Picking a rookie is a big gamble in fantasy football. Sometimes they pan out to be a serviceable player who nets you 10 points a week and helps you to a victory. Then sometimes they fall flat and crush your roster every single week netting you less than five points.
However, last year one rookie, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, broke the rookie mold by having a fantasy breakout season in his first year. That is why in comparing how these rookies will do in their first season, I'll be ranking them on what is called, "The Newton Scale."
Special note on the Newton Scale: One Newton means you should avoid this player, while Five Newtons means this is a player who will be a vital part of your roster and someone you should pick up.
So away we go!
Andrew Luck–QB–Indianapolis Colts
There are some pros and cons to Andrew Luck.
Pro: He's not Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins or Dan Orlovsky, so that means he won't over- or underthrow Reggie Wayne by 15 yards.
Con: He still has an offensive line that gave up 35 sacks.
Pro: He plays on a terrible team that will win MAYBE five games this year. So that means he'll be throwing a lot late in games.
Con: Teams will be putting 19 guys on Reggie Wayne daring Luck to throw to Donny Avery or Quan Cosby or T.Y. Hilton (also a rookie who is a big deep threat).
And finally Pro: Big body who can run, so he's like Peyton Manning in that he has a great arm and the ability to break down a defense but is more mobile than Manning.
Con: Manning threw for 26 touchdowns and 28 interceptions his first year with the horseshoe.
So Luck is going to be a good QB, just not an every week starter or even a BYE week starter (unless you need a starter, say, Week 13 vs. Detroit, who is terrible in the secondary but can score 50 points).
2 out of 5 Newtons
Robert Griffin III–QB–Washington Redskins
RG3 has everything you could ask for in a future franchise quarterback.
- He's got an absolute cannon for an arm.
- He's got a great personality that this team hasn't seen since Clinton Portis was wearing costumes to his press conferences.
- He can run but he's not a run-first, pass-second quarterback like a Mike Vick, Tim Tebow or Newton.
- And he's an underrated accurate passer.
However, the only negative for the third Robert Griffin is that his receivers are about as good as your flag football team's.
Sure, he has the newly signed Pierre Garçon and the 3,000-year-old Santana Moss, but after those top two options at receiver he has the president of the Theta Xi house, Chris Cooley, and one-strike-away-from-being-kicked-to-the-UFL Fred Davis as his tight end options.
On top of the mediocre weapons he has a coach who hates consistent running backs. One week Roy Helu will have a great game, so what does their head coach do? He benches him for Tim Hightower! Rinse, lather and repeat later, and RG3 will be wondering who in the hell he's going to be throwing screen passes to on a weekly basis.
RG3 is worthy of a backup spot on your roster, but only if you have a solid No. 1.
3 out of 5 Newtons
Brandon Weeden–QB–Cleveland Browns
I'll keep him and the next QB quick since I went long on the last two.
He plays on the Browns with NO receivers and a RB (I'll get to him in a bit) who probably won't play a down in the preseason. Only take Weedon if one of these things is in play: someone bets you money, the world depends on it OR if you not picking him means that fantasy football comes to an end and is outlawed by the government.
Also, because the Browns haven't had a quarterback throw for more than 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns since Derek Anderson in 2007.
1 out of 5 Newtons
Ryan Tannehill–QB–Miami Dolphins
He may not even be the starter when the season opens, plus his only viable target just head butted (allegedly) himself out of the NFL.
Plus, a fun fact about Tannehill is that he wasn't a QB when he was recruited to Aggie land by his then-head coach and now offensive coordinator in MIA.
Tannehill will get the starting job when Matt Moore is forced out by one of the 19 Dolphins celebrity owners when they do their QB judging like American Idol, which will be a future episode of Hard Knocks.
1 out of 5 Newtons
Trent Richardson–RB–Cleveland Browns
Richardson was the best running back to come into the NFL draft. However, he has three strikes against him before he even plays his first professional game in a Browns uniform.
Strike 1: He's had not one, but TWO knee surgeries on the same knee in the last 12 months.
Strike 2: He's going to run behind an offensive line that ranked LAST in the AFC that only gained 3.5 yards per carry with only FOUR TDs.
Strike 3: He's playing with a rookie QB who will be looking to hand the ball off to him because he's tired of getting sacked by Terrell Suggs, James Harrison and 12 other teams' best pass rushers on a weekly basis.
So Richardson may finish the season with four to six touchdowns, but he'll be lucky to gain over 500 yards.
2 out of 5 Newtons
Justin Blackmon–WR–Jacksonville Jaguars:
I went back and forth on where to rank Blackmon. He's not going to be a great receiver who you start every week, but he's not going to be a fart in a sandwich bag type of receiver that nets you three points.
Looking at the current crop of receivers, you'll see that Blackmon is the best receiver on the Jaguars. His first preseason game against the Saints was a success, with a 14-yard touchdown in the first quarter finishing with four catches and 48 yards.
However, if he had a good to great quarterback throwing him the ball, and not Sunshine from Remember the Titans, then he'd be this year's A.J. Green or Julio Jones.
But, because he has Blane Gabbert—AKA the only passer to finish behind Curtis Painter, thus meaning he finished LAST in the NFL in passing—Blackmon should be owned but not started every week.
3.5 out of 5 Newtons
The Best of the Rest
OK let's blow through some other rookies who may find their way onto your roster through the waiver wire.
Kendall Wright–WR–Tennessee Titans:
Tennessee is thin at the wideout position with Kenny Britt dealing with his legal issues, Wright could be a breakout star with Jake Locker or Matt Hasselbeck.
3 out of 5 Newtons
Doug Martin–RB–Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2 out of 5 Newtons
LeGarrette Blount is already injured, plus he was awful last year. So Martin is worth a late pickup since he'll get the majority of the carries and because even if Blount is back he could go down once again.
2 out of 5 Newtons
Coby Fleener–TE–Indianapolis Colts: 4 out of 5 Newtons
Fleener will not be the next Gronk, but, he will be one of the better tight ends in the league this year. He played with Luck at Stanford and with the entire secondary on Reggie Wayne, the middle of the field should open up for him.
Steal him late in your draft and watch as the two graduates from Harvard West outsmart Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville.
4 out of 5 Newtons
The Wrap Up
So as you can see, the rookies this year will not be like last year's class. They will be serviceable if you really need them or have they're in a great matchup.
The best one out of the bunch is Fleener. He will start, has played with his fellow rookie QB in college and will have the ability to get targeted a lot. Plus, Colts owner Jim Irsay is hell bent on making Colts fans think Fleener and Luck are the second coming of John Lennon and Paul McCartney—errrr I mean Peyton and Dallas Clark.
For more stuff like this, but in audio form, go to my website www.tjmcaloon.com and listen/subscribe to my podcast show.
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