2017 IDP Rookie Rankings
With the 2017 NFL Draft well in our rearview, we now know where all of the top rookies will be debuting this upcoming season. I will be providing you with a breakdown of the top-five rookies at each position to give you the edge in your IDP leagues. For rookie rankings on the other side of the field, check out Jody Smith’s breakdown. Please note that these rankings will be slightly skewed in favor of those players who are in situations in which they can make immediate contributions. Fret not, Dynasty league players; the end of the article will discuss some additional players who, while perhaps unlikely to make an immediate impact this season, may carry fantasy value down the road.
Regarding immediate impact, this draft certainly had a few defensive studs land in favorable situations. The top rookies at each position should jump right into the mix and, as long as everything goes well with training camp and the preseason, we should be looking at some rookies racking up serious points in 2017 IDP leagues. However, as is typically the case with most seasons, there are plenty of scenarios in which rookies will have obstacles. Some of these rookies will have to battle established players for a shot at significant playing time and fantasy production, while others will have to adjust to a new role in new surroundings.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top rookies at the primary positions for IDP leagues this season.
Defensive End | Browns
The Texas A&M Defensive End was an easy selection with the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft. His unique combination of speed, technique, and athleticism should translate to production in both the NFL and your fantasy leagues. As the Browns shift to a 4-3 base defense, fantasy owners should be delighted to know that Garrett will likely maintain eligibility as a Defensive Lineman. While rookie pass-rushers typically take some time to get up to NFL speed, Brown’s Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams should find ways to get Garrett involved early and often.
Defensive End/Defensive Tackle | 49ersThe third overall pick in the draft, the Stanford alum will join a rebuilding 49ers team that now has some serious weapons on the Defensive Line. Thomas’ versatility will help San Francisco and new Defensive Coordinator, Robert Saleh, transition to a 4-3 defense. If he earns the LEO role as a pass-rushing threat in the defense, he can wreak havoc on opposing Quarterbacks and provide serious fantasy production.
Defensive End | Cowboys
After falling to Dallas in the end of the first round, the 6’6, 277-pound Lineman out of the University of Michigan has landed in the perfect spot as far as opportunity goes. The Cowboys’ are in desperate need of help in the pass-rushing department, and they need that help immediately due to numerous vacancies along their Defensive Line. Charlton does a good job of playing the run and getting after the Quarterback. He should see plenty of action his way early on as offenses will likely scheme plays away from his teammate, Left End Demarcus Lawrence.
Defensive End | Eagles
Barnett might have the most potential upside out of any rookie Defensive Lineman in the 2017 class. He has an opportunity to flourish under Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz’s “Wide Nine” defensive front lining up opposite of All-Pro Defensive End Brandon Graham. While there is some concern for snaps early on with the presence of Chris Long and Vinny Curry, Barnett’s versatility should keep him on the field and produce alongside that loaded Defensive Line.
Defensive End/Defensive Tackle | Redskins
The 17th overall pick in the draft should see action early and often for Washington. His versatility (he can line up as an end or kick inside to the tackle position in nickel packages) should allow him to stay on the field and produce solid fantasy numbers.
Inside Linebacker | Lions
Inside Linebacker | 49ers
The 49ers believe they got the steal of the draft nabbing Foster late in the 1st round. If his surgically repaired shoulder holds up, he should be in line for a big workload early on, starting alongside NaVorro Bowman. If they get him in the right positions on that defense, he should see plenty of tackle opportunities with some big-play potential, making him an attractive LB2 with the upside of an LB1.
Inside Linebacker | Texans
Cunningham fits in perfectly with the Texans already star-studded defense and will allow them to keep up with the speed of opposing offenses. Veteran Brian Cushing may still be around, but age and injuries have taken a toll on his effectiveness. Houston will certainly find ways to get Cunningham’s speed and coverage ability on the field. His skill set compliments teammate Benardrick McKinney, and those two should wreak havoc on the league for years to come playing behind a stalwart Houston Defensive Line.
Outside Linebacker | Cardinals
Reddick’s talent, athletic profile, and versatility are what made him such an attractive draft prospect. We’re not exactly sure how Arizona plans to use him this year, but early reports indicate kicking him to Inside Linebacker. Learning a new position will be difficult, especially when you are battling with some established veterans for playing time. I love Reddick’s upside for Dynasty Leagues, and I’m sure the Cardinals will find ways to get him on the field this season, but I’m tempering expectations for immediate production for now.
Inside Linebacker | Colts
There are more talented linebackers drafted this year who could be in this position, but this ranking is more about Walker’s landing spot and the potential for some early production in 2017. Walker won’t have much competition for snaps early on and has a good chance at consistent playing time in his rookie season.
Strong Safety | Jets
Strong Safety/Linebacker | Browns
With the immense upside that comes with drafting Peppers, his need to learn a new position (Strong Safety) in the NFL brings along some risk. With that said, he couldn’t have found a better landing spot than with the Browns as they will provide him the opportunity for some on-the-job training. His versatile background adds to his upside, having been a Punt Returner, Running Back, and Linebacker in his college days. If the Browns utilize his talents correctly, he could be in line for a monster fantasy season in 2017.
Safety | Cardinals
The 2nd round pick out of Washington brings talent and versatility to the Arizona defensive unit. With his ability to play different roles in the secondary, and the Cardinals propensity for utilizing sub-packages (which comprised 79% of plays last year), Baker should have ample opportunity to produce as a rookie.
Safety | BuccaneersThe former Texas A&M Safety has landed in a pretty nice spot as a rookie from a production standpoint. While he will have to beat out a few veterans for a starting role, his talent should win out. Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith has raved about the flexibility Evans brings to his defense with his ability to play near the box and extensive coverage ability.
Cornerback | Saints
It’s hard to trust Cornerbacks on a weekly basis, but Lattimore is in a very good spot and has plenty of talent. He should be targeted frequently by opposing offenses, which is music to IDP owner’s ears. The high-octane offenses in the NFC South, combined with Lattimore’s “rookie” label, should keep him busy all season and provide him with ample opportunities to fill up the stat sheet.
Dynasty IDP Targets
Now that we’ve taken a look at the top projected IDP rookies for each of the primary positions, below is a list of other rookies that have the talent to make significant contributions to your fantasy team, although it may take them some time to earn consistent playing time. Players are listed in the order that I like their combination of talent and situation overall, not necessarily the immediacy with which they will see the field:
- Takkarist McKinley (DE, Atl)
- Charles Harris (DE, Mia)
- Caleb Brantley (DT, Cle)
- Raekwon McMillan (ILB, Mia)
- Duke Riley (OLB, Atl)
- Tyus Bowser (OLB, Bal)
- Obi Melifonwu (S, Oak)
- Josh Jones (S, GB)
- Marcus Williams (S, NO)
While these rankings should serve as an excellent resource for you when drafting in your IDP leagues, please always make sure to check your league settings. Different leagues reward different statistics. Some of these players might be more or less valuable in certain scoring formats, as some leagues value big plays (interceptions, sacks, etc.) over standard statistics, such as tackles and assists. No matter what format of fantasy you play, always make sure to double-check your scoring format before drafting.
A New Jersey native, Andrew graduated from The College of New Jersey and currently spends his days as a Teacher, Coach, and Athletic Director for his school in central New Jersey. When he’s not molding the minds of America’s youth or spending time with his wife and baby girl, he is trying to gain an edge in fantasy sports. Whether it’s scouring the Internet for stats, info, and trends or just reading the fine work of other fantasy sports writers, Andrew appreciates the fine work that is being done in this industry.