You know that person in your fantasy football league who always drafts a bunch of rookies every year? It seems like every league has (at least) one. How often does that person win? Not very often, right? That’s not to say that strategy never works; if you drafted Christian McCaffrey , Alvin Kamara , Kareem Hunt , JuJu Smith-Schuster and Evan Engram in 2017, that obviously worked out pretty well. If you drafted Royce Freeman , Rashaad Penny , Ronald Jones , Michael Gallup , James Washington , D.J. Moore or Mike Gesicki last season, you probably had a hard time making the playoffs. There is a time and a place for drafting most rookies, but as we mentioned above, there is usually at least one person in every league who does not want to wait for the appropriate time. More often than not, that is a mistake.

For both fantasy and NFL teams, rookies offer endless possibilities. When you have never seen a player fail, you can talk yourself into all kinds of potential, even if that potential is theoretical. That is why you get fan bases every year who talk themselves into some unproven backup quarterback. We may not know for sure that the backup isn’t good, but we know the starter isn’t great. It’s easy to imagine the backup can be even better if he just got a chance.

I completely understand why you would talk yourself into Andy Isabella ’s upside, especially if you believe in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. I’m not here to tell you he doesn’t have upside. I will say I’m not convinced he plays in three-receiver sets. And even if he does, we have no particular reason to believe this offense is capable of supporting three fantasy-relevant receivers. And I am extremely skeptical Isabella can produce more than Christian Kirk or Larry Fitzgerald .

In general, I feel like fantasy players have short memories. That can be good, especially if it means you can bounce back from a disappointing season. It can be a problem when it comes to evaluating talent, especially rookies. Remember all the way back in January, when everyone who knew anything about the NFL draft said this was a weak class for quarterbacks? Granted, we all thought Kyler Murray was a baseball player back then, but even so, no one was excited about the incoming rookie quarterbacks.

What happened next was we got four months of teams convincing themselves they needed to reach for a young quarterback, followed by three months of quarterbacks throwing against air and reporters with nothing to do but repeat what they hear from coaches. The coaches, of course, are disincentivized to say anything negative about anyone. So it is that by the time fantasy drafts have begun, we completely forget that the last time we saw these guys play, we didn’t think they were very good.

Last season, 24 rookies topped 100 fantasy points in PPR scoring, but only five topped 200 fantasy points. I’m not arguing you should ignore rookies altogether, but at a time of year when it seems like most rookies are met with unbridled optimism by the fantasy community, a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. Even the rookies who turn out to be useful for fantasy probably won’t come anywhere close to matching what you think their ceilings are.

This is especially true when it comes to tight ends. Since 2000, no rookie tight end has scored more than 175.4 fantasy points, and that was Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Over that span, just 21 tight ends have topped 100 fantasy points in PPR. That means you basically get one fantasy-relevant rookie per year. Go ahead and draft T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant if you want, just know that they both are likely to top out as top-10 fantasy tight ends. Also keep in mind that over that same time frame, 41 sophomore tight ends topped 100 fantasy points, with nine of them going over Shockey’s 175.4 fantasy points. If you liked Chris Herndon or Mark Andrews or even Mike Gesicki or Hayden Hurst last season, maybe you should target them ahead of this current crop of rookie tight ends.

As for evaluating rookie wide receivers, I think 2014 has left us with unreasonably high expectations. Five wide receivers were taken in the first round of that draft, and all of them topped 138 fantasy points. In total, 13 rookies topped 100 fantasy points, including Brandin Cooks , Martavis Bryant and Allen Robinson , who each played exactly 10 games. Odell Beckham had an insane 295.0 PPR points despite only playing 12 games. Mike Evans , Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins each had big seasons as well. In the three seasons that have followed, only four rookies have topped 200 PPR fantasy points. For every Amari Cooper or Michael Thomas , there is a Breshad Perriman or Corey Davis .

The consensus on this current crop of rookie receivers was that there were a lot of potential contributors but no complete receivers and few (if any) potential stars. I don’t think that has changed, no matter what you think of New England’s depth chart or how D.K. Metcalf fits Pete Carroll’s offense.

The one position I am willing to be a bit more optimistic at is running back, where I think Josh Jacobs , David Montgomery and Alexander Mattison have a fair chance to meet or exceed their draft day price. That being said, we shouldn’t assume they will see heavy usage, especially right away. We don’t know for sure that they are significantly better than Doug Martin and Mike Davis . Those two could certainly be involved enough to aggravate fantasy owners, but I’m not sure many fantasy players are thinking that way heading into drafts.

I am more likely to have someone like Alexander Mattison on my fantasy teams than Jacobs or Montgomery. He appears to be largely overlooked in drafts despite his rookie status, and I can get him late enough that I should have no problem dropping him if it turns out two games into the season, he isn’t involved in the offense at all. We know all of these rookies carry some degree of risk, which is why I usually stay away in the earlier rounds. After all, the article is titled Never Reach On a Rookie, not Never Draft a Rookie.