The Rookie Report: Who Brings The Best Value?

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The Rookie Report: Who Brings The Best Value?
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With just over two weeks until the start of the 2009 NFL season, fantasy football drafts are in full swing around the world.

We always preach value here at the National Football Post, and some of the best fantasy value picks are always rookies. Why? Because they’re not as well known as many veterans, which tends to drop their ADP (average draft position).

However, you can’t just head into your fantasy draft and look to snag every rookie on the board. You have to know which first-year players are worth a roster spot and, more importantly, which ones are not.

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s rookie class…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that if you haven’t already purchased the NFP Total Access Pass, you’re missing out. It launches one week before the start of the season and will be your source for all the information you need to destroy your fantasy league this season: Sunday morning live chats, start ‘em/sit ‘em analysis, projections, up-to-date injury reports and much, much more. Check it out HERE.

The Rookie Report

QUARTERBACKS

1. Matthew Stafford—Detroit Lions

ADP: 155.8
Highest round drafted: Ninth
Lowest round drafted: Free Agent
Most common round selected: 14th

The Scoop: Stafford is not fantasy viable this season unless you’re looking for a QB3 in a deep fantasy league. He hasn’t officially won the starting job in Detroit yet and has (predictably) looked shaky during the preseason (12 for 27, 148 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions). He has keeper league potential as a late-round selection, but that’s about it.

2. Mark Sanchez—New York Jets

ADP: 161.3
Highest round drafted: 11th
Lowest round drafted: Free Agent
Most common round selected: 14th

The Scoop: If you watched Monday Night Football and saw Sanchez take on the Ravens you now know exactly why rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle: pressure. The Ravens threw everything at Sanchez and were able to rattle him early, forcing an interception that Haloti Ngata took back to the house. Sanchez is going to develop into a good NFL quarterback. It just won’t happen soon enough for you to consider drafting him.

Notables

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If Freeman makes it onto the field in 2009, it won’t happen until around the middle of the season. He needs a lot of work and, more importantly, an opportunity. Keep him off your draft board.

RUNNING BACKS

1. Knowshon Moreno—Denver Broncos

ADP: 56.7
Highest round drafted: Third
Lowest round drafted: Eighth
Most common round selected: Fifth

The Scoop: Moreno is currently nursing a sprained knee, which has caused his value to drop. Couple that with the fact everyone on the planet thinks he’ll be splitting carries with 31 different running backs and you get a rookie who is slipping down the boards. Don’t worry, this kid will impress this year. For any of you who watched the Denver-Seattle game late Saturday night (don’t tell me I’m the only loser who was home watching it), you saw the Broncos’ offensive line blowing open holes that made Correll Buckhalter look like a star. When Moreno comes back, he’ll be making plays. Look for him if you target more than one wide receiver early in your draft.

2. Beanie Wells—Arizona Cardinals

ADP: 77.1
Highest round drafted: Fourth
Lowest round drafted: Ninth
Most common round selection: Seventh

The Scoop: Don’t tell me the myriad of injuries Wells has been dealing with surprises you. If it does, you clearly did not read our Draft Guide. Beanie was injury prone at Ohio State, and it looks like his luck at the NFL level is no different. If he can get healthy and back on the field, he’ll be able to score some touchdowns. But I don’t like the idea of drafting him before the eighth round. Call me crazy, but I don’t see him playing 16 games this year.

3. Donald Brown–Indianapolis Colts

ADP: 79.7
Highest round drafted: Fifth
Lowest round drafted: 10th
Most common round selection: Seventh

The Scoop: One of our favorite rookies heading into 2009, Brown has been turning heads and climbing up boards the past few weeks. Reports out of Indy are praising him for his work ethic and study habits. Brown is a very dynamic back who has posted some decent numbers in two preseason games (eight carries, 63 yards). He fits the Colts’ offense beautifully, which is why they drafted him in the first round. Put an asterisk next to Brown’s name because this is a guy you want on your team this season. Start thinking about him when you enter the sixth round.

4. LeSean McCoy—Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: 81.4
Highest round drafted: Sixth
Lowest round drafted: 13th
Most common round selection: Eighth

The Scoop: A dual-threat back who fits nicely in the Eagles’ pass-first offense, McCoy has a big advantage heading into the 2009 season: He’s been getting all of the first team reps. Granted, Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook is going to be the starting back in Week 1, but he’s missed almost the entire summer due to ankle surgery. That means McCoy is getting valuable experience working with McNabb and the rest of the Eagles’ starters. Remember, B-West has never made it through a full 16-game season in his career.

5. Shonn Greene—New York Jets

ADP: 118.2
Highest round drafted: Seventh
Lowest round drafted: 15th
Most common round selection: 10th

The Scoop: A deep sleeper with a ton of upside, the word is out on this beast from Iowa. Greene has been slowly climbing up draft boards, and for good reason. He’s going to get a share of the workload and is likely to see some quality action on the goal line in 2009. If Thomas Jones is on the Jets’ roster in Week 1, Greene may not be worthy of a starting roster spot on most fantasy teams. But this is a guy who has big-time potential in keeper leagues. Look for him late.

Notables

Glen Coffee, San Francisco 49ers: Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore is going to get almost all the touches, but Coffee is a handcuff that all Gore owners MUST draft.

