Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings for 2014

Eric Mack@@EricMackFantasyFantasy Football Lead WriterMay 15, 2014

Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings for 2014

0 of 5

    You have seen the NFL draft dissected in countless ways the past week—in all sorts of mediums—but honestly, what you truly care about is how the picks pertain to fantasy football. That is what we are here for now.

    This is a comprehensive look at the fantasy football rookie rankings for 2014.

    No, these are not necessarily how we would rank them in future years...or even at this year's end. They are how we rank the rookies if drafts were to be held right now. Use this for keeper or dynasty leagues, but even standard format fans would be wise to add these new names to their inner-brain fantasy Rolodex.

    You need to know about a lot more rookies than the high-end early picks like the Tennessee Titans' Bishop Sankey or the Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel. Grab a pencil and paper and start clicking and reading.

Quarterbacks: Johnny Manziel's Stock Hurt by Potential Josh Gordon Suspension

1 of 5

    Draftable Passers

    1. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns

    If not for Josh Gordon's potential season-long suspension, we would have loved Manziel's first season in Cleveland for fantasy purposes. Gordon is a game-breaker and Jordan Cameron would become Manziel's proverbial best friend in the play-action game. The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot tweeted that owner Jimmy Haslam stressed the Browns will feature the running game too.

    This leaves Manziel as a mere reserve pick among fantasy quarterbacks. Assuming he starts, he is going to have weeks where he performs like a starter in standard leagues.

    Early projections: 3,400 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and six rushing TDs 


    2. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings

    Bridgewater might not have been the Vikes' first choice, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, but he still will likely be their pick to start when picking between him, Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. Greg Jennings, the emerging Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Rudolph are a decent set of weapons for a rookie quarterback.

    This makes Bridgewater a potential sleeper in two-quarterback formats, even if the Vikings are still going to be run-heavy with Adrian Peterson. We wouldn't draft him in a standard league over the veteran options, but he could emerge as a bye-week replacement.

    Early projections: 3,000 yards, 16 TDs, 13 INTs and zero rushing TDs 


    Potential First-Year Starters

    3. Tom Savage, Houston Texans

    The Texans' inability to draft a quarterback before Savage in Round 4 was a bit perplexing. It sets up the big man with an NFL arm for an opportunity of a lifetime, though. He has just Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates to vault on the depth chart. Fitzpatrick might start over Savage initially, but weapons like Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins make the starter intriguing.

    Savage won't be draftable in any fantasy leagues until he rises up the depth chart. Our ranking of him here is more of a critique of the other potential rookie starters' supporting casts than an expectation of Savage starting in Week 1.


    4. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

    Carr will have to beat out Matt Schaub in training camp to earn any draft-day value, but even if he does, the Raiders offense doesn't project to be quarterback-friendly right away. James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew were solid offseason additions, but they are not-game changers. Neither are Darren McFadden or Denarius Moore.

    Carr can emerge as a fantasy stopgap in two-quarterback leagues by midseason, but that looks like his ceiling in Year 1. Consider him a mere dynasty league pick at this point.


    5. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

    The Jags are hoping veteran Chad Henne can start all 16 games this season so Bortles can have a year as an apprentice, according to The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon. That would be an ideal situation for Bortles, because the Jags will also be breaking in rookie receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson, along with second-year slot man Ace Sanders. Carlyon also notes that Justin Blackmon has been written off. 

    Bortles might have the highest ceiling as a pocket passer in this class, but his supporting cast and situation slot him a mere fifth for 2014 value. Heck, he might move even lower than that.


    Must-Scout Talents in Preseason

    1. Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans

    Jake Locker is a tough quarterback to love at this point, and Mettenberger had plenty of attention in the predraft season. Kendall Wright and Justin Turner have shown flashes of potential, so Mettenberger could emerge as the Titans quarterback of the future as soon as midseason. It would give him sleeper value off waivers, but mostly in two-quarterback leagues.


    2. Logan Thomas, Arizona Cardinals

    Thomas is a long-term project, but the fact Carson Palmer doesn't have a lot left gives Thomas some intrigue in fantasy leagues. If the Cardinals' season falls apart, Bruce Arians' offense and a nice set of weapons can make Thomas a potential waiver option down the road.


