Fantasy: Which rookie will be this season's waiver-wire hero?

by
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey were early picks in the NFL draft and will be early-round picks in fantasy football, too, but it's not a lock that the pair will lead all rookies in production.

Here are three rookies going undrafted in many fantasy leagues who have a chance to be this year's waiver-wire hero.

Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of FantasyPros and is based on 12-team leagues with standard scoring.

James Conner, Steelers

ADP: Undrafted

Le'Veon Bell is the unquestioned star of the Steelers' backfield, but he's struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons, resulting in some big games for DeAngelo Williams. There's a new backup in black and gold and it's Conner, a promising rookie the Steelers selected in the third round. This isn't just a 22-year-old, 233-pounder who ran for 5.5 yards per carry and eight touchdowns as a freshman in 2013, this is a cancer survivor who has toppled a foe bigger than any NFL lineman. If Bell gets nicked up again, Conner's value will skyrocket.

Aaron Jones, Packers

ADP: Undrafted

The Packers apparently trust converted receiver Ty Montgomery to be their feature back, but they hedged their bets a little by drafting three tailbacks. Though Jamaal Williams was drafted a round earlier than Jones, it's the latter who is a slightly more intriguing athletic prospect. Jones dominated at UTEP and might need only to prove he's a better pass protector than Montgomery and Williams to see the field. If Jones can make the leap from small-school competition to the NFL, fantasy owners will come calling.

Curtis Samuel, Panthers

ADP: WR65

The Panthers took a big step toward evolving their stale offense when they drafted Christian McCaffrey in the first round. They arguably took an equally big step when they followed up that pick with Samuel. The former hybrid running back/receiver is expected to work out of the slot for the Panthers, where his agility and quickness will add an element that big-bodied receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess are sorely lacking. Samuel has the chance to catch a ton of passes and generate significant value for owners in PPR leagues.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)