School is back in session for the majority of everyone in the U.S and that means Senior years are starting which means yearbooks will be shaped. What about the NFL’s yearbook? Well, it’s also being shaped now by a new class, the 2018 NFL Draft class. One of the highlights of the yearbook is the always entertaining superlatives of everyone in the class. In the fantasy world, superlatives can be a fun way to help shed light on the outlooks that these rookies may have in the future. Here are a couple to give an idea of just how good this class just can be.
Best in Class: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
This will come as a no-brainer but the best player in this class both in the NFL and fantasy worlds will be Saquon Barkley. He immediately extends Eli Manning’s career by giving him a top running back, which is something Manning has never had. Barkley can do it all for fantasy players. He will score plenty of touchdowns to appease standard scoring leagues. He will catch plenty of balls to also make PPR league owners happy. He even has shown when he is put on kickoffs he can take it to the house. He is a generational talent and is the best running back to be in this league since LaDainian Tomlinson when its all said an done and he did alright for fantasy owners.
Biggest Goofball: Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts backfield is wide open with the injury to Marlon Mack for someone to take the reigns and not give them back. Nyheim Hines was their fourth round pick in the draft but he has had a case of the fumbles this preseason, fumbling three times which has hampered his workload tremendously. They have been giving the ball to fellow rookie Jordan Wilkins more as of late. Wilkins has double the carries and receptions this preseason as compared to Hines. At this point, many expect that Wilkins will steal the job and keep it. Hines had this job and let it slip through his hands, literally.
Most Likely to Succeed: Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
The rookie quarterbacks are always under the magnifying glass every year all season long. One rookie this preseason has been able to avoid the heat and that is Baker Mayfield. He has shown with each game that he is learning at a rapid pace better than many of the rookies and past years. He also has something going for him that no rookie has had in the best several classes and that is a veteran quarterback ahead of him. Having the stability of a quarterback like Tyrod Taylor in front of him means he can continue to sit and learn behind a veteran and be the centerpiece a franchise on the brink of relevancy and eventually stardom with him being the face.
Most Likely to Fail: Josh Allen
Let this be clear, Josh Allen is a good athletic quarterback who in the right situation could succeed and be a great player. The problem is he is on what many believe to be the worst team in the NFL this year and for the foreseeable future. He has an old running back whose wheels could fall off any week, he has one solid receiving target in Kelvin Benjamin who claimed Cam Newton was the reason he did not succeed before, and the team traded away its best offensive line piece. The team may rebuild with him as the centerpiece but that will require a lot of patience from fantasy owners; in fantasy it's always a “win now” mentality. With this in mind, much like where he was drafted, how patient an owner you are with him will determine his future success with fantasy teams.
Most Likely to Rise: Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns
August 5th - Antonio Callaway’s fantasy stock took a major hit with his being cited for marijuana possession. He claims it was left over from an old car of his from his days at Florida which that is neither here nor there at this point. What matters is this is a man on a team loaded with offensive weapons. One of those weapons is Josh Gordon. If he ends up being suspended again or away from the team then Callaway immediately steps up into Gordon’s role. The team trading away Corey Coleman speaks volumes as to what they see in Callaway both immediately and in the future. Expect him to be a top fantasy option in the coming seasons.
Most Likely to Be Overlooked: Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins
There are two crowded backfields in fantasy football this year, the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins. The Miami Dolphins have though a diamond which needs polishing in the form of Kalen Ballage. Mike Clay of ESPN was on SportsCenter recently and when speaking of Ballege he said that he “sees a lot of David Johnson qualities in [Ballage]”
Now, this isn’t saying he will come out and have the same type of production as Johnson, but he is coming into a similar role as Johnson did when Arizona had Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. Johnson eventually was able to earn more and more reps, take over the role from a veteran and franchise mainstay. Expect Ballage to do the same in Miami.
Most Likely to Pay Off: Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins
Derrius Guice so far has been the biggest loss of the preseason ACL injury bug this year. This begs the question, what does this mean for Guice and future? We can only speculate on how he returns, but in today's NFL, an ACL isn’t the death sentence it once was for players. Guice has the build and body type to not have this hamper him when he returns. He showcased enough this preseason in the flashes he was able to produce that he has the ability to be a top ten running back in this league when given the workload. In rookie drafts he is sure to see his stock plummet, but he is 100% worth a grab when he is available. He will be a staple for your fantasy team for years to come if you give him the chance.