    Surefire Clipboard Holders

    1. David Fales, Chicago Bears—He tops the list here because of Jay Cutler's annual injury woes. That is an aggressive offense with great weapons if Fales sees starts next season.
    2. Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots—He is on a three-year plan with Tom Brady unlikely to retire within the next couple of years. He might even be behind Ryan Mallett out of camp.
    3. AJ McCarron, Cincinnati Bengals—He was going to need some time. It might be just one year backing up Andy Dalton if the Bengals don't re-sign their veteran long term.
    4. Aaron Murray, Kansas City Chiefs—McCarron and Murray are in almost identical situations. Murray has a better quarterback guru in Andy Reid to grow with long term, though.
    5. Tajh Boyd, New York Jets—He won't push Geno Smith or Michael Vick, but the Jets' recent quarterback history suggests they will be itching to take a look at Boyd by season's end.
    6. Garrett Gilbert, St. Louis Rams—He is not polished enough to truly challenge Sam Bradford this season, but Bradford hasn't shown enough to keep any backup at bay either.
    7. Keith Wenning, Baltimore Ravens—With Joe Flacco signed long term, he has to hope for a career as an NFL backup.

Running Backs: Bishop Sankey Might Be the Lone Immediate Starter Here

2 of 5

    Fantasy Starter(s)

    1. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans

    The more you see and hear about Sankey, the more excited you have to be for his rookie prospects. He has feature-back potential because of his pass-receiving skills, and the fact Shonn Greene needed surgery on his right knee—per Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean—certainly puts Sankey on track to start and serve a three-down role right away.

    Sankey will be the first rookie off the board in fantasy leagues, perhaps as early as Round 3. If reports come out in camp that he will also be his own finisher at the goal line, look out.

    Early projections: 950 rushing yards, five touchdowns, 35 receptions for 325 yards and three touchdowns


    Backups and Early Handcuff Picks

    2. Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams

    All those fantasy owners in love with Zac Stacy and his ground pounding for the Rams have to have hated this draft pick. Mason was a productive beast at Auburn in a high-volume rushing attack—something the Rams are going with, particularly off of their selection of run-game mauler Greg Robinson (also from Auburn), who will play left guard.

    Mason might start the season behind Stacy on the depth chart, but the squatty runner can be a bell cow for the Rams in short order. Mason is the speedier athlete who can break long runs and make the Rams' running game dynamic. Stacy is a plodder who averaged under 4.0 yards per carry last season.

    You have to consider Stacy as a late first-rounder right now, but Mason is a must-have handcuff after the top 30 fantasy backs are off the board. You don't break Bo Jackson's Auburn rushing record without having some serious juice.


    3. Terrance West, Cleveland Browns

    If West hadn't been hamstrung by his level of opponents at Towson, his measurables and stats would have gotten him drafted a lot earlier than 94th overall. He goes to a Browns team that might have drafted Johnny Manziel, but they will likely be without Josh Gordon for at least part of the season. This is a running team, and Ben Tate is all that stands between West and instant fantasy stardom.

    Tate won't stay healthy for a full season—never has—especially not as a No. 1 feature back. West is going to carry the load and be a big-time sleeper for fantasy owners on draft day. You probably shouldn't let him fall out of the top 40 backs to target.


    4. Andre Williams, New York Giants

    Williams is a highly productive college running back who has the look of a starter, even if he has some work to do rising the depth chart. Rashad Jennings is paid to start, while David Wilson was drafted to. Neither is the big-back workhorse Williams proved to be at Boston College, where he rushed for 2,177 yards as a senior.

    Neither Jennings or Wilson have been a feature back for a full season, which leads us to believe Williams is going to impact the Giants and fantasy season in some way. Consider him a solid late-round sleeper at this point and a much better value than Wilson, who is coming off a career-threatening injury and might never live up to the hype.


    5. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers

    You can make a case Hyde was the best back in this draft class or that he will be the best fantasy back long term. You cannot like his situation going into training camp, though, even if the 49ers boast one of the best rushing attacks in football.

