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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

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Player News
Falcons is good shape as they prepare for Lions
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:21 am ET) The Falcons are fairly healthy heading into their Sunday game against Detroit. Only defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (foot) appears destined to sit despite his status as questionable. Also questionable is wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot).

The probables are left guard Justin Blalock (back), wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle) and linebacker Prince Shembo (knee). All three were limited in practice Friday.


Rams SS McDonald says he's fine after sustaining concussion
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:17 am ET) Rams starting strong safety T.J. McDonald had declared himself "fine" after sitting out Wednesday practice as part of concussion protocol and returning to the field Thursday on a limited basis, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

McDonald has not missed a snap this season and appears all but set to play in Week 8 at Kansas City. He has contributed to 38 tackles.


Bengals WR A.J. Green: I could still play Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Prolific Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green does not believe his non-participation in Friday practice dooms him to inactivity Sunday against Baltimore. He is claiming he could still play, the team website has reported.

Green, who vowed to play after the Week 7 blanking at Indianapolis, has been sidelined the last two games with a nagging toe injury.


Report: Falcons WR Harry Douglas a game-time decision
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:04 am ET) A second straight day of practice for Falcons wideout Harry Douglas has him considered a game-time decision for Sunday against Detroit, per the team website. He has missed four consecutive games with a foot injury.

His inclusion Friday was a good sign in that it proved his foot responded well to the Thursday session. But Mike Smith emphasized that no decision has been made in regard to his status for Sunday.

"Harry's done very well," Smith said. "He will be a decision that we make as we get closer to the game, but he's been able to come out and participate in practice the past two days ... I like the progress he's made through the week."

Douglas has 12 catches for 121 yards and one touchdown in three games played this season.


Belichick deflects questions about Patriots CB Darrelle Revis
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Bill Belichick declined to elaborate Friday on any issues between him and Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was sent home Tuesday after arriving late for a team meeting.

"Anything between me and the players is between myself and the players," he told Boston.com.

Pressed about the incident and how it could impact the status of the veteran for the Week 8 game against visiting Chicago, Belichick merely talked about the difficulty of the matchup.


Lions stud WR Calvin Johnson questionable for Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Lions superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been deemed questionable for the Sunday game against Atlanta in London.

Johnson practiced on a limited basis the past three days after missing the last two games with an ankle injury. He has struggled with the issue most of the year. Johnson caught just three passes for 19 yards in the previous two games combined and will likely be limited even if he does play in Week 8.


Three Lions tight ends appear doomed to inactivity Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) The Lions are nearly certain to be sans three tight ends for their Sunday game against Atlanta. Both Eric Ebron (hamstring) and Joseph Fauria (ankle) have been ruled out while starter Brandon Pettigrew (foot) has been designated as doubtful.

Their absences could launch Jordan Thompson into the starting role. He was recently signed off the practice squad. Fullback Jed Collins could also earn some reps at tight end.


Lions RB Reggie Bush deemed doubtful for battle in Britain
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Despite his claims to the contrary, Lions running back Reggie Bush appears destined to miss the Week 8 game against Atlanta. He has been deemed doubtful for the clash in London.

Bush has been sidelined from practice since Thursday with an ankle injury.


Titans new QB Mettenberger hardly lacking confidence
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:31 am ET) New Titans starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger boasts confidence bordering on cockiness. And it has crossed that border since Thursday, when he addressed the media after the announcement.

"I absolutely believe this is my team now," he said via The Tennessean. "This is what you dream of. I have been preparing and anticipating this happening since the day I got drafted. That was my mindset since Day 1, to be the starter."

Titans left tackle, fellow rookie and close friend Taylor Lewan likes that mindset.

"I think he has one of those, 'I don't care' attitudes," Lewan said. 'I'm going to throw darts the whole time.' And that's awesome. That's how a quarterback should be. He'll sit in the pocket, take a hit, and he'll get right back up and get in the guy's face, and I love it."

Mettenberger opened some eyes with a strong preseason in which he passed for 659 yards and two touchdowns while compiling a 97.6 passer rating.


Lions RB Bush a no-go Friday, but insists he'll play Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:18 am ET) Despite his absence from his second straight practice Friday, Lions running back Reggie Bush reiterated his intention of playing Sunday against Atlanta.

Bush, who has been dealing with an ankle problem, has lost opportunities in recent weeks with just 10 carries in the last two games combined. He has averaged a mere 2.3 YPC during that time.


 
 
 
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