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A Quiet Year So Far For Offensive Rookies

The unprecedented number
of significant fantasy contributions from rookie offensive players was one of
the trademarks of the 2008 National Football League season. Matt Ryan (

Atlanta), who was named 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the
Year, and Joe Flacco (

Baltimore)
both led their teams to winning seasons and playoff appearances. Ryan’s 87.7
passer rating ranked No. 6 in the NFC, while Flacco’s 80.3 passer rating ranked
No. 10 in the AFC. Steve Slaton (

Houston) and
Chris Johnson (

Tennessee)
finished the year ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in rushing among AFC
backs. In the NFC, Matt Forte (

Chicago) and
Kevin Smith (

Detroit)
closed out their first pro seasons ranked No. 5 and No. 11, respectively, in
rushing. Forte also led his team in catches. Other runners, including Tashard
Choice (Dallas), Jonathan Stewart (

Carolina),
Tim Hightower (

Arizona), Ray Rice (

Baltimore) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (

New
England
) also rewarded their owners with some nice fantasy
production during the course of the season. Eddie Royal (

Denver)
finished No. 6 in the AFC in catches (91), while DeSean Jackson (

Philadelphia) led his
team with 62 receptions and displayed some promise as a return specialist. John
Carlson (

Seattle)
was the most consistent of the rookie tight ends, leading his team with 55 catches,
which ranked No. 3 among all NFC tight ends.

However, with the 2009
NFL season more than half over, we have seen very few standout fantasy
performances from what has turned out to be a weak crop of rookie offensive
players. At this point, it is anybody’s guess who will win the 2009 NFL
Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Here is a breakdown of the most productive
rookies by position through Week 10:

QUARTERBACK

1.

Mark Sanchez,

New York
Jets

Stats:

130/243 for 1,655 yards, 9 TDs,
12 INTs, 60 rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 20 QB

Fantasy points:

130.8, 14.5/game

Summary:

Sanchez was regarded as the most
pro-ready quarterback to come out of the 2009 NFL Draft, but he rates as just a
low-end QB2/matchup play. The No. 5 overall pick from USC has tossed at least
one touchdown pass in seven of nine games played, averaging 183.9 passing
yards, one touchdown pass and 1.33 interceptions per contest. Sanchez also has
thrown for multiple scores in just two outings, and he has not topped 272 yards
passing in a game while operating the Jets’ run-first attack. In Week 8,
Sanchez threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins,
which was his best game to date. It is hard to expect much improvement from
Sanchez during the rest of the season.

2. Matthew Stafford,

Detroit Lions

Stats:

144/265 for 1,489 yards, 6 TDs,
12 INTs, 82 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 23 QB

Fantasy points:

106.7, 15.2/game

Summary:

In seven games played (he missed
two contests due to a knee injury),

Stafford
has averaged 212.7 passing yards, 0.86 touchdown passes and 1.71 interceptions
per outing. He has tossed at least one touchdown pass in five contests but has
thrown for multiple scores in just one game. The No. 1 overall pick from

Georgia has not
topped the 300-yard passing mark so far and has thrown for more than 250 yards
in a game just once.

Stafford’s best effort of
the season – he threw for 203 yards and two scores against the Seattle Seahawks
– happened in Week 9.

Stafford is a low-end
QB2/matchup play in deep leagues or quarterback-heavy leagues.

RUNNING BACK

1. Knowshon Moreno,

Denver Broncos

Stats:

132 carries for 520 yards and two
rushing TDs, 13 receptions for 71 yards and 1 TD

Fantasy rating:

No. 29 RB (PPR)

Fantasy points:

90.1, 10/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Moreno is the highest-rated rookie runner in points-per-reception
scoring formats. Although he has played in a timeshare with Correll Buckhalter,

Moreno has
averaged 17 touches and 65.7 total yards per outing. Used by his owners mainly
as a flex or fill-in option,

Moreno, the No. 12
overall pick from

Georgia,
has compiled 75+ total yards in five of nine games played.