    There is just a crowd in the 49ers backfield. Frank Gore, 31, still will start, while Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James are incumbents that won't surrender carries easily. Also, Marcus Lattimore is a high-ceiling prospect who will finally try to play NFL football. Hyde warrants a pick, but until his standing on the depth chart is clear, it could be a wasted one.


    Best-of-the-Rest Handcuffs

    1. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons—He might wind up the best fantasy running back of this class after this season. Heck, Steven Jackson will be 31...Freeman might wind up being the best rookie back.
    2. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals—The big back fits the AFC North and the Bengals' move to a power running game. He might have to bide his time as insurance for BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the short-yardage role, though. Hill is not a true threat to Giovani Bernard's value.
    3. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers—If he were drafted a year ago, he would have had big-time fantasy value. He has the look of a feature back, but he will need a Doug Martin injury to hold true fantasy value.
    4. Ka'Deem Carey, Chicago Bears—The Bears need some depth behind Matt Forte, and they might have gotten a Forte clone. He is a solid handcuff.
    5. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings—Adrian Peterson is getting older, but McKinnon is not quite intriguing enough to press A.P. for touches as a rookie.


    Long-Term Projects

    1. James White, New England Patriots—The next Stevan Ridley, minus the ball-security issues. The Pats like to use all of their backs, so White is a decent bet to make some kind of an impact.
    2. Storm Johnson, Jacksonville Jaguars—His opportunity with a weapon-needy team is more intriguing than his talent. Watch him, though, because Toby Gerhart is tough to buy as a full-year, first-time feature back.
    3. Lache Seastrunk, Washington Redskins—He doesn't have the hands to threaten Roy Helu as a third-down back, but he might emerge as an Alfred Morris handcuff down the road.
    4. Alfred Blue, Houston Texans—Jeremy Hill's backup at LSU could emerge behind Arian Foster and Andre Brown.
    5. Dri Archer, Pittsburgh Steelers—The fastest player in the draft might have to move to a slot receiver position, particularly since this is historically a power running team.
    6. De'Anthony Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs—Undersized burner will serve the Dexter McCluster role, but he's more exciting on film than the stat sheet.
    7. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens—Watch him closely in training camp, because Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett are coming off bad years.
    8. Marion Grice, San Diego Chargers—Ryan Mathews, Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead's presence ruin Grice's first-year potential.
    9. Tyler Gaffney, Carolina Panthers—They are a running team, but there are too many well-paid veterans blocking him.
    10. FB Jay Prosch, Houston Texans—The best fullback in this class won't be anything more than a circumstantial TD vulture.
    11. FB Kiero Small, Seattle Seahawks—He wound up with a running team but has zero shot for fantasy value.
    12. FB Trey Millard, San Francisco 49ers—The 49ers' stable of backs makes him a long shot.


    Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

    • Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns—Well-regarded but troubled prospect who could push West and perhaps even Ben Tate for carries this season. Seriously.
    • Rajion Neal, Green Bay Packers—He will try to follow Foster's undrafted-free-agent footsteps from Tennessee, but the Packers already have Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and James Starks.
    • James Wilder Jr., Cincinnati Bengals—Son of former NFLer winds up with a running team, but he's far down the depth chart.
    • LaDarius Perkins, Green Bay Packers—Short but powerful package has too many players to jump to get in the mix for touches at this point.

Wide Receivers: Deep Class Gives Us Alternatives If You Don't Get Sammy Watkins

3 of 5

    Potential Impact Fantasy Options

    1. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills

    The aggressive move up for Watkins puts a lot of pressure on the first receiver off the board. Unlike Tavon Austin a year ago, Watkins is a size-speed-polish combination who can become a monster right away, even if EJ Manuel isn't ready for prime time. The trade of Stevie Johnson to the 49ers gives Watkins primary receiving responsibilities. 

    Watkins is a difficult player to rank because he will have to be drafted before some very productive fantasy veterans. You won't get him after the top 30 receivers in drafts, so while he will be great long term, you might want someone else to pay the premium on him in non-keeper formats. Manuel and the Bills offense is just difficult to trust.

