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Ask the Experts

Which rookie are you most excited about?

Wide range of answers: Lance, Lawrence, Etienne and more

ASK THE EXPERTS appears weekly from training camp through the Super Bowl with answers to a new question being posted Thursday morning. How the guest experts responded when we asked them: Which incoming rookie are you most looking forward to seeing on the field?

DAVID DOREY

I am most interested in seeing what Travis Etienne looks like, both as a runner and a receiver. Najee Harris won't come cheaply and Javonte Williams keeps rising up the draft board (and maybe too much). Etienne landed in Jacksonville where James Robinson was the big surprise in 2020 and enters the year as the starting RB. The initial plan, far as they let on, is to use Etienne as a third down back / slot receiver to make use of his open field ability. But Etienne was the top running back on many draft boards last April. He was prolific at Clemson. And Robinson doesn't have any advantage of already knowing the offense or having been selected by this set of coaches. Etienne is as talented as any rookie, maybe as any NFL back, and yet is a value as the No. 24 running back in current ADP.

Dorey co-founded The Huddle.com in 1997. He's ranked every player and projected every game for the last 23 years and is the author of Fantasy Football: The Next Level. David has appeared on numerous radio, television, newspaper and magazines over the last two decades.

SCOTT PIANOWSKI

Kyle Shanahan might be the most interesting offensive mind in the current NFL, and the 49ers are loaded with skill talent. Thus, I can't wait to see what Trey Lance has to offer, fully understanding that no one can say with certainty how much he'll play this summer or when the baton will be passed in San Francisco. This year's rookie class has a lot of fascinating summer watches, given that so many players skipped the 2020 college season, or had limited campaigns. JaMarr Chase is another player in that bucket.

An FSWA award-winning writer (with nominations in four sports) and podcaster, Scott has been with Yahoo Sports since 2008. On the rare occasions when the computer is turned off, he enjoys word games, poker, music, film, game theory, and a variety of condiments. He lives in suburban Detroit.

MIKE NAZAREK

I am excited to see Alabama running back Najee Harris make an immediate impact in the Steelers running game this preseason. I believe he has a great chance to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year and a big producer for his fantasy team.

Nazarek is the CEO of Fantasy Football Mastermind Inc, celebrating 25 years online! His company offers a preseason draft guide, customizable cheat sheets, a multi-use fantasy drafting program including auction values, weekly in-season newsletters, injury reports and free NFL news (updated daily) at its web site, www.ffmastermind.com. He has been playing fantasy football since 1988 and is a four-peat champion of the SI.com Experts Fantasy League, a nationally published writer in several fantasy magazines and a former columnist for SI.com. He's also won nearly $30K in recent seasons of the FFPC High Stakes Main Event. Nazarek can be reached via email at miken@ffmastermind.com.

IAN ALLAN

Amon-Ra St. Brown. I’ve got a feeling he’s going to be the best wide receiver in Detroit. He caught a lot of balls at Southern Cal, and they don’t have much else at wide receiver. But this is just guesswork at this point. I would like to see St. Brown on the field, working with the first-unit offense and doing it.

Allan co-founded Fantasy Football Index in 1987. He and fellow journalism student Bruce Taylor launched the first newsstand fantasy football magazine as a class project at the University of Washington. For more than three decades, Allan has written and edited most of the content published in the magazines, newsletters and at www.fantasyindex.com. An exhaustive researcher, he may be the only person in the country who has watched at least some of every preseason football game played since the early 1990s. Allan is a member of the FSTA Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.

AARON BLAND

Even despite recently spraining his knee, I’m still excited to see Devonta Smith in action. I expect the Eagles to play him both inside and outside, and he could end up with a mind-boggling amount of catches as a rookie. He’s a steal right now in PPR leagues.

Bland, a fanatical fantasy football player since 1992, has been a contributing expert to Fantasy Football Index since 2018 and appears regularly as a guest on the Fantasy Index Podcast. He is the Managing Editor at yourulz.com, a fantasy sports platform launching in 2021 that allows live in-game substitutions in every sport.

SCOTT SACHS

JaMarr Chase joins Cincinnati to reunite with his QB at LSU, Joe Burrow. Their chemistry is undeniable and they are already lighting it up at training camp. The only pressure on the Bengals this season is keeping Burrow upright, and they'll need to be successful at it as he will be throwing often, especially late in games they're trailing in--which should be most of them. No real pressure on Chase either as incumbent receivers Boyd and Higgins are talented, too, and it will be hard for teams to defend them all. Chase should still emerge as their No. 1 option, similar to CeeDee Lamb's situation in Dallas.

Sachs runs Perfect Season Fantasy Football, offering LIVE Talk & Text consulting. He has multiple league championships including 2 perfect seasons. Scott is a past winner of the Fantasy Index Experts Poll and a 2-time winner of the Experts Auction League.

PAUL CHARCHIAN

I’m excited to see Trey Lance so we can better evaluate what his timetable looks like. If he plays well enough, can he be a Week 1 starter, despite everything Kyle Shanahan has insisted? Or is he so raw we could be looking months later or even 2022?

Charchian is the CEO at GuillotineLeagues.com. Guillotine Leagues are a new way to play in which the lowest-scoring team each week gets chopped from the league, and all the players go to the waiver wire. Charchian was inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

ANDY RICHARDSON

Easy choice, I know, but I'm looking forward to seeing Trevor Lawrence. He'd been the expected No. 1 overall draft pick for years, he's pairing up with a famous college coach making his NFL debut, and it's just going to be interesting seeing him go from being the best player on the field in college to being knocked down a peg or two. Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck were top-10 fantasy quarterbacks as rookies, but no one is drafting Lawrence right now with those kind of expectations. Maybe he'll surprise, and maybe we'll get some hint of it in the preseason games.

Richardson has been a contributing writer and editor to the Fantasy Football Index magazine and www.fantasyindex.com since 2002. His responsibilities include team defense and IDP projections and various site features, and he has run the magazine's annual experts draft and auction leagues since their inception. He previews all the NFL games on Saturdays and writes a wrap-up column on Mondays during the NFL season.

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