The 2010 NFL season begins in less than 60 days. Many of you are starting your fantasy football draft prep work or have already drafted some of your teams.
To help you win your league, we are going to take a break from our dynasty rookie rankings and focus on what rookies you should draft this summer.
Knowing when to draft rookies in your redraft league can be an important part of the success of your fantasy team. Rookies are overvalued in fantasy drafts, so we have also included each player’s current ADP in PPR leagues. This will give you an idea of their perceived value.
For example, Montario Hardesty is a better value than Ben Tate in our opinion—and you can draft him almost a round and a half later or more than Tate.
Our Player Projections are current as of July 10, 2010.
Outlook: Ryan Mathews is an early favorite for the Rookie of the Year award as the successor to LaDainian Tomlinson in the Chargers backfield. Head coach Norv Turner has already penciled in Mathews for 250 carries and 40 receptions. Darren Sproles is back for another season as the third-down back and could steal some carries from the rookie.
Mathews did struggle with injuries at Fresno State, which will cause concerns for fantasy owners. Mathews has crept into the first round of many drafts; however, we would feel more comfortable with Mathews as a RB2 and is a good bet to exceed 1,000 rushing yards and score 9-10 touchdowns.
Outlook: Jahvid Best will give Ryan Mathews a run for the Rookie of the Year honors. Best is one of our favorite players from this draft class and could be considered a poor man’s Chris Johnson with his electrifying speed in the open field.
However, proceed with caution in drafting Best early in your fantasy drafts; the Lions have struggled on offense in recent years, and they face a tough schedule in 2010. With a big season in 2010, Jahvid Best may be one of the best keeper options available next year.
Outlook: At the time of writing this, Marshawn Lynch is still a member of the Bills, which hampers the value of C.J. Spiller this season. Spiller was a favorite of many experts leading up to the NFL draft.
Spiller is viewed as an all-around player that can also contribute on special teams; however, he may already have maxed out his potential. Spiller will be used similarly to how Reggie Bush has been for the Saints, and that is also a good player comparison for his early career.
Outlook: Montario Hardesty was drafted to be a big-back complement to Jerome Harrison, and based on his early camp reports, he may ultimately pass Harrison on the depth chart sooner than later. Hardesty was a late bloomer at Tennessee and struggled with injuries at times. The Browns have made improvements under Mike Holmgren; however, it is unlikely that Hardesty will be anything more than a flex option this season.
Outlook: Dez Bryant slid down draft boards due to maturity and character concerns. Jerry Jones traded up in the draft to land one of the best college wide receivers in recent memory. Bryant will have no issues displacing Roy Williams in the starting lineup and is already slated to have punt return duties to begin the season. Bryant is one of the few wide receivers from this draft class that could be a potential keeper in 2010.
Outlook: Ben Tate enters training camp in a battle with Steve Slaton and Arian Foster for the starting running back spot. Tate was a late riser in the draft process with an impressive combine performance, although he does not play as fast as he timed at the combine. Tate fits the Texans’ one-cut running scheme well. Tate is currently overvalued in redraft leagues and is a risky selection with the uncertainty of who will start for the team.
Outlook: Dexter McCluster will open the season as the starting slot wide receiver for the Chiefs. What McCluster lacks in size he makes up for in sheer playmaking ability and versatility.
Outlook: The 2009 Biletnikoff Award winner will likely open the season as a starting wide receiver for the Seahawks over T.J. Houshmandzadeh or Deion Branch. Tate is a physical player and would have been a first round selection in the NFL Draft if he had ideal size.
Outlook: Arrelious Benn is almost assured of a starting spot as the Buccaneers attempt to replace the departed Antonio Bryant. Benn declared for the NFL Draft after struggling in his junior campaign with nagging injuries and poor quarterback play. Benn is a physical player with decent speed but struggled to make big plays in college. He has more value in PPR leagues where second-year quarterback Josh Freeman will be looking his way often this season.
