Fantasy owners fell in love with rookies in 2011, and rightfully so. They were some of the best Fantasy options in all leagues last year.
Cam Newton was a Top 5 quarterback, DeMarco Murray and Roy Helu were productive running backs and A.J. Green and Julio Jones were elite receivers. We also had positive moments from Andy Dalton, Torrey Smith, Titus Young, Mark Ingram, Kendall Hunter and Christian Ponder.
This year's rookies could be even better. The 2012 draft class had a full offseason of work, and there is plenty of talent from these first-year players.
|The following is a cheat sheet for owners in a dynasty league. Some of these rookies won't make much of an impact in 2012 but could be valuable to Fantasy owners in 2013 and beyond.|
|1.||Trent Richardson, RB, Browns|
|2.||Andrew Luck, QB, Colts|
|3.||Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins|
|4.||Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers|
|5.||Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars|
|6.||Kendall Wright, WR, Titans|
|7.||Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams|
|8.||David Wilson, RB, Giants|
|9.||Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos|
|10.||Coby Fleener, TE, Colts|
|11.||Brian Quick, WR, Rams|
|12.||Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins|
|13.||Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears|
|14.||Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals|
|15.||Rueben Randle, WR, Giants|
|16.||Ryan Tannehill, QB, Dolphins|
|17.||Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks|
|18.||Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns|
|19.||Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks|
|20.||Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals|
|21.||Josh Gordon, WR, Browns|
|22.||Ryan Broyles, WR, Lions|
|23.||Stephen Hill, WR, Jets|
|24.||LaMichael James, RB, 49ers|
|25.||Nick Toon, WR, Saints|
|26.||A.J. Jenkins, WR, 49ers|
|27.||Vick Ballard, RB, Colts|
|28.||Chris Rainey, RB, Steelers|
|29.||Bernard Pierce, RB, Ravens|
|30.||Chris Givens, WR, Rams|
|31.||DeVier Posey, WR, Texans|
|32.||Juron Criner, WR, Raiders|
|33.||T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts|
|34.||Evan Rodriguez, TE, Bears|
|35.||T.J. Graham, WR, Bills|
|36.||Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals|
|37.||Dwayne Allen, TE, Colts|
|38.||Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles|
|39.||Michael Egnew, TE, Dolphins|
|40.||Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos|
|41.||Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers|
|42.||Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns|
|43.||Danny Coale, WR, Cowboys|
|44.||Brandon Bolden, RB, Patriots|
|45.||Tommy Streeter, WR, Ravens|
We're going to preview the Top 20 rookies for this season with the focus on 2012 and also provide a list of players for owners in dynasty leagues. For example, you'd rather draft Ronnie Hillman over Isaiah Pead this year, but Pead has more long-term value as the potential heir apparent to Steven Jackson in St. Louis.
Top 20 rookies of note for 2012
Trent Richardson, RB, Browns: Richardson is considered the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson in 2007, and he has amazing potential. He ran for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2011 at Alabama with 29 catches for 338 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns are going to lean on him, and Fantasy owners should as well. He is expected to be a featured running back in a league full of tandems, and he could average 20 touches a game, which is rare. Richardson is worth drafting toward the end of Round 1 and should be considered a steal in Round 2, assuming he heals quickly from a recent knee procedure.
My projection: 277 carries, 1,344 yards, 11 TDs; 46 catches, 355 yards, three TDs
Early-August ADP: 13th overall
I'd take him: 12th overall
Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: Martin has to beat out LeGarrette Blount for the starting job, but he has elite-level talent. He has a skill set similar to Ray Rice, who new head coach Greg Schiano coached at Rutgers. We can see both running backs sharing carries, but Martin has a ton of upside. He projects as a No. 2 Fantasy running back in standard leagues with his value slightly higher in PPR formats. We could see Martin reaching 1,200 total yards, and the key will be how many touchdowns he can score, especially with Blount as a potential vulture. Martin had at least 1,350 total yards and 14 touchdowns each of the past two seasons at Boise State.
