It is pretty well known that NFL players generally take their biggest step forward from their rookie year to their second season. The reasoning is pretty obvious really.
Think about the grind that last year’s rookies endured from the point they started training camp of their final year at the college level. They went from training camp, to their college regular season, to possibly a bowl game and then immediately into the draft preparation process, which is far different than any offseason they had dealt with before in their lives.
After they leave their college program, they find an agent then heavily begin training for combine drills and interviews as well as often participating in the all-star circuit such as the Senior Bowl. Then the Combine rolls around and team visits ensue. Finally the player is drafted and he immediately has to move to a new city and try to learn a new scheme and compete against full-grown men that have done this for a living for quite some time.
Then there is an NFL training camp, four preseason games, 16 regular season games and possibly playoffs for a young man that is just swimming mentally and has never played so many games in one season, let alone vs. NFL talent. That is the most strenuous 16-month stretch that any football player will deal with over his career. Finally after his rookie year, that young man finally gets to relax, catch his breath and settle in a little.
So taking that into strong consideration, who are a few fantasy assets that could be primed to take a nice jump forward in their second season? Look at this from a dynasty perspective, but it also obviously has redraft ramifications and several of these young pups are well worth your time to take a flier on at the end of your annual fantasy draft. Four of those youngsters are highlighted in alphabetical order below with an honorable mention list that has some longer shots as well as some obvious sophomores that could be ready to breakout.
Devontae Booker, Denver
This may or may not be true, but lets just operate under the assumption for one moment that Jamaal Charles will never be the player he once was and isn’t in line for many touched in Denver. That isn’t all that far fetched, right? Denver traded Kapri Bibbs on draft weekend and C.J. Anderson not only has never played all 16 games in a season, but appeared in just seven contests in 2016. The Broncos did use a sixth round pick on DeAngelo Henderson, but John Elway used a fourth rounder just one year ago on Booker. Even after a disastrous rookie year, has Booker fallen out of favor that much? In fact, with the new coaching staff in place and presumably more man blocking being implemented, the scheme change should fit Booker’s style much better. Plus, Denver has invested into their offensive line. Also, was Booker truly all the way back to health in 2016 after his college injuries? But here is the kicker that several of you might have forgotten about: Booker is an excellent receiver. He could easily be the most valuable receiving back on this roster and a very safe outlet for either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch, both of whom will need such help. Remember how new Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy used to feed Danny Woodhead in the passing game?