Every year, many rookies come into the league and, outside of RBs, very few make much of an impact. Maximum Fantasy Sports has put its collective heads together and has ranked the Top-5 fantasy football relevant rookies at the core skill positions and their projected draft round in standard 12-team fantasy football leagues.
Receivers have a chance to shine in their first year, but tend to be very inconsistent and require a year or two of patience. However, many of us play in deep Keeper leagues, so we need to think about the future as well as the present. Do NOT hang your current season on a rookie QB. Even the great Peyton Manning had an average season. The pro game is much more complex and much faster than any team these fellas played against, or played for, in college. It still amazes me that they get drafted in the NFL so high and get paid so much money before proving they can handle the transition. I think it is a HUGE stretch to imagine Sam Bradford even approaching the skill and success of Tom Brady, yet, the Rams decided that monetarily, he was worth more. Good luck justifying that to your accounting staff! Below is the consensus review from Maximum Fantasy Sports for the current draftable NFL rookies.
1. Sam Bradford (St. Louis): Bradford had a very forgettable 2009 thanks to getting pounded into the turf on two separate occasions and suffering shoulder injuries. Sadly, Oklahoma’s OL may be better than St. Louis’. Bradford may be the only rookie QB from this class who has a guaranteed starting position, but the Rams will stack the playbook with running plays and you will be hard-pressed to find a reason to start Bradford for a few years. He is a last round pick at best.
2. Jimmy Clausen (Carolina): Clausen will be given the chance to win the starting position in Carolina. Should he do it, he has a leg up on Bradford in the name of Steve Smith. Clausen could do well in Carolina if he stays humble since they have a nice RB duo and he comes from a pro-style offense at Notre Dame. Monitor training camp and consider drafting Clausen in rounds 10-12 should he be playing well.
3. Colt McCoy (Cleveland): Though McCoy dropped a lot farther in the draft than I would have guessed, he ended up in a nice position. Cleveland has very young players at the skill positions that he can easily bond with. With only INT-prone Jake Delhomme in front of him, he could wrestle the job away this year and hold onto it for a very long time. I would consider grabbing him in the last round in Keeper leagues.
4. John Skelton (Arizona): I admit, I did not see Skelton play in college. My DirecTV College Game Plan did not pick up any Fordham games. Skelton finds himself in an enviable situation in Arizona. He is playing behind Matt Leinart and could be throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. Leinart has not impressed in the opportunities he has had under center since being drafted. It is his job this year, but, if he flounders, I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals give Skelton a shot. Do not draft Skelton but this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on this year.
5. Tim Tebow (Denver): with Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn ahead of him, he has no chance of playing for a few years and I am not convinced he can do the job. Do not draft!
1. Ryan Mathews (San Diego): I love this kid as will the Chargers fans. He is big, strong and quick for his size. San Diego needed a power back to complement Darren Sproles and Mathews is that back. He is the first rookie that I would look at. I would consider him late in the 3rd round but shouldn’t last long into the fourth round.
2. Ben Tate (Houston): Steve Slaton was a gold mine for his owners….in 2008. He fell off the map last year and raised many doubts in Houston about his long-term credentials. They grabbed Tate at the end of the second round and will give him the chance to be their franchise back. He has a chance to duplicate Slaton’s 2008 numbers and should be considered draftable in late round four.
3. Jahvid Best (Detroit): If Kevin Smith can be productive in Detroit, Best certainly can. With Smith coming off of a knee injury, Best will get the starting nod. The only concern with Best is that he has already suffered multiple concussions and will be facing bigger, stronger, harder-hitting defenses in the NFL. Grab him in the 4th-5th round.
4. C.J. Spiller (Buffalo): Spiller is electrifying on the field. He is not an every-down back, but will get 8-10 carries a game, catch some passes and return kicks. If your league awards players for TDs on returns, bump Spiller up a round. However, I would not look in his direction until rounds 7-8.
5. Toby Gerhart (Minnesota): Gerhart is a bruiser. I would love to have him on my team if I had an NFL franchise. From a fantasy standpoint, he is playing behind Adrian Peterson. That keeps him from being the workhorse that he is capable of unless AP gets hurt. He will still get 10 carries a game, but don’t overpay for a part-time player. I would not reach in his direction until the 8th round.
1. Demaryius Thomas (Denver): Thomas could be in line for a huge year. Denver has no clear-cut #1 WR. Brandon Marshall is gone and Eddie Royal was a no-show last year. He did not receive much press in college since he played at Georgia Tech and they love their option offense there. However, this kid is good and will be productive. I would consider him late in the 6th round.
2. Dez Bryant (Dallas): Funny how the Cowboys ended up drafting Bryant after former Cowboy, Deion Sanders, helped end Bryant’s college career prematurely. Since Bryant was a first round pick, it is obvious to Cowboys’ management that trading for Roy Williams was a bad idea. Should Bryant stay out of trouble, he could do well in the Cowboys’ offense with Miles Austin across the field. Look to grab him in rounds 9-10.
3. Arrelious Benn (Tampa): Benn’s talent was wasted at Illinois thanks to poor play of QB Juice Williams. Sadly, he moves to a Tampa team that is eerily similar to the Illini; devoid of talent. I will admit that Bucs’ QB Josh Freeman played pretty well under the circumstances that he was thrown into last year. Should these two players click, Benn could have a big season. He is a solid 9th round pick.
4. Golden Tate (Seattle): Tate was fabulous in college and should easily move into the pro game. He is a little short for the pro game, but will work nicely in the slot and will get good YAC. As long at Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy, Tate will put up good numbers. I would not reach for him before round 12 though.
5. Eric Decker (Denver): Denver had such little faith in their current receivers that they drafted two receivers this year in the first three rounds! Decker, like Thomas, is a big receiver with good hands. He ended his Gopher career with a foot injury, but that will not hamper him this year. I would grab Decker in the 12th round.
1. Rob Gronkowski (New England): The Pats lost their two starting tight ends from 2009 and filled that void nicely in this year’s draft. Gronkowski is 6’6″ and has great hands. He could revive memories of Ben Coates in New England. With the NFL having so many productive tight ends, you could probably steal him in the 11th round.
2. Ed Dickson (Baltimore): The Ravens opened up the passing game last year, showing great confidence in QB Joe Flacco. One area that has underperformed in Baltimore the past few years is the tight end position. Todd Heap has been too beat-up to effectively contribute so Dickson was brought in to help him into retirement. I could see taking a flier on Dickson in the 14th round.
3. Jimmy Graham (New Orleans): The Saints has concerns about Jeremy Shockey’s health even before his May seizure. Graham is also 6’6″ and has nice “ups”, as displayed in his basketball career. Drew Brees likes getting his tight ends involved in the passing game so Graham has nice potential for catching a few passes per game and the occasional TD. I would think about grabbing him with my last pick.
4. Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati): At 6’5″, Gresham has the size to contribute in Cincinnati. However, I am skeptical about the Bengals offense and their ability to use Gresham effectively. The Bengals drafted Chase Coffman last year and failed to utilize him at all. Granted, I am no talent scout, but I saw Coffman played at Missouri and thought he would have fit nicely in Cincinnati. Take a wait-and-see approach with Gresham.
5. Anthony McCoy (Seattle): Pete Carroll extended an olive branch to USC-grad McCoy in the 6th round of this year’s draft. John Carlson is the current pass-catching TE for Seattle, but Carroll is very loyal and may work McCoy into the offense as the season progresses. Do not draft but keep an eye on the Seahawks’ box score.