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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
Eagles excuse Keelan Johnson from training camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:59 am ET) The Eagles announced Friday that safety Keelan Johnson was excused from training camp "for an undetermined amount of time" to attend to a personal matter in Arizona. Johnson was recently arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. 

Johnson will still count on the 90-man roster while he's away. 


Harbaugh: I'm very confident in Bernard Pierce
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:49 am ET) With Ray Rice suspended for the first two games of the season, the Ravens have to figure out who will start at running back in his absence, reports ESPN.

The top choice to fill in for Rice is Bernard Pierce. He was limited all offseason after having shoulder surgery, but he looked to be in good shape as the Ravens opened training camp this week. 

"I'm very confident in Bernard. I've always liked Bernard," coach John Harbaugh said. "He's a heck of a player. He’s worked very hard, he’s 217 pounds, [and] he's in the best shape of his life. He looked good out here the last couple of days. We'll know more by Tuesday once we get the pads on and seeing him move with the pads on and how the shoulder holds up -- that'll be important."

Outside of Pierce, the Ravens have Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro, but Pierce is the likely starter with Rice out.

"I have a lot of confidence in all of our guys," Harbaugh said.


Brandon Bolden off to bad start in camp
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:44 am ET) The Boston Herald has noticed that Patriots running back Brandon Bolden has had two bad practices to begin training camp. He's fumbled twice and had a bad drop. Fumbles were a part of Bolden's rookie training camp as well. 

It's believed Bolden is in the running for the backup running downs job behind Stevan Ridley in camp, but if he keeps fumbling he could be released. 


White: Julio Jones will 'destroy the NFL'
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:40 am ET) Falcons receiver Roddy White is hoping teammate Julio Jones (foot) will be healthy all season because he's counting on a big year for Jones in 2014, reports ESPN.

"I'm worried about him in a sense that I just want him to play football," White said. "Being with Julio for the last few years, I know how great of a player he is. I know how great of a player he can be. And I just want him to be the best he can be. That's all I care about. If he's the best he can be, we're going to win. There's no doubt about it. 

"I don't have any other concerns with him because we're like brothers. I want to see him be on the field throughout the whole season and just watch him destroy the NFL."


Roddy White not expected to be limited in camp
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:34 am ET) Falcons receiver Roddy White, who dealt with a high ankle sprain and hamstring injury last year, isn't sure if he'll be limited at all during the early portion of training camp, reports ESPN. 

"I don't know," he said. "I haven't gone over the schedule or anything yet. But probably not, because I didn't do too many OTAs [organized team activities]. We've got to work on timing."


Saints expect Jairus Byrd back 'sooner than later'
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:33 am ET) Saints coach Sean Payton expects safety Jairus Byrd (back) to rejoin the team "sooner than later" but still put him on the PUP list to begin training camp.

"Clearly, before we leave here he'll be back on the roster," Payton told the media Friday. 


Belichick impressed with Kenbrell Thompkins
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:30 am ET) Patriots coach Bill Belichick likes what he sees from second-year receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.

"Hard working kid; one of our hardest workers," Belichick told the media Friday. "He really tries hard to do everything right. Very attentive, very coachable and he's very hard working."

Thompkins had a solid first day of training camp Thursday when he "caught nearly everything thrown his way." He has the chance to be a starter this year with Aaron Dobson (foot) out for the start of camp.


Kenny Stills sidelined by quad injury
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:29 am ET) Saints receiver Kenny Stills left practice early Friday with a quad injury but Sean Payton doesn't believe it's a big deal. 

"He had a tight quad two weeks ago when he was training and it's the same right quad," Payton told the media Friday morning. "I dont think it's real serious."


Raiders confident in Matt Schaub
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:17 am ET) The Raiders are expecting quarterback Matt Schaub to put his disaster of a 2013 season behind him this year, reports ESPN.

Schaub was benched in his final year with the Texans before being traded to Oakland this offseason.

"I don't have any problems with Matt Schaub's confidence," coach Dennis Allen said. "I think he's in a good frame of mind. I think he's very hungry. I think he's excited about the new opportunity."

Schaub should benefit from a change of scenery, Allen said.

"I think anytime you go into something new, there's a little bit of, maybe it's an increased focus, an increased intensity level, because it is new," Allen said. "You kind of force yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit. I think he's done that. I think he's been very focused and very driven this offseason and I don't think there's any question that he's got something that he wants to go out and prove."


Packers 'still open' to bringing Jermichael Finley back
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:14 am ET) Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Friday that he's "still open" to Jermichael Finley coming back to the team. Speaking with the media, McCarthy said he still considers him a Packer and wouldn't put a deadline on bringing himback. He also hasn't consulted with the doctors on whether or not Finley is healthy enough to play after suffering a major neck injury last season. 

 
 
 
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