Outlook: The troubled ex-Syracuse wide receiver fell in the NFL Draft because of character concerns. When he was on the field, he looked like a first round talent. He has a great situation to become a starting receiver with Arrelious Benn this year. Williams has to prove that he is willing to put in the work to become a solid pro before you should pull the trigger during your draft.
Outlook: Demaryius Thomas was surprisingly the first wide receiver selected before Dez Bryant on the first day of the draft. Thomas is a high-character player with loads of talent. Thomas is a similar player to fellow Georgia Tech alumni Calvin Johnson; however, he lacks the same polish entering the NFL.
Thomas is the best long-term bet to help fill the role left by the trade of Brandon Marshall this offseason. Thomas will have to beat out either Eddie Royal or Jabar Gaffney to get regular targets in Josh McDaniels' offense.
Outlook: Toby Gerhart is the handcuff running back to Adrian Peterson owners with the departure of Chester Taylor to the rival Bears. Gerhart could see some action as the short-yardage back. If Peterson goes down with an injury, it is not a certainty that Gerhart would receive all the carries or participate in a committee.
Outlook: Sam Bradford is the only rookie with a good possibility of opening the season as a starter for his team. The Rams finally selected their franchise quarterback after passing on Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Bradford has top-10 fantasy upside down the road, but he is going to struggle as a rookie with a poor supporting cast and a rebuilding offensive line. He could be useful in a spot start, but do not expect to count on Bradford on a weekly basis this season.
Outlook: Joe McKnight was drafted to be the understudy to Tomlinson and provide help in the return game and on third down. McKnight struggled at USC with Reggie Bush comparisons, and he should only be considered in the deepest of redraft leagues.
Outlook: Jermaine Gresham will give the Bengals the first legitimate weapon at the tight end position in recent memory. Gresham missed the entire 2009 season due to knee surgery but scored 14 touchdowns in 2008.
Gresham has shown the ability to become a true three-down tight end—now the question is if the Bengals can find a way to use Gresham on the football field. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski does not have a history of featuring the tight end in his offense.
Outlook: Brandon LaFell will compete with Dwayne Jarrett for the No. 2 wide receiver job this season. The winner of the competition will not make much of a fantasy impact, as the Panthers remain one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL.
Outlook: Jordan Shipley will compete with Andre Caldwell for the slot receiver job. If Shipley wins the job at some point this season, he could be worth a flier in deeper PPR leagues.
Outlook: Jonathan Dwyer slipped to the sixth round due to a failed drug test. He could earn the short-yardage role as a rookie. He does have the size to become the feature back if Rashard Mendenhall went down with an injury.
Outlook: Mardy Gilyard was an impressive college performer at Cincinnati, but he looks like he will focus on kick and punt return duties in his rookie season. If he sees any game action in 2010, it will likely be in the slot at the expense of Danny Amendola.
Outlook: Anthony Dixon also slipped to the sixth round. He will compete with Glen Coffee to back up Frank Gore. Dixon is a limited player; however, he could be a late season waiver-wire steal if Gore misses time again this season. He is a physical back that could take the punishment as a featured back.
Outlook: Damian Williams gives the Titans a young receiver to eventually pair with second-year player Kenny Britt, but Williams is blocked this season by Nate Washington. The Titans run their offense quite literally through Chris Johnson at this point, so it is tough to see the team passing more this season.
Outlook: The former Citadel star likely will not see the field much in 2010 as the Cardinals shift to a run-first philosophy after the retirement of QB Kurt Warner. Roberts is worth monitoring if injuries strike the Cardinals receiving core sans Anquan Boldin.
Outlook: Karim will compete with Rashad Jennings to back up Maurice Jones-Drew. Even though Karim was just a small school player from Southern Illinois, he put on a show for NFL scouts at his pro day.
Outlook: Starks will likely redshirt this season behind Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson. Starks missed his senior season at Buffalo.
Outlook: Aaron Hernandez is likely to earn the move-tight end role for the Patriots this season while fellow rookie Rob Gronkowski handles the in-line duties. Hernandez is generating a lot of positive buzz in OTAs; however, with all the options QB Tom Brady has on offense, it is hard to see Hernandez getting consistent targets in his rookie season.