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Offseason Extra: Rookies for this year and beyond

Senior Fantasy Writer
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This year's crop of rookies is considered more appealing than those in recent years for Fantasy purposes if only because of the elite players atop their respective positions: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III overshadow the quarterbacks, Trent Richardson overshadows the running backs, Justin Blackmon overshadows the receivers and Coby Fleener overshadows the tight ends. All five have displayed outstanding collegiate careers that have been well documented. All five will get drafted in every single league. And all five have very lofty expectations.

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And they're just five of a plethora of rookies that owners in leagues of varying shapes and sizes have to evaluate. Here's a crash course on the top rookies in this year's class ...

Quarterbacks
Andrew Luck, Colts: Think Peyton Manning with better mobility and a healthy neck. Luck has great accuracy, great intelligence, a strong arm and even the football pedigree Manning has.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins: RG3 doesn't quite have the pinpoint accuracy of Luck, but he's not far off. He does have a strong arm, and anything he lacks to Luck's passing he more than makes up for with his speed.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: Good fit for a Miami offense that's installing the playbook he learned in college. Good arm and accuracy to go with good mobility, but his decision-making skills have been questioned.
Brandon Weeden, Browns: Might have been drafted in the Top 10 if he wasn't close to 30 years old. A former baseball player, Weeden has a cannon and lots of experience.

Running backs
Trent Richardson, Browns: Pretty much the best running back prospect to enter the league since Adrian Peterson. Can do it all, can play every down and distance and can plow into the end zone. He'll be fun to watch.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Has the same skill set as Ray Rice without the breakaway speed. He's also considered a capable three-down back, though it's yet to be determined if he can be routinely successful at the goal line.
David Wilson, Giants: Wilson is an outside speed rusher with pretty good hands. Never was a consistent inside runner and might take some time before developing into a starter.
Isaiah Pead, Rams: A quick runner, Pead might be considered more of a change-of-pace guy than a featured back. Might make some highlight-reel plays this season but playing time might not be consistent.
LaMichael James, 49ers: An experienced running back with solid speed but not a lot of size. Could contribute as much on special teams as he will on offense.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos: Here's all you need to know: He broke many of Marshall Faulk's records at San Diego State. He's got good speed and hands but doesn't have the size most teams look for. Ball security is a minor issue.

Wide receiver
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars: A thick, fast combination that will wreak havoc on smaller cornerbacks and safeties. Blackmon is very physical and has very good, very big hands. Should be able to adjust to errant passes from Blaine Gabbert. Considered NFL-ready.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals: Floyd is basically a taller version of Blackmon who comes with some baggage based on off-field incidents in college. Questions about his receiving consistency and deep speed kept him from passing Blackmon in the draft. Playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald doesn't exactly increase his prospects for 100-plus targets.
Kendall Wright, Titans: Benefited greatly from playing with Robert Griffin in college thanks to his deep speed. Should fit in the slot immediately.
A.J. Jenkins, 49ers: Very capable receiver with speed, but he showed up to Niners minicamp out of shape. He's lanky, which could cause problems versus press coverage.
Brian Quick, Rams: Huge size/speed combination could make him a sensation at the pro level, but experience is a huge question mark. Getting playing time might not be as big of a question mark, though.
Stephen Hill, Jets: Potential Demaryius Thomas clone given his lack of production at Georgia Tech but considerable measurables and speed.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears: A big target with good hands but not great speed.
Ryan Broyles, Lions: An accomplished receiver in college but coming off of surgery for a torn ACL. It's unknown if his size will be a detriment.
Rueben Randle, Giants: Might be a better receiver than his college stats indicate. Great size, good speed, but could get buried behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in playing time and targets.
Mohamed Sanu, Bengals: Polished receiver with good skill set including tight route running. Doesn't have bulk or deep speed.

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Tight end
Coby Fleener, Colts: Luck's best buddy from college -- and for good reason. More receiver than tight end, Fleener's size and speed makes him a mismatch nightmare for defenses to account for down the middle of the field. Should have an easy transition to the NFL with Luck passing to him.
Dwayne Allen, Colts: Capable big-bodied tight end, more of the blocking type than pure receiver style that Fleener is.
Michael Egnew, Dolphins: Pretty good receiving skills to go with a big body and pretty good speed. Should have a chance to make some plays in thin Dolphins receiving corps.

Kicker
Randy Bullock, Texans: Made 29 of 33 kicks last season. Born and raised in Texas.
Greg Zuerlein, Rams: Made 23 of 24 attempts last season including nine from 50-plus yards and two of three from 60 yards.
Blair Walsh, Vikings: Tough senior year (21 of 35 field goals made) overshadows his rank as the SEC's all-time leading scorer.

