Mack Hollins, Dede Westbrook and Five Other Rookie Sleepers
It’s never too late to do some homework, especially when it comes to rookie sleepers. There are some pleasant surprises, even though highly-drafted rookies can be risky investments. Over the past 16 seasons, there have been 35 rookie running backs to finish in the top 24 fantasy scorers at their position. We’ve also seen 17 rookie receivers accomplish the feat. It is rarer for quarterbacks (six in the past 16 years) and tight ends (three), but those players should remain on our radar, as well.
Here are some rookies worth monitoring this season fantasy leagues.
Mack Hollins, WR PHI
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted wideout Mack Hollins from North Carolina in the fourth round, much earlier than most expected to see him come off the board. Hollins is just one of many receivers the Eagles brought in this offseason, including headliner Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles dumped Dorial Green-Beckham and Jordan Matthews, so despite multiple additions, there is still room for Hollins to see some playing time this season.
Hollins has impressed training camp, but is still well off the radar in redraft leagues, as would be expected. The Eagles starters are essentially locked in with Jeffery and Torrey Smith on the outside, and the rejuvenated Nelson Agholor expected to man the slot. After these veterans, Hollins is next in line for playing time—just an injury away from seeing the field.
Outside of the deepest leagues, it is difficult to spend a draft pick on Hollins, but he is a player to monitor in the early portion of the season, considering Jeffery has already missed practice time due to a shoulder issue.
Dede Westbrook, WR JAX
After a highly successful college season, not much went right for former Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook through the off-season. Being chosen by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round changed all that, though. The Jags have a very capable wide receiver trio, each entering their fourth year in the league. Each of the three—Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee—have been big-time contributors at times, but have also shown a combination of inconsistency or injury concerns. Unfortunately, Lee is already banged up.
Westbrook has performed well in early action, catching a touchdown in Week 1 and following that up with a team-high six grabs for 131 yards in the second game. He even ended the preseason as the league leader in receiving yardage. The Jaguars offense, and specifically quarterback Blake Bortles, has struggled. With that said, Westbrook is a bit on the older side for a rookie and he has the credentials as a former Heisman Trophy finalist to succeed right away.
Westbrook is still behind the veterans, but I simply don’t trust Hurns or Lee to be able to stay on the field, which could quickly open the door for Westbrook to play an important role as the team’s slot receiver.
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