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We’re only a few weeks into preseason but we can already begin to see the writing on the rookie wall. Team camp reports mixed with roster positioning added to game performance are starting to give us a look at who is really capable of what. Those of us who draft in rookie only drafts, dynasty leagues or rookie keeper drafts already know what team took who and in what round. Now we can finally see if those teams got away with a steal or Ryan Leafed an early pick. Here is a list of the biggest changes in value since name selections of the 2011 draft, and whether it’s for the good or for the worse.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans – The lone running back selected in the first round of the 2011 draft showed us exactly what he is capable of in the first game of the preseason. Ingram made a nice up the middle run that ended in a few broken tackles and spin moves on his way to pay dirt.
Ingram has picked up the playbook quickly and showcased on that one run alone what he can do inside the 20-yard line. Benefiting Ingram is the fact that New Orleans is one of the more balanced teams in the NFL. The run sets up the pass and the pass sets up the run. Ingram will be the ground threat as Drew Brees keeps defenses honest. The only knock on Ingram is that his knee may be a concern.
Once you get past the Top 15 running back picks or so in fantasy, though, most of the running backs left in the draft will be guys who have vast talent added with concern. The guys at this point of the draft would probably range from Cedric Benson to Joseph Addai. If your league is a rookie keeper or some form of dynasty format, you’re certainly going to be better off risking an injury on a young back than on an overused back in the aforementioned players. Keep 2011 expectations to a medium but with the added foresight of extended production in the future. I would take Ingram around right around the draft position of Felix Jones but ahead of other veterans like Benson and Addai. Ingram’s ability to score when in close is what will make him a rookie sensation. The rushing yardage totals will come further down the line.
Mark Ingram’s Stock – Looking good now, looking great later
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati – Coming out of college, Green was said to the best wide receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson. Coming out of college, Calvin Johnson was said to be the best wide receiver prospect since Larry Fitzgerald. That’s pretty tremendous company to be mentioned in the same breath as. Green has the physical skill set to be unstoppable at the wide receiver position. Green is also in a great position in terms of future outlook. That being said, expectations for Green in the 2011 season should be held in check.
I doubt that Green will outperform Mike Williams’ rookie campaign from 2010 or Randy Moss’ domination in his rookie season. He’ll be playing with a second-round rookie under center, and option two in the passing game in Jermaine Gresham will only be in his second year himself. There is a lot of learning to be done in Cincinnati in 2011. With all of that in mind, if Andy Dalton has a solid rookie season and Gresham begins to establish himself as a top tight end and Green takes his rookie lumps and learns from all of his early achievements and mistakes, then there is no telling what he could do in the future.
Both Green and Dalton have looked a lot like rookies this preseason in that the talent is obvious, but so is the learning curve. I’d put expectations for this season right around the 850-yard mark. Given his size I’d guess an above-average touchdown total for his rookie year, right around seven scores. In a seasonal league I’d be looking at Green right around the Pierre Garcon area, just below the second tier wide receiver level. In a rookie keeper format, I’d be looking for Green right around the selection of Wes Welker, if not sooner.
A.J. Green’s Stock - Steady with yearly value increase
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