Most of April’s NFL draft will be centered on the two franchise-elevating quarterbacks who are likely to be selected first and second in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.
While those two game-changing quarterbacks will no doubt make impacts among their franchises, they are not the two most ideal players to target for fantasy purposes. Running backs and wide receivers usually rule the roost when selecting rookies in fantasy football and the two at the top of this definitively hold more value than the rest of the pack.
The 2012 NFL draft class should feature another bumper crop of impact players. In order, here are the seven players to target for your fantasy squad next year.
(Disclaimer: This list is comprised of players to target in non-keeper/dynasty leagues for the 2012 season.)
The crown jewel of the NFL draft class from a fantasy perspective is without a doubt Richardson.
Richardson is all but assured to be a top-10 selection in this month’s draft. Cleveland, who has the fourth pick, is in desperate need of an every-down running back and taking Richardson makes all the sense in the world.
Richardson possesses all the natural abilities in a running back you are looking for: speed, size, strength and agility. Wherever he lands, Richardson should have an immediate impact. Richardson should be looked at as a No. 2 running back in standard fantasy leagues.
With rookie receivers all the rage now considering the seasons A.J. Green and Julio Jones had in their inaugural seasons, Blackmon is next in line to make an immediate splash.
Just like Richardson, Blackmon is another skilled position player that is likely to be selected within the first 10 picks. Many are saying he is a fit for the Rams, who have the sixth overall pick.
And just like Green and Jones, Blackmon has all the tools to be an instant hit right out of the gate. Whichever team lands him, Blackmon will be worthy of perhaps being a No. 2 receiver (no lower than a No. 3) on fantasy squads next season.
Although not on par with the talent of a Blackmon, Floyd is no slouch, as he has been tantalizing scouts for years with his God-given abilities.
Floyd should be selected somewhere within the middle of the first round with the Cardinals, Bengals and Bears being possibilities.
It may take some time for Floyd to adjust to the rigors of the NFL, but he could be a star in the making.
Wilson, who is rising up many draft boards, is a player fantasy owners should familiarize themselves with.
After having a very impressive combine, Wilson could be the second running back taken in this month’s draft. His status heading into next year’s fantasy drafts will depend on where he ends up as he could be part of a running back-by-committee.
Either way, Wilson, with his speed and burst, will work his way into receiving plenty of carries heading into next year.
Yes, Cam Newton broke the mold on how a rookie quarterback should perform in their first season, but expecting Luck and Griffin III to have seasons that Newton just had is unrealistic.
Luck has more value in dynasty/keeper leagues. Luck still has to grasp the nuances of the NFL before we can trust him as anything more than a backup for fantasy purposes.
Just like Luck, expecting Griffin to come in and make an impact a la Cam Newton is just too far-fetched an idea.
That’s not to say that Griffin won’t excite the masses and put up quality fantasy stats off the bat. Griffin is almost a lock to be a Redskin, and with the limited weapons they have, Griffin could be in for a bumpy ride—at least initially.
Griffin is no doubt worth a selection in fantasy drafts and should provide owners with a great backup option with the possibility for a lot more.
Martin is rapidly ascending up the draft board after showing glimpses of greatness in the Senior Bowl and at the combine.
Martin is blessed with great hands and should make for a versatile running back. Most pundits are expecting Martin’s name to be called in either the first or second round.
Much like Wilson, Martin may have a limited role at first depending on who drafts him, but he at least will be a viable third-down running back with growth for more.