NFL Fantasy Update: 2009 Rookie Fantasy Value
by Derek of The Sportmeisters
What a weekend for football. The NFL Draft finally came and went, and what a draft it was. Being the Fantasy Guru of the Sportmeisters, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about the fantasy implications of some of the 2009 Rookies.
Obviously, you aren’t going to be reaching in the first three rounds for one of these guys, but there are definitely some players worth a look in the middle to later rounds. Let’s take a look at who those guys might be.
WR – Michael Crabtree – San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers stole Crabtree at pick 10 after the Rams, Chiefs, Seahawks, Bengals, Raiders, and Jaguars (all teams that need a WR) passed on him. He was regarded as the draft’s biggest playmaker and that is a good thing for fantasy.
The 49ers already have a great running game with RB Frank Gore, plus they have WR Isaac Bruce and TE Vernon Davis (who is primed for a breakout season) as playmakers in the offense.
The big question that affects Crabtree’s value is the QB situation. However, I think that Alex Smith is healthy and he should beat out Shaun Hill and Damon Huard and revert back to his 2006 form when he threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, his career best.
If Smith can be the QB that everyone thinks he can, then Crabtree will be a steal in the middle rounds and could be the guy you choose to keep if you play in a keeper league.
Projection: 55 Receptions, 900 yards, six TDs
WR – Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles
This is the guy that I think will have the best season of all the rookies. Maclin was the guy to pick after Crabtree was off the board and was said to be just as much of a playmaker as Crabtree. He steps right into a great situation for a rookie.
He has an elite QB in Donovan McNabb, and an elite RB in Brian Westbrook, not to mention second year WR DeSean Jackson and WR Kevin Curtis. With Jackson and Maclin on the field at the same time, the Eagles will have an explosive passing game that could hit the deep play at any time.
Maclin could also have value as a returner if the Eagles choose to use him there. This is another guy you may want to look at as a keeper for the future.
Projection: 66 Receptions, 975 yards, six TDs
RB – Knowshon Moreno – Denver Broncos
The Broncos have a plethora of running backs on their roster and you never know who will step into the limelight. However, they wouldn’t have drafted Moreno in the first round without expecting to utilize him in the offense. He will be competing for playing time, but has enough potential to be a good No. 2 fantasy RB.
He will be utilized in the passing game as well, which gives him added value. The RB position is usually picked in the middle rounds, so I can see him being drafted here.
Projection: 875 yards rushing, eight TDs, 45 Receptions, 350 receiving yards, two TDs
RB – Donald Brown – Indianapolis Colts
Anyone remember Joseph Addai’s rookie season? Well, Brown is a lot like Addai. Brown has outstanding speed and elusiveness and fits the Colts' running game perfectly. With Addai having injury issues recently, that could open the door for Brown to have a great year.
Even if Addai stays healthy, Brown will get carries. He will have to compete with second year RB Mike Hart, but they wouldn’t have drafted him in the first round just to sit him on the bench. I could see using a middle round pick on him and getting good No. 2 RB numbers.
Projection: 1000 yards rushing, eight TDs, 45 receptions, 350 receiving yards, two TDs
RB – Chris Wells – Arizona Cardinals
Beanie Wells will be taking over for Edgerrin James after he is released later this week. He is going to be splitting carries with RB Tim Hightower, but it should be an equal split. Wells has a very physical style of running and mixes that with the perfect balance of speed.
With Ken Whisenhunt calling the plays this year, the Cardinals' running game will be featured more, so Wells could be a middle round pick that produces like a first round stud.
Projection: 800 yards rushing, nine TDs, 25 receptions, 200 receiving yards, one TD
RB – LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
Just call this guy Brian Westbrook Junior. He is quick, elusive, and has great hands. He should have a decent amount of value coming out as Westbrook’s backup, especially with Westbrook’s injury history.
I could see him going in the middle rounds and producing Westbrook-like numbers, but that is a bit of a gamble because it all depends on if Westbrook stays healthy, because you know that Eagles offense runs through Brian Westbrook, for now.
Projection: 600 yards rushing, five TDs, 40 receptions, 400 receiving yards, two TDs
WR – Percy Harvin – Minnesota Vikings
Harvin has the chance to be the next Devin Hester. However, that may not lead to fantasy glory. He is an intriguing pick due to his explosiveness and his playmaking ability as a return man, but he is still a rookie and I wouldn’t jump too high for him.
We don’t know who will be the QB yet, either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson, but we do know that he will be playing with RB Adrian Peterson and RB Chester Taylor, as well as WR Bernard Berrian. They have a good offense, and Harvin can only help expand it.
