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

Chris JohnsonNov 24 05:53p

New York Jets RB Chris Johnson will receive work on third downs, because RB Bilal Powell (illness) has been declared inactive for Week 12.

Fred JacksonNov 24 05:43p

Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (groin) is active for the team's Week 12 game.

Bilal PowellNov 24 05:43p

The New York Jets have declared RB Bilal Powell, OL Dakota Dozier, DE IK Enemkpali, CB Josh Thomas, QB Matt Simms, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Cyrus KouandjioNov 24 05:33p

The Buffalo Bills have declared DE Bryan Johnson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, FB Frank Summers, DL Jarius Wynn, TE MarQueis Gray, WR Marquise Goodwin, LB Randell Johnson inactive for Week 12.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

The Kansas City Chiefs placed SS Eric Berry (illness) on the Non-Football Illness list Monday, Nov. 24, according to a source. Berry will miss the rest of the season.

Eric BerryNov 24 05:13p

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) underwent an MRI on his chest, which revealed a mass in his chest. The team believes he has lymphoma, but there is no definite diagnosis.

R. Griffin IIINov 24 03:33p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III will start Sunday, Nov. 30, against the Indianapolis Colts, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

Jay FeelyNov 24 03:33p

Free-agent PK Jay Feely (Cardinals) will visit the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Nov. 25, for a kicking audition, according to sources.

Vernon DavisNov 24 01:53p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had three catches for just 21 yards in the team's Week 12 win over the Washington Redskins, and that came after he had [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 24 01:13p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) is expected to miss the rest of the season because of the pectoral injury he suffered in Week 12.

Tony RomoNov 24 12:43p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) went 18-for-26 for 275 yards and four touchdowns in Week 12 against the New York Giants, and he didn't show any signs of [ More ]

Shane VereenNov 24 12:33p

New England Patriots RB Shane Vereen had a team-high 62 snaps in the team's Week 12 win over the Detroit Lions, but RB LeGarrette Blount had 17 snaps and [ More ]

C.J. AndersonNov 24 12:23p

Denver Broncos RB C.J. Anderson rushed 27 times for 167 yards and a touchdown in the team's Week 12 win over the Miami Dolphins, and it was the most [ More ]

Alfred MorrisNov 23 11:52p

Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris averaged 6.0 yards per attempt on 21 carries in the Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was his first 100-yard game [ More ]

Larry FitzgeraldNov 23 10:32p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's (knee) sprained knee did not respond as hoped before the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, so he was inactive. He could well miss more games.

Doug MartinNov 23 10:23p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) returned to the lineup in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. He carried 11 times for 27 yards. He was sidelined for [ More ]

Michael FloydNov 23 10:22p

Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd was targeted twice in the Week 12 game against the Seattle Seahawks, but he did not record any catches or offensive statistics.

DeAndre HopkinsNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins posted five receptions for 39 yards in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is now over 100 receptions for the first time in his career.

Jorvorskie LaneNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers FB Jorvorskie Lane (ankle) was carted off in the second quarter of the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears due to what head coach Lovie [ More ]

Mike EvansNov 23 09:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans had three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears. He has now scored at [ More ]

Ryan MallettNov 23 09:33p

Houston Texans QB Ryan Mallett (pectoral) suffered a pectoral injury in the Week 12 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he will go for an MRI. He might miss [ More ]

A.J. GreenNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green posted a career-high 12 receptions for 121 yards in Week 12 against the Houston Texans. 'It's just one of those days when you just [ More ]

Andre SmithNov 23 09:22p

Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith (triceps) suffered a partially torn triceps muscle in the Week 12 against the Houston Texans. He will go for an MRI Monday, Nov. 24.

T Y HiltonNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton was up early Sunday, Nov. 23, for the birth of his daughter, and he promised a touchdown. After his wife delivered their child, he [ More ]

Eddie LacyNov 23 08:02p

Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy (illness) ran 25 times for 125 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and he added two [ More ]

Andrew LuckNov 23 08:02p

Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck completed 21 of his 32 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also ran eight times [ More ]

Charles JohnsonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Charles X. Johnson had three receptions for a team-high 52 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers.

Greg JenningsNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Greg Jennings (rib) had four receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown in the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers, his former team. It [ More ]

C. PattersonNov 23 08:02p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle, knee) left the Week 12 game against the Green Bay Packers due to ankle and knee injuries.

LeGarrette BlountNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount carried 12 times for a team-high 78 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after re-signing with the team this week.

Golden TateNov 23 06:52p

Detroit Lions WR Golden Tate had four receptions for 97 yards in Week 12 against the New England Patriots. He went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career.

Jonas GrayNov 23 06:52p

New England Patriots RB Jonas Gray did not play in the Week 12 game against the Detroit Lions after he did not report to the team's facility Friday, Nov. [ More ]

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