Fantasy Football: Top 10 Midseason Rookie Rankings

Keet Bailey@@KeetBaileyCorrespondent IINovember 5, 2010

Sam Bradford has taken the league by storm.
Sam Bradford has taken the league by storm.Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

It’s the mid-way point in the 2010 NFL season, which begs many to ask which rookie players are living up to expectations, and which aren’t carrying their weight?

Fantasy football owners look at all aspects of the NFL. Rookies that can produce are always a bonus because those are the guys that many owners are skeptical of starting weekly because they are more prone to mistakes and being less productive.

Owners in fantasy football dynasty leagues also have to keep an eye on rookies as they are looking for the next big keeper to pick up for the following season.

We already know that Jimmy Clausen hasn’t taken the league by storm, but what about some of his other colleagues that are fresh out of the 2010 NFL Draft?

Read on to see which rookies snuck into our midseason top-10 rookie rankings, and track them with us every week as we rank the rookies going forward until the season is over.

1. Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

Season Stats: 171/292, 1,674 yards, 11 TD, 8 INT

Last Week vs. Carolina: 25/32, 191 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT

Bradford has had a solid year for fantasy owners and Rams fans.

Over the last three weeks, his touchdown/interception ratio is 5:0, while he’s also led the Rams to a 4-4 record on the season, with all four wins at home.

Bradford has turned into a quality QB2 in most formats, and is a good spot start against poor pass defenses.

What’s most surprising is the fact that he’s done this with a very young wide receiving unit and slightly above average pass-blocking from the offensive line.

He seems to improve each week, and has the potential to be one of the best in the league in a few years.


2. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

Season Stats: 27 tackles (22 solo), 6.5 sacks, 2 PD, 1 INT, 1 FR, 1 TD

Last Week vs. Washington: 5 tackles (4 solo), 2 sacks, 1 FR, 1 TD

Lions fans are going nuts about a boy named Suh (that goes out to you, Johnny Cash).

Suh dominated the Redskins last week in Detroit's win, further displaying his huge (and we do mean huge) presence in the middle of Detroit’s line.

Suh forced two sacks and recovered a fumble that he took into the end zone in Week 8. While his early celebration was in the form of Leon Lett, he managed to not fumble it before scoring, which is always a plus.

In IDP fantasy leagues, Suh should be grabbed, as he’s been a monster this season on a much improved Detroit defensive line.


3. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions

Season Stats: 92 rushes, 305 yards, 4 TD, 36 rec, 316 yards, 1 TD

Last Week vs. Washington: 12 rushes, 48 yards, 0 TD, 5 rec, 31 yards, 0 TD

Opening the season, Best looked like he was going to be one of the top running backs in scoring. And not just among rookies, but out of the entire league.

A few things have changed since his hot start, though, as he hasn’t been as effective as he was in his Week 2 performance where he racked up around 40 fantasy points.

Still, Best has been somewhat productive with decent overall yardage, and has been a blessing catching passes out of the backfield.

His playmaking ability should not be questioned, however, he has been slowed the last couple of weeks due to a slight turf toe, which is never good.


4a. Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys

Season Stats: 29 rec, 349 yards, 3 TD

Last Week vs. Jacksonville: 7 rec, 84 yards , 0 TD

Many people thought that Dez Bryant would struggle a bit this year because he was the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart. However, he moved up a spot and has been productive in the air, as well as in the return game.

The loss of Tony Romo surprisingly helps his value, as Roy E. Williams won’t be targeted much due to his inability to make plays after the catch.

Kitna will rely on Miles Austin and Dez Bryant to get him out of jams. Kitna knows he can rely on Bryant to catch a 10-yard pass and take is 60 more to the house. Look for Bryant to continue making plays and potentially move right up on the rookie production board.


4b. Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Season Stats: 32 rec, 470 yards, 4 TD

Last Week @ Arizona: 4 rec, 105 yards, 1 TD

If you asked Josh Freeman a question about a guy that’s helped him succeed this year, he’d bring up Mike Williams immediately.

The 54 targets on the season aren’t just desperation heaves for last minute points. Freeman is comfortable finding Williams who was arguably the second most talented wide receiver in April’s NFL Draft (second to Dez Bryant).

But you just can’t not throw to a guy who has reliable hands, and can make plays after the catch, as well as fight for the ball in the end zone. Freeman will continue to find Williams on a weekly basis as Tampa Bay surprisingly is in contention for the NFC South at 5-2.


5. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks

Season Stats: 35 tackles (30 solo), 9 PD, 4 INT, 2 FR

Last Week @ Oakland: 5 tackles (4 solo), 0 PD, 0 INT, 0 FR

Don’t pay attention to Seattle’s defensive statistics against the pass. Earl Thomas can’t make all the plays. But he’s been problematic for opposing quarterbacks who can’t seem to zip the ball in to the receiver’s hands when Thomas is around.

His four interceptions lead all rookies, as do his nine pass deflections. In IDP leagues, Thomas is an excellent guy to have. He’s a genuine ball hawk, always aware of where the ball is, and always finding a way to get it in his possession.  He’s doing a stellar job with tackles, while his playmaking ability begs you to consider him for a roster spot.


6. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs

Season Stats: 41 tackles (31 solo), 6 PD, 2 INT, 1 FF

Last Week vs. Buffalo: 10 tackles (7 solo), 1 PD, 1 INT, 0 FF

Berry is a defensive standout in his rookie year on a much improved Kansas City defense. He’s making tackles close to the line of scrimmage, and he’s excelling against the pass.

Berry isn’t going to lay the wood every time, but he can jar the ball loose, and he will cause problems for quarterbacks trying to connect to that receiver in his half of the field.

He’s been burnt a couple times, but those are rookie mistakes. With Romeo Crennel as his defensive coordinator, this kid will continue to improve weekly, and is an excellent IDP fantasy option.


7. Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers

Season Stats: 77 rushes, 337 yards, 2 TD, 13 rec, 74 yards, 0 TD

Last Week vs. Tennessee: 15 rushes, 43 yards, 1 TD, 3 rec, 11 yards, 0 TD

Mathews has been a huge disappointment for fantasy owners who drafted him between rounds two and four this year. However, he has still been decent, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

The problem is, he suffered a small injury and missed a few games, and never really took the starting spot back from Mike Tolbert, who has been solid.

With just two touchdowns on the year, and only one game over 70 yards, Mathews will need to show more in terms of fantasy value. He’s a very talented runner, but the Chargers aren’t committed to him just yet. He should be ready to break out very soon, however.


8. Aaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots

Season Stats: 29 rec, 388 yards, 0 TD

Last Week vs. Minnesota: 2 rec, 33 yards, 0 TD

Fantasy owners have enjoyed picking up Hernandez off of the waiver wire. He seems to catch everything and make plays.

The only issue is that Hernandez doesn’t see much time in the red zone (zero touchdowns).

Fellow rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski is the bigger, and more reliable target in the end zone, so fantasy owners will have to settle for Hernandez’s receptions and yardage.

Still, he’s one of the few tight ends in the NFL who is a threat to take a play down the field for 60 yards every time he touches the ball. With a tasty matchup against Cleveland in Week 9, this could be the week he finally hits paydirt.


9. LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Season Stats: 43 rushes, 222 yards, 3 TD, 2 rec, 9 yards

Last Week @ Arizona: 22 rushes, 120 yards, 2 TD, 2 rec, 9 yards

It’s very possible that Blount could be higher on this list, but considering he started his production just two weeks ago against St. Louis, it’s pretty amazing that he even made the list.

Blount rushed for 72 yards on just 11 carries in Week 7, and head coach Raheem Morris committed to using Blount primarily in Week 8, when he busted for 120 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

This is good news for the undrafted rookie who, had he not made some character mistakes, could have been as high as a second round draft selection.

The bad news is for veteran Cadillac Williams, who will serve primarily on third downs.


10. Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Season Stats: 24 rec, 349 yards, 1 TD

Last Week: 3 rec, 28 yards, 0 TD

Shipley may not look like much when you first take a look at him, but one read through his career at Texas, and no one should be shocked about his instant success as a rookie in Cincinnati.

Working in the slot behind Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, Shipley has quickly made a name for himself as a great route runner with soft hands and no fear in working the middle of the field.

His solid start to his career took a major leap (and got him into these rankings), when he hauled in six catches for 131 yards and a 64-yard touchdown in Week 7 against the Atlanta Falcons.


Honorable Mentions

T.J. Ward, S, Cleveland Browns- 60 tackles (45 solo), 1 FF

David Gettis, WR, Carolina Panthers- 18 rec, 244 yards, 2 TD

Tony Moeaki, TE, Kansas City Chiefs- 24 rec, 281 yards, 2 TD

Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans Saints- 66 rushes, 332 yards, 1 rec, 17 yards

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Follow us on Twitter at @NFLSoup@NFLSoupTaylor@NFLSoupKeet and @NFLSoup_Kevin.


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