With the 2019 NFL Combine now well behind us, analysts have had time to dissect the performance of every NFL prospect. While the majority of the 2019 rookie class likely won’t make an impact in their first season, managers who were smart (or lucky) enough to grab rookie Alvin Kamara or Kareem Hunt in 2017 know the value that can come from taking a shot on a rookie. Dynasty team managers will want to pay particularly close attention, as one of the players we’re about to examine may just become the cornerstone of their franchise for years to come. Let’s get started;
D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Any article discussing this class of rookies is going to mention D.K. Metcalf, and for good reason. Metcalf put on a show at the NFL Combine, the wideout measured in at 6’3″ 228lbs and just 1.6% body fat, oh yeah, he also sports a 6’11” wingspan (that’s a combine record among WRs). You’d think those long arms may hurt him when it came time for bench, wrong, Metcalf paced all receivers on the bench press with 27 reps, for reference the next 5 receivers to perform after Metcalf averaged just under 12 reps. So, a guy of D.K. Metcalf’s stature and strength must be slow, right? Wrong again, Metcalf ran his 40 yard dash in 4.33 seconds, 0.02 seconds shy of the fastest WR at the combine! The kid is a physical freak (forgot to mention the 40.5″ vertical), and the only thing stopping his climb up every team’s draft board is limited college production. A neck injury limited Metcalf to appear in only 7 games for Ole Miss last season. In those 7 games, Metcalf managed 26 receptions for 561 yards and 5 touchdowns. When healthy, the young wideout proved to be a formidable offensive weapon, there just isn’t quite enough film to call Metcalf a sure thing. In the right system, D.K. Metcalf certainly has all the tools to make an immediate impact.
A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
It is incredibly unfair to label A.J. Brown the “other Ole Miss receiver” just because he wore the same jersey as the aforementioned human bat suit that is D.K. Metcalf. A.J. Brown is an incredibly talented receiver in his own rite, and led Ole Miss in all major receiving categories in the last two seasons, totaling 160 receptions for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns. At 6′ 226lbs Brown has solid size and runs the 40 in just under 4.5 seconds. While he’s not the most polished route-runner, A.J. Brown is a very physical ball-winner and exhibits excellent body control and ball tracking abilities. Confidence won’t be an issue for this young wide-out either, as Brown has recently expressed interest in becoming the “new AB” in Pittsburgh, more on that, here. Overall, A.J. Brown is a physical presence comfortable on the outside as well as in the slot. Depending on where he lands in the upcoming NFL Draft, Brown could be surprisingly impactful from day 1.
Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
Although a groin strain largely kept Josh Jacobs from participating in combine workouts, the Alabama running back is still being touted as possibly the best back in this rookie class. In 2018, Jacobs managed a robust 5.3 yards per carry, and showed some ability to catch the ball as well, adding 20 receptions for 247 yards and 3 scores for the Crimson Tide. Josh Jacobs has decent size for a running back at 5’10” 220lbs and is a very interesting runner to watch on film. Jacobs is a decisive runner and does not shy away from contact. Though he is not particularly elusive once he reaches the second level of the defense, he extends runs by making sure anyone who wants to tackle him is willing to earn it. Described as a Sony Michel/Nick Chubb hybrid, Josh Jacobs possesses the burst and power to be an effective NFL running back, with just enough agility to be dangerous. Currently projected as a late 1st/early 2nd round pick in most mock drafts, Jacobs will need to land in a situation with a clear path to volume if he is to be relevant in the fantasy landscape of 2019.
Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State
Parris Campbell holds the distinction of being the only wide receiver to run the 40 yard dash faster than D.K. Metcalf at the NFL Combine. The speedy wideout from Ohio State has had one of the most prolific careers in Ohio State’s history. In 2018, Campbell brought in a whopping 90 receptions for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. At 6′ tall and 205lbs, Campbell is just average size, but the elite speed we mentioned earlier gives Campbell an advantage in most matchup. Campbell’s 4.31 was the fastest time posted in the 40 at the NFL Combine. His value as a player is further bolstered by his exceptional ability on special teams. Campbell led the Big 10 in 2016 averaging nearly 28 yards per kick returned. Parris Campbell’s ability both as a receiver and as a returner will make him a plug and play option for whatever NFL team pulls the trigger on draft night.
Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky
Benny Snell Jr. has the potential to fall down draft boards for no reason other than an underwhelming combine performance. Snell is a powerful runner who averaged more than 5 yards per carry while at Kentucky. Benny Snell ran a subpar 4.66 40 at the combine, and doesn’t boast the size of most power backs at 5’11” 223lbs. However, Snell managed to find pay dirt for Kentucky 16 times in 2018. The level at which Snell will be able to produce in his rookie season will be tied more to who drafts him than any of the prospects we’ve examined in this article. Snell fits the build of a first or second down back, but has shown the pass-catching chops to be a true three-down workhorse. He will need to land with a team that doesn’t have an established lead back, and also has a secondary running back who can handle third downs. An intriguing spot for a player like Benny Snell would be in Tampa Bay, Florida. The Buccaneers could use a legit, young runner to complement their current running back corps of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones II. If given the opportunity, Benny Snell has proven himself to be able to shoulder the load and lead a team with his prowess as a runner.
Any rookie analysis done prior to the NFL Draft is subject to change. For now, we can still take all the data and film at our disposal, and try to identify who should be on our radar ahead of the 2019 fantasy season. Stay tuned for more fantasy insight, and make sure to like and follow on Facebook!