Rookies to Target in Fantasy

Week one is in the books, but the fantasy season is just beginning. After a exciting first week of the season, fantasy teams may be looking for some sleeper help for later. Here are some under-the-radar first year players to target on the waiver wire or for low trade value.

  1. Kerryon Johnson


This second-round pick out of Auburn is set to take the lead role in the Lions backfield this season. Johnson has shown his explosiveness in pre-season action, rushing for multiple big gains on his way to a very efficient preseason stat line of 15 carries for 68 yards along with 5 receptions totalling 43 yards.

Johnson played in a run-heavy offense at Auburn, which showcased his workhorse potential, His versatility will serve him well in a Lions offense that desperately needs an every-down back. They will start with a committee in the backfield consisting of Johnson, Legarrette Blount, and Theo Riddick. Of these backs, Johnson is the sole runner who has the versatility to become the workhorse considering Blount can’t catch the football and Riddick is too small to run between the tackles effectively. So, if Johnson can prove himself in these first few games, he will be getting 15-20 touches a game by mid-season.

If he earns his touches, the rookie will add a nice balance to the Lions’ pass-heavy offense. Matthew Stafford, the Lions’ franchise quarterback, has never had a real prime back in his NFL career. Maybe an effective run game could finally spark this group into a playoff team. Johnson has everything to prove in the coming weeks, so watch carefully.

If he is owned in your league, I would target him in a trade for a bench player in between weeks one and two. If he is on the waiver wire, pick him up ASAP, as he is a special young talent that should be rostered in every league.


  1. Mike Williams


This monstrous widout has the body of a tight end with the speed of a halfback. Williams was a first-round pick by the Chargers in the 2017 NFL draft, but sadly, he missed all of last season with a knee injury. He stands at 6’4”, 218 Ibs, with 9.38” hands, and he runs a 4.49 40-yard dash. To compare, here are the measurables of Redskins’ star tight end, Jordan Reed: 6’2”, 236 lbs, 10” hands, but he runs a 4.72 40-yard dash. He is bigger than the tight end Reed, and runs the same 40 time as Panthers’ starting running back and part-time punt returner, Christian McCaffrey. Williams is a physical beast, and will soon become one of Philip Rivers’ favorite targets.

Williams had an exceptional college career, catching passes from Deshaun Watson at Clemson, and in week one, he caught a couple of spectacular passes in traffic from Rivers. Williams college stats could be an indication of his potential in the NFL if the Chargers are able to use his correctly in unison with Keenan Allen. The two of them could consist of the best receiving core in the league very soon.

Williams will not be on many rosters because he is an unproven rookie coming back from an injury. However, he looked completely healthy in week one, so pick him up if you can because he will be good to have down the stretch.


  1. Mike Gesicki


This freakish athlete was one of the best tight ends in college football last season at Penn State. Gesicki thrived as a complement to stud running back Saquon Barkley in James Franklin’s aggressive offense. Gesicki transferred his college performance into the combine, putting up the best numbers of any tight end, and maybe any position player in the draft. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash (1st), 22 bench press reps (2nd), and a 41.5 inch vertical jump (1st). His physical attributes should serve him well in the NFL.

Good tight ends are always tough to come by in fantasy and you never know when one could breakout. Geseki could be a Travis Kelce-type tight end because of his athleticism. This 6’6” tight end is faster than your linebacker and bigger than your DB, so who is going to guard him? Soon the Miami Dolphins will figure out what a special athlete they have in Gesicki, and how to use him to their advantage in the red-zone. When they do, you can gloat to your friends that you got him first.

Gesicki is owned in about 11 percent of ESPN leagues, and I don’t see many people trying to pick him up soon. His week one performance was weak, however he had a touchdown that got called back because of a penalty away from the ball. He is not a guy that needs to be picked up right away, if you want a tight end, then he is probably the best one available. Those who have Delanie Walker, I suggest picking up Gesicki right now, as Walker may be out for a while.


  1. Michael Gallup


This is the Dallas Cowboys’ attempt at replacing Dez Bryant… That should tell you how much the Cowboys cherish their third-round pick out of Colorado State. Bryant has been made into somewhat of a joke lately, but he was the face of the Cowboys for years, and this is the guy that took his roster spot. Gallup excelled at Colorado state, gathering 2,690 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in his two seasons there.

The Dallas wide receiver depth is large but not particularly gifted. Gallup, along with Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Tavon Austin will all compete for starting roles. Gallup did not get many targets in week one, but as the season goes on the Cowboys should get him more involved. He is a big, skilled receiver with massive upside, and the cowboys desperately need that kind of weapon in their offense.

Gallup is definitely just a bench play for now, and I wouldn’t suggest picking him up just yet, but remember the name. If he gets 5+ targets in the coming weeks, that’s when I suggest picking him up. This means he is getting more involved in the offense, and his value will start to skyrocket soon after. Gallup is nothing more than potential as of now, but he could become a big difference-maker later on in the season.