2012 Fantasy Football: Rookies That Can Make an Immediate Impact
With the NFL Draft behind us, it’s time to take a look at which rookies have the most potential to make an impact on your fantasy team in 2012.
Here are eight players to be late-round picks at your fantasy draft that will have an immediate impact. And the first overall pick, Andrew Luck, isn't one of them.
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland
There’s little doubt that Richardson will be the starting running back in Cleveland. When your competition is Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya, this is a slam dunk for Richardson. With his impressive physique, he has the ability to be a downhill runner and attack defenders as he fights for extra yardage.
Some have said he may be the best running back since Adrian Peterson, but his physical aggressiveness may shorten how long he stays in the league.
Cleveland has shown little confidence in starting Colt McCoy at quarterback. His TD-INT radio of 14-11 doesn’t bode well for the Browns to try and win games through the air. Additionally, McCoy was forced to throw often because the Browns trailed late in games; he cracked the 250-yard barrier once in 12 games.
With Richardson as the running back, Cleveland has a chance to be competitive in more games but still faces the league’s third-hardest schedule. In a division that includes Pittsburgh and Baltimore, he’s going to need to be ready for the punishment he will take in 2012.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis
Fleener sticks out as a player with immediate impact for two reasons.
First, he already has rapport with first-overall pick Andrew Luck from their time at Stanford. In their final season at Stanford, Fleener caught 10 touchdown passes from Luck. If he can do something similar to that in the NFL, he should be able to have success.
The other advantage Fleener has is the ability to stretch the field from his position. He averaged slightly less than 20 yards a reception, and a 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash means he has big-play potential in his big 6'6" frame.
His size and speed are what make him stand out among the rookie tight ends, and he would be a nice addition to your fantasy team.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona
Floyd gives the Cardinals something they have been missing for about four years now: a legitimate receiver to take some of the heat off of All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald. His arrival will also let Early Doucet migrate into his more natural role as a slot receiver.
Floyd is another receiver who likes to go over the middle and is not afraid of taking a big hit. He’s going to be more of a possession receiver and a great red-zone target. Arizona doesn’t throw much to the tight end, so Floyd should get looks near the goal line and score a few touchdowns in 2012.
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Doug Martin late in the first round, they may have found their answer to their running back issues.
Martin has the ability to play all three downs and is much stronger in pass protection than incumbent LeGarette Blount. Martin is a good receiver out of the backfield; he racked up 56 catches over the last two seasons when he was at Boise State. Martin is also able to make defenders miss. He’s elusive and shifty and has amazing hesitation moves to freeze defenders.
With new head coach Greg Schiano calling the plays in Tampa, look for the Bucs to run more in 2012. Schiano came from Rutgers and did a fine job with running a clock-grinding offense when he had Ray Rice as his running back. Expect more of the same and Martin to overtake Blount by mid-season on the depth chart.
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis
Pead is going to be the Rams’ change-of-pace back in 2012 and will give Steven Jackson a much-needed break. Jackson is the between-the-tackles bruiser while Pead is the running back best used in space.
Pead can be best used on screen passes or wheel routes down the field to take advantage of his speed. He is great in open space, so he has the ability to break a long run if he gets into the secondary. He also averaged more than six yards per carry for his career at the University of Cincinnati.
Also keep in mind that Jackson has only played all 16 games twice in eight NFL seasons, so there is a slight chance that Pead could move into the featured back role in St. Louis. With head coach Jeff Fisher being another run-oriented coach, Pead is poised to make an impact.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit
Broyles gives the Lions a potential slot receiver to go between Calvin Johnson and Titus Young. Broyles is at his most effective in the slot, catching passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, and has a great set of hands.
Broyles is the all-time leading receiver in NCAA history, with 349 career catches at Oklahoma. He’s also got the speed and the ability to pull double duty and return kicks or punts as well. His speed and elusiveness add to his value.
The only downside is that Broyles tore his ACL in November. He is reportedly ahead of schedule in his rehab, though.
All of these elements make it sound like Broyles might be the next Wes Welker. Only time will tell if he is.
Brian Quick, WR, St. Louis
Quick was the name that shocked a lot of people when he was taken in the second round by the Rams. Once you see his attributes, you find out why they did it.
Quick has size (6'3", 220 pounds), speed (a 4.55 40-yard dash time) and leaping ability (34-inch vertical). Quick also has nice balance and is tough to tackle.
When the Rams inevitably trail in the second half, Bradford will be throwing and someone will be catching. Quick is going to be that guy, and look for him to be similar to Danny Amendola. That’s not bad for a guy who started playing football his senior year of high school.
Greg Zuerlein, K, St. Louis
Yes, it’s another Ram, but with so few fantasy options outside of Jackson and Bradford, nearly every other skill player has a chance to make an impact.
The reason you need to look at Zuerlein is that St. Louis will release veteran kicker Josh Brown and give Zuerlein the job as the placekicker.
Zuerlein came from Missouri Western. He transferred there after Nebraska-Omaha cut its football program in 2011. He went 38-of-40 on PATs and hit 21 field goals in a row to close the season. He was nine-of-nine on field goals from more than 50 yards out, and kicking in a dome can only be easier for him.
He’ll probably fly well under the radar but will have an impact if the Rams offense bogs down in 2012 like it did in 2011.
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