The top 10 players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft with the biggest chance to impact their team (and your fantasy squad) in their rookie seasons).
This means no offensive lineman, linebackers, fullbacks or kickers. These are the rookie QBs, WRs, RBs and one TE that you should target as sleepers in your 2009 fantasy drafts because they could have an immediate impact.
Even though he slipped in the draft from a likely Top Five pick, Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree landed in a great situation with the San Francisco 49ers, who selected him with the 10th overall pick. As long as his ankle injury is fully healed, Crabtree should post big numbers as a rookie, something along the lines of what DeSean Jackson put up in Philadelphia last year. While Crabtree will have Shaun Hill or Alex Smith throwing to him instead of Donovan McNabb, he will be San Francisco’s primary target through the air and with his athleticism and ability to accumulate YAC, he should sniff the end zone a fair amount in his rookie year.
FORECAST: 55 REC, 870 YDS, 6 TDs
The Georgia RB, selected 12th overall by the Denver Broncos, could have a Matt Forte/Steve Slaton-like rookie season. Denver’s backfield is wide-open, giving Moreno the chance to be the starter in Game One. Going from Jay Cutler to Kyle Orton at QB means the Broncos will not be as pass-happy as they were under Cutler, so Moreno should be able to rack up a fair amount of carries. He also is a decent receiving option out of the backfield, so look for him to amass some receiving yards and TDs as well.
FORECAST: 250 CAR, 1175 RUSH YDS, 7 RUSH TDs, 32 REC, 285 REC YDS, 1 REC TD
He may not begin the season as a starter, but once he gets his chance Sanchez will not disappoint. He comes from the intense spotlight of being a USC QB, so the New York media should not be a problem for Sanchez, who was selected fifth overall by the New York Jets. He has decent receivers, a RB who will keep the offense balanced and an offensive line capable of giving him time to make smart decisions.
FORECAST: 13 GS, 2,150 YDS, 15 TD, 11 INT
The Cardinals lucked out when the Ohio State RB fell to them with the 31st pick in the first round. Arizona is in desperate need of a RB, with Edgerrin James on his way out and Tim Hightower a questionable candidate to be a primary back. While Arizona will remain a pass-happy offense with the Big Three of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin all returning, he should shine in the 10-15 carries he will get per game.
FORECAST: 200 CAR, 940 YDS, 5 TDs
Considering the team that drafted him went 0-16 last year, the No. 1 overall pick Stafford will be considered a success if he can lead the team to just one win. The Georgia QB won’t face the pressure Sanchez will in New York, but he also doesn’t have the tools that Sanchez will. The Lions have a miserable team outside of Calvin Johnson, so don’t expect Stafford to have a rookie season like Matt Ryan did in Atlanta last year. Megatron will haul in a lot of bad throws from the rookie but defenses won’t respect the run and will be able to get to Stafford every game through Detroit’s porous O-line. And while Daunte Culpepper is no savior, he may keep Stafford holding a clipboard until the second half of the season.
FORECAST: 11 GS, 1,780 YDS, 11 TDs, 9 INT
Thanks to Al Davis and the Raiders’ brain-fart of the draft (selecting WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh overall pick) Maclin, the second best WR in the draft behind Crabtree, ended up in a great situation with Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. The Missouri WR, taken 19th overall, has amazing speed so opposing DBs will have their hands full between Maclin and DeSean Jackson. Maclin also has the potential to showcase his speed as a return man and has a veteran QB who can hit him in stride on the deep ball.
FORECAST: 48 REC, 720 YDS, 5 REC TDs, 2 RET TDs
Like Wells, McCoy should see a minimum of 10 carries a game backing up the brittle Brian Westbrook in Philly. Should Westbrook sustain a serious injury that causes him to miss time, the Pittsburgh RB should be able to slide right in and become a feature back. Like Westbrook, McCoy is a great receiving RB so the Eagles were lucky to find him waiting with the 53rd overall pick. His success definitely depends on how healthy Westbrook will be but even a healthy Westbrook cannot handle more than 25 carries a game for a full season, so McCoy will get his opportunities.
FORECAST: 220 CAR, 950 YDS, 4 RUSH TDs, 23 REC, 220 REC YDS, 2 REC TDs
The versatile Florida star should showcase his speed alongside Adrian Peterson in Minnesota after the Vikings selected him with the 22nd overall pick. While the Vikings still don’t have an answer at QB, Harvin can turn short passes into home runs with his speed and should also get looks on screens, reverse plays and in the now mandatory token Wildcat formation play per game. While Harvin is still a work in progress in his route-running ability, he has the speed and situation necessary to have a solid rookie season.
FORECAST: 40 REC, 540 YDS, 5 REC TDs, 2 RET TDs
A rookie QB will rely on his TE a lot, so with Stafford learning the ropes in Detroit, expect Pettigrew to get a lot of balls thrown his way. The Lions were smart in selecting the Oklahoma State TE with their 20th overall pick to compliment Stafford and draw attention away from Calvin Johnson. Pettigrew was by far the best TE in the draft and should see a lot of single coverage with defenses focusing on Megatron.
FORECAST: 42 REC, 560 YDS, 5 TDs
The West Virginia QB is in for a challenge as he attempts to become a full-time WR but will be in a perfect situation with Miami, the pioneers of the Wildcat formation. Selected with the 44th overall pick, White does not have the passing skills necessary to be a full-time QB but can lineup under center and run the Wildcat to perfection with RB Ronnie Brown. While it may take some time for him to learn a new position, White will also eventually become a receiving threat alongside Ted Ginn Jr. Out of all the players on this list, White benefits the most from the team that drafted him, as Miami is best capable of capitalizing on his exceptional talent and speed.
FORECAST: 32 REC, 480 REC YDS, 3 REC TDs, 40 CAR, 250 RUSH YDS, 2 RUSH TDs, 2 RET TDs