2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Rookie Watch

2012-06-11 12:08:57
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Griffin should make impact

Just like sleepers, everyone seems to love rookies. But much like sleepers, the rookies that pan out to be impact fantasy players are normally few and far between. This doesn't mean you should just ignore rookies, but do your homework and take the players with the best chance to succeed.

There are guys that will make a difference for fantasy teams. Just look at Cam Newton last season. Newton was among the best fantasy quarterbacks and a huge difference maker for fantasy teams. He was drafted as No. 2 or even went undrafted in many leagues, but ended up the third ranked quarterback at season's end. Needless to say, he carried many fantasy teams to the playoffs. Newton isn't the norm when it comes to rookie seasons but there can be rookie players that help fantasy teams.

Let's take a look at the quarterback position first. It used to be a rookie quarterback would have plenty of struggles during their rookie season but recent history shows this is changing. Don't be afraid to take a chance on a rookie quarterback.

Andrew Luck was the first pick in the draft but second pick Robert Griffin III probably is setup for the better rookie season. Griffin kind of has the makeup of Newton from last year but it would be a big surprise to see him come anywhere near Newton's huge numbers. Griffin has a better surrounding cast, though, than Luck and should be worth some spot starts for fantasy teams. He is a dual threat with touchdown and big-game potential. Don't rule out Luck for some big games but he has a lot less talent around him. He could have a few big games but is more a low-end No. 2 than anything for his rookie season. He'll be better down the road.

Another quarterback that should play a big role his rookie season is Brandon Weeden. Weeden isn't your typical rookie at age 28, so he might have a little better chance to succeed right from the start. He doesn't play in a great Browns' offense, though, and could be hit or miss in a starting role. He might be worth a spot start or two in the right matchup.

Our last rookie quarterback to watch is Ryan Tannehill. He is going to compete for the starting job with Matt Moore and likely won't win as he is pretty raw, but could get some playing time before the season is out. Don't discount Tannehill for a few big games in what should be a pass-first offense.

The running back spot can bring more immediate fantasy success than quarterback, though. There are a couple exciting candidates this season to be difference makers. The biggest impact should be made from Trent Richardson. He'll be the workhorse back in an offense that likes to one. He is setup for a big rookie year, getting plenty of carries.

Doug Martin is the other back expected to get a big workload as a rookie. Martin should be the immediate starter for the Bucs and projects as a three-down back because of his ability to also catch the ball. He has some nice total yardage potential in an offense that should be better.

A couple more rookie backs to watch include David Wilson and Lamar Miller. Wilson will be the top backup in New York, backing up and oft-injured back. Miller is a playmaker that should get chances to line up as a receiver as well as a runner. He could post some big games in what should be a better offense.

Our last three rookie backs that should make an impact are LaMichael James, Ronnie Hillman and Isaiah Pead. The 49ers have a lot of backs to compete with for playing time but James might be the best pass catcher of the group. He is a big-play threat with the ball in his hands. Hillman will play in an offense that might suit him better than starter Willis McGahee. It wouldn't surprise to see Hillman get a lot of chances, especially in passing situations. Lastly, the Rams finally addressed their backup running back needs, drafting Pead early. He'll backup Steven Jackson, who has battled injury of late, and should get chances in passing situations when not spelling Jackson.

Now the receiver spot is a different story for fantasy rookies. Young receivers can be big-time players and there are usually a few every season that fall into this category. And this season should be no different, especially guys like Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd. Blackmon might be more talented than Floyd but probably won't have quite the stats. Playing for the Jaguars hurts his value but he'll still get plenty of targets in a more pass-friendly system. Floyd gets to play alongside Larry Fitzgerald and should have many chances to stretch the field, making big plays. Floyd is setup for a strong rookie campaign.

Some other receivers that should make an immediate impact and start from day one for their respective teams are Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill and Brian Quick. Wright is another explosive player with big-play ability that should get some targets in an improving Titans passing game. Hill isn't too exciting because the Jets are going to run a ton but he'll start and be the top big-play threat at receiver for the team. He has some upside for the big game. Lastly, Quick could be the No. 1 receiver for the Rams his rookie year. He is a big target that can stretch the field or make the tough catch underneath. He could lead the Rams in targets this season.

A few other rookie receivers to keep an eye on are Mohamed Sanu, Juron Criner, Rueben Randle and DeVier Posey. Out of that group, Posey might have the biggest impact as he has a good chance to start in a good Texans' offense. And with Andre Johnson showing signs of slowing down, Posey could get a few more targets than expected. He has some upside and is worth a late-round grab. Sanu is another guy that will challenge for a starting gig. He could be the starter opposite A.J. Green in another offense that is showing improvement in the passing game. Randle won't start but should be the No. 3 for the Giants, who produced some good fantasy players the last few years in this No. 3 role. And Criner has been turning heads in Oakland in early workouts. There is a chance he moves up the depth charts quickly, similar to Denarius Moore last season.

