Each and every season, rookie fever enamors dynasty owners around the world, causing an influx of impulsive trades and swings for youth movement. During the NFL Draft, skill players land in exciting spots where they could see an immediate role and have instant fantasy production. This year, it was Kerryon Johnson to Detroit. Last year, it was Kareem Hunt to Kansas City, granted this scenario worked out nicely for dynasty owners. T.J. Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah also have something to say about landing in “prime spots”. Rookie fever can cause owners to churn rosters from proven production to the shiny new toys.
These veteran players that lose value during rookie draft season are the same players who could win championships for owners in the coming months. Instead of falling in love with dart throws who may or may not pan out, instead target these forgotten veterans.
Nick Foles, QB – Philadelphia Eagles
Foles’s NFL career has been a roller coaster ride with the most ups and downs in recent memory. It feels like a lifetime ago that he finished the 2013 season with a whopping 27-2 touchdown to interception ratio. After that came the Jeff Fisher chapter with the former St. Louis Rams, which obviously did not work out for either coach or player. Then last year, the once top-five dynasty quarterback took over for an injured Carson Wentz and proved all doubters wrong by taking the Eagles all the way to a Super Bowl victory, but now what? Wentz is set to return from injury and regain control of the offense while Foles will head back to the bench.
2018 is the final year on Foles’s contract, so expect him to hit free agency next offseason and be a top candidate to land a big contract as well as a starting opportunity in 2019. Should he land with the Giants or Dolphins, two teams who may very well be looking for signal callers after this season, Foles’s dynasty value will again rise to starter status. Even if you are not a believer in his talent, throw out an offer of a third-round rookie pick. If you buy him now on the cheap, you will reap the rewards next offseason.
Giovani Bernard, RB – Cincinnati Bengals
As one of the most consistent fantasy producers at the position since his rookie year in 2013, Bernard’s ADP certainly doesn’t reflect his accomplishments. He averages just over three receptions per game, and at nine yards per catch, which accounts for nearly 6.0 PPR points per game, and that’s just purely from his role in the passing game. Despite some perceiving Joe Mixon as the second coming and savior of their fantasy rosters, Bernard has been and always will be an excellent bench stash or flex play, even with his somewhat limited role in the Bengals’ offense.
If given the opportunity, trading a third-round rookie pick in exchange for Bernard would not only provide excellent depth at the running back position, but also serve as an insurance policy in case Mixon does not live up to expectations. And in the event of an injury to Mixon, Bernard could very well step into a workhorse role for 2018 and produce high-end RB2 numbers in PPR formats. For a little running back who will cost very little to acquire, he could have huge fantasy upside.
Chris Godwin, WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
One of my favorite wide receiver prospects coming out of the 2017 NFL Draft was Godwin. He found himself in a young, up-and-coming offense with gunslinger quarterback Jameis Winston and Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans. Despite being near the bottom of the totem pole throughout the 2017 season, Godwin piled up 34 receptions for 525 yards on just 55 targets, averaging a whopping 15.4 yards per reception. He consistently played behind receivers DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, both of whom outnumbered Godwin in targets and snaps.
While at Penn State, Godwin flashed his ability to high-point the ball and out-muscle defenders in contested catch situations. In addition to his big-play ability, Godwin’s route running is fine-tuned and ready to compete with starting NFL cornerbacks. Expect Godwin to start opposite Mike Evans and play a much bigger role in 2018 and beyond. I’m projecting Godwin to reach about 50 receptions for 700 yards and five or six touchdowns this coming season if he can see triple digit targets. Though Evans is the much sexier name in dynasty, Godwin has a good chance to make a Davante Adams-like rise up the wide receiver dynasty rankings in the near future.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE – Jacksonville Jaguars
The newly-acquired Jaguars tight end will step onto the field immediately and contribute as a fantasy starter as the likely favorite check-down option for Blake Bortles. Seferian-Jenkins is loaded with athleticism, running his 40-yard dash in just 4.56 seconds during his senior season at Washington. After running into off-the-field issues in his first two seasons with Tampa Bay, Seferian-Jenkins found himself rejuvenated with the Jets in 2017, totaling 357 yards and three touchdowns on 50 receptions in their less-than-spectacular passing offense.
Now in Jacksonville, Bortles gains an athletic tight end who is a mismatch for opposing linebackers in coverage over the middle of the field. With Allen Robinson departing for Chicago, Seferian-Jenkins will likely lead the Jaguars receivers in red-zone and end-zone targets. He is just 25 years old and possesses an enormous amount of potential to be one of the league’s best dual-threat tight ends. His market price is still low, and it’s very possible to acquire Seferian-Jenkins for just a late second-round rookie pick or less right now. With just a few fantasy tight ends in the elite tier, he could quickly jump up in TE1 rankings.