They are already talking about Harvin in the wildcat offense and I could definitely see some reverse plays going Harvin’s way. As I said, he is intriguing, but I wouldn’t jump too high, especially with his injury history.
Projection: 40 receptions, 650 yards, four TDs, 350 rushing yards, three TDs
QB – Mark Sanchez – New York Jets
This pick may be reaching a bit, but that’s why it’s a late round pick. Sanchez will have the chance to be the starter, but will battle with Kellen Clemens. He is expected to win the job and, if he does, could have fantasy value with the players around him.
He would step into an offense that has RB Thomas Jones, RB Leon Washington, WR Jerricho Cotchery, and TE Dustin Keller. Rookie QB’s usually aren’t great fantasy players, with the exception of Matt Ryan; however, I could see using a late pick and possibly nabbing your super sleeper/keeper of the draft.
Projection: 3,000 yards passing, 18 TDs, 18 INTs, two rushing TDs
WR – Darrius Heyward-Bey – Oakland Raiders
While he definitely wasn’t worth the No. 7 pick in the draft, he will be worth a late round look as a fantasy WR. He has the speed to get away from defenders and has a strong-armed QB in JaMarcus Russell, so that’s a positive.
They also have a strong running game with RB’s Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas, and Michael Bush. They don’t really have a No. 1 WR in Oakland, so Heyward-Bey has the chance to jump right in and take the job. He could definitely be worth a late round flier.
Projection: 35 receptions, 600 yards, three TDs
WR – Hakeem Nicks – New York Giants
The Giants got the WR that they needed and everyone seems to love this pick. With no real No. 1 WR on the roster, Nicks has the opportunity to be that guy. If he plays as well as everyone predicts, he could be a steal in the later rounds.
The reason I have him so low is the possibility that he may not blossom until his second or third year. I wouldn’t use a pick higher than round 11 on him, by 12 or later sounds about right for now, but let’s see what happens after OTA’s.
Projection: 60 receptions, 575 yards, four TDs
TE – Brandon Pettigrew – Detroit Lions
This was a highly disputed pick, especially by my partner, Sportmeister Ryan, but I like it. Pettigrew is the perfect combination that a TE should be. He doesn’t have the speed needed to stretch the defense like a Jeremy Shockey or an Antonio Gates, but he can catch the ball just as well.
Not to mention that he could be one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL in just his rookie season. The fact that he is such a good blocker will cut into his fantasy value, and he definitely shouldn’t be your first TE chosen, but he would be in my Top 15 and could be a late round steal.
Projection: 40 receptions, 400 yards, six TDs
QB – Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
You would think that the No. 1 pick in the draft would be higher. Not necessarily. Stafford isn’t guaranteed, nor is he expected, to start this year and even if he does, he won’t have the Matt Ryan effect on his team. The only reason he is on this list is for keeper leagues. If you can grab him in the last few rounds and stash him away, you may have a 2010 steal on your hands.
Projection: 1000 yards passing, nine TDs, nine INTs, one rushing TD
WR – Brian Robiskie – Cleveland Browns
This could be the ultimate rookie sleeper of this year’s draft. Depending on the QB situation and whether or not they decide to keep Braylon Edwards and on Donte’ Stallworth’s legal situation. If everything goes down the way we expect it to (Edwards gets traded, Stallworth is wrapped up in legal trouble) then Robiskie gets thrust into a starting role.
He is a great route runner and has phenomenal hands. I could see him landing in the later rounds and being a super sleeper. Watch and see what happens with him.
Projection: 55 receptions, 800 yards, six TDs
RB – Glen Coffee – San Francisco 49ers
Here’s an intriguing sleeper pick. Coffee has been compared to Shaun Alexander, with his size and speed and the fact that 49ers don’t have a true backup for Frank Gore. I could see him as a touchdown vulture his rookie year, due to the fact that Gore will get most of the carries, which is why he isn’t a middle round pick.
However, he has the speed to break a few big runs for touchdowns. Watch OTA’s carefully to see where to put him on your draft board.
Projection: 450 yards rushing, six TDs, 15 receptions, 150 yards, one TD
WR – Juaquin Iglesias – Chicago Bears
This pick is largely due to the fact that Jay Cutler is the QB and not Kyle Orton. Iglesias should end up the No. 2 or third WR on the Bears and could have a Wes Welker type effect on the field, as he is fearless over the middle according to the NFL.com report.
With Devin Hester on the outside as the deep threat and Greg Olsen at TE, Iglesias could be just as big a sleeper as Robiskie. Watch this situation carefully.
Projection: 40 receptions, 550 yards, four TDs
There are my predictions for the 2009 rookie class of the NFL in the fantasy world. Any questions or concerns, email me at Derek@Sportmeisters.com.
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