2014 Fantasy Football: 10 Rookie Prospects with Best Chance for Fantasy Success
For fantasy football purists the season never stops and now that we are fresh off the combine, it’s time to start assessing which prospects have the best chance for fantasy glory in their rookie seasons heading into the NFL draft.
Every year we see an infusion of talent that takes the league by storm. This year it was the likes of Eddie Lacy, Keenan Allen, Le’Veon Bell, etc. who carried many fantasy teams. The year prior it was Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson and Alfred Morris who made significant impacts in their debut seasons.
So who will be this year’s rookie sensations that can help you achieve fantasy greatness? Could it be Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey or the much-talked about Johnny Manziel?
Well, in this slideshow will be 10 would-be-rookies who are best equipped for instant fantasy success. Again, with the majority of rookie running backs making a splash right away, they will dominate these types of lists.
So, here then are your 10 best rookie prospects (ranked in order of fantasy relevance) for fantasy purposes.
The following players (especially Mike Evans) have potential to break through in their rookie season but just missed the cut here.
Mike Evans, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Jace Amaro, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Charles Sims, Allen Robinson and Brandin Cooks.
10. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
One of the most polarizing prospects available for the draft is Texas A&M’s ballyhooed quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Some will argue he is ready to come in right away and fit in with the NFL’s evolving passing game, while others contend he doesn’t have the pocket presence and stature to make a true impact.
However, if he is given the chance he can thrive as a dual-threat quarterback. Manziel can throw the deep ball as well as run it with authority. The dual-purpose yards he could accumulate should keep him on your radar.
Of course, the team that drafts him will be paramount to his value. If he lands with the Texans, who own the No. 1 pick, he would have great weapons to throw to in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Heck, even Cleveland, who reportedly has interest in him, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, would be a nice spot since he could hook up with Josh Gordon. Jacksonville could be a dicey situation since we don’t know what we can expect from receiver Justin Blackmon.
At this moment, Manziel would be best suited as a backup for your squad. However, with the seasons Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson had in their initial campaigns, Manziel could play himself into starter material before the end of the 2014 season if all things go right.
9. Marqise Lee, Southern California
On the heels of a fantastic Las Vegas Bowl performance (seven catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns) Marqise Lee is rising up draft boards.
Lee has off-the-charts athleticism and is scintillating in the open field. Lee is also a great route-runner and is expected to go within the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
Lee may have trouble making an immediate impact, but he could come on strong. Like the player he is compared to, Keenan Allen, Lee should develop over the course of the season and finish strong.
He’s definitely worth a late-round flier.
8. Eric Ebron, North Carolina
After performing well at the combine, Eric Ebron is set to have his name called early on day one of the NFL draft. With the success tight ends like Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis and Rob Gronkowski have been having, many scouts and GM’s think Ebron could be next in line.
Ebron has all you want from a tight end, as he possesses above-average speed and athleticism. Although there may be a bit of a learning curve with Ebron, he could adapt quickly and bust out sooner than later.
While you shouldn’t target Ebron to be your starter, he has the upside to be a No. 1 tight end by the end of the year. He, for sure, is worthy of a late-round gamble to be a No. 2 tight end.
7. Jeremy Hill, LSU
If it wasn’t for some presumed character flaws (which he is working hard to reverse), Jeremy Hill would probably have more scouts excited about his potential. As it is, Hill could be the steal of the NFL draft and perhaps he can be the steal of your fantasy draft as well.
Hill is a shifty downhill runner who is hard to take down. He fights hard for extra yards and his style of running will translate well over to the NFL. Hill should go in the middle rounds of the NFL draft and he is the type of sleeper you want to take a flier on late in fantasy drafts.
6. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
At 6’5” and 230 pounds, Kelvin Benjamin is as big as they come for wide receivers.
Benjamin combines strength and athleticism as good as anybody available for the draft. He’s a menace in the open field and gets good separation. It was no coincidence he was targeted for the game-winning touchdown in the BCS title game. Simply put: Benjamin makes plays.
With a unique skill set, Benjamin should do well in the NFL and whatever team that drafts him (which should be in Round 1), they’ll showcase him in many packages—especially at the goal line where he can separate himself from defenders and get the ball.
With that said, Benjamin could be a beast when it comes to scoring touchdowns. As such, he’ll be a major commodity come fantasy football draft day.
5. Bishop Sankey, Washington
If you are looking for a running back with good instincts and maneuverability, then Bishop Sankey is your man.
Sankey has good vision, can hit holes hard and is as good a north-south runner as there is in the draft. He has all the requisite tools you want in a running back and some NFL team is sure to fall in love with Sankey in likely day two of the draft.
Like the rest of the running backs on this list, Sankey will come in and challenge for immediate carries and is definitely worthy of being on your radar during fantasy draft day.
4. Tre Mason, Auburn
If you saw the BCS National Championship game, you saw the package of skills Tre Mason possesses.
In that game, he ran for a whopping 195 yards on 34 carries and his 37-yard scamper with 1:19 to go in the game almost won Auburn the title.
Mason, a diminutive pocket full of dynamite, should get his name called on the second day of the draft and he owns all the skills required to be an every-down back in the NFL. Whether he gets that chance, well, that’s to be determined by the team that selects him.
Mason should be viewed as a low-end No. 2 running back that should be drafted in the early-to-middle rounds of fantasy drafts.
3. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
NFL scouts and GMs are absolutely drooling over the potential Sammy Watkins has and some have him as a lock to be selected within the first ten picks. Make no mistake, the substance matches the hype with Watkins.
Watkins has it all. He possesses great speed, hands and strength to free himself open. In other words, Watkins has game-changing abilities.
Rookie receivers used to take time to develop but in an NFL that is built largely on the pass and playmakers, rookies have been making bigger impacts lately (think A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Keenan Allen). Watkins should be next in line, and he has all the abilities to come in and produce right away. Whichever team drafts him will put him to good use.
You can even think of Watkins as a No. 2 receiver for fantasy purposes. Yeah, he’s that good. He certainly makes for a high-end No. 3 receiver and he should be taken in the seventh or eighth-round in fantasy drafts.
2. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Carlos Hyde is a bulldog-type running back in the mold of an Eddie Lacy. Hyde is built like a truck and one who fights for yardage with strength and explosiveness.
With the season Lacy is coming off of, many teams will be hesitant to pass up on the type of talent Hyde possesses, and as such, Hyde should a prime candidate to be taken within the first two rounds. For fantasy purposes, Hyde should come in and make his presence felt right away and at least challenge for the role as lead back for the team that drafts him.
Hyde has all the tools to be a fantasy star and should be viewed as a low-end No. 2 back or high-end No. 3 back/flex play.
1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
Ka’Deem Carey is what you would call a determined runner. This back is all about fighting for tough yards and one who relies on strength and football IQ to make plays.
He has great burst and above-average speed. Some team will no doubt be in awe of his talents and he’ll likely go in the second round of the NFL Draft.
With the promise he holds, he has every chance to become a starter right away. While he doesn’t come with the same fanfare that a guy like Lacy did last year, he should be given every opportunity to carve out a role for himself with the team that eventually drafts him.
Depending on where he goes, Carey has the looks of a guy who will probably be selected in the fourth or fifth round of fantasy drafts.
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