Top Fantasy Football Rookies

rookies are risky - but the top of this list swings safe

Macon TelegraphMay 21, 2013 

1.  LeVeon Bell - RB (Michigan State) Pittsburgh Steeelers

      After Reshard Mendenhall was benched for good and this time not due to injury, we all saw how effective (or not so much) the tandem of Issac Redmon and Jonathan Dwyer could be.  They each had a good game to their name but hardly a good season.  LeVeon came from a system where they ran him into the ground at near 50 touches a game so he knows what it means to carry the load.  As a good receiving option and a big presence on the goalline, he is the safest rookie bet for 2013.

2.  Geno Smith - QB (West Virginia) - New York Jets

     Every other site will tell you E.J. Manuel but I like the passing prowess of Geno Smith.  A healthy Santonio Holmes can be a better threat than a hobbling Stevie Johnson and Genos offensive line is better (though not by much).  If you play in a league that rewards passing yards - he's the guy for you.  Mark Sanchez may still make the team now that David Garrard is gone but I don't see him beating out Geno in a year where Rex is coaching for his life.

3. Tavon Austin - WR (West Virginia) - Saint Louis Rams

     Tavon Austin will be a Bryan Westbrook type do it all that might even lineup in the backfield when he's not returning kicks and providing a Steve Smith type explosion every time he touches the ball.  He came into the draft as the most dangerous offensive skill position and the upgrades to Saint Louis this offseason makes them a playoff contender.  You have to be concerned about his division and the competition at defenses but he is a playmaker that will produce despite I believe.

4. E.J. Manuel - QB (Florida State) - Buffalo Bills

    Remember when teams used to play it safe and have their quarterback groom and learn for a year or two.  Those days are long gone.  College systems are preparing quarterbacks better and teams may just flat out be more desperate.  E.J. will get his rushing touchdowns which is a nice bonus for him but I wouldn't be surprised to see a sharper learning curve than some of the blessings of recent years in Griffin and Luck.  He may be the size and shape of Cam Newton but I predict a long and hard rookie year on one of the NFL's worst teams.

5. Montee Ball - RB (Wisconsin) - Denver Broncos

     I'm cautious of the Denver runningback situation.  For one John Fox has always been aprehensive about rookie runningbacks even when they are clearly the best option on the team (see DeAngelo and Jonathan Stewart of years past) Plus Knowshon Moreno played better than I think anyone expected in relief and Willis McGahee was putting up very effective fantasy numbers before that.  And they did draft Ronnie Hillman so it's just a muddy mess for the moment.  If Montee distinguishes and seperates himself from the pack I would feel comfortable with him as high as my No.2 rookie

6.  Giovanni Bernard - RB (North Carolina) - Cincinnati Bengals

     I was one of the few Law Firm apologists last year.  I thought he ran with power and proved he could be an everydown back.  Cincinnati's front office does not agree with me, or perhaps they felt he was too good of value.  I agree Gio has the best skill set of any rookie runningback in this draft but his touches will be very limited of the rookie crop.  He may be a 3rd down and change of pace option only but if BenJarvus gets injured he could be sleeper gold.

7.  Eddie Lacey - RB (Alabama) - Green Bay Packers

     It was wierd watching all the other runningback get selected above Eddie Lacey who after the National Championship game appeared to be a first round lock.  But he ran a slow 40 and teams were clearly concerned about that ankle and his injury history.  He's a big bruising back but doesn't break tackles like Trent Richardson and doesn't seem as complete as Mark Ingram.  Making things less promising for him is that the early down carries may go Johnathan Franklin who is a better receiver.  He will be the Pack's goalline hammer though and might get 7-10 touchdowns on the year.

8.  Johnathan Franklin - RB (UCLA) - Green Bay Packers

    Double dipping has to spell doom for the prospects of Alex Green, DuJuan Harris and James Starks.  The Packers don't use their runninggame for balance just to keep defenses honest.  Aaron Rodgers runs the show and scat back Franklin might be a better fit.  He is explosive and a great option out of the backfield.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to see the UCLA product keep the higher profiled Lacey on the bench.

9.  DeAndre Hopkins - WR (Clemson) - Houston Texans

     I'm very pessimistic about any rookie wide receiver in fantasy.  It just is rare for a Julio Jones to come in and dominate.  Hopkins gets a great situation in being that he'll be a Day 1 starter on a Pro Bowl winning team.  However the Texans emphasis on running and Andre Johnson might make his good situation a meek fantasy one.  Still if I had to draft a second rookie he would make my cut

10. Cordarrelle Patterson - WR (Tennessee) - Minnesota Vikings

    Again another starter here.  For most of the month of March, Cordarrelle seemed like a lock to be the first receiver taken.  He then displayed maturity issues and not a lot of tape to lean on.  Still despite his 1 year in division one - he flashed the speed and size to be an intruige.  I wouldn't reach for this guy above the other two mentioned here but if Greg Jennings has lingering health issues (a very real possibility) this guy becomes the lone rookie No.1 receiver in football

 

Super Sleepers for Deep leagues otherwise don't draft

Zac Stacy (Rams) / Keenan Allen (Chargers) / Markus Wheaton (Steelers)

Great Handcuff Injury Situations

Latavius Murray (Raiders) / Joesph Randle (Cowboys) / Stepfan Taylor (Cardinals)

Don't believe the hype

Aaron Dobson (Patriots) / Terrence Williams (Cowboys) / Tyler Eiftert (Bengals)

Give these guys another year

Justin Hunter (Titans) / Mike Gillislee (Dolphins) / Denard Robinson (Jaguars)

Rookie TEs who might catch more than 1 touchdown

Jordan Reed(Redskins) / Vance McDonald (49ers)

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