With the NFL only a couple of weeks away, draft coverage is one of the hottest things in sports right now. Every year fantasy owners try to pick out the rookie who will have a breakout fantasy season. Last season, Georgia’s A. J. Green racked up a rookie-leading 1,057 yards and tied the rookie lead with 7 touchdowns in his first season with the Cincinnati Bengals and ended up paying off huge as a late round fantasy selection in 2011. Below are my top fantasy contributors to come out of the 2012 NFL draft:
1. Andrew Luck (QB – Stanford) – Luck has all but inked his deal to send him to Indianapolis and with Peyton Manning now gone; the job is his to lose. Owner Jim Irsay has pined over Luck for two years now and will have no problem giving him the starting job from the first snap of the season, much like he did in 1998 when he first drafted Manning. Luck is coming from a very NFL-friendly Stanford offense, which has breed him to be a star from the minute he put on a Cardinal uniform. He has flawless mechanics and footwork in the pocket. Luck can make every read on the field, which is probably a good thing considering the gutted Colts team he is about to inherit. Luck is still the top fantasy option out of this year’s draft class, not because he is in the best situation, but because he has the long-term value of any quarterback to come out over the last five years.
Likely Landing Spot: Indianapolis Colts
Projection: 3,300 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 17 interceptions
2. Justin Blackmon (WR – Oklahoma State) – Blackmon has the raw speed and upper strength that makes him a perfect Calvin Johnson clone. He has gigantic hands and his 207-pound frame that allows him to fearlessly go across the middle of the field , something that has become increasingly lost among the younger wideouts in the game. The Oklahoma State star is the perfect fit as a number one receiver in the NFL and will be able to start from day one.
Likely Landing Spot: St. Louis Rams
Projection: 1,045 receiving yards, 10 receiving touchdowns
3. Trent Richardson (RB – Alabama)– Richardson is an extremely punishing downhill runner at a massive 224 pounds. He always runs with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and will be an instant goal-line addition to any team. The only thing lacking from his skill set is his home run hitting ability. Richardson does not have the break away speed that most NFL scouts look for as he ran a mediocre 4.58 40-yard dash. He will still be a serviceable fantasy option with his ability to score from about 10-15 yards out and has potential to score between 8-10 touchdowns in his first season.
Likely Landing Spot: Cleveland Browns
Projection: 847 rushing yards, 7 rushing touchdowns
4. Robert Griffin III (QB – Baylor) – RG3 is easily the second best option at quarterback in this draft class and the Redskins have a huge target painted on his chest. The 2011 Heisman Trophy Award winner is the most versatile option at quarterback to come out since Michael Vick left Virginia Tech in in 2001. Griffin III brings the speed of a running back to the quarterback position and will be a matchup nightmare for any team that plays against him. He was on the Dean’s List at Baylor with an amazing 3.67 GPA and should have no problem picking up a more extensive NFL playbook. Griffin III will have to work on his footwork though, as he does struggle with his three-step and five-step drops. His versatility and throwing accuracy still makes him a dynamic talent in this year’s draft and he is certainly worth a mid-round fantasy draft pick this summer.
Likely Landing Spot: Washington Redskins
Projection: 2,300 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 350 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns
5. Ryan Tannehill (QB – Texas A&M) – The converted receiver is still flying up draft boards this off-season. It is shocking considering that he had a mediocre bowl game and missed the entire senior bowl/combine with a broken ankle that he suffered why training for the events. However, Tannehill is being projected by thousands of people around the net to be picked by the Miami Dolphins, who have been desperately trying to find a quarterback since Dan Marino left. Tannehill is extremely raw from a mechanics standpoint, but he has a very strong arm and knows where to throw the ball where only his receiver can catch it, having been a former receiver himself.
Likely Landing Spot: Miami Dolphins
Projection: 1,200 passing yards, 9 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns