15 NFL Rookies Who Will Become Fantasy Football Studs
Top 15 Fantasy Football Rookies
The 2013 NFL Draft was once again loaded with offensive firepower, so naturally fantasy football owners have filled their cheat sheets with first-year players. Here is a quick rundown of the offensive players drafted within the top three rounds.
1 (8) WR Tavon Austin - St. Louis Rams
1 (16) QB E.J. Manuel – Buffalo Bills
1 (21) TE Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
1 (29) WR Cordarelle Patterson – Minnesota Vikings
2 (34) WR Justin Hunter – Tennessee Titans
2 (35) TE Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
2 (37) RB Giovani Bernard – Cincinnati Bengals
2 (39) QB Geno Smith – New York Jets
2 (41) WR Robert Woods – Buffalo Bills
2 (47) TE Gavin Escobar – Dallas Cowboys
2 (48) RB Le’Veon Bell - Pittsburgh Steelers
2 (55) TE Vance McDonald – San Francisco 49ers
2 (58) RB Montee Ball – Denver Broncos
2 (59) WR Aaron Dobson – New England Patriots
2 (61) RB Eddie Lacy – Green Bay Packers
2 (61) RB Christine Michael – Seattle Seahawks
3 (63) TE Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
3 (73) QB Mike Glennon – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3 (74) WR Terrance Williams – Dallas Cowboys
3 (76) WR Keenan Allen – San Diego Chargers
3 (79) WR Markus Wheaton – Pittsburgh Steelers
3 (87) TE Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
3 (92) WR Stedman Bailey – St. Louis Rams
3 (96) RB Knile Davis – Kansas City Chiefs
As last year showed us, any rookie can have a major impact from Week 1. To prepare you for drafts this summer, here are the top 15 rookies that will mature into fantasy football superstars.
15. RB Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers (South Carolina)
RB Marcus Lattimore, San Francisco 49ers ( South Carolina) – Before tearing his ACL last October, Lattimore was on the road to being drafted in the first round. He may be a full year from getting back onto the football field, but many players have come back from a torn ACL; Willis McGahee, Jamal Lewis and more recently Adrian Peterson. Lattimore has the size, speed, and desire to thrive in San Fran so don’t lose track of him in dynasty leagues.
14. RB Jonathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers (UCLA)
RB Jonathan Franklin, Green Bay Packers ( UCLA) – Franklin rushed for 1,734 yards last year in UCLA and proved that he can be a durable, every-down back. He will have to split carries with Lacy for the most part, but Franklin has already shown that he is too good to keep off the field. He could become a strong flex starter, even if he doesn’t get the starting gig, simply because there are enough touchdowns to go around in Green Bay.
13. WR Cordarelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (Tennessee)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (Tennessee) - Patterson was brought in to replace Percy Harvin as the team’s main vertical threat. Patterson will prove to be a strong complimentary receiver to Greg Jennings and the rookie’s ability to return kicks will bump up his fantasy value as well.
12. TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Notre Dame)
TE Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (Notre Dame) – Eifert was the number one tight end prospect all year, so it was not surprising to see him go in the first round. He has excellent sixe (6-6, 250) and has the athleticism of a receiver. Eifert will join tight end Jermaine Gresham and the duo will form a deadly one-two punch. The Notre Dame product isn’t the most polished blocker and in order to utilize him Cincy will be best suited to keep him on the field in passing situations only until he matures as a blocker. However, the kid still has amazing hands and could easily end up with six touchdowns in his first season.
11. WR Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (USC)
WR Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (USC) – Woods is the most polished receiver in this year’s draft. He runs flawless routes and will be able to memorize the playbook within a couple weeks. He should be able to make a steady fantasy career by averaging around 900 yards and six touchdowns per season.
10. WR Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots (Marshall)
WR Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots (Marshall) - In recent years, QB Tom Brady has made a living of throwing the post routes to unknown wideouts. The latest no-name receiver to add to that list is Dobson. The departure of Brandon Lloyd will leave the team in need of a vertical threat and Dobson may very well be that option. If he gets into the starting lineup, the former Marshall receiver could have a huge rookie fantasy campaign.
9. QB Geno Smith, New York Jets (West Virginia)
QB Geno Smith, New York Jets ( West Virginia) - Smith was projected to be the number one quarterback taken in this year’s draft by almost every pundit, but he plummeted all the way down to the 39th pick. To make matters worse, an offensively challenged Jets team ended up drafting him.