Similar to the receiver position, tight ends can make some fantasy noise their rookie seasons. The position isn't quite as hard to learn as say quarterback or running back. We don't have a ton of possible impact players in this year's draft, though. The big impact player at tight end will be Coby Fleener, who reunites with college teammate Andrew Luck in Indy. Fleener might be the top target for Luck early in his career. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end his rookie season.

Two other tight ends to watch are Michael Egnew and Dwayne Allen. Egnew is a very talented pass catcher but not much of a blocker. But the Dolphins are looking for playmakers in their new offense, so Egnew could get some chances early in his career in obvious passing situations. Allen is another rookie tight end for the Colts, who seem to be going the way of the Patriots, loading up at the tight end spot. Although he won't start, he could play a similar role to Aaron Hernandez of the pats, getting plenty of chances to play.

To be honest, special teams is the place rookies have the best chance to make their mark. Rookies can use their natural ability on returns or even as a coverage man. The kicker position is another spot rookies can help on special teams. We have a few to keep an eye on this season. Randy Bullock is our top rookie kickers. He has the inside track to start for the Texans, who should produce plenty of chances for Bullock. He could be a legit No. 1 for fantasy teams.

Two others to watch include Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein. The Vikings don't have a great offense but have produced some decent fantasy kickers the last few years, so Walsh has some value there. He is going to start unless he implodes in camp and preseason action. And Zuerlein replaces Josh Brown in St. Louis. Zuerlein played in a small college, which is a concern as he moves to the pros, but the job is his for now. The Rams aren't a great offensive team but Jeff Fisher has had some big fantasy kickers through the years. He might be worth a shot for fantasy teams.

If you have any questions or comments, please email Jeff Paur at jeff@rtsports.com

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Charles ClayNov 21 05:52p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and he is doubtful for Week 12 against the Denver Broncos. Clay suffered a setback in practice [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 21 05:32p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is questionable for Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Head coach Bill O'Brien said Foster would [ More ]

Jason AvantNov 21 04:52p

The Kansas City Chiefs will sign free-agent WR Jason Avant (Panthers), according to a source. Avant worked out for the team Friday, Nov. 21.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 03:32p

Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is listed as probable for Week 12.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 03:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is considered a game-time decision for Week 12, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's appeal hearing is scheduled to occur Dec. 2, and commissioner Roger Goodell will not be in charge of the hearing. Former NFL employee Harold [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 21 02:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Friday, Nov. 21. Fitzgerald was working on the side during that part of practice.

Delanie WalkerNov 21 02:22p

Tennessee Titans TE Delanie Walker (concussion) has passed his concussion test and is good to go in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Giovani BernardNov 21 02:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, clavicle) fully participated in practice Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12.

Julius ThomasNov 21 02:12p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is listed as questionable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins after putting in a limited practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 02:02p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) practiced in full Friday, Nov. 21, and is probable for Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins, according to head coach John Fox.

Julius ThomasNov 21 01:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle), who appeared limited during practice Friday, Nov. 21, figures to be a game-time decision against the Miami Dolphins in Week 12. Thomas said [ More ]

Dwayne AllenNov 21 01:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) has been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jonas GrayNov 21 01:22p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray (undisclosed) was a no-show at practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Jordan ReedNov 21 01:12p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) missed his third straight day of practice Friday, Nov. 21, and head coach Jay Gruden said Reed has been ruled out for Week [ More ]

Emmanuel SandersNov 21 01:12p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is participating in practice Friday, Nov. 21.

Adrian PetersonNov 21 11:02a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said he'll gladly return this season if he wins the appeal of his indefinite suspension. If he loses his appeal and has to sit [ More ]

Latavius MurrayNov 21 10:32a

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) has earned himself a larger role in the offense, according to interim head coach Tony Sparano. His concussion, obviously, will dictate when that [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountNov 21 10:32a

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount was not signed by the team to replace RB Jonas Gray as the between-the-tackles runner. Blount's presence gives the team another tough inside [ More ]

Jeremy HillNov 21 10:02a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill will be the leader in a 65-35 split of the carries with RB Giovani Bernard in Week 12, in the opinion of beat writer Paul Dehner Jr.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

Pierre ThomasNov 20 05:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20. Thomas has missed the last four games, but he said there's a chance that [ More ]

Jerick McKinnonNov 20 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jimmy SmithNov 20 04:32p

Baltimore Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (foot) said Thursday, Nov. 20, that a Lisfranc injury is the reason he is out for the rest of the season.

Montee BallNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ronnie HillmanNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

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