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

Thaddeus LewisJul 22 10:33a

Buffalo Bills QBs Jeff Tuel and Thaddeus Lewis are alternating series with the second unit in team drills Tuesday, July 22.

Tyler BrayJul 22 09:13a

Kansas City Chiefs QBs Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel are likely to compete for one roster spot with QB Aaron Murray likely to make the team behind starting QB Alex Smith.

Navorro BowmanJul 22 12:13a

San Francisco 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman (knee) will likely return to action in Week 9 after the team's Week 8 bye, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

Jacques McClendonJul 21 11:03p

Jacksonville Jaguars OG Jacques McClendon is the frontrunner to start at right guard heading into training camp, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. OG Brandon Linder is the other candidate for the starting job.

Aaron ColvinJul 21 10:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Aaron Colvin (knee) will begin training camp and the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate [ More ]

Jeromy MilesJul 21 10:03p

Baltimore Ravens S Jeromy Miles has seen some reps with the first-team defense this offseason and is a dark horse candidate to win the starting free safety job, according to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley.

Brandon MosleyJul 21 09:43p

New York Giants OT Brandon Mosley will be given the first chance to start in place of OG Chris Snee when the first-team offensive line takes the field Tuesday, [ More ]

T.J. GrahamJul 21 09:23p

Buffalo Bills WR T.J. Graham had a pass fall through his hands after beating his defender on a deep route in camp Monday, July 21.ESPN.com's Mike Rodak believes Graham [ More ]

Sammy WatkinsJul 21 09:02p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins made several big plays in practice Monday, July 21, according to ESPN.com's Mike Rodak. Watkins beat CB Leodis McKelvin deep, hauled in a pass [ More ]

Marvin JonesJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals QB A.J. McCarron (shoulder), WR Marvin Jones (ankle) and CB Onterio McCalebb (knee) have been placed on the Non-Football Injury list.

Devon StillJul 21 07:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Clint Boling (knee), LB Marquis Flowers (hamstring), P Kevin Huber (neck), WR Colin Lockett (hamstring), DT Zach Minter (back), DT Devon Still (back) and WR Ryan [ More ]

Cordy GlennJul 21 06:53p

Buffalo Bills OT Cordy Glenn (illness) does not have a timetable for his return at this point, according to head coach Doug Marrone. 'I don't know that. It's a [ More ]

Mike CaussinJul 21 06:43p

The Washington Redskins have signed free-agent TE Mike Caussin (Bills). Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived LS Kyle Nelson.

Cheta OzougwuJul 21 06:32p

New Orleans Saints DE Cheta Ozougwu (undisclosed) and DT John Jenkins (pectoral) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Brennan WilliamsJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans OT Brennan Williams (undisclosed) has been waived with a failed physical designation.

Brian CushingJul 21 06:22p

Houston Texans DT Louis Nix (undisclosed), LB Brian Cushing (undisclosed) and LB Trevardo Williams (undisclosed) have been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

Eric HaggJul 21 06:13p

Denver Broncos SS Eric Hagg has informed the team that he has decided to retire from professional football.

Dominique EasleyJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley, RB Roy Finch, LB Deontae Skinner and OT Chris Martin have been placed on the team's non-football injury list.

Alfonzo DennardJul 21 05:23p

New England Patriots CB Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Jeremy Gallon (undisclosed), DT Tommy Kelly (knee) and WR Matthew Slater (undisclosed) will begin training camp on [ More ]

Leon HallJul 21 05:12p

Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) and CB Leon Hall (Achilles') will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

Jon BeasonJul 21 05:12p

New York Giants LB Jon Beason (foot) will begin training camp on the team's physically unable to perform list.

John JerryJul 21 05:02p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (leg), OG John Jerry (knee) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) will be limited when training camp starts.

Kraig UrbikJul 21 04:33p

Buffalo Bills OT Chris Hairston and OG Kraig Urbik saw first-team repetitions at right guard Monday, July 21.

Dezmon BriscoeJul 21 04:03p

The Dallas Cowboys signed free-agent WR Dezmon Briscoe (Redskins), according to his agent. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Phillip HuntJul 21 03:12p

Former Philadelphia Eagles DE Phillip Hunt (knee) has recovered from anterior cruciate ligament surgery and should begin workouts with teams in the near future.

Chris ConteJul 21 02:12p

Chicago Bears FS Chris Conte said he feels good as he recovers from shoulder surgery, but is unsure of his availability for the start of training camp. He could [ More ]

Alameda Ta'amuJul 21 01:53p

Arizona Cardinals DT Alameda Ta'amu (knee) and FS Tyrann Mathieu (knee) are candidates to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of training camp.

David WilsonJul 21 01:42p

New York Giants RB David Wilson (neck) should be able to help the offense if he is able to stay healthy this upcoming season, according to former offensive coordinator [ More ]

Chris SneeJul 21 01:42p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OG Chris Snee has officially announced his retirement from professional football.

Garrett CelekJul 21 01:22p

San Francisco 49ers TEs Derek Carrier and Garrett Celek will compete for the No. 3 tight end spot during training camp.

De'Anthony ThomasJul 21 01:22p

Kansas City Chiefs RB De'Anthony Thomas spent most of his time with the running backs during practice Monday, July 21. Thomas run a lot of passing routes out of [ More ]

Christopher OwensJul 21 01:13p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (knee), WR Kyle Williams (knee), WR A.J. Jenkins (hamstring) and CB Christopher Owens (hamstring) participated in practice Monday, July 21.

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