The NFL Draft is over and it’s time to turn our fantasy football focus to the impact the rookies will have in 2010 and beyond. With dynasty leagues growing in popularity, several leagues have rookie-only drafts.
Let’s mock it up with a three round, 10 team version. In general, rookies don’t have a huge impact in fantasy leagues in their first year, and even considering that, this is a lackluster rookie draft from a fantasy perspective.
Most of the running backs will enter committees and the wide receivers are raw, have personal issues, or are entering bad situations. There are no stud tight ends and the only quarterback guaranteed to start will do so for the St. Louis Rams, the worst team in the league.
Add it all up, and it might be worth moving your picks for veteran fantasy help, other than if you own the first pick, that is.
A future article will focus on veteran winners and losers from the NFL Draft, including Fred Jackson and Roy Williams.
1. Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers—Mathews will start on Opening Day in the Chargers high-powered offense and Darren Sproles will serve as the pass catching, change of pace option. Look for 15-20 touches a game, giving Mathews RB2 status with upside.
2. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo—Topped 200 touches only once in college and Fred Jackson isn’t chopped liver so expect RBBC in Buffalo. He’s going to need touchdowns to hit RB2 status but that’s wishful thinking with Trent Edwards at quarterback. He’s a backup, but admittedly with upside, in 2010.
3. Ben Tate, Houston— Texans get their running back to compliment Steve Slaton but perhaps not to supplant him. The Texans’ offense is loaded and he will be the goal line back. That’s why he’s here.
4. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit—Either Kevin Smith isn’t ready on Opening Day or he struggles from his injury recovery, so Best will get opportunities early. Unfortunately, Smith is a starting calibre back best suited to early down work and Best seems to fit best as the third down guy.
5. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas—Has a chance to supplant Roy Williams this year and, barring any issues, will almost certainly be starting in 2011. Huge upside in a solid Cowboys offense.
6. Montario Hardesty, Cleveland—Jerome Harrison did nothing for three years and then put up 150 fantasy points last year with 89 coming in three games against the Chiefs, Raiders and Jaguars. Hardesty’s going to challenge and nobody should be surprised he beats out Harrison.
7. Golden Tate, WR, Seattle—Great situation for Tate with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch aging and Seattle in rebuilding mode. Tate could be starting on Opening Day.
8. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver—He’s going to start but might be catching passes from Tim Tebow by midseason and in future years. Sorry—I’m not that excited.
9. Rolando McClain, ILB, Oakland—Tackle machine and the top IDP player in the draft. Road to the starting lineup was cleared with the trade of Kirk Morrison to the Jaguars. Doesn’t have Patrick Willis-potential in IDP leagues but he isn’t far off.
10. Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay—With Josh Freeman entering his second year, Benn won’t be a starting calibre fantasy starter this year but has upside in 2011.
1. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis—Don’t expect much in 2010 but he’s the only quarterback in the draft likely to start next year. The Rams’ receivers offer potential but remain raw.
2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings—Tough to slot him in. If Adrian Peterson gets hurt, he’s gold. Otherwise, he’s 4-6 touches a game at most. It’s like the lottery—at $2 a ticket, I’m in. At $10, forget about it. This spot seems about right.
3. James Starks, RB, Green Bay—Measures and collegiate production don’t jump out at you but Ryan Grant’s backups to date have been a bust and it’s not likely Grant is overly talented himself. Plus, the Packers offense is great which makes Starks worth the gamble.
4. Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina—Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and Dwayne Jarrett isn’t getting any better.
5. Daryl Washington, ILB, Arizona—Cardinals take Washington to replace Dansby and he will likely start from day one. He could be a tackle machine in the Cardinals defensive scheme.
6. Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati—A solid prospect who might catch enough touchdowns to be fantasy useful in 2010.
7. Jonathan Dwyer, RB, Pittsburgh—Won’t likely get to play much but does figure to start ahead of Mewelde Moore if Rashard Mendenhall gets hurt.
8. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay—It might seem odd to have two Buccaneers rookie wide receivers in this mock but it’s not like any of the current crop of veterans are sure-fire starters. Opportunity trumps character concerns at this point.
9. Marcus Easley, WR, Buffalo—Huge hole opposite Lee Evans with only the disappointing James Hardy and former seventh round pick Steve Johnson to compete with Easley. He has solid size which is what the Bills want opposite Evans.
10. Eric Decker, WR, Denver—Let’s see, Josh McDaniels clearly likes his own guys. Eddie Royal isn’t one of them and he was a bust last season. Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley aren’t the long-term answers so Decker will get a shot at some point and don’t be surprised if it’s this year.
1. Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati—Chad Ochocinco isn’t getting any younger, Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones aren’t getting any smarter, Andre Caldwell’s best suited as a backup and Jerome Simpson will be starting his second career soon. Shipley’s got an opportunity, just not this year.
2. Damian Williams, WR, Tennessee—Kenny Britt is locked in at one starting position but Justin Gage and Nate Washington have been marginally disappointing for the Titans.
3. James Graham, TE, New Orleans—Jeremy Shockey is injury prone and David Thomas has played well but has limited upside. Graham’s opportunity could come sooner than many think.
4. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City—Safeties excel in IDP leagues when there’s pass rush help, which the Chiefs lack. However, if Berry is as good as advertised, he’s worth a shot here.
5. Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina—Matt Moore’s the incumbent. Do I need to go on?
6. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England—Alge Crumpler’s the starter but Gronkowski could take over by midseason.
7. Kareem Jackson, CB, Houston—Expect him to get picked on plenty which should provide opportunities for tackles, passes defensed and maybe the odd interception.
8. Colt McCoy, QB, Cleveland—Slotted behind Clausen since the Panthers have a solid running game and Steve Smith. The Browns’ offensive line is above average but the receivers and running backs don’t match up to Carolina’s.
9. Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona—Likely will be used in the slot. If Early Doucet’s late season play was a mirage, Roberts could get a shot earlier than expected.
10. Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland—Rookie cornerbacks get picked on plenty but Haden may be the Browns best corner on Opening Day. Nonetheless, expect him to rack up solid numbers in IDP leagues.