    Early projections: 65 receptions, 1,050 yards, seven touchdowns


    2. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    You have to be equally skeptical of the Bucs offense, but Josh McCown loves big receivers, and Evans is 6'5", 231 pounds, per CBS Sports. That will make Evans an instant starter opposite Vincent Jackson, mostly because the Bucs don't have other viable options after dealing Mike Williams to the Bills.

    Evans' size will make him a red-zone threat and a potential double-digit touchdown scorer in his prime. You can consider him a viable option after the top 35 fantasy receivers are off the board, particularly since his hype will get him drafted earlier than his likely first-year production slots him.

    Early projections: 55 receptions, 750 yards and six TDs


    3. Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants

    Beckham might not start for the Giants out of the gate, but he won't have to in order to make an impact. Even if Rueben Randle starts opposite Victor Cruz, ODB is going to play plenty in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's three-receiver sets. Beckham is a polished receiver, something that can make him an instant favorite for Eli Manning, who hails from the same high school.

    Beckham shouldn't be picked before the later rounds, but he is going to have some big weeks blowing the top off the weak defenses in the NFC East when Cruz is drawing all the added attention. Beckham could possibly challenge Watkins for the most productive career.

    Early projections: 50 receptions, 800 yards and five TDs


    4. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints

    The thought of Drew Brees getting another weapon added to Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and Kenny Stills is a scary one. Make it a horror show when you add in the fact Cooks is a 4.33 burner. Cooks is going to stretch the defense and make everyone better in that already potent Saints offense.

    Cooks is bigger than the Rams' Tavon Austin and would have rated as the No. 1 receiver in Austin's class a year ago. As it is, he wound up with a potent offense that will get him three catches a game—a handful of which he will take to the house. Cooks might be drafted late, but he is going to post some big fantasy weeks.

    Early projections: 45 receptions, 750 yards and five TDs


    5. Cody Latimer, Denver Broncos

    Latimer might have fallen out of the first round, but he winds up in the most prolific passing offense in NFL history from a year ago. He won't push Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker or Emmanuel Sanders for targets right away, but Peyton Manning loves to use all his options.

    Latimer is a basketball player trapped in a football star's body and will be the guy you wish you had drafted least through the lean bye weeks.

    Early projections: 40 receptions, 550 yards and four TDs


    Late-Round Sleepers

    1. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers—He might be raw, but he wound up with the team most desperate for a starting wideout to become Cam Newton's long-term go-to man. Watch him closely in training camp.
    2. Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars—He is a talent and has a wide-open path to a starting job and a significant amount of targets. If we could just feel more confident in his quarterback and offense, he would be a must-draft in all leagues.
    3. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles—An uptempo Chip Kelly offense makes him intriguing as a sleeper, but he needs to earn his way up the depth chart in camp.
    4. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers—Aaron Rodgers makes fantasy options out of all of his receivers. Adams could be a starter in the Pack's three-receiver sets.
    5. Josh Huff, Philadelphia Eagles—See the Matthews comment above.


    Ranking the Long-Term Projects

    1. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh SteelersBen Roethlisberger has longed for a big receiver. Maybe this is the one he's craved.
    2. Jared Abbrederis, Green Bay Packers—Rodgers will make a fantasy gem out of anyone who gets time with the Pack. We will see if this one does.
    3. Paul Richardson, Seattle Seahawks—They are a great team, but not a good place to find fantasy wideouts.
    4. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars—Like Lee above, opportunity is in Robinson's favor. The quarterback is not.
    5. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts—As if Andrew Luck needed another weapon, but he is one.
    6. Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins—This project can grow with Ryan Tannehill, assuming the regime stays together.
    7. John Brown, Arizona Cardinals—They needed a slot receiver with the departure of Andre Roberts; Brown can fill that role right away.
    8. Jalen Saunders, New York Jets—Opportunity here might wind up trumping the quarterback issues.
    9. Bruce Ellington, San Francisco 49ers—Expect the 49ers to use this as a redshirt year for him.
    10. Shaquelle Evans, New York Jets—See No. 8 above.
    11. Kevin Norwood, Seattle Seahawks—See No. 3 above.
    12. Ryan Grant, Washington Redskins—He has the makings of a slot receiver.
    13. Devin Street, Dallas Cowboys—Watch him in camp because of the wide-open games they play in Dallas.
    14. Robert Herron, Tampa Bay Buccaneers—One part burner, one part project.
    15. T.J. Jones, Detroit Lions—Pass-happy team makes him a preseason guy to watch.


