Fantasy Football 2012: 6 Rookies Who Will Help You Win Your League

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJune 7, 2012

Fantasy Football 2012: 6 Rookies Who Will Help You Win Your League

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    Last season showed that rookies can shift the balance of fantasy football leagues.

    Anyone who drafted Cam Newton, Julio Jones or A. J. Green in 2011 knows that picking a hyped newcomer can sometimes pay major dividends for your squad. 

    Unfortunately, the early stock on some of the most notable rookies might be too high to justify spending a premium pick on an unproven commodity.

    While Andrew Luck is undoubtedly a future superstar, some owner will likely jump too high to grab him. Remember, even Peyton Manning" href="" target="_blank">Peyton Manning threw 28 interceptions in his rookie season.

    Trent Richardson, who should take the bulk of the carries as the Cleveland Browns' workhorse, looks poised to break the mold of young running backs splitting carries. Since Yahoo!'s analysts rank him next to Chris Johnson and Marshawn Lynch, he will need 300 carries to provide a return on value at such a high price. 

    The first or second round is not the time to roll the dice on a rookie instead of grabbing an established star, but there are still plenty of neophytes obtainable at a more reasonable portion of the draft who can lead you to fantasy football glory.

Robert Griffin III

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    Robert Griffin III is one big name worth discussing in fantasy football leagues this year.

    The possibility exists that a leaguemate will reach for the young quarterback with hopes of landing this year's Cam Newton. It's also possible that he becomes this year's Cam Newton.

    While setting the bar so high is unfair, he displays a repertoire well suited for fantasy play. RGIII is an amazing athlete who can make plays with both his arm and legs. Although he is not as big as Newton, RGIII displays speed comparable to Michael Vick" href="" target="_blank">Michael Vick.

    I am very curious to see where owners draft him this season. If they fall in love with his tremendous upside and snag him right after Newton and Matthew Stafford" href="" target="_blank">Matthew Stafford.

    If you miss out, or choose to wait, on a quarterback in a 10- or 12-team league, pairing RGIII with a more stable option such as Ben Roethlisberger" href="" target="_blank">Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip Rivers or Matt Ryan" href="" target="_blank">Matt Ryan could be a savvy move. In that scenario, you can minimize the risk of drafting Griffin III in hopes of hitting the jackpot on a pick with major upside.

    Ranking him as a top-12 quarterback is a bit extreme, but I certainly would not be shocked if Griffin III finished the season as one of the position's premier scorers.

Doug Martin

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    When Cleveland blocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their pursuit of Richardson, Tampa Bay instead traded up to select Doug Martin with the No. 31 pick.

    Take a page out of their playbook. Pass on Richardson and wait to select Martin instead.

    Although Martin also will not be cheap to obtain, you should not have to select him while the running backs closest to "sure things" are still on the board. As far as rookies are concerned, Martin seems like a safe bet to help your fantasy squad.

    LeGarrette Blount, the trendy breakout selection from last year, fell out of favor in Tampa Bay, receiving only 17 carries in last season's final three games. While Blount will still get some touches, Martin should immediately become the Buccaneers' top rusher.

    Unlike Blount, Martin can pose a threat as a pass-catching back who should see more playing time due to superior blocking skills. Blount could, however, challenge Martin's fantasy value by stealing goal-line carries.

    Even if Blount vultures a few touchdowns, Martin should tally enough yards to satisfy owners as a second or third running back option.

David Wilson

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    After cutting Brandon Jacobs loose, the New York Giants drafted running back David Wilson with the last pick of the first round. Expect him to get an opportunity to shine immediately.

    While they probably would have selected Martin if available, the rookie out of Virginia Tech is no slouch. At 5'10" and 206 pounds, Wilson is a hard runner who closely resembles him teammate and main competition for carries, Ahmad Bradshaw.

    I have targeted Bradshaw in drafts for years now, but I am starting to doubt his ability to take the next step as an elite running back. His yards per carry, which stood at 3.9 in 2011, has decreased in every season of his five-year career.

    Constantly dampened by injuries, fans are always wondering what Bradshaw can do if fully healthy, but has that ever been the case?

    Wilson should receive Jacobs' 152 carries from last year with the chance for more if Bradshaw misses action. Drafting the talented, yet unpolished Wilson is a swing for the fences. If you want to win your league, you should try to hit a couple home runs in the middle rounds.  

Lamar Miller

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    Sure, you could spend one of your final picks on a veteran like Joseph Addai, but where's the fun in that?

    Taking some chances is crucial if you want to win. Since I am too afraid to take any actual risks in real life, let's just gamble on a young rookie with loads of potential to conclude our fantasy football draft.

    There are plenty of reasons not to bother with Lamar Miller. He only started one season at the University of Miami before declaring for the NFL Draft. He dropped to the fourth rounds due to concerns over a knee injury.

    Although he gets to stay at home, the Miami Dolphins was not the ideal destination for his fantasy value. Reggie Bush earned a career-high 216 carries and 1086 rushing yards last year, and they are not giving up on Daniel Thomas just yet.

    Now let's examine the positives. Miller, a 5'10'' back weighing 212 pounds, ran a 4.4 40-yard dash and looked slated for a first or second-round selection before injury worries arose. His dazzling quickness mixed with a strong frame has often drawn comparisons to LeSean McCoy.

    Miami may not have been the best scenario, but can we trust Bush to continue his rebirth as a durable back? A Bush injury and continued subpar play from Thomas both seem like plausible situations.

    Go for it. Take a chance on Miller with one of your final picks, where everyone is just looking to get lucky and strike gold. What do you have to lose?

Mohamed Sanu

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    Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals finally found a top wide receiver to replace Chad Ochocinco, back when he was named Johnson and still an elite player.

    This year, they might have found their new T. J. Houshmandzadeh. 

    Rookie Mohamed Sanu found a great situation where he will perfectly complement A.J. Green. Sanu, who caught 115 passes in his final season at Rutgers, will provide Andy Dalton with a steady target to move the chains while Green burns opposing secondaries with big plays.

    Sanu does not offer the upside of other rookie receivers such as Stephen Hill and Alshon Jeffery, but he can contribute right away. Most drafters will overlook Sanu in hopes of instead finding the next Green, but expect them to finish the season disappointed.

    As a player you can probably grab for next to nothing, Sanu could be a solid performer, especially in a points-per-reception league.  

Rueben Randle

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    I already expressed my desire to draft Rueben Randle in fantasy leagues this year, but it is worth repeating.

    With or without Hakeem Nicks, Randle, who resembles Nicks as a large target who can run sharp routes, has the potential to outperform all other rookie wide receivers. That includes Justin Blackmon, who finds himself in a bleak offense.

    If Nicks stays on track and plays in Week 1, Randle should still become the New York Giants' third receiver. Ramses Barden has caught 15 passes in his three-year career, and Jerrel Jernigan did not catch a single ball during his rookie season.

    Those are the guys challenging Randle for playing time? Yeah, I think Randle will see plenty of snaps in New York.  

    The secret is out on Victor Cruz, so defenses will scheme to avoid salsa dances in their end zone. If Nicks is sidelined, Cruz will face double-teams with Randle on the other side. A healthy Nicks is just one more major threat to draw attention away from Randle.

    Randle could serve as a major piece in one of the league's most dangerous passing attacks, so snag him with one of your bench spots.