Moreno also topped the 75-yard rushing mark
in four games and scored in two others. In Week 3 against the Oakland Raiders,

Moreno rushed 21 times
for 90 yards and one touchdown, which was one of his best games of the season.
Since

Moreno’s
timeshare with Buckhalter has been successful, he may not emerge as a true
workhorse runner this year.

2. LeSean “Shady”
McCoy,

Philadelphia
Eagles

Stats:

86 carries for 353 yards and 2
rushing TDs, 23 receptions for 181 yards and 0 TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 31 RB (PPR)

Fantasy points:

88.4, 9.8/game in PPR formats

Summary:

McCoy, a second-round pick (No.
53 overall) from

Pittsburgh,
has been in a timeshare with either Brian Westbrook or Leonard Weaver (it has
varied due to Westbrook’s health issues), which is why McCoy’s fantasy
production has been inconsistent. McCoy has rushed for 80+ yards in two
contests and has scored in two games, but he failed to top the 40-yard rushing
mark in four other outings. McCoy carried 11 times for 82 yards and one score,
and caught two passes for 10 yards versus the New York Giants in Week 8, which
is his best fantasy effort of the season. Westbrook (second concussion) will
miss Week 11, Week 12 and Week 13, so McCoy could finish 2009 as the top rookie
runner based on the extra touches that he is expected to receive.

3. Chris “Beanie”
Wells,

Arizona
Cardinals

Stats:

86 carries for 395 yards and 3
rushing TDs, 6 receptions for 49 yards and 1 TD

Fantasy rating:

No. 40 RB (PPR)

Fantasy points:

68.4, 7.6/game in PPR formats

Summary:

The No. 31 overall pick from

Ohio

State
is the biggest disappointment among the rookie runners, because many had
expected him to assume a workhorse role in the

Arizona offense. The Cardinals still throw
the ball quite a bit, and Tim Hightower –

Arizona’s current starter – continues to
steal touches from Wells, particularly in the passing game. The inconsistent
Wells has topped the 70-yard rushing mark twice and has scored in two games. On
the positive side, he has shown some improvement in recent weeks, rushing 16
times for 85 yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10,
which was his most productive game of the season. Wells’ timeshare with
Hightower seems to be working, so it is doubtful the rookie’s role in the
offense will change this year.

4. Donald Brown,

Indianapolis Colts

Stats:

50 carries for 226 yards and 2
rushing TDs, 8 receptions for 146 yards and 0 TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 51 RB (PPR)

Fantasy points:

57.2, 8.2/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Although Brown has flashed some
impressive explosiveness and power in limited action, he still sits behind
starter Joseph Addai on the depth chart. Brown, the No. 27 overall pick from

Connecticut, has
received double-digit touches in just two contests. He has scored two times but
has topped the 50-yard rushing mark just once. Brown also missed two games with
a shoulder injury. Brown amassed 112 total yards against the Arizona Cardinals
in Week 3, which is his most productive game to date. Since Addai is playing
solidly and Brown is performing well in his backup/closer role, it looks like
this timeshare will stay status quo for the rest of 2009.

WIDE RECEIVER

1. Austin Collie,

Indianapolis Colts

Stats:

38 receptions for 401 yards and 4
TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 28 WR (PPR)

Fantasy points:

102.1, 11.3/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Because of a long-term injury
suffered by Anthony Gonzalez (knee) in Week 1, Collie has received some
unexpected extra playing time. The fourth-round draft pick (No. 127 overall)
from Brigham Young has scored in three games, averaging four receptions and
44.6 receiving yards per outing. Back in Week 5, Collie torched the Tennessee
Titans, catching eight balls for 97 yards and one touchdown. His yardage total
during the last month, however, ranged from 26 to 66 per game. Gonzalez is
expected back in Week 12 and probably will return to the starting lineup, which
obviously would hamper Collie’s production.