    NFL Long Shots

    1. Jeremy Gallon, New England Patriots
    2. Matt Hazel, Miami Dolphins
    3. Walter Powell, Arizona Cardinals
    4. Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
    5. Michael Campanaro, Baltimore Ravens
    6. Jeff Janis, Green Bay Packers
    7. James Wright, Cincinnati Bengals
    8. Tevin Reese, San Diego Chargers

Tight Ends: Eric Ebron Likely Only Truly Draftable Rookie Here

4 of 5

    Draftable Ends

    1. Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions

    Ebron could have gone to a more tight end-needy team, but he would have been hard-pressed to wind up in a more pass-friendly offense. The Detroit Lions were third in the NFL in passing last year, and even if Ebron will have to share tight end targets with the likes of Brandon Pettigrew and second-year red-zone threat Joseph Fauria, he will get plenty of opportunity to make an impact in fantasy right away.

    We wouldn't draft Ebron as a surefire starter in fantasy, but his talent and potential will make him one of the first reserve tight ends to select on draft day, if you pick a backup tight end. You probably shouldn't in most instances, but he is a rare rookie tight end that won't be asked to block much.

    Early projections: 55 receptions, 630 yards and six touchdowns


    Potential Bye-Week Replacements

    2. Jace Amaro, New York Jets

    He wasn't the second tight end off the board, but he will be the second one considered in fantasy. First, the Jets like using the tight end in the play-action game, and second, Amaro doesn't have much blocking him—just in-line blocking end Jeff Cumberland. A big preseason could get him drafted in fantasy, but right now he's just off the radar at a position that should only get 15-18 players picked in standard drafts.


    3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    You can make a case for ASJ to be a fantasy sleeper, but he will have to beat out veteran Brandon Myers and second-year man Tim Wright for targets out of the gate. Also, the Bucs had the worst passing offense in football last season. Vincent Jackson, first-rounder Mike Evans and ASJ give Josh McCown some towering red-zone targets, though. Watch ASJ in camp to see how much action he will get in that role initially. He could rise up this list very easily.


    Must-Scout TEs in Training Camp

    4. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    The Packers love using the tight end in a rhythm passing game, so if Rodgers can stay healthy—something that plagued him at California—he can emerge as a viable pass-catcher for Aaron Rodgers (no relation). Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick won't keep a real talent down. We will see if Rodgers has anything more than he showed at Cal.


    5. Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals

    Notre Dame has a long history of producing NFL tight ends to varying degrees of success. Niklas profiles as a blocking end more than Ebron or Amaro, which gives him a chance to be a sneaky target off play action in the red zone. Niklas is going to reel in some one-yard touchdowns, even if Rob Housler outproduces him in targets and receptions.


    Long-Term Projects

    1. Larry Webster, Detroit Lions—Perhaps the most intriguing athlete in this class, the converted defensive end is a son of a former NFL player and will get to grow in a great passing offense.
    2. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Houston Texans—If the Texans didn't have Garrett Graham and Ryan Griffin, not to mention no true starting quarterback, we would have been inclined to rank this specimen a lot higher. He is going to be a legit fantasy factor down the road.
    3. Arthur Lynch, Miami Dolphins—Charles Clay is locked in as a starter, but Lynch could find himself in a considerable role in the Miami offense if Clay goes down.
    4. Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens—Yes, this is a TE-friendly team, but Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels are insurmountable roadblocks in Year 1 for Gillmore.
    5. Ted Bolser, Washington Redskins—Another TE-friendly team, but the Redskins have a budding star in Jordan Reed, who will get all the targets.
    6. Rob Blanchflower, Pittsburgh Steelers—This blocking tight end might sneak up for some one-year touchdowns at some point.