My projection: 244 carries, 1,176 yards, five TDs; 58 catches, 422 yards, three TDs
Early-August ADP: 41st overall
I'd take him: 42nd overall
Robert Griffin III, QB, Redskins: Griffin was the Heisman Trophy winner in 2011, but his entire body of work at Baylor was impressive. He set or tied 54 school records while passing for 10,071 yards, 77 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also added 32 rushing scores. Griffin is not going to play like Newton last year, but he does have the potential to be a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback. He has a solid receiving corps with Fred Davis, Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson, and his rushing ability should set him apart from most quarterbacks. The Redskins also have done a decent job throwing the ball under Mike Shanahan, ranking No. 9 in passing yards the past two years with 8,270, and that was with the likes of Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman. Griffin is worth drafting as a low-end starting option or a top-end backup.
My projection: 3,787 passing yards, 23 TDs, 13 INTs; 574 rushing yards, five TDs
Early-August ADP: 82nd overall
I'd take him: 91st overall
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos: The Broncos are going with Willis McGahee as their starter, and coach John Fox remains loyal to his veterans. But with Peyton Manning now in town, he will likely have a prominent say in the personnel around him. While McGahee should dominate the carries, we could see Hillman play an important role in the passing game. And McGahee battled through injuries last year and will turn 31 this year. Hillman is easily a No. 3 Fantasy running back in PPR leagues, and he should be a key reserve coming into the year in all formats. But don't be surprised if by the middle of the season, especially after McGahee takes a pounding as the featured back, that Hillman takes over as the starter on all downs. If he proves he can pass protect for Manning then his playing time will continue to rise dramatically.
My projection: 144 carries, 703 yards, four TDs; 48 catches, 333 yards, one TD
Early-August ADP: 139th overall
I'd take him: 100th overall
David Wilson, RB, Giants: Wilson doesn't have to be a direct replacement for Brandon Jacobs. After all, he's about five inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter. What Wilson wants from Jacobs is his workload as the complementary rusher to Ahmad Bradshaw. Jacobs averaged 174 carries the past three seasons, coming away with 743 yards and seven touchdowns. If Wilson could reach those totals he would end up as a No. 3 Fantasy running back. And with Bradshaw's injury history, especially with his feet, Wilson could end up with a couple of starts for the Giants. Since they invested heavily in Wilson with a first-round pick in the NFL Draft, we could see Wilson doing a lot this year. He ran for 1,627 yards last year at Virginia Tech with 10 total touchdowns.
My projection: 124 carries, 568 yards, three TDs; 34 catches, 288 yards, three TDs
Early-August ADP: 127th overall
I'd take him: 107th overall
Kendall Wright, WR, Titans: The Titans drafted Wright out of Baylor in the first round of the NFL Draft, and he is expected to earn playing time right away. He could see significant action if Kenny Britt (knee) is slow in his recovery or has a lengthy suspension. Wright was a star at Baylor, where he teamed with Griffin on 108 catches for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. His career total of 4,004 yards receiving is 1,300 yards more than anyone who preceded him. Speed is the name of his game, but he doesn't have great size (5-foot-10), which is why he could see plenty of time in the slot with Britt and Nate Washington outside. Still, Wright has a ton of upside, and he could be the No. 1 rookie receiver in 2012.
My projection: 46 catches, 777 yards, seven TDs
Early-August ADP: 160th overall
I'd take him: 123rd overall
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Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars: The Jaguars drafted Blackmon in the first round of the NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State, and he is expected to make an impact right away for Fantasy owners. Jacksonville needs playmakers, and he has the makings of a star. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound dynamo scored 38 touchdowns in his final 25 games and caught 244 passes for 3,378 yards in his collegiate career (35 games). Catching darts from Brandon Weeden, Blackmon set an NCAA record with at least 100 yards and one touchdown in all 12 games in a season in 2010 and won two consecutive Fred Biletnikoff awards as the top college wide receiver. If Blaine Gabbert can consistently get Blackmon the ball then his Fantasy value will rise, but that's the one thing that could hold Blackmon back. We're not expecting a Green-type rookie year for Blackmon, but he could end up as a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver.
My projection: 58 catches, 973 yards, four TDs
Early-August ADP: 115th overall
I'd take him: 124th overall
Andrew Luck, QB, Colts: It wouldn't be a surprise if Luck is better than Griffin this year, but most likely Griffin will be the better Fantasy quarterback. Still, Luck is no slouch, and he might have more value long-term. He finished his collegiate career at Stanford with 80 passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores in 37 games, completing 66 percent of his passes with an 8.8 yards per attempt average (9,083 yards). He also averaged 26 rush yards per game. He has decent weapons in Reggie Wayne, Coby Fleener and Austin Collie, and he should be throwing a lot with the Colts trailing in games. He projects as a top-end No. 2 Fantasy passer this year.
