Shortly after the lights shut down inside Radio City Music Hall on the 24th of April, the most serious of fantasy football managers will find themselves occasionally considering what implications this draft will have on that draft.
Don't worry, there are legions of fantasy junkies out there doing the same. Before those three magical days in late April arrive, it doesn't hurt to make some fearless fantasy forecasts for some of the 2010 NFL rookies.
Here's a projection of several offensive prospects projected stat line (i.e. fantasy impact) for their debut season.
A few of the big names are included in Part One, as are a handful of second-day picks with the potential to make our break managers seasons, or dynasties for those keeper-league gamers.
C.J. Spiller—RB (Clemson)
Any team fortunate enough to land the lightning-fast Spiller will instantly upgrade several aspects of their team. Their running game will obviously see the biggest boost, but the passing and special teams units will improve considerably.
Spiller’s size (5’11”, 195) should not concern NFL scouts about his ability to absorb NFL-style hits. He hasn’t missed a game in four seasons in Death Valley and proved himself plenty capable of carrying the load. His fantasy projection will take a hit if he finds himself in a running back by committee situation.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 880 rushing yards — 7 TD / 40 receptions — 360 yards — 3 TDs
Jonathon Dwyer—RB (Georgia Tech)
Here’s one of my favorite players in this draft. Dwyer is built like a brick you-know-what and averaged about 6.5 yards per carry throughout his three-year career. Capable of running in the high 4.4 range, he’s a destructive force once his 235-pound frame is charging down the field. He will be a force inside the five yard line.
Dwyer will not be tackled unless defenders have perfect pursuit angles because he’s too powerful, fast, and shifty. He’s a tough, willing blocker, and despite what his statistics say, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. All of this equates to an every-down role for my dark horse 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 1,220 rushing yards — 9 TD
Jahvid Best—RB (California)
The Pac-10 standout was well on his way to quieting skeptics concerns about his durability until he suffered a scary concussion. In fact, the elusive Best has missed games each and every season with California.
Best just might be the most exciting rookie to watch as he darts, dashes, and jitterbugs his way down the field. Not quite a one-trick pony, but his first year or two in the pros could be as a situational, timeshare contributor. His most productive role could very well manifest itself in screen passes and reverses.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 450 rushing yards — 3 TD / 380 rec. yards — 4 TD
Sam Bradford—QB (Oklahoma)
The former Heisman Trophy winner showed up to the combine in great shape. Bradford trained extremely hard leading up to the combine and bulked up to 235-pounds.
Quarterbacks rarely come on like gangbusters their rookie year, but Bradford has same the type of moxie as other successful first-year signal-callers like Matt Ryan. He projects more as a late-middle keeper pick and potential spot-starter in 2010 on fantasy teams. His intangibles and rare accuracy should translate to a long, productive career—but other quarterbacks in this class might have better inaugural seasons.
Unless St. Louis is using a smokescreen to bait Washington into overpaying to swap places, recent reports suggest Bradford is their man with the first overall pick. The Rams are devoid of receiving weapons, so he may struggle until they surround him with talent.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 8 TD — 14 INT / 2,800 passing yards
Dez Bryant—WR (Oklahoma State)
His suspension is more of an immaturity issue than a serious character flaw. Bryant’s a big play waiting to happen with dangerous after-the-catch elusiveness and fairly dependable hands.
Will his almost year of non-game experience cost him? Not as much as some may think, but I think there are other receivers in this class who will have better NFL careers—let alone rookie campaigns.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 50 Receptions — 4 TD
Damian Williams—WR (USC)
The Trojans Team MVP and First Team All-Pac 10 selection will provide instant results for some NFL team looking for a number two receiver with upside. He has pretty good size, but his two bread-and-butter traits are excellent hands and upper-tier route- running ability—even by NFL standards.
Williams will probably be available in the final rounds of 2010 fantasy football drafts, but he projects as a very interesting keeper.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 65 receptions — 7 TD
Carlton Mitchell—South Florida
Mitchell exemplifies the potential value in a typical risk-reward selection in the middle rounds. There’s a lot to like about the Bulls' all-time leading receiver, and his character and makeup are reassuring since he’s a relatively late-bloomer.
His height (6’4”) and track-star speed combined with surprising wiggle, and quickness have set Mitchell up for a nice NFL career. Coaches and teammates have praised his approach and toughness.
2010 NFL Fantasy Projection : 58 receptions—6 TD
(Part Two of the 2010 NFL Draft Prospects Fantasy Forecast will cover a few more from each position including tight ends)