    Undrafted Free Agents to Watch

    1. Jake Murphy, Oakland Raiders—Son of former Atlanta Brave Dale Murphy likely warranted a draft pick by someone. He could emerge as a fantasy threat with the Raiders.
    2. Asa Watson, New England Patriots—Ben Watson's younger brother lands with a team that loves tight ends and sorely needs depth there.
    3. Xavier Grimble, New York Giants—They need a tight end more than anyone, so he could climb the depth chart quickly in camp.
    4. Blake Annen, Philadelphia Eagles—In a great offense but stuck behind some pretty good tight ends already in Zach Ertz and Brent Celek.

Individual Defensive Players: Jadeveon Clowney Should Be Instant Sack Artist

5 of 5

    Individual Defensive Player leagues are always tough to gauge for rankings, particularly as they relate to rookies. There are just so many viable IDPs to sift through, and then, any number of them can prove to be the best fantasy options.

    We analyze the rookies for the first round only, since the others are unlikely to prove draft worthy this summer.


    Immediate Impact IDPs

    1. DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

    The best part about Clowney's destination has to be the fact he gets to work opposite an already established pass-rusher who is going to draft a lot of attention in J.J. Watt. You cannot double everyone. Clowney is going to be a double-digit sack man in his first season.

    Heck, Clowney is a legit threat to challenge Jevon Kearse's NFL rookie sack record of 14.5. That would make him a potential top-10 fantasy defensive end.


    2. OLB Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders

    The best news about Mack is the Raiders are going be a bad offensive team, which means they are going to be playing a lot of defense. The fact they will be playing from behind usually tends to hurt an outside linebacker, because he will be rushing the passer less, but that will mean more tackles for Mack in the running game. It certainly helps if he is an every-down linebacker right away.


    3. MLB C.J. Mosley, Baltimore Ravens

    The Ravens stuck to their franchise bread and butter with their first-round pick, and they get a hawking tackler in Alabama's Mosley. He upgraded their run defense instantly in a division that is arguably the most run-heavy one in football. It should add up to a lot of tackles for Mosley's fantasy owners.


    4. DT Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

    Like Clowney, Donald is in a very nice spot to be a pass-rusher. The Rams already have attention hounds for pass protectors in Robert Quinn and Chris Long. If you play in an IDP league that differentiates tackles from ends, Donald is even more intriguing.


    5. CB Justin Gilbert, Cleveland Browns

    Perhaps the most noteworthy reason the Browns traded down to select Gilbert as opposed to sticking with Johnny Manziel at No. 4 overall is because they needed a corner with ball skills. Why? Shutdown corner Joe Haden forces a lot of throws to the other side. That should mean a lot of interception and scoring opportunities for Gilbert in fantasy. 


    Remaining Draftable Options

    1. FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers—A ball hawk who can support the running game, too.
    2. FS Calvin Pryor, New York Jets—The Jets are built on defense, and Pryor will rack up a lot of tackles for a rookie free safety.
    3. OLB Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings—He is a bit of a project, but his pass-rushing skills and draft position will make him an intriguing sleeper in fantasy.
    4. CB Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears—The Bears are going to play a lot of wild games. That should mean tackles and interception potential for Fuller.
    5. DE Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs—The Chiefs needed an edge-rusher, so consider him a late-round sleeper.
    6. CB Jason Verrett, San Diego Chargers—Volume of throws should get Verrett a lot of tackle and interception numbers for fantasy owners.
    7. SS Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers—A run-stuffing safety on one of the better defenses in football. Sounds like a nice fit.
    8. CB Darqueze Dennard, Cincinnati Bengals—He might not start immediately, but that doesn't mean he can't impact fantasy by picking up interceptions on third down.
    9. DE Marcus Smith, Philadelphia Eagles—Fast-paced games should be pass-rush friendly. He can be a good edge-rusher.
    10. SS Deone Bucannon, Arizona Cardinals—He certainly plays in the right division to rack up tackles.


    Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, was the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this past season. He is now an NFL featured writer here. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game.