2011 NFL Draft: Which Rookies Will Get You a Fantasy Football Championship
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Sometimes it isn't about how fast, strong or big you are. No, sometimes it's just about being in the right place at the right time. That is how it works for NFL rookies, well, at least most of them. It translates to fantasy football, too. Sometimes you will spend a high draft pick on a C.J. Spiller and get burned because you overlooked the fact he is playing in Buffalo, and not East Rutherford.
Not all rookies are busts in fantasy just because they started their careers off slowly. Spiller isn't a terrible choice in a dynasty league because of his probable long-term value. Then again, he will still have to play for the Bills.
So before you go investing a high pick on A.J. Green just because someone on TV said he was a great athlete, you should take into consideration where that rookie is playing. To help make things a little easier on you, here is a list of teams that could have immediate impact rookies and at what positions.
Seattle Seahawks, Running Back
The Seahawks had almost no run game last season, finishing 31st in yards and average. The Seahawks need a few pieces in this year's draft, but running back is one area I expect them to address early on. This upcoming season, the Seahawks will actually have the easiest running schedule based on last year's final fantasy stats.
The Seahawks have a chance to grab Mark Ingram in the first round, although I highly doubt it. That leaves them with some solid options in the second or third rounds. The value on running backs is dropping these days, so running backs like Ryan Williams that were once first-round draft picks could be the starter for Seattle for only a third-round selection.
Likely, the Seahawks will have to invest their second-round draft pick in Williams, but they could also stand to take a player in the third round like Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State. The Seahawks will have to address their need at running back, and although they will likely run a back-by-committee offense, there is a chance for a breakout rookie in the Seattle backfield.
Cincinnati Bengals, Wide Receiver
The Bengals have the easiest schedule for wide receivers in all of fantasy in 2011. This has something to do with the Steelers and Ravens both needing new cornerbacks, but they do have favorable matchups throughout the season. The Bengals will likely take a wide receiver in the first round because it is a bad idea to do so and they are the Bengals after all. A.J. Green becomes an immediate impact rookie in this case.
The Bengals will still need a new quarterback and they are running a new system, but Green should be able to have some solid production in his first year. There is no one on the roster that will be able to compete with Green for the No. 1 spot, and Green will likely be the safety valve for whichever new starter Cincinnati employs.
Pittsburgh Steelers, Wide Receiver
The Steelers drafted two receivers last year in Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown. Currently the Steelers have been looking at receivers similar to Ausitn Pettis. Pettis is more of the Hines Ward mold, a solid possession receiver who can run accurate routes. Hines Ward should keep his position this year, as he can still play and he is regarded as the leader of the offense.
Pettis, or whichever receiver they choose, could stand to steal some touchdowns from Ward, however. Hines has been the Steelers' top red-zone target pretty much his whole career and the Steelers know they will have to replace that production eventually. The Steelers' future Ward replacement should be a solid pick because of his red-zone potential and the Steelers' growing momentum in the passing game. Oh, and they also have the third easiest schedule for wide receivers.
St. Louis Rams, Wide Receiver/Tight End
The Rams need to start bringing in weapons for Sam Bradford. If they have a chance at Julio Jones in the first round, they will pull the trigger, but that case is becoming less and less likely. There is an interesting rumor going around that the Rams could in fact shock the NFL by taking Notre Dome tight end Kyle Rudolph in the first round if they see the value.
Rudolph is a very good receiving tight end, and since the NFL is a copycat league, the Rams could try and copy the Patriots' recent success with athletic tight ends. Josh McDaniels is the new offensive coordinator for the Rams, and he has his own New England ties. Either way, the new receiving threat for the Rams should be an immediate contributor in fantasy football.
Last year there were seemingly 100 different receivers who suited up for the Rams and they each had their own types of success. The roster should be full of receivers next year, so be wary of taking the Rams' rookie receivers if they decide on waiting in the actual NFL draft. If the Rams do procure a talent like that of either Jones or Rudolph, though, I say take the risk and put that rookie in your starting lineup.
New York Giants, Tight End
The Giants seem to be the frontrunners in the Kyle Rudolph chase. Many are scared of the fact that Rudolph missed half of his senior season with a hamstring injury, and because of that he will fall almost to the third round, unless that rumor about the Rams is true.
If the Giants can get Rudolph later in the draft, they will take him and he could unseat Kevin Boss by Week 1. Eli Manning is going to throw a lot of interceptions each year, but he will also throw a lot of touchdowns. If the Giants draft Rudolph, or find a diamond in the rough later on, Eli could have a few more TD receptions going the way of the tight end.
ON THE RADAR
The "On The Radar" teams are those that will likely draft a player who could spend solid time on the field. They aren't guaranteed to be starter worthy in your league, but then again Tom Brady was drafted No. 199 and things have worked out well for him.
Tennessee Titans, Quarterback
The Titans have the second easiest schedule for quarterbacks in 2011 and no one on the roster worth naming. Sure, their receiving situation isn't great; they have no real playmaker (Randy Moss won't be a Titan) and Kenny Britt is likely facing a suspension. However, the Titans are in a good position to address both their wide receiver and quarterback needs in the first two rounds of the draft.
The Titans are now rumored to be looking into Julio Jones with their first pick and could pull the trigger on a quarterback like Ryan Mallett in the second round. The Titans gave up the fifth least amount of sacks in 2011, so there is reason to believe that a rookie quarterback could find success with the Titans. Five of the Titans' 10 losses were by a touchdown or less, so with the right rookies stepping up, things could turn around quickly in Nashville.
Indianapolis Colts, Running Back
It seems so long ago that Edgerrin James was a top fantasy football running back, even though he was part of the high-flying Indianapolis offense. There is still reason to believe the Colts could have that back again.
This year they start with the 10th easiest run schedule and inconsistency in the backfield. Last year their leading rusher was Donald Brown, with only 497 yards rushing. The Colts could use a back with speed, and they could find their speedy home-run hitter in the later rounds of the draft. Noel Divine and Jacquizz Rodgers are two names that come to mind. If the Colts can find a dynamic back with speed, he could end up stealing you a few touchdowns in 2011.
Washington Redskins, Quarterback
The NFC East is actually very easy on quarterbacks in fantasy. It is surprising to see that, in a competitive division, there is a lack of good pass defense. The Skins stumbled with McNabb last season, partly because of the lack of solid parts around him, and mostly because McNabb is way past his prime. The future starting quarterback in D.C. could potentially have a Sam Bradford-esque rookie season. Nothing fantastic, but enough to be a backup in a 12-14 team league.
The Redskins are the Redskins, so they could defy the mock draft "experts" and shake up the draft by taking either Gabbert or Locker in the first round and a receiver in the second round. They could even go with AJ. Green or Julio Jones in the first and take a risk on Ryan Mallett or Christian Ponder in the second.
Overall, it is tough for a quarterback to step in as a rookie and make an impact in fantasy or on the field. The Redskins don't have any one on the roster who could actually compete with any incoming rookie. McNabb is likely gone, and Rex Grossman is Rex Grossman. Look for Mike Shannahan to try and select another John Elway and for Dan Snyder to pour tons of money into him.
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