Should you bother drafting rookies in redraft leagues? We tackled the question last year.
The answer? While TEs tend to be poor bets, RBs, WRs and even QBs can be worthy investments.
With that as a guide, let’s run through our top rookie targets this season.
Zay Jones, WR, Bills
Jones’ year-1 opportunity exceeds that of most 2nd-round rookies. Buffalo traded up to grab the East Carolina product, filling the void left by Robert Woods.
That last point alone isn’t overly enticing considering Woods saw just 76 targets in 13 games last season. But Jones brings greater athleticism than Woods. The latter recorded a 23rd percentile SPARQ score vs. an 88th percentile tally Jones.
Plus, there’s a new HC (Sean McDermott) and OC (Rick Dennison) in town. While the Bills project as a run-first bunch yet again, Dennison has shown a willingness to air it out. In 3 of his 9 years as an OC, he’s ranked top 10 in pass attempts. His QBs? Jay Cutler and 2 doses of Matt Schaub.
Jones racked up monster college numbers, too. He left school with a Division I record 399 receptions, adding 4,279 yards and 23 TDs. The poor TD rate (5.7%) is only a minor concern. His average yards per catch (10.7) speaks to how frequently he was featured on screens and quick-hitters.
Buffalo’s lack of meaningful activity in free agency also bodes well for the rook. They added Andre Holmes and Corey Brown, a duo best left as reserves. Holmes, now 29, popped in 2014 (47-693-4) but regressed with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree around over the past 2 years. Holmes owns just 28 total catches over the past 2 years.
Brown’s familiar with McDermott from their Carolina days. There’s not much to like beyond that, though, as he’s tallied 79-1,019-7 over his first 3 seasons.
Sammy Watkins remains Buffalo’s big-play, go-to threat. But we know his injury profile. He missed 8 games last year and 2 in 2015. He’s undergone multiple surgeries as a pro, including foot operations in April of 2016 and another this past January.
Even in a run-tilted offense, Jones makes sense as a no-risk late-round flier. He’s coming off the board 63rd among WRs.