Targeting rookies can go both ways in fantasy football drafts, but the most important thing is to obtain the ones poised to produce at a value. Taking a highly-touted rookie in the early rounds, ahead of proven veterans, only to witness them underachieve in their first season is a recipe for fantasy failure.
The following players, however, won't cost you an early pick, at least in comparison to the more high-profile rookies. Here are the four best rookie sleepers heading into the 2019 fantasy football season.
4. Benny Snell Jr., RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
A fourth-round draft pick out of Kentucky, Benny Snell Jr. did little to raise his stock at the 2019 NFL Combine with a 4.67 40-yard dash time. Still, the Steelers believed in him and Snell is now rumored to slot in as James Conner's backup for one key reason – pass protection. Keeping 37-year-old Ben Roethlisberger upright will be of the utmost importance this season. While Snell isn't as talented as some other RBs in this rookie class, he will be playing behind one of the best offensive lines in football. If Conner were to get hurt, a huge opportunity could await the rookie. As the RB75 according to FantasyPros' average draft position (ADP) rankings, Snell is basically free in drafts this year.
3. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Aside from having an awesome first name, Deebo Samuel also has a great opportunity for playing time in his first NFL season. Joining a San Francisco 49ers team that lacks exciting options at wide receiver, Samuel has been rumored as the starting "Z" receiver opposite 2018 standout WR Dante Pettis. Samuel, a second round pick in April's draft, is small but physical. He has been generating buzz at camp for his ability to get open, which could make him one of Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite targets. Samuel is currently the WR60 according to ADP, making him a great late-round flyer toward the end of the draft.
2. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
While we normally wouldn't recommend targeting Ravens pass-catchers for fantasy purposes this season, when the value is this good, it hardly matters. Marquise Brown was the first WR taken in the NFL draft this season, but is only the WR56 according to ADP, behind fellow rookies N'Keal Harry (WR39), D.K. Metcalf (WR42), Parris Campbell (WR53), and Mecole Hardman (WR55). It's anyone's guess who emerges as the best rookie from that group, but based on value alone, Brown (cousin of Antonio Brown) is a great pick with arguably the highest upside of any first-year WR. If he and Lamar Jackson can develop some downfield chemistry in year one, watch out.
1. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Some players, early in the fantasy football draft season, are names that most savvy owners would prefer are kept quiet. This year's example of that may be Eagles rookie RB Miles Sanders. While the second-round pick is clearly no secret in NFL circles, his current ADP (RB33) suggests many drafters are still uncertain about the rookie's role in 2019. Already flashing his immense all-around talent in camp, Sanders is a sleeper who may start climbing up draft boards as the preseason rolls on. While his uncertain role is a bit of a concern, Sanders is talented enough to finish as an RB2 if he gets enough touches.
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