As a general rule, NFL rookies should be avoided when considering your fantasy football team. Most rookies don't see enough action to earn consistent points, but there are a few explosive playmakers who will become fantasy studs.
Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris burst onto the scene last year and put up big points totals for fantasy owners last year. They played prominent roles for their respective teams and put up big numbers throughout the season.
Which rookies will do the same in 2013?
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver, St. Louis Rams
Austin is a video-game caricature in real life.
The young man possesses incredible speed and quickness, and once the ball is in his hands, he's got the moves and instincts to make monster plays after the catch.
The former West Virginia star will play primarily as a slot receiver for the Rams this year. He'll quickly prove to be one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets, as he will constantly find ways to get open in the middle of the field.
Austin will also see snaps at running back, as head coach Jeff Fisher has big plans in mind for his talented rookie. Fisher spoke about what he expects from Austin back in May, as noted by Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith:
We’re going to try to get the ball to him as often as we can, however we do that...He’s very talented. We drafted him because he’s got receiver skills, run skills, return skills. We think we can use him in all those areas.
If you play in a league that counts return yardage and/or a PPR, Austin will be even more valuable.
Regardless of what league you're in, Austin is a must-have rookie. He could catch over 100 passes this season and will pile up the yardage. He'll be a consistent performer, too, and a guy you can count on to give you points on a weekly basis.
Le'Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers used to be known as a team that would run the ball down your throat and play stifling defense.
The past few years, however, have painted a different picture.
Ben Roethlisberger has led a pass-happy attack, which has been partly due to the fact that the team's running backs haven't been producing. With the departure of Mike Wallace and after Roethlisberger's injuries the past couple of seasons, though, it's time for balance to return to the Steelers offense.
Thankfully, Bell is just the right man to make it happen.
A big, powerful running back, Bell has the instincts and vision to make the most out of even the smallest of creases. In his three years at Michigan State, he rushed for 3,346 yards with 33 touchdowns, averaging five yards per carry.
Which rookie will have the biggest year?
He also proved to be a capable receiver out of the backfield, catching 78 passes for 531 yards and a touchdown.
Bell will be the Steelers starting running back from the first snap of Week 1, and he'll put up huge numbers as a rookie in 2013.
Tyler Eifert, Tight End, Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert is one of the biggest sleepers this year.
A big, tall tight end with speed, Eifert also possesses some of the softest hands you'll ever see. He catches every ball thrown his way, and once the ball is in his hands, he knows what to do with it.
Jermaine Gresham may just lose his starting job before the end of the 2013 season, because Eifert will prove to be a superior playmaker downfield. The two of them will likely see plenty of action on the field at the same time, however, as Eifert lined up all over the field in OTAs, as noted by Joe Kay of the Associated Press (via the Columbus Dispatch).
Though Eifert didn't put up jaw-dropping numbers at Notre Dame, he has the skill set to do so in the NFL. The Fighting Irish never had a strong passing attack while he was at South Bend.
Playing with Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and the rest of the loaded offense for the Bengals, however, should make Eifert a star.
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