Jeremy AlpertSenior Analyst IIApril 28, 2011


We all know that running back is easily the most fantasy-ready position for rookies.  The result is that the two RBs mentioned below are likely to be gone by the end of the six round of 10-12 team fantasy drafts.  Choose wisely.

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Running Backs

Mark Ingram - Alabama

 The consensus No. 1 RB in the draft has a very high floor, but possibly a lower ceiling than the ADPs of the world.  Nevertheless, he possesses a great frame, fantastic vision and he gets to the line of scrimmage in an instant.  He’s also powerful, fearless and has no problem getting his feet through the trash at the line.  The one thing he lacks is great outside speed, but that is clearly an overrated trait.  A second generation player (his dad is former NFL WR Mark Ingram), Ingram is a leader that plays through pain and by all accounts a very good kid.   

Prediction - Recent news that his knee was worse than expected could drop his stock a bit, but he won’t last past the early second round.  At that stage, he could fall to a good team with an offense in need of a RB (i.e. - Indy, NE), which would take his fantasy stock into the stratosphere.  If he lands in a committee (RBBC), you might be able to get him late in your fantasy draft, which should make you very happy.  In a vacuum, he’s a 1,000 yard, seven-TD rookie, and on a great offense, he could surprise and reach the top-five in 2011.

Mikel LeShoure - Illinois

I like LeShoure, but he looks to be more of a project than some seem to think.  It’s an obvious comparison (not a lazy one), but I do see a lot of Rashard Mendenhall in this kid.  He’s powerful with a very good burst but runs a bit upright.  He also goes down a little easier on contact than I would like for a big dude.

Prediction - For fantasy purposes, he’s feast or famine.  I could see a scenario where he goes for 1,200 yards and 10 TDs, but I could also see him go for 500 and two.  Since that’s not very helpful, I’ll say that if he goes to a team that needs him this year, he will be a very solid RB2 and should be drafted accordingly.  Beware if he goes to a team that can be patient or that has serious offensive line and/or QB issues. In that environment, he will be a great buy-low candidate in 2012.



WRs are very difficult to project, and it is usually folly to draft rookies expecting anything more than low-end WR2 production.  That said, both of our Tier I guys in 2011 could be good late selections or waiver wire pickups.  Just be smart and take anything over 700 yards and five TDs as gravy.


Wide Receivers

A.J. Green - Georgia

  This kid is the goods: Sick hands, great height, fights for the ball and displays toughness in traffic.  He has enough speed to play in the NFL, and his solid route-running allows him to get separation. The only thing I see on film that gives me pause about stardom for Green is that he’s very lean.  That lack of size may allow him to get abused/injured by the physical defensive backs of the league. 

Finally, I believe his low Wonderlic score is an anomaly.  He seems like a good kid, and his agent seemed genuine in his defense.  Not the best evidence, I admit, but sometimes you have to go on feel, so I’m giving A.J. the benefit of the doubt here. 

Prediction - With the usual caveats regarding his eventual team, Green could be a WR2 in TD-heavy fantasy leagues in 2011 because he wins jump balls and likes to score TDs.  In a perfect storm, he cracks 900 yards and seven TDs.  In dynasty leagues, he’s an easy top-three pick and worth more than guys like Michael Turner and Reggie Wayne.   


Julio Jones - Alabama

See Boldin, Anquan.  A physical specimen who relishes contact, Julio looks a bit like Hakeem Nicks but lacks those all-universe hands of his.  He extinguished any concerns about long speed with a 4.39 40 at the Combine, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in that time.  Not that it wasn’t accurate, but he simply doesn’t play that fast at game speed.  Not a problem, though.  He has man-strength already and if he refines certain aspects of his game (i.e., concentration) he will at least be a nice WR2 in the NFL. 

Prediction - Very dangerous yearly-league pick for 2011.  I could see moments of brilliance overcast by frustration that he can’t just bully everyone around like in he did college.  Still, he's easily a top-two receiver in this draft, so he is a great dynasty play.  Just don’t be surprised if his final line looks something like 45-600-6.


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