Rookies for 2012

If you are in a league that will only play the 2012 season (simply known as a seasonal league), then targeting rookies who might not play much or might eventually become great players won't help you. Typically, carry into your draft a longer list of running back rookies than players at any other position. Below is our take on the order in which these players should be drafted along with an expectation of when they'll get picked in a standard league.

Seasonal formats
Quarterback Running back Wide receiver Tight end
Robert Griffin III (Round 9) Trent Richardson (Round 2-3) Justin Blackmon (Round 7) Coby Fleener (Round 9)
Andrew Luck (Round 10) Doug Martin (Round 5) Alshon Jeffery (Round 9) Michael Egnew (Round 14)
Brandon Weeden (Round 13) Ronnie Hillman (Round 8) Michael Floyd (Round 9)  
Ryan Tannehill (Round 14) David Wilson (Round 8) Kendall Wright (Round 10)  
  Isaiah Pead (Round 11) Mohamed Sanu (Round 12)  
  LaMichael James (Round 12) Rueben Randle (Round 12)  
    Stephen Hill (Round 13)  

Rookies for 2012 and beyond

If you are in a league that is looking more long-term, then more rookies should be on your pre-draft rank list. These leagues typically consist of dynasty or keeper leagues that allow players to be kept for a number of seasons. Their drafts are either limited to rookies or are start-ups that include everyone in the NFL but feature rookies getting picked higher than usual. Below is our take on the order in which rookies at all positions should get taken in long-term formats in a standard league.

Long-term/keeper formats
1. Andrew Luck, QB, IND 13. Rueben Randle, WR, NYG 25. Lamar Miller, RB, MIA 37. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND
2. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE 14. Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA 26. Chris Rainey, RB, PIT 38. Ladarius Green, TE, SD
3. Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS 15. A.J. Jenkins, WR, SF 27. Nick Toon, WR, NO 39. T.J. Graham, WR, BUF
4. Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC 16. Brandon Weeden, QB, CLE 28. Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE 40. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA
5. Doug Martin, RB, TB 17. Mohamed Sanu, WR, CIN 29. Dwayne Allen, TE, IND 41. Taylor Thompson, TE, TEN
6. Michael Floyd, WR, ARI 18. Brian Quick, WR, STL 30. Robert Turbin, RB, SEA 42. Cyrus Gray, RB, KC
7. Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI 19. LaMichael James, RB, SF 31. B.J. Cunningham, WR, MIA 43. Bryce Brown, RB, PHI
8. Kendall Wright, WR, TEN 20. Isaiah Pead, RB, STL 32. Marvin Jones, WR, CIN 44. Edwin Baker, RB, SD
9. Coby Fleener, TE, IND 21. Ryan Broyles, WR, DET 33. Bernard Pierce, RB, BAL 45. Alfred Morris, RB, WAS
10. Stephen Hill, WR, NYJ 22. Michael Egnew, TE, MIA 34. Danny Coale, WR, DAL 46. Randy Bullock, K, HOU
11. Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN 23. DeVier Posey, WR, HOU 35. Terrance Ganaway, RB, NYJ 47. Greg Zuerlein, K, STL
12. David Wilson, RB, NYG 24. Juron Criner, WR, OAK 36. Devon Wylie, WR, KC 48. Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard and on Facebook .

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Player News
Marcus Lattimore eager to start pro career
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:35 pm ET) 49ers running back Marcus Lattimore is ready to start his proffesional career. After blowing out his knee in a gruesome injury in October of 2012 at South Carolina, Lattimore told The State on Sunday that his knee rehab is complete and that he's "ready to play."

Lattimore, who will attend the first day of the team's offseason workouts, will enter a crowded backfield with Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James already backing up current starter Frank Gore. However, James has expressed his desire for a bigger role and could be dealt, opening the door for the No. 3 spot in the backfield.

"If that happens, it does put me in that No. 3 spot," Lattimore said. "But I've just got to go in there and work hard. I can pass-protect and run the ball. I've got to show that."


Raiders bring back Kaelin Burnett
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Raiders have inked exclusive-rights free agent Kaelin Burnett to a one-year deal. He's expected to compete for a roster spot in training camp. 

Dekoda Watson moving to strong-side LB
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) In the wake of the release of veteran linebacker Russell Allen, the Jaguars are expected to make Dekoda Watson their new starting strong-side linebacker, ESPN reports. He'll also play as a pass rusher and potentially line up as a defensive end on third downs. 

Watson had 42 total tackles, two sacks, an interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble and a blocked punt with the Bucs last year. 


Brandon Gibson begins light jogging
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Brandon Gibson has begun light jogging as he works his way back from a torn patellar tendon, the Miami Herald reports. The Dolphins are expected to keep him on the roster, if only because of the cap hit he'll cost, per the report. He said recently he expects to be ready for Week 1. 

'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(4/18/2014) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

 
 
 
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