James Davis, Cleveland Browns: Davis has an ADP of 161.7, which is amazing to me because he’s the No. 3 running back on a bad Cleveland team. Owners are advised to look at the elusive Jerome Harrison in the later rounds instead of Davis.

Mike Goodson, Carolina Panthers: Goodson has a ton of talent but two big factors working against him. First, he’s playing behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, so his touches will be extremely limited. Second, he’s a trouble-maker with a checkered past. There’s always a reason a big-time talent like Goodson falls in April during the draft: too many red flags.

WIDE RECEIVERS

1. Percy Harvin—Minnesota Vikings

ADP: 95.5
Highest round drafted: Sixth
Lowest round drafted: 12th
Most common round selection: Eighth

The Scoop: The addition of quarterback Brett Favre has predictably increased Harvin’s draft position. He’s one of the only rookie receivers we really like this season because of his ability to make plays in open space. Look for head coach Brad Childress to try and take advantage of Harvin’s skill set by moving him around at the line of scrimmage in an effort to get the ball into his hands in a number of different ways. Harvin is worthy of a mid- to late-round draft pick, but don’t overpay, especially when you can get a player like Nate Washington two rounds later.

2. Michael Crabtree—San Francisco 49ers

ADP: 102.2
Highest round drafted: Seventh
Lowest round drafted: 12th
Most common round selection: Ninth

The Scoop: Why would anyone draft Crabtree? We advised against drafting him in July, and we’ll continue to do so as long as you guys keep reading these columns. He’s not signed, not in camp and most likely has no idea what the 49ers' playbook looks like. Does this sound like a guy you can count on in fantasy? DO NOT DRAFT MICHAEL CRABTREE.

3. Jeremy Maclin—Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: 127.8
Highest round drafted: Eighth
Lowest round drafted: 15th
Most common round selection: 11th

The Scoop: Those of you who have read my stuff before know I’m an Eagles fan, but even I wouldn’t draft Maclin this season. He was nine days late getting into camp and won’t see much action in 2009 with the starting unit. The crazy thing is that he’s currently struggling to win the starting spot returning punts. See what a holdout gets you, Jeremy? You can get better value in the 11th round than Maclin. He won’t see enough reps to crack your starting lineup.

4. Hakeem Nicks—New York Giants

ADP: 144.0
Highest round drafted: 10th
Lowest round drafted: Free Agent
Most common round selection: 13th

The Scoop: Nicks is off to a rough start in the Big Apple. Rather than give you my analysis on the situation, just click here and scroll down to see Lombardi’s take. It isn’t pretty. To make a long story short, don’t draft him.

5. Darrius Heyward-Bey—Oakland Raiders

ADP: 151.3
Highest round drafted: 10th
Lowest round drafted: Free Agent
Most common round selection: 13th

The Scoop: He’s only caught one pass for eight yards so far this preseason, so there isn’t much to get excited about at the moment. DHB has had some trouble holding on to the football, but what’s more unnerving is the Raiders’ quarterback situation. With JaMarcus Russell recently being named the starter in Oakland, how comfortable can you feel about a rookie wideout who can’t catch the football? I’d rather target Johnnie Lee Higgins toward the end of my fantasy draft than DHB. He has a lot to learn.

6. Brian Robiskie—Cleveland Browns

ADP: 157.7
Highest round drafted: 10th
Lowest round drafted: Free Agent
Most common round selected: 14th

The Scoop: Robiskie is currently battling for the No. 2 spot in Cleveland, but even if he wins the job, the rookie wideout doesn’t bring much value to the table. That’s not to say he doesn’t have talent because he does. The problem in Cleveland is the quarterback situation. Both Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson have struggled this preseason (don’t read too much into Anderson’s performance against the Lions), and without some consistent play from the QB position, Robiskie’s growth will be slower than head coach Eric Mangini would like. Let him fall to waivers, but keep an eye on his progress in 2009.

Notables

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans: The big, physical target out of Rutgers looked sharp against the Buccaneers as he caught five passes for 89 yards and one touchdown. I don’t recommend going after him on draft day, but he could be a decent waiver wire pickup in the middle of the season.

TIGHT ENDS

Note: Currently, none of the following tight ends is worth a draft pick. However, a couple of these rookies could emerge later in the season as decent waiver pickups.

Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions: Pettigrew will see the most playing time of all the 2009 rookie tight ends, but that isn’t saying much. Detroit is in a rebuilding phase and hasn’t even settled on a quarterback yet. In addition, the inconsistent play of the offensive line will force new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to keep Pettigrew in on a portion of the Lions’ passing plays in an effort to provide more protection. Look for a fantasy option with more experience.

Chase Coffman, Cincinnati Bengals: One of the most appealing rookie tight ends, Coffman is in a nice position heading into 2009. Injuries to Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht have paved the way for the former Missouri standout to step into the starting lineup. Keep an eye on him.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans: A physical specimen who possesses all the tools, Cook has caught 12 passes for 120 yards this preseason. Unfortunately, he’s got Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler ahead of him on the depth chart. The good news is that this kid will be a force in the coming years.

James Casey, Houston Texans: The Texans are looking to use Casey in a variety of different ways in 2009, none of which will make him a viable fantasy option. He’s at least one year away from roster status.

Shawn Nelson, Buffalo Bills: Nelson will need some time to develop, but he’s an outstanding athlete with exceptional hands. If the Bills could get some more consistent protection from their offensive line, Nelson would have a better chance of getting down the field and making plays.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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