Fantasy Football 2013: Rookies Worth a Late-Round Flier on Draft Day
There was a time when rookies eased their way onto rosters and were not to be trusted in fantasy. That is no longer the case.
While there might not be as many passers to trust at the beginning of the year, running backs like Montee Ball, Eddie Lacy and Le'Veon Bell will be selected in the early rounds, as well as wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Although these will be the popular picks, there are a number of other players to watch for near the end of the draft that will pay off down the line. These guys might not be stars, but the upside makes them worthy of a pick in the late rounds.
Note: All average draft information courtesy of ESPN.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Average Draft Position: 135.3
A lot of people are giving Cordarrelle Patterson a look this year, which makes sense due to his outstanding physical tools. However, DeAndre Hopkins is more polished at this point in his career and will get more opportunities because of it.
Houston has been looking for a No. 2 receiver opposite of Andre Johnson for years. Last season, the superstar had more than twice as many receiving yards as anyone on the roster and unsurprisingly received a lot of attention from defenses.
Hopkins should be able to take advantage of single coverage with his great speed and should be open for some big plays throughout the year.
Even if the Texans consider themselves a running team, there will be passes going Hopkins' way. With his skill, he should be able to take advantage of them to have a big year.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 136.2
Tom Brady and the Patriots love throwing the ball to tight ends. Unfortunately, the regular targets that have helped him over the past few seasons will not be readily available.
Aaron Hernandez is currently in jail, while Rob Gronkowski is still recovering from multiple surgeries during the offseason. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, he is unlikely to play in Week 1 and the team is considering putting him on the PUP list, which would keep him out for six games.
This leaves an opening for someone to excel from the position, and that person is Zach Sudfeld. The 6'7" rookie scored a touchdown in the team's recent preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he already has three receptions of over 20 yards in his three appearances.
Although he did go undrafted, the tools are there for him to succeed and he has a golden opportunity in front of him. This could add up to a big fantasy year at a weak position.
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Average Draft Position: 170
For people who love to handcuff in case of injuries, Joseph Randle is a player you want to draft.
The Oklahoma State rookie has already been told he will get more work in since Lance Dunbar went down with a foot injury, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. This leaves only DeMarco Murray ahead of him on the depth chart, someone who missed nine games in his first two seasons due to injuries.
Randle fits perfectly with Dallas as a downhill runner who can also contribute in the passing game. This will get him plenty of touches early in the season, regardless of who else is on the roster. If he does well in the first few weeks, his role will only increase.
There are a few other rookie running backs you might want to look at on draft day (Giovani Bernard!), but Randle will be the deep sleeper that no one knows until it is too late.
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