The fantasy football season is approaching fast, and owners should look to the 2013 rookie class to find the sleepers that can help them win a championship.
While big names like Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball and Tavon Austin are getting drafted very high, there are underrated first-year players that savvy owners will take a worthwhile risk on.
When these sleepers blossom into stars, fantasy owners who drafted them will look as smart as the real NFL owners who drafted them.
Top 15 Fantasy Rookies
|Rank||Player||Pos.||Team||Bye Week||Proj. RD|
|1||Le'Veon Bell||RB||Pittsburgh Steelers||5||4-6|
|2||Montee Ball||RB||Denver Broncos||9||4-6|
|3||DeAndre Hopkins||WR||Houston Texans||8||10-12|
|4||Tavon Austin||WR||St. Louis Rams||11||6-8|
|5||Giovani Bernard||RB||Cincinnati Bengals||12||7-9|
|6||Eddie Lacy||RB||Green Bay Packers||4||7-9|
|7||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||Minnesota Vikings||5||12-14|
|8||Tyler Eifert||TE||Cincinnati Bengals||12||13-15|
|9||Keenan Allen||WR||San Diego Chargers||8||13-15|
|10||Johnathan Franklin||RB||Green Bay Packers||4||13-15|
|11||Aaron Dobson||WR||New England Patriots||10||Undrafted|
|12||E.J. Manuel||QB||Buffalo Bills||12||Undrafted|
|13||Zach Ertz||TE||Philadelphia Eagles||12||Undrafted|
|14||Stepfan Taylor||RB||Arizona Cardinals||9||Undrafted|
|15||Denard Robinson||RB||Jacksonville Jaguars||9||Undrafted|
Rookie Sleepers You Can’t Miss
Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers are now looking for one of their wide receivers to step up with Danario Alexander going down with a season-ending ACL tear. This could be the chance Keenan Allen has been looking for.
While Allen is listed as the No. 4 WR on the Chargers depth chart, he has the raw talent and size to be an effective player at the NFL level. If Philip Rivers can develop chemistry with the former Cal star, fantasy owners could see big numbers from the third-round pick.
During the team’s first preseason game Thursday, Allen caught two passes for 13 yards and was targeted for another. Those numbers aren’t overly impressive, but the hope is that they will climb during each of the preseason games and result in serious targets during the regular season.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers
While fellow Packers rookie Eddie Lacy is getting more love on draft day, fantasy owners should wait to snag Johnathan Franklin in the waning stages of the draft and ride him to the playoffs.
Lacy is a powerful back that will see a heavy dosage of work, but Franklin is the better pass-catching running back. Both backs are efficient pass-blockers, and Green Bay will likely split carries evenly.
Franklin had 33 receptions in his final season with UCLA, and it will be his ability to play in every situation that gets him the reps that make him a fantasy steal. As the season progresses, expect Franklin to get more and more touches each week as he acclimates to the league.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
There are plenty of questions around Minnesota Vikings first-round pick Cordarrelle Patterson and whether he will acclimate to the NFL in time to be effective this year. However, his play in the first preseason game showed his true talent.
Patterson amassed 104 total yards against the Houston Texans on Friday (50-yard kickoff return and four receptions for 54 yards) and looked to be the kind of player that many people believe has the raw talent to become a star.
While Christian Ponder’s lack of elite talent scares owners, the fact that Matt Cassel is the backup and could get a chance to start eventually should be a positive sign for the deep threat.
Either way, grabbing Patterson in the 13th round is a risk well worth taking.