 1 performance, the Giants are certainly moving past any doubt that may have existed. On 20 total touches, Barkley totaled 128 yards and a rushing touchdown which was nearly half of all of the Giants offensive production. In almost all leagues, Barkley cost the fantasy player a mid-first-round draft pick. After Week 1, it is clear that Barkley has an excellent chance of reaching, and possibly exceeding, his draft value. Barkley is a lock at RB1 for the remainder of the season and has the upside of being a top-three running back to finish the season. The Giants don't have the most elite offense but in most games, Barkley will likely be leading the charge in touches, yards, and touchdowns as defenses focus on containing the highest-paid wide receiver in the league, Odell Beckham Jr.

The New Starter

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have named Josh Allen their starting quarterback for their Week 2 match-up against the Chargers. Allen replaced quarterback Nathan Peterson in the third quarter of Week 1 in their game against the Baltimore Ravens. Peterman had 24 passing yards in 18 attempts with two interceptions in his action during Week 1. Allen finished the game off with 74 yards in 15 attempts. He entered the game with a 40-0 deficit - clearly not an ideal game scenario for a rookie QB. Regardless, Allen didn't look terrible. Allen has a reasonable Week 2 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers who gave up 38 points to rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. However, he shouldn't be considered in any fantasy format, for now. The Bills just don't have very much talent around Allen. Talented wide receivers and running backs can create a lot of upside for young quarterbacks and that just doesn't exist in Buffalo. However, Allen does have the potential to be a fill-in fantasy player later in the season once he establishes himself as a starter and could be stashed in deep enough leagues.

The One To Watch

Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb, one of the Browns' second-round draft picks, finished Week 1 against the Pittsburg Steelers with 21 yards on three attempts, including a 17-yard run. Chubb is running behind running backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson which is why he only had three touches in the season opener. Hyde is the clear RB1 in Cleveland but moving forward the "three-head monster" could be taking over the backfield. The Browns offense showed some promise in Week 1 and getting a young running back like Chubb involved would only benefit them. As for now, Chubb is a low-end option in all fantasy formats. Going forward, as the title alludes to, he will be a player to watch. If his touches and productivity increase, he could be an excellent addition to any fantasy team.

The "Give Him One More Week"

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

There has been a lot of fantasy talk about Gallup over the past few weeks and he let just about everyone down during Week 1 with one catch for nine yards. The Cowboys lost wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten in the offseason and everyone believed that Gallup would be the major beneficiary of all the receptions lost. Despite the one reception in Week 1, there are still many reasons to believe that Gallup is that guy. It is truly hard to create a scenario that quarterback Dak Prescott doesn't start throwing some more balls in Gallup's direction. For this week, it's understandable to be a little sour and keep/throw Gallup onto the bench - but don't drop him. The targets and receptions have to increase significantly if the Cowboys want any chance of winning.

 

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