This article is an introduction to 2013's NFL rookies that may be fantasy football relevant.
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It’s almost fantasy football season, and as much as baseball is my favorite fantasy sport, nothing compares to the draft of a fantasy football team. In baseball, if a pick goes bad you can pick up production of the waiver wire and trade more easily to replace the pick. In football, wrong picks can be the difference between 6 TDs and 10 TDs, or 600 yards and 1200 yards.
Well I’m here to help you with deeper picks, and where I rank the NFL rookies that have just entered the league. Last year we were spoiled with top-25 and even top-10 players in a rookie class consisting of Doug Martin, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson. This year, the class is not going to be as exciting or as productive - but that doesn’t mean there aren’t potential playmakers to take calculated chances on! Also, everyone knows WRs rarely make the jump to the NFL and become instant fantasy successes, but that doesn’t mean potential fantasy value can't be found in this year's rookie class.
Let’s roll onto my fantasy football rankings for the top 15 NFL rookies that can be useful for your fantasy teams.
My Top 15 Rookie Rankings - 2013 Fantasy Football
- Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers – I absolutely love pass-catching RBs! Lacy will be catching checkdown balls from Aaron Rodgers and running through lanes created by Green Bay’s zone-blocking scheme. This was an excellent pick by the Packers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lacy have a chance at a top-15 back. The con here is obviously the injury concerns which you just can’t worry about with his upside and possible rewards.
- Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos – Knowshon Moreno or Montee Ball??? You have to take a decent shot at getting Ball during the draft. He’ll have a ton of value if he becomes the starter in Denver. Moreno gets hurt easily and I don’t see Ronnie Hillman getting more than 8-10 carries a game, so I’ll be targeting Ball at some point in fantasy drafts.
- Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams – Austin is a bit of head scratcher…Many people have him as the no. 1 WR in the Rams system, but Austin doesn’t have a clear position and is definitely slated for a playmaker/slot role in St. Louis. I think the Rams will definitely get him the ball but there is a lot of risk here and Austin’s situation reminds me a lot of Dexter McCluster’s a couple years back.
- Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo Bills – I personally think in PPR leagues, Woods might be the no. 1 Rookie WR in this class. He’s probably the most polished route runner and should be slated for a safety net or slot role for whoever the Bills QB is. Woods is very good and was significantly overshadowed by Marquise Lee at USC.
- E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills – Obviously, this is only if he wins the starting gig. We’ll have to see as training camp goes on, but I don’t see any reason why the Bills shouldn’t start his development immediately. Especially since Manuel can improvise and bide time in the pocket, might as well let him loose and see what you got. I expect Manuel and Robert Woods to become best friends.
- Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans – With a receiving corps of Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Kenny Britt, Hunter may not get playing time immediately. Some scouts had Hunter as the best WR and most NFL-ready receiver in the draft so tread lightly. There is some major risk/reward here, but it all really depends on Jake Locker and who he meshes with, he never had good rapport with Washington or Britt.
- Leveon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – It’s going to be an interesting fight between Jonathan Dwyer and Bell for carries in the backfield. Either way, Bell should get some decent production. Pittsburgh’s line and running game isn’t what it once was, but they have to run on the ground to keep the defenses off balance.Update: Bell unfortunately came down with a right foot injury, and is expected to miss up to six weeks with a small ligament tear. He should be downgraded in fantasy football drafts to a mid-to-late round pick, but still has the upside to contribute when healthy this year.
- Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots – With the entire New England receiving corps possibly on the shelf at the beginning of the season, Dobson has a real chance to gain rapport and targets from stud Tom Brady. He’s a really underrated receiver and can be a sleeper in all fantasy drafts.
- Giovanni Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals – I’d be careful with Bernard in year one of his career. The Bengals still have Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott in the backfield. Some people predict Bernard to take the starting gig, but I think all three will be getting carries. I expect 10-13 carries a game for Bernard, not too enticing for fantasy.
- Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings – Patterson at the very least should be the no. 3 WR on depth chart. I foresee a no. 2 role and veteran/troublemaker Jerome Simpson to slide to the slot. Patterson should be a nice compliment to newly acquired Greg Jennings, but I expect the targets to be low at first and increase over the season. Keep him on the watch-list or spend a final pick on him.
- Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers – This might be the ultimate sleep WR pick. Allen could slip right into a slot role for the Chargers and play with Malcolm Floyd, Vincent Brown and Antonio Gates. The good thing is we know Phillip Rivers is going to air it out, so targets will be had. If Allen can make a splash early, he’s a darkhorse candidate for ROY.
- Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys – This is one of my favorite RB to watch in college. He was so underrated in the Oklahoma State system where they spread it out and pass, but Randle had great running ability. Randle will be backing up DeMarco Murray, who isn’t the most durable back in the NFL, so getting Randle could be smart and if you own Murray, Randle is a ‘must’ hand-cuff.
- Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams – Welcome to the youngest offense on Earth…The Rams have Sam Bradford accompanied by Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick, Isaiah Pead, and Stacy. Stacy should see carries every game with a shot to become majority leader. I don’t see Pead or Daryl Richardson becoming big time backs and I definitely see Stacy getting goal line carries at some point.
- DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans – Houston’s official depth chart on Yahoo! Lists Hopkins as the no. 2 WR…good news, no doubt. My money is DaVier Posey is more of the breakout candidate for this year opposite Andre Johnson. Of course, Johnson spend half the season on IR, so Hopkins has great potential and will have playing time…just warning you how much Houston and Matt Schaub love Posey.
- Mike Gillislee, RB, Miami Dolphins – Gillislee has more of that ‘X-Factor’ potential where he can be sneaky good as a no. 3 back. Similar to Darren Sproles early years, just a late back to watch-list or take a flyer on as his two counterparts in the backfield aren’t overly successful either.
Here are some more fantasy football articles about rookies & rankings. Let’s win some leagues!
- 2013 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Running Back (RB)
- 2013 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Quarterback (QB)
- 2013 Fantasy Football Preseason Rankings: Tight End (TE)
- 2013 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Handcuffs by Tiers
- 2013 Fantasy Football: NFL Rookies & Rankings
- 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Rookie Running Backs
- 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Rookie Wide Receivers
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