My Favorite Rookie from Each Division

John DiBari

As we approach the end of the fantasy regular-season and the three-quarter mark of the NFL season, it’s time to look at my favorite rookies from each division. Not necessarily the best rookies, but my favorite rookies.

For me, rookies are the best part of playing dynasty and why dynasty fantasy football is better than redraft. The rookie draft is exciting, and seeing your favorite preseason rookies hit is nearly as exciting as watching other owners’ rookies fail miserably.

These are not the best rookies, the most outstanding rookies, or the most productive fantasy rookies, just my favorite rookies.

AFC North

Devin Bush, LB PIT

Bush was selected tenth overall by the Steelers out of the University of Michigan. Truth be told, I’m a Michigan fan, so this influenced my decision greatly, but Bush leads the Steelers with 75 tackles through ten games and has the tenth-most tackles in the AFC.

He also has two interceptions and a sack and has lived up to all the hype that made him one of the top two players at the position entering this draft. Depending on your scoring, he’s already a top-20 player at the position and is a top-five scoring rookie.

AFC South

Gardner Minshew, QB JAX

Again, is he the best quarterback in this draft class? No. Does he have more personality than all of the other QBs combined? Yes. Minshew is fun to watch and gives his team a chance to win more often than not.

He’s probably no more than a middle-of-the-pack quarterback, but that also means he’d be an improvement for 50% of the league too. Surprisingly, he’s the second-highest scoring rookie this season and is one of the top stashable options at the position in superflex leagues.

AFC East

Quinnen Williams, DT NYG

I mentioned personality when discussing Minshew, and Quinnen Williams makes him look like a monk who has taken a vow of silence. Personality aside, he was seen by many to be the top defensive player among last year’s rookie class.

Unless you’re in an IDP league with DT-premium scoring, he’s probably never going to be a top producer for fantasy. Still, he’s a prime example of a player who is better at real-life football than fantasy football.

AFC West

Johnathan Abram, S OAK

I’m an old school guy, and as a result, I love punishing, big hitters. Abram fits the bill. He only played in one game this year; in that game, he knocked another Raiders player out of the game, knocked an opposing player out of the game, and sustained an injury himself on a hit that tore his rotator cuff and ended his rookie season.

I don’t know how many players have an NFL highlight reel of big hits with only one NFL game under their belt, but Abram does. I can’t wait to see him back on the field next year.

NFC North

David Montgomery, RB CHI

Montgomery saw his draft stock increase after landing with the Chicago Bears and head coach Matt Nagy. Nagy is an Andy Reid coaching disciple, and the Reid system has regularly produced RB1s for fantasy football.

Montgomery has seen his snap share increase as the year has gone on and is the Bears unquestionable lead back and has proven to be an RB2 with upside in his rookie campaign.

NFC South

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S NO

Gardner-Johnson may be a bit of an odd pick to some, as he was a fourth-round selection and the 21st defensive back taken in the draft. Heading into the draft, he was thought by some to be a second-round talent and fell due to concerns over his tweener size and inconsistent performances on film.

That said, much like Abram above, he has a habit of delivering big hits, and I’m a huge fan of that aspect of his game. I also liked his versatility to play both slot corner and safety and thought that would get him on the field more as a rookie than it has so far.

NFC East

Terry McLaurin, WR WAS

The NFC East was the most challenging division, as I love me some Darius Slayton, but McLaurin was someone I targeted very early in the off-season. I had him ranked as the WR7 in this class and 14th overall. With an ADP in the third round, I was much higher on him than most people in the industry.

So far, that’s looked like a sharp projection as he is the second-highest scoring rookie wide-receiver thus far. He didn’t have the best numbers coming out of college, but coaches loved him, and everything I heard and read pointed towards him being a sleeper target in this class.

NFC West

Deebo Samuel, WR SF

Maybe I was a little too high on him, but I had Deebo Samuel ranked as my number two overall rookie heading into rookie drafts after he landed with the San Francisco 49ers in Kyle Shanahan’s system. He started off a little slow, but during weeks 8-11, Samuel has stepped up.

He has been the highest-scoring rookie wide receiver, the fourth-highest scoring overall rookie, and the 12th highest scoring receiver overall during that span. He’s tough as nails and earned his nickname by bullying other kids when he was growing up – and he plays like that on the field too.

It is always fun to get an opportunity to look at your favorite NFL players, and even more so when they’re rookies, and you have a significant addiction to dynasty leagues.

Will all of these players end up as long-term, fantasy-relevant assets? It’s unlikely, but certainly possible. It’s always easier to root for fantasy players you enjoy watching, so hopefully, I’m wrong, and all of the above players breakout and can carry me (and you too) to multiple fantasy championships.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this look at my favorite rookies from each division, and you gained a new favorite player or two yourself.

john dibari