New York hasn’t even made it clear if he will be the starter. QB Mark Sanchez has looked much better in camp this year and the veteran could even open the season as the starter. Things just keep getting worse for Smith and the former number one prospect has since become a mid-level fantasy option at best.
8. WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (California)
WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (California) - Allen may not have blazing speed, or even run the crispest routes, but San Diego is in desperate need of a young playmaker on offense. Allen will have to contend with Danario Alexander, Malcolm Floyd, Vincent Brown, and Eddie Royal for playing time, but the rookie has expressed that he wants a starting spot. Allen does have a very high football IQ and seems completely healthy following a knee injury this fall. He will see plenty of targets this season, regardless of his official role, and the rookie could surprise people by leading all rookies in receptions.
7. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (Clemson)
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans ( Clemson) – Hopkins couldn’t have asked for a better situation. He will get to learn from WR Andre Johnson and the tutelage of the six-time Pro Bowler will help Hopkins mature tremendously in the early part of his career. Hopkins will also have Johnson and Arian Foster to constantly draw attention of the defense, which will only give the elusive receiver more room to work with. Expect Hopkins to catch a couple touchdowns this season and to score at least one on special teams.
6. QB E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills (Florida State)
QB E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills ( Florida State) - Buffalo shocked everyone by grabbing Manuel as the first quarterback off the board. However, the more time that passes, the more this pick makes sense.
Manuel has a very similar skill set to Ben Roethlisberger. E.J. is a big quarterback (6-4, 237 pounds) and brings amazing mobility to the team’s offense. Buffalo will be looking to grind out games late in the season and Manuel’s ability outside of the pocket will certainly come in handy during the cold weather games in Western New York.
It shouldn’t take long for Manuel to beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job and the rookie could be starting as early as Week 1. Manuel has 20-touchdown potential and is easily the best quarterback to lock up in fantasy dynasty leagues out of this draft class.
5. RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (North Carolina)
RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals ( North Carolina) - Everyone in the fantasy world was surprised to see Cincy grab Bernard in the first round, mostly because they still have BenJarvus Green-Ellis on their roster. However, the fact that they did shows that the team has big plans for rookie.
Bernard can run between the tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, and more importantly pass-protect. He may not have the job yet, but he could be a Ray Rice-type back for fantasy owners.
4. WR Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (West Virginia)
WR Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (West Virginia) - Shockingly the 174-pound receiver was the first skilled player taken off the board in this April’s draft. He has Percy Harvin-like ability and the team will do everything in their power to get him the ball in the open field. However, if the recent production of Harvin has taught us anything, it is that these types of small receivers don’t have a long shelf life in the NFL. Austin will have a couple stellar fantasy seasons in St. Louis, but don’t expect him to be elite for more than five years.
3. RB Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (Michigan State)
RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers ( Michigan State) – Pittsburgh already views Bell has a three-down back and the departure of Rashard Mendenhall will give the rookie every opportunity to become the starter. Pittsburgh loves to pound the rock inside and Bell could finally be the team’s bellcow. He has amazing size (6-1, 244) and is still athletic enough to be able to do a standing backflip with his football pads on.
2. RB Montee Ball, Denver Broncos (Wisconsin)
RB Montee Ball, Denver Broncos ( Wisconsin) - The team cut Willis McGahee this off-season, so the starting job in Denver is up for grabs. Ball certainly is the front-runner for the job, seeing as the team took him in the second round, but Ronnie Hillman’s name keeps coming up.
Ball is a hard-nosed runner that always moves from north-to-south. The Wisconsin standout holds the NCAA Division I record with 83 career touchdowns and could become a touchdown monster in Denver. Everyone knows that QB Peyton Manning loves to utilize the play action and Ball could end up having a huge rookie season if he can stay at the top of the depth chart.
1. RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (Alabama)
RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers ( Alabama) – Lacy will instantly become Green Bay’s goal-line back, and considering the amount of touchdowns the team scores, it looks to be a very cushy job. Lacy has an amazing nose for the end-zone and his downhill running ability could help him pile up touchdowns in Green Bay’s video game-like offense. Additionally, QB Aaron Rodgers loves to spread the ball around and the constant lack of defenders inside the box will help Lacy pile up the yardage before first contact. Lacy may not have a Trent Richardson rookie season, but the former Alabama standout will have a monster rookie campaign of his own.