2. Jeremy Maclin,

Philadelphia Eagles

Stats:

31 receptions for 413 yards and 4
TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 31 WR (PPR)

Fantasy points:

96.3, 12/game in PPR formats

Summary:

An injury to Kevin Curtis (knee)
opened the door for Maclin to start in Week 2, and the No. 19 overall pick from

Missouri is
going to keep his job. Maclin’s best outing came in Week 4 when he posted six
catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In
eight games played, Maclin has scored two times while averaging four catches
for 51.6 yards per outing. He also has caught at least three passes in five
games. Thanks to playing in the Eagles’ pass-happy scheme, Maclin is the
favorite to close out 2009 as the top rookie wideout.

3.

Percy Harvin,

Minnesota
Vikings

Stats:

31 receptions for 422 yards and 3
TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 34 WR (PPR)

Fantasy points:

91.2, 10.1/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Although Harvin, the No. 19
overall pick, is not a regular starter, his receiving numbers have been
surprisingly consistent overall. In points-per-reception scoring formats,
Harvin has compiled at least 9.1 points in six of nine games played. He has
caught at least three balls in seven outings and has scored in three others.
Harvin grabbed five balls for 84 yards and one touchdown against the Green Bay
Packers in Week 8, which is his best fantasy game to date. The

Florida product is
expected to see increased playing time going forward, because he is one of
Brett Favre’s favorite third-down targets. However, I would not expect a
dramatic jump in Harvin’s receiving numbers.

4. Mike Wallace,

Pittsburgh Steelers

Stats:

26 receptions for 453 yards and 3
TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 35 WR (PPR)

Fantasy points:

89.3, 9.9/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Wallace’s playing time increased
after he surpassed Limas Sweed on the Steelers’ depth chart, becoming the
team’s No. 3 wideout. Although Wallace’s fantasy production has been hit or
miss at times, the third-round pick from Mississippi (No. 84 overall) has
compiled double-digit fantasy points in two of his last three outings. So far
this season, Wallace has amassed 50+ receiving yards in five games and has scored
in three others. His best fantasy game of the season – three catches for 72
yards and one touchdown, and two rushes for 19 yards – happened in Week 7
against the Minnesota Vikings. Wallace should continue to produce decent
fantasy numbers as a WR3/flex as long as

Pittsburgh
continues to throw the ball regularly.

5. Hakeem Nicks,

New York Giants

Stats:

23 receptions for 407 yards and 4
TDs

Fantasy rating:

No. 37 WR (PPR)

Fantasy points:

87.7, 9.7/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Although Nicks is part of an
unpredictable wide receiver rotation, the No. 29 overall pick from

North Carolina has
played solidly when given the opportunity. During his last four games, Nicks
has averaged four receptions for 71.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per contest.
Nicks’ best game of the season – five catches for 114 yards and one touchdown –
happened in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints. He seems steadier than
starter Mario Manningham, but Nicks probably will not have a chance to compete
for a starting job until next season. He should be a steady producer as a
low-end WR3 or flex for the rest of 2009.

TIGHT END

1. Brandon Pettigrew,

Detroit Lions

Stats:

24 receptions for 268 yards and 1
TD

Fantasy rating:

No. 22 TE (PPR)

Fantasy points:

56.8, 8.1/game in PPR formats

Summary:

Pettigrew is the only tight end
from the 2009 crop that is remotely fantasy relevant. The fantasy production
from the No. 20 overall pick from

Oklahoma

State has been
inconsistent, but that is the norm with rookie tight ends. Pettigrew has hauled
in four or more passes in three games and has scored in one contest. On the
downside, he caught two or fewer balls in four outings. Pettigrew enjoyed his
best game of the season in Week 9 against the Seattle Seahawks, catching seven
balls for 70 yards and one score. Pettigrew’s chemistry with Matthew Stafford
is improving, but Pettigrew rates as just a low-end TE2/matchup play.

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