Fantasy owners everywhere are always skeptical on drafting rookies because of the factor of the unknown. You are more reluctant to draft a rookie compared to a veteran because you don’t have a basis on which to judge these players in the NFL. But as is this case, every year some rookie or rookie splurge onto the season and create a fantasy buzz (i.e. – Marques Colston, Michael Clayton, and Chris Johnson). In this article I will break down some rookies that you should keep an eye as your draft approaches.
1. Matthew Stafford – At this point the Lions say Daunte Culpepper should start come opening day, but at some point expect Stafford to be on the field. Playing for the league’s worst team could mean a lot of passing for Stafford once he gets in which is good and bad. With Calvin Johnson at his disposal he should be able to show off the arm strength he has, but at the same time expect uneven play because of the unfamiliarity with the game.
2. Mark Sanchez – Regardless of what the Jets lead you to believe, I think Sanchez starts from day one. I expect him to have a season similar to Joe Flacco in that you will see glimpses of greatness at times. But the thing holding Sanchez back is a commitment to the run by Jets and the fact that their WR depth is slim, which will limit Sanchez in his development.
3. Josh Freeman – Freeman offers interesting potential that won’t be tapped into for another season or so. His size and arm strength is what makes him such an interesting prospect. Look for Freeman to see the field some point later in the season but don’t count on him fantasy-wise.
4. Pat White – The player who could see the field most from this draft class this year. Expect the Dolphins to use White all over the place on offense whether it’s in the wildcat or quite possibly running the spread offense. I strongly recommend drafting White late in your draft and putting him on your bench to see how the Dolphins use him.
1. Knowshon Moreno – Will see the field from Day 1 as a Bronco but temper your expectations a little on him. The Broncos have six RBs on their roster and coach Josh McDaniels has a history of using different backs during a game. Moreno, though, has a full set of skills running and receiving that make him a low end No. 2 RB this year.
2. Donald Brown – Brown could do this year for the Colts what Joseph Addai did in 2006. He should see plenty of carries for the Colts this year. Brown is a must have as a handcuff for Addai and is even worth a look to your team as a fourth RB.
3. Chris Wells – “Beanie” should be the perfect complement to an already stout Arizona offense. His power running mixed with his speed is what will lead him to start from day one. Expect Arizona to use his heavily in the red zone and look for him to record 6-8 TDs this year.
4. LeSean McCoy – With Brain Westbrook’s injury history and age, McCoy should be a must as a handcuff. A similar back to Westbrook he offers a mix of running and receiving ability.
5. Shonn Greene – Even though Thomas Jones had superb season a year ago keep an eye on Greene as he will steal some carries away from Jones as the year progresses.
6. Andre Brown – A potential sleeper candidate for the Giants this year. He will battle with Ahmad Bradshaw for the No. 2 RB position. With Brandon Jacobs’ injury history and the Giants potent run game, Brown is a guy worth monitoring before draft time.
1. Darrius Heyward-Bey – Heyward-Bey goes to an Oakland team in dire need of a WR. While this wasn’t the WR most people expected Oakland to take, Heyward-Bey offers a nice deep threat on offense. I don’t think he offers much fantasy value though for this year but if your need of a WR he’s worth a flier.
2. Michael Crabtree – The WR who offers the most potential amongst rookies this year. The only question surrounding him is how he responds from foot surgery. If he proves he is healthy Crabtree makes a fine No. 3 WR this year.
3. Percy Harvin – Harvin is another player who offers a lot of value if your format is PPR because the Vikings will consistently look to get the ball in his hands. His threat to take it to the house whenever he has the ball makes him worth a pick late in drafts.
4. Kenny Britt – In Britt the Titans have a WR who can be a threat in the red zone with his size, but the problem is Britt’s numbers will be limited because of Tennessee’s focus on the run. Britt should open as the No. 3 WR so let him remain on waivers until he shows some consistency.
5. Jeremy Maclin – With DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia was fast, and with Maclin they are now even faster. By drafting Maclin the Eagles have two guys who can stretch the field in a hurry, and expect Maclin to feed off Jackson well as he tops 750 yards and four TD’s.
6. Hakeem Nicks – If anyone watched Nicks’ highlight reel from last season you will know the potential this guy has. While it may take some time to fill the void left by Plaxico Burress, Nicks will help to ease that as he offers Eli a reliable target this year.
7. Brian Robiskie – Robiskie could turn out to be steal for the Browns if they settle their QB position. He is one of the more polished WRs in this year’s rookie class, and if Braylon Edwards can return to form, it opens up plenty of opportunities for Robiskie. Draft him late and stash him away; you will be happy come midseason.
8. Ramses Barden – A guy to keep an eye on, Barden offers the Giants a huge red zone threat with his size, and he also gives the Giants a downfield threat.
1. Brandon Pettigrew – Pettigrew could put up solid numbers for the Lions once Stafford takes the quarterback job. His size and receiving ability will make for a nice security blanket for Stafford.
2. Shawn Nelson – Nelson should start for the Bills right away, but with Terrell Owens and Lee Evans commanding catches, Nelson could see limited touches.
3. Cornelius Ingram – A straight-receiving TE Ingram offers decent sleeper potential for an Eagles team that should score a lot of points.
4. Chase Coffman – The NCAA all-time leading catcher at TE, he should offer Carson Palmer a reliable target over the middle and in the red zone. He’s worth a spot as a bye week filler.