10 Incoming NFL Rookies Who Could Have a Huge Fantasy Impact
Keep an Eye on These 10 Rookies in Your 2014 Fantasy Football Draft
The 2014 fantasy football season is still nine months away, but if you’re a guru (or aspiring to become one), you are already looking at who you should draft and when, especially if your league drafts early. Especially with today’s NFL, rookies are more valuable than ever because teams are relying on their first-year starters to make immediate impacts, which means there are new names to be seriously considered each season come draft time. This year is no different as we could have as many as 10 teams with rookie quarterbacks, although that seems like a stretch…for now. We also have several receivers and running backs who should be solid contributors for fantasy owners in 2014.
If you want to stretch things, you could include one tight end, but let’s not get carried away. Speaking of which, if you’re expecting to see Johnny Manziel, who is sure to be drafted No. 4 overall by the Cleveland Browns, click away now and strongly consider never watching pro football again because you’re nuts if you think this kid is going to make it in the NFL. But then again, you’ll probably draft him as your fantasy quarterback this year and be “that guy” in your league. Serves you right.
So with that aside, please take a look at the names you should get to know before your 2014 fantasy football draft and especially if you’re in a keeper league with a rookie draft because these kids are going to be good.
10. Rookie QB Drafted by Vikings
Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings are a solid signal-caller away from playoff contention, especially now that they have a viable head coach in Mike Zimmer. Enter a quarterback like Blake Bortles, who wisely chose to declare for the NFL Draft after his junior season. He threw for 25 touchdowns in each of his years as the Knights’ starter and never threw double-digit interceptions. His 3,581 yards and 67.8 completion percentage in 2013 are just further proof he’s ready to take over an NFL offense now.
9. Ka'Deem Carey
Despite being a Heisman candidate while ranking third in the nation in rushing yards with 1,885 Ka’Deem Carey is being mostly overlooked in the NFL Draft. The guy put up over 3,800 yards and 40 touchdowns on over 350 carries in two years as the starter at Arizona. What more do pro scouts want? Sure, Carey is “small” at 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, but there have been a ton of successful NFL running backs at that size. Ever heard of Emmitt Smith, who didn’t have nearly the speed that Carey does? Don’t sleep on the former Wildcats standout because he’ll be a pleasant surprise in fantasy land from the get-go.
8. Rookie QB Drafted by Titans
The Titans have a solid team and would have undoubtedly been a playoff team had Jake Locker not been injured. But Locker will always be injured and the Titans’ brass knows that, which is why they’re looking for a new signal-caller in 2014. And even if that rookie doesn’t start in Week 1, he’ll get his chance when (not if) Locker goes down and he’ll likely be a regular fantasy starter from that point forward, especially if it’s someone like Zach Mettenberger, assuming he heals from his ACL tear on time.
7. Jordan Matthews
At 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds, the fact Jordan Matthews caught 112 passes as a senior at Vanderbilt is enough to make pro scouts faint. He’s capable of catching that many passes (and putting up 1,477 yards) at that size, which means he’s the best of both worlds: He can put up PPR-caliber stats without being a pint-sized receiver like Wes Welker. In other words, he’s a fantasy stud in the making.
6. Kelvin Benjamin
Aside from Tre Mason, Kelvin Benjamin was the smartest underclassman to declare for this year’s draft. He’s NFL-ready right now and he has nothing left to prove. He made so many incredible catches (several for touchdowns) in his redshirt sophomore season, including the game-winner in the title game, that pro scouts know he can go up and get the ball any time. Introduce him to a big-threat-needy quarterback like Sam Bradford (or whoever the Rams’ passer is in 2014) and you’ve got a match made in Heaven.
5. Rookie QB Drafted by Texans
The Texans have a solid roster; they just need a breath of fresh air under center and on the sidelines is really all they need and they already have the latter in Bill O’Brien. Case Keenum made Houston competitive for a short period of time in 2013, so a solid signal-caller under center from day one is exactly what the doctor ordered. Teddy Bridgewater, anyone?
4. Tre Mason
Contrary to popular belief, Tre Mason is ready to tote the ball for an NFL team right now. He’s extremely quick, has a low center of gravity, is great at breaking tackles and he has something that most running backs his age don’t: patience. He already knows how to wait for the hole to open and he has the burst necessary to hit that hole before it closes, which makes him an ideal NFL prospect. He’ll be a steal in the real NFL Draft and your fantasy draft.
3. Mike Evans
Over a third of Johnny Manziel’s passing yards went to Mike Evans during his time at Texas A&M. In other words, this monster receiver made Johnny Football, which means he’ll be a big-time target for one lucky NFL quarterback in 2014. Speaking of targets, expect him to be targeted early and often in his NFL career as he’s a huge receiver at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds. In other words, he won’t need an adjustment period during his first pro season.
2. Marqise Lee
His sophomore season at USC is really the best reference as to what Lee is capable of; the six-foot, 195-pound receiver hauled in 118 passes for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns. That basically means he’ll have no problem collecting at east half those totals as a rookie, which means he’d be a borderline Rookie of the Year candidate. And with an offseason under NFL trainers, he’s likely to get bigger, stronger and faster, which means 1,000 yards in his first year is a real possibility, especially if he lands with the right team. Regardless, he’ll be a PPR fiend right off the bat.
1. Sammy Watkins
If there’s one player in the 2014 NFL Draft who is ready for the next level right now, it’s Sammy Watkins. This guy plays like a 10-year NFL veteran and he has the “it” factor needed to succeed in the pros. He’ll be a top-20 fantasy wideout in his rookie year, guaranteed.
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