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2015 Rookie Preview

The NFL Draft is in the over and most of the rookie mini-camps are done. Now we can focus on the 2015 season.

After the tremendous season had by several rookies in 2014, I can hardly wait for the encore performance that the 2015 class has in store. The 2014 class had a terrific group of wide receivers, but this year’s class has that, plus a very good group at running back as well. Below is how I see things shaking out as far as rankings go in redraft leagues for the coming year.

1. Melvin Gordan – RB – San Diego Chargers

The early favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year could very well be Melvin Gordan for the San Diego Chargers. San Diego traded 2 draft picks to move up 2 spots to get him in the first round and he enters the best possible situation. He plays on a good team, with a good quarterback, and a big need for a #1 running back. Gordan averaged 7.6 yards per carry for Wisconsin last year with 29 touchdowns and 2,587 yards. A big factor in achieving those gaudy numbers is he hits top speed quickly. Melvin could also be very strong at the end of the year for you because his Strength of Schedule is very nice during playoff Weeks 14-16.

2. Amari Cooper – WR – Oakland Raiders

It looks like Derek Carr has a new best friend in Amari Cooper. Cooper comes in as the most pro-ready wide receiver with all the tools to excel in the NFL. Amari is a terrific route runner with good long speed which should help him be a target monster in Oakland. Last year at Alabama, he lead all wideouts in targets (174) and receptions (124). Realistically, the Raiders should be behind most games and should be throwing the ball more, and that means more production out of Amari. Remember, that you don’t need to be on a good football team to be a productive fantasy football performer.

3. Nelson Agholor – WR – Philadelphia Eagles

The loss of Jeremy Maclin in free agency was feared throughout Philadelphia, and it came to fruition as Maclin left to join former Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid in Kansas City. Apparently, Agholor was the plan all along for Chip Kelly, and he couldn’t have been happier to land him in the draft. In his senior year at USC, Agholor had 1,313 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the Trojans. Some experts said that this was the pick a month before the draft, knowing that Nelson was an ideal fit in Philly. Agholor is eerily similar in size and combine scores to Jeremy Maclin. Nelson is an exceptional route runner with instant speed and is also a great return man.

4. Tevin Coleman – RB – Atlanta Falcons

When Steven Jackson was not re-signed, it created an opening for somebody to come in and contribute in a high-scoring offense – and that is never a bad thing. Coleman was a little bit hidden while playing for Indiana, but he had 29 runs of 15-plus yards last year and had 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has great straight-line speed with a 4.39 time in the 40. Tevin should see the early down work as well as down by the goal-line in Atlanta and will likely concede the field on 3rd downs to receiving back Devonte Freeman. I can see Coleman gaining 1,000 yards and scoring 8 touchdowns.

5. T.J. Yeldon – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars

This looks like another match-made-in-heaven for Yeldon (this draft was full of them). T.J. comes in and will almost certainly fill in as the early down back with his big frame, but he can also catch and block. Yeldon averaged 5.77 yards-per-carry with Alabama and had 3,816 total yards from scrimmage with 37 touchdowns. If you think about the Jaguars backs, think more Fred Taylor than Maurice Jones-Drew. T.J. is a patient runner and uses his power well. He can instantly help Blake Bortles in more ways than one.

6. Kevin White – WR – Chicago Bears

The magic continues with players landing in dream situations. Brandon Marshall was traded to the Jets in the offseason and left a vacancy opposite Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver. The Bears drafted White and he is another big target to go along with Jeffery and Martellus Bennett downfield and Matt Forte out of the backfield. My fear is that Chicago won’t target him enough, and Jay Cutler forces more throws to the other three. Remember, we are still talking about Jay Cutler here. Kevin has the size at 6’3” and 215 lbs and speed with a 4.35 40-time to be an instant factor if used properly. White is very physical with great ball skills.

7. Todd Gurley – RB – St Louis Rams

It seemed odd that the Rams drafted another running back so early after the effective season that Tre Mason had for them just last year. But truth be told, St Louis had him as THE TOP player in the draft, period (and the best to enter since Adrian Peterson). With their quarterback play in question, it seems destined that the Rams will run the ball as often as possible. Some teams were a little nervous with Gurley because of his ACL recovery (he may not be ready for the start of the season). Please don’t make a mistake, Todd is very gifted and will be a great asset for the offense for the foreseeable future. In dynasty leagues, he is the top pick.

8. Ameer Abdullah – RB – Detroit Lions

To be honest, I was a little puzzled with the pick, I thought the Lions were happy with their stable of running backs. But the more I look at it, the more I like it. Abdullah is a tough runner and receiver who can play all three downs and he is aggressive in nature. In his last two seasons at Nebraska, he had 3,301 yards and 33 touchdowns. Ameer should take over the 3rd down role that has been handled by Reggie Bush and he can also spell Joique Bell running the ball. He could be a very sneaky pick for you late in your draft.

9. DeVante Parker – WR – Miami Dolphins

Get ready for Ryan Tannehill to take another step up in the fantasy ranks, the stars are lining up for him. Parker slid down to the 14th pick and the Dolphins snatched him up. Gone are Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Charles Clay. In are Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, Cameron Jordan, and Parker. Miami lined up with three wide receivers on 80% of pass plays last year and I can see Parker starting sooner rather than later. DeVante has a big arm radius with great ball skills and should be an excellent red zone option.

10. Breshad Perriman – WR – Baltimore Ravens

Out goes one deep speed guy in Torrey Smith, in comes another one with Perriman out of the University of Central Florida. Perriman excelled in his Pro-Day workouts and ran a 4.26 40 to shoot up draft boards. He has the speed and size at 6’3” to be a force down field and catch one of the best deep ball throwers in Joe Flacco. Perriman averaged 20.9 yards per catch last year and had nine touchdowns. Let us also not forget that the Ravens’ #1 wide receiver is 36 years old and seemed to lose some as the year went on last season. Don’t sleep on Breshad, he will perform better than you think.

About Todd Latzke