My projection: 4,021 passing yards, 31 TDs, 20 INTs; 121 rushing yards, one TD
Early-August ADP: 136th overall
I'd take him: 164th overall
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: Rarely does a rookie quarterback get his No. 1 receiver from college on the same team in their first year, but that's what the Colts have with Andrew Luck and Fleener. The Colts took Fleener in the second round of the NFL Draft out of Stanford, and he should shine with Luck much in the same way Dallas Clark did with Manning. Fleener is a tight end with a similar skill set to Clark in that both are standout receivers. In 2011, Fleener averaged 19.6 yards per reception with 10 touchdowns, which followed up an eight-touchdown campaign in 2010. It might be hard for Fleener to become a No. 1 Fantasy option right away, but he's worth a late-round pick in most standard leagues based on potential alone.
My projection: 48 catches, 577 yards, six TDs
Early-August ADP: 152nd overall
I'd take him: 127th overall
Brian Quick, WR, Rams: We've heard good things out of Rams' training camp about nearly all of their receivers, including Danny Amendola, Greg Salas, Chris Givens and Steve Smith. That's all well and good, and hopefully one or more of those guys emerge because St. Louis has a miserable receiving corps. But look for Quick to be their best Fantasy receiver this year and a go-to target for quarterback Sam Bradford. He's a big target at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and Bradford should look for him in all scenarios. The Rams will likely be trailing in a lot of their games, and Quick should rack up plenty of production. He's not an elite talent, but he does have an exceptional opportunity given the lack of talent around him. Don't be surprised if Quick ends up as the best rookie receiver this season, and he could emerge as a No. 3 Fantasy option this year.
My projection: 54 catches, 811 yards, six TDs
Early-August ADP: 168th overall
I'd take him: 132nd overall
Robert Turbin, RB, Seahawks: Depending on when you draft, Turbin can either be a good handcuff option or a late-round steal. Marshawn Lynch, the starter in Seattle, is facing a possible suspension following a DUI arrest in July. If that happens then Turbin could end up as the No. 1 option in the Seahawks backfield. But even if Lynch plays all 16 games we could still see Turbin play a significant role. He is a big back at 5-foot-10, 222 pounds, and he ran for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns at Utah State last year. But Lynch's status will determine just how good Turbin will be this season.
My projection: 115 carries, 522 yards, four TDs; 16 catches, 87 yards; two TDs
Early-August ADP: 165th overall
I'd take him: 145th overall
Isaiah Pead, RB, Rams: Pead might not have a huge rookie season, but he does have the potential to be a solid Fantasy option starting in 2013. Jackson, if he stays healthy, should dominate the carries for the Rams this season. But Jackson's near the end of his run as a featured running back, and Pead could be the starter as early as 2013, especially if he shows promise this year. He had a good collegiate career at Cincinnati with 545 carries for 3,288 yards and 27 touchdowns and 87 catches for 721 yards. He can work on all downs and has been compared to LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles. Those are lofty expectations, but Pead has more value in dynasty formats than he does this year.
My projection: 98 carries, 454 yards, four TDs; 21 catches, 156 yards, two TDs
Early-August ADP: 189th overall
I'd take him: 148th overall
Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins: Miller is like Pead where his impact might not be felt as a rookie and more in his second year. The Dolphins have a crowded backfield with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, but Miller will still get his touches. The new coaches in Miami drafted Miller, and Bush and Thomas are leftover from the previous staff. Still, it will likely take an injury to Bush for Miller to be more than just a complementary player. Miller comes from a great line of running backs for the Hurricanes with Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis and Frank Gore, and he ran for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Hopefully he can become as good as James, Portis or Gore once he gets a shot at extended playing time.
My projection: 97 carries, 444 yards, three TDs; 28 catches, 212 yards, two TDs
Early-August ADP: Not being drafted
I'd take him: 149th overall
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears: The Bears plan to start Devin Hester opposite Brandon Marshall, but we expect Jeffery to be the No. 2 receiver for the Bears. Jeffery has plenty of upside thanks to his size, hands and opportunity. With the Bears likely to lean on Marshall, Jeffery should have a lot of single coverage. The 6-foot-3, 220 pound former standout at South Carolina totaled 179 career receptions for 2,894 yards (16.2 yards per catch) and 22 touchdowns in college. He'll probably take a while to be that productive in the pros, but expectations are growing for him. He could end up as a No. 4 receiver for Fantasy owners this year.
