NFL Rookies: Who's Making the Grade?

Dan BentonCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

Every year, the importance of the NFL draft increases not only for NFL teams, but for fantasy owners as well. More and more, fantasy owners are paying close attention to the draft in order to see if they can gain a leg up on the competition when their own draft takes place a few months later.

As a result, owners are gambling on players who have yet to step on an NFL field. So who is making the grade and who isn't?  More importantly, who will make the grade or overachieve going forward? Let us take a look:


Eddie Royal - WR (Denver Broncos)

Royal was a trendy sleeper pick for wide receivers, but did anyone think he would be doing this well?

Royal started off with a huge bang, catching nine passes for 146 yards and a TD, and the only thing that has slowed him down since then has been an ankle injury. Royal may have been only a second-round pick, but he has played like a top-ten receiver.

His quick adjustment to the NFL, consistency when healthy, and chemistry with QB Jay Cutler bode well for his future.

Stock Forecast: Steady

Matt Forte - RB (Chicago Bears)

Forte went from popular fantasy handcuff to the hottest RB on the market once Cedric Benson was released, and Forte has done nothing to indicate that trend was a mistake.

In fact, he has exceeded expectations as a starting RB almost as much as Benson disappointed as the starting RB for the Bears.  Although his YPC is not particularly great at 3.5, Chicago is a team that likes to pound the ball, which gives Forte plenty of opportunities.

He has slowed down considerably in recent weeks, but the Bears really do not have many better options behind him, and with a better-than-expected offense so far, Forte should get enough scoring opportunities to satisfy his owners.

Stock Forecast - Still High, but Somewhat Unsteady

DeSean Jackson - WR (Philadelphia Eagles)

There certainly is something about second-rounders.  Jackson was another wide-receiver pick by the Eagles who many thought would be a decent, but unspectacular player in the NFL, ala Todd Pinkston, Reggie Brown, and Greg Lewis.

So far, Jackson has been much more than that; he has been the same kind of spark-plug to the WR corps as Brian Westbrook is to the backfield. Jackson has proven to be absolutely dynamic with the ball, whether as a receiver or as a special teams returner and the Eagles keep looking for ways to get him the ball.

Look for that to continue, though one does worry how the NFL season will take its toll on his small frame.

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