2nd Year Outlook
Over the years, we’ve seen many players take a significant leap of production in their second year in the NFL. The reasons vary, but I think it boils down to the offseason leading up to their rookie year in the pros. For NFL hopefuls, once the college season is over, they get right to work on improving their potential draft stock, not improving their football IQ. Instead of breaking down tape, they’re trying to increase their 40-time. Rather than working on their run blocking, they’re hoping to up their vertical. It makes sense. Why wouldn’t a player do all they can to make more money with their first contract? Yes, some rookies burst onto the scene, but others take a time to develop.
Once players get past the rookie offseason, they have the opportunity to adjust to the new city and coaching changes. After a full season under their belt, we see some players flourish. In dynasty, a lot of owners are quick to accept a rookie season production as gospel. That’s not fair and those owners are doing themselves a disservice. I’m here to remind you all, that second year players sometimes have great value and can turn around your dynasty team at a discounted price.
Here are some recent examples. Jared Goff, whom started 7 games as a rookie with a terrible head coach, completed 54% of his passes, threw 5 TD’s, and 7 INT’s. In 2017, his 2nd season, Goff completed 62% of his passes, threw 28 TD’s, and still only threw 7 INT’s. That’s one hell of a jump, I’d say. For running backs, we could discuss Alex Collins. Drafted in the 5th round by the Seattle Seahawks in 2016, he struggled to be implemented and ultimately was released. While in Seattle, Collins had 31 rushes in 11 games, for 125 yards, 1 TD, and a couple of fumbles. One offseason and a new team later, Collins has shown Baltimore what he really had in the tank and has likely carved out a major role for himself. In 2015, the Washington Redskins drafted Jamison Crowder. He had a nice rookie campaign with a line of 59/604/2, but his sophomore season saw a significant increase with 67/847/7.
I’m not trying to say this is tried and true, or even that it happens a majority of the time. There are obviously many factors. But every season, we see multiple 2nd year players make a leap. I think it’s something dynasty owners, for the most part, miss. So, enough rambling, here’s a look at some of the 2017 rookies that I think are destined for a production shot in the arm in 2018.
QB – Mitchell Trubisky
Trubisky is an easy pick here as there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he’s talented enough to start in 12 team league formats. Picked 2nd overall by the Bears, Trubisky only started in 12 games, but some of the statistics show promise. Completed almost 60% of his passes, and throwing for over 2100 yards, Mitchell could only manage to toss the ball into the endzone 7 times with a season total of 7 interceptions. With John Fox out, and Matt Nagy in (and the entire coaching staff behind Trubisky), look for a breakout year from Mitchell Trubisky in 2018.
RB – Elijah McGuire
I like this dude a lot. Drafted in the 6th round, he still managed to start 2 games for the Jets. Matt Forte looks to be moving on this offseason, but Bilal Powell isn’t going anywhere until 2019. McGuire may not have what it takes physically to be an every down back, but in today’s NFL, that isn’t as detrimental as it used to be. Blazing fast, and a true receiving threat, McGuire will benefit greatly by a full offseason and splitting time with only 1 aging running back in 2018.
WR – Kenny Golladay
Remember all of the Golladay hype we had in the 2017 preseason? KG was going for 1st round rookie picks all day. As my co-host Matt Renshaw would say, it was the Golladay Season. After Week 1, Golladay fizzled. With Marvin Jones, Golden Tate (and at times, TJ Jones) ahead of him in the pecking order, this Northern Illinois alum never had a chance to shine. Despite his position on the depth chart, and missing 6 weeks with a hammy, Kenny still caught 3 TD’s and 477 yards receiving. While Jones and Tate are returning in 2018, TJ Jones is likely hitting the open market. Look for Golladay to progress nicely in the offseason, and continue to develop throughout the 2018 season.
TE – David Njoku
The Cleveland Browns drafted David Njoku 29th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. While I believe the fantasy community is higher on the two TE’s selected before Njoku in the draft (OJ Howard, Evan Engram), Njoku showed a ton of promise in Cleveland. With under 50% of the teams offensive snaps, the first rounder still managed 386 yards and 4 TD’s. His biggest weakness is route running, but that can be taught. If Cleveland could figure out how to coach and improve players, Njoku may end up being the most valuable TE from the 2017 draft class. Bold? You bet. Impossible? Not at all.