My projection: 46 catches, 611 yards, seven TDs
Early-August ADP: 195th overall
I'd take him: 175th overall
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants: Randle has a great opportunity in front of him this year. For starters, he could see increased playing time if Hakeem Nicks (foot) is out or limited to open the season. Along with that, the Giants have a need for a third receiver behind Nicks and Victor Cruz with Mario Manningham gone. Randle might open the season as the No. 4 receiver behind Domenik Hixon, but Randle will definitely see plenty of targets. He did well at LSU last year with 53 catches for 917 yards and eight touchdowns, and if he can play at a high level then Eli Manning will keep him involved.
My projection: 42 catches, 633 yards, six TDs
Early-August ADP: 197th overall
I'd take him: 191st overall
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: Floyd's NFL career did not get off to a great start as he opened training camp as the No. 4 receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Early Doucet. Floyd was expected to start opposite Fitzgerald, and hopefully he can beat out Roberts for that spot by the time we get to Week 1. As good as Floyd could be -- and he was a star at Notre Dame last year with 100 catches for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns -- he will be hampered by his quarterback situation. Whether Kevin Kolb or John Skelton starts, Floyd might not perform at a high level. It's tough enough for Fitzgerald, who is a stud. Floyd should only be drafted with a late-round pick in deeper leagues.
My projection: 44 catches, 655 yards, five TDs
Early-August ADP: 167th overall
I'd take him: 198th overall
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Bengals: The Bengals are in the market for a starting receiver after Jerome Simpson left as a free agent for Minnesota. Sanu will compete with fellow rookie Marvin Jones to start opposite Green, but we expect Sanu to win the job. He is a productive receiver who had 115 catches for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns last season with Rutgers. Green raved about Sanu that he's a more polished receiver than he was as a rookie, and he could be a great red-zone target at 6-foot-2, 211 pounds. If he does win the starting job then he could be worth a late-round pick in deeper leagues.
My projection: 43 catches, 644 yards, five TDs
Early-August ADP: Not being drafted
I'd take him: 205th overall
Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns: Weeden doesn't have a lot of long-term value because he's an older rookie at 28 (he'll be 29 in October). But Weeden could emerge as a decent option, especially in two-quarterback leagues. The Browns need to improve their receiving corps, but since they will likely be trailing in games we could see Weeden throwing a lot. The Browns attempted 570 passes in 2011 (by comparison, the Packers attempted 552), so Weeden could have the chance to shine. For seasonal leagues, he could be worth a late-round flier in deeper formats. He was great at Oklahoma State last year with 4,727 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and he was exceptionally accurate by completing more than 72 percent of his passes. Hopefully those skills will carry over into the NFL.
My projection: 3,712 passing yards, 20 TDs, 18 INTS; 76 rushing yards, one TD
Early-August ADP: Not being drafted
I'd take him: 225th overall
Stephen Hill, WR, Jets: The Jets might have the worst receiving corps in the NFL, and that's including a decent option in Santonio Holmes. Hill should start opposite Holmes by default, but it's no wonder the team plans to be run heavy. Hill is used to playing in a run-oriented offense at Georgia Tech, and he had just 49 catches for 1,248 yards and nine touchdowns in three years. He should be more involved in the NFL, but he might not see consistent targets each week. Hill is not worth drafting in the majority of leagues, but if he does anything early in the year he could be added off the waiver wire in deeper formats.
My projection: 42 catches, 641 yards, five TDs
Early-August ADP: Not being drafted
I'd take him: 207th overall
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns: Speaking of bad receiving corps, the Browns had to spend a second-round pick in the supplemental draft on Gordon, who was kicked off Baylor's team for testing positive for marijuana. He has plenty of talent, and he is expected to start opposite Greg Little. We might not see Gordon play at a high level until 2013, but he is someone to monitor. He had 42 catches for 714 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010, and if Weeden can find him on a consistent basis then maybe he can post quality stats. But we're not in the business of drafting on maybes, and Gordon still has a lot to prove.
My projection: 47 catches, 707 yards, three TDs
Early-August ADP: Not being drafted
I'd take him: 209th overall