Predicting rookie success is like predicting when Kanye West is going create an awkward situation. It’s going to happen when and where you least expect it, yet somehow all the time. We do what we can in the fantasy world to recognize situations where rookies are drafted to a team as either a perfect fit or a myriad of question marks, especially in dynasty leagues where rookies can make or break the future of your team. In this article I will be diving into some high and low profile rookie prospects, and one interesting super sleeper who is so asleep he’s got jet lag… literally. Make sure to check out my Rookie Rankings and the Fantasy Couch Draft Kit to properly prepare for draft day.
Dynasty/Keeper Rookie Sleepers
Sterling Shepard, NYG WR
Sterling Shepard is a name on a lot of many mouths. He has tremendous upside in an offense centered around the ultra talented Mr. Beckham. Ben MacAdoo, the new Giants head coach, was promoted from offensive coordinator and is sure to set his team up for success offensively and sterling Shepard seems to be a part of that plan. He’s an ace route runner with a seemingly unbeatable “whip” route (which is when a receiver fakes the slant or inside route, then plants his foot, reverses direction, and runs towards the sideline) along with an ace reception ratio with only 8 drops to 253 receptions. Also, did I mention he plays across from OBJ? With the Giants using a lot of three receiver looks behind Ben MacAdoo’s high powered offense, Sterling Shepard is one of those rookies poised to succeed with natural leadership that could have him seeing the field a lot in 2016. Now the only question is, will Eli Manning play consistently or fall back into the turnover-prone Eli we are all used to.
Tajae Sharpe, Ten WR
Down in Tennessee it’s a bit hot outside and it might be from the wide receiver competition happening. That’s right you can check your pulse and pinch yourself all you like but this is real life and there is a rookie shaking things up in Nashville. Tajae Sharpe was drafted in the fifth round because he came from a small school, isn’t the fastest guy, nor strongest, yet he sits at the top of the Titans depth chart as the starting WR2 across †from Rishard Matthews. That means he’s ahead of guys like Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, and giant human Dorial Green-Beckham. What got him there? Superior route running skills with crisp, clean breaks out of routes with experience under a former NFL coach and capable of a vast route tree.
Despite being 6’2″, he’s sub-200 lbs, which means he won’t be breaking tackles or catching too many balls under pressure and in traffic. Regardless, he still finds a way to get open and secure the catch. Great PPR sleeper as he led the nation in receptions per game with 9.3. PPR players, I don’t know about you, but I sure would love the idea of getting at least 10 points a game.
Devontae Booker, Den RB
The Super Bowl champions has quite the crowded backfield and it got a bit more crowded in the draft. Devontae Booker is a natural three-down back with good size and great strength that makes him a reliable short yardage back as well. Quick enough on his feet to make people miss and run fluidly through gaps and downfield. Patience and the ability to find the crease, follow blocks, and creating running lanes will ensure he stays on the field as much as possible. Soft hands give him added value in the passing game.
C.J. Anderson is the clear-cut starter… for now, but has to prove himself this year to keep his role. Beat writers and fantasy experts already project Booker as the No. 2 RB, ahead of Ronnie Hillman. While there is a mild ball security issue with Booker, there’s a lot of upside to this rookie who could eventually be the workhorse in Denver’s offense with the question marks surrounding the other backs in Colorado.
DeAndre Washington, Oak RB
In Oakland the winds of change are in the air and this is no longer a franchise to be ignored. The Raiders have some star pieces they’re placing on their board, and they just keep adding more. DeAndre Washington wasn’t a highly touted name coming into the draft but his athleticism is nothing to sleep on. A runner similar to Giovanni Bernard, Washington has good hands and the elusiveness to make people miss with exceptional run-after-the-catch ability. Unfortunately like Bernard, Washington is undersized, including his hands, which could lead to turnovers and losing snaps to shoddy pass protection; this can be improved overtime though. The Raiders may have a deadly one-two punch with the shifty Washignton complimenting Latavius Murray. Murray’s efficiency might improve if he shares some of the backfield duties with the rookie.
Moritz Boehringer, Min WR
I’m not sure what’s going to be more difficult of an adjustment, Boehringer adjusting to NFL speed and play, or fantasy fans trying to pronounce his name. His name is Moritz Boehringer or Moritz Böhringer… Say it with me ladies and gentlemen, and roll those ‘R’s hard: “Myo-Reetz Bo-Reen-Gyar” or “Moe-Ritz Bo-Ringer” if you don’t wanna try so hard. This man is a physical specimen. If it wasn’t his 6’4″, 225 frame, or his skill at tracking passes and reeling them in with his long arms and soft hands, or his abnormal quickness through his routes, it would be his ridiculous 4.43 40-yard dash time. For a man of his size, if he was a collegiate product coming into the draft, he would have been a consensus Top 10 NFL draft pick.
This guy is really raw though. Coming from the German Football League, playing for the legendary Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, he was has never faced a man of Patrick Peterson‘s talent. Despite being so raw, he will still be able to outplay most 3rd or 4th corners. He’ll have to master the art of separation and hand skills against more athletic press defensive backs. The Vikings secondary is very talented and should groom him well on the ways of the NFL.
Every NFL rookie has the task of learning their team’s playbook as quickly as possible. This is why even the intangibles like personality and intelligence of fantasy rookies are very relevant. The more mentally prepared an NFL rookie is, the more likely they are to step up and deliver on game day. Time will tell if any of these guys pan out as reliable fantasy options but for right now, these fantasy football rookie sleepers should be on your radar in dynasty and keeper leagues.