Every fantasy football season has rookies who aren’t sought after in drafts but they end up making an impact later on in the year. Two examples from last year would be Amon-Ra St. Brown and Elijah Mitchell. To get a head of the curve, here are some names to keep on your radar before your draft starts.
Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Outside of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., the Colts’ wide receiver room is short of proven players, which puts Pierce in prime position to make a splash in his rookie year. With Pierce’s 6’3 height, he and Pittman will become the tallest wide receiver duo that quarterback Matt Ryan has ever had. Besides his height, Pierce knows he brings speed that can open up the Colts’ offense.
“I think I’m a guy you can put to the boundary, and I’m able to beat coverage one-on-one with speed and size, being able to go get the ball, being able to stretch the field vertically and hopefully make them have to play safeties over the top and open up the run game,” Pierce said.
Pierce’s stats in his last year at Cincinnati don’t blow you away, but the tape clearly shows his potential of becoming an endzone magnet. His size coupled with his improving route running, bode well for Pierce as he looks to become Ryan’s second option.
Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons
This was a match made in heaven for head coach Arthur Smith. Smith’s offense, like when he was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, relies on having big bodies at the running back and wide receiver position. Allgeier will step into a running back room that consists of Swiss Army knife Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams and Jeremy McNichols.
With Patterson and Williams over the age of 30, and McNichols primarily used as a pass-catching back, Allgeier is in a prime position to take over the Falcons’ backfield in the latter half of the fantasy year.
Before being selected in the fifth round, Allgeier spent four years at Brigham Young University and showed out in his final year, rushing for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns, which was tied for first in the country. The Falcons had the sixth least amount of rushing touchdowns in the NFL last year, but Allgeier should help pump that number up with an offensive line that has another year of experience in Smith’s system.
John Metchie, WR, Houston Texans
Now this pick may take a few weeks to come to fruition when the season comes around, due to Metchie still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the SEC Championship back in December. However, when Metchie makes his return, he’ll be an added boost to a Texans wide receiver room that lacks depth outside of Brandin Cooks. Cooks has even mentioned how impressed he’s been with Metchie thus far.
“That kid’s special, you can just tell it,” Cooks said. “You know when you talk with someone, you just get that feel about a guy. The way that he goes about his business, obviously right now he’s not going with us, but his focus and paying attention to the little details… I like him and I can’t wait to get to work with him, for sure.”
In Metchie’s last two seasons with Alabama he totaled 151 catches for 2,058 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s a bit undersized but is a great route-runner who has good hands. If you draft a team that can withstand a few weeks without Metchie, he should slide in as the Texans’ No. 2 wideout which should lead to a fair share of targets.
David Bell, WR, Cleveland Browns
There were other destinations that would have pushed Bell up the ranks, but the Browns will have to do. It remains to be seen who will be under center for the Browns this year, but it looks increasingly likely that quarterback Jacoby Brissett will get most of the workload this season. This may result in the Browns being run-heavy as usual, which could limit the ceiling of the Browns’ receivers.
However, the Browns are really excited about Bell and hope that he can fill the void that was left after they released receiver Jarvis Landry in March.
“We thought he had some of the best hands in this draft class,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said. “He’s also very savvy as a route-runner, just very nuanced and polished [with] the ability to separate. We think he’s a guy who can really play both outside and inside, but we think that he can really make a living with his size, his savvy and his hands in the slot.”
The addition of Amari Cooper will assuredly take targets away from the rookie, but with no clear cut No. 2 receiver, Bell has a real chance of making a fantasy impact in his first year.
Jalen Tolbert, WR, Dallas Cowboys
So one wide receiver gets off the Cowboys’ wide receiver carousel and another one takes their place. The Cowboys would have been just fine rolling into the season with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup as their primary receivers, but they chose wide receiver Jalen Tolbert in the third round to replace Amari Cooper. In rookie minicamp, Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore expressed what’s impressed him about Tolbert so far.
“He’s awesome,” Moore said. “I think he works his tail off. I think you can tell how prepared he is and how detailed he wants to be. I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us.”
In Tolbert’s last season at South Alabama, he caught for over 1,400 yards which was sixth in the country and also found the endzone eight times.
Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott has shown he can spread the wealth around, it’ll just come down to how soon Tolbert can gain Prescott’s trust so he can secure a consistent spot in the Cowboys’ offense.
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