Fantasy Football Rankings 2011: Mark Ingram and the Top 50 Rookies

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystAugust 2, 2011

Fantasy Football Rankings 2011: Mark Ingram and the Top 50 Rookies

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    Now that the NFL has finally, mercifully gotten down to the business of getting down to business, the class of 2011 can begin their NFL odyssey, joining their new teammates and plying their trade as professionals. As they do that, fantasy football fans nationwide that have postponed drafts waiting for the lockout to end have emerged from their hidey-holes, ready to begin assembling their teams for 2011.

    With that in mind, and with a tilt towards dynasty formats that conduct rookie drafts each summer, here are the top 50 rookies for fantasy football leagues in 2011.

50. Allen Bradford: RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Allen Bradford is 240 pounds of rhino rushing, and the former Trojan could potentially vulture some touchdowns as a goal-line option or serve as a handcuff for Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount.

49. Aldrick Robinson: WR, Washington Redskins

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    Aldrick Robinson had 14 touchdown catches in 2010 at SMU, and while he's likely not start anytime soon, the Washington Redskins depth chart at wide receiver also isn't the steepest hill to climb.

48. Luke Stocker: TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    There's not a ton of upside to be had with the 6'5", 258-lb. Luke Stocker, but the former Volunteer could develop into a serviceable TE2 for fantasy teams.

47. Ronald Johnson: WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    Another former USC player makes the list. Wide receiver Ronald Johnson has a decent shot at some playing time early for the San Francisco 49ers and talent enough to become an NFL WR3 and fantasy bye-week replacement in deeper leagues.

46. Kris Durham: WR, Seattle Seahawks

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    At 6'5" Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Kris Durham presents quarterbacks with another big target to throw to—as soon as the Seahawks get one that might actually matter.

45. Johnny White: RB, Buffalo Bills

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    White's stats at North Carolina aren't that impressive, but the 5'10", 209-lb. running back is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and could become a role guy with PPR value down the road.

44. Chad Spann: RB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Running back Chad Spann went undrafted but was on the Indianapolis Colts radar early. Given how quickly they scooped up the MAC's leading rusher in 2010 once the lockout ended, Spann's worth a late-round rookie pick given Indy's backfield.

43. D.J. Williams: TE, Green Bay Packers

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    Should Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers go down with an injury again, tight end D.J. Williams would immediately step into a very productive fantasy situation, but for now the former Razorbacks standout is buried on the depth chart.

42. Ricky Stanzi: QB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    After throwing for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior at Iowa, quarterback Ricky Stanzi will attempt to impress the Kansas City Chiefs enough to become the heir apparent to Matt Cassel.

41. Dane Sanzenbacher: WR, Chicago Bears

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    Undrafted free agent wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher runs good routes and could turn into a solid possession-type wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, who have a need at the position.

40. Virgil Green: TE, Denver Broncos

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    Seventh-round selection Virgil Green's fantasy upside was severely hampered by the Denver Broncos' selection of fellow tight end Julius Thomas, but Green may develop into a decent depth player.

39. Niles Paul: WR, Washington Redskins

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    Wide receiver Niles Paul has an excellent combination of size and speed, and given his abilities in the return game, Paul may well get a chance to contribute early for the Washington Redskins.

38. Cecil Shorts: WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Cecil Shorts starred at Division III Mount Union, the same school that produced Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon, and Shorts may be one of the more underrated talents in this year's class.

37. Dion Lewis: RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Dion Lewis joins fellow University of Pittsburgh running back LeSean McCoy with the Philadelphia Eagles, and the 5'7", 193-lb. Lewis is a definite fantasy target as a handcuff for McCoy owners.

36. Ryan Mallett: QB, New England Patriots

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    Ryan Mallett is stuck behind you-know-who in New England for the foreseeable future, but you can never have too many quarterbacks in a dynasty league, and there are worse places for Mallett to learn than behind Tom Brady with the Patriots.

35. Jamie Harper: RB, Tennessee Titans

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    Running back Jamie Harper didn't post eye-popping stats at Clemson, but the 5'11", 235-lb. Harper has an intriguing mix of size and speed and will try to slide into the role backing up Chris Johnson with the Tennessee Titans.

34. Denarius Moore: WR, Oakland Raiders

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    Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore may have somewhat limited fantasy upside, but the former Volunteer could see playing time early and grow into a viable WR3 sooner rather than later.

33. Da'Rel Scott: RB, New York Giants

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    The fastest running back at this year's combine, Da'Rel Scott's short-term prospects would look much better with the New York Giants should Ahmad Bradshaw depart, but the burner is worth a speculative third-round selection in rookie drafts regardless.

32. Titus Young: WR, Detroit Lions

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    Wide receiver Titus Young joins a Detroit Lions offense that's loaded with weaponry, and the former Boise State standout could have the opportunity to make a contribution as a slot receiver right away.

31. Colin Kaepernick: QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick may take some time to adjust to the pro game after running the pistol offense at the University of Nevada, but the road to the starting job in San Francisco doesn't exactly contain a lot of roadblocks.

30. Taiwan Jones: RB, Oakland Raiders

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    Taiwan Jones is stuck behind Darren McFadden and Michael Bush at running back for the Oakland Raiders, but after running for over 1,700 yards and showing explosive ability at Eastern Washington, he's well worth a third-round flier.

29. Jerrel Jernigan: WR, New York Giants

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    Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan is dangerous after the catch and offers an added dimension with his ability to return kicks, and with questions swirling about Steve Smith's health, Jernigan may get an opportunity to produce fairly early.

28. Lance Kendricks: TE, St. Louis Rams

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    Lance Kendricks may not be the most athletically gifted tight end in this year's class, but he's a natural pass catcher who could see an opportunity for immediate fantasy production as a safety valve for quarterback Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams.

27. Alex Green: RB, Green Bay Packers

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    The Green Bay Packers drafted former Hawaii running back Alex Green to replace Brandon Jackson as the Packers' third-down back, and with Ryan Grant set for free agency in 2012, Green's role could grow.

26. Christian Ponder: QB, Minnesota Vikings

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    Donovan McNabb's arrival in Minnesota may have temporarily delayed the ascension of quarterback Christian Ponder with the Vikings, but the prototypical drop-back passer will be the starting signal caller for the purple and gold soon enough.

25. Roy Helu: RB, Washington Redskins

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    Running back Roy Helu rushed for over 3,400 yards in his career at the University of Nebraska (including back-to-back 1,000-plus-yard seasons in 2009 and 2010) and now joins a Washington Redskins backfield that's crowded but not overly talented.

24. Blaine Gabbert: QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    David Garrard will be on a short leash this season, so while quarterback Blaine Gabbert may get an opportunity early to establish himself as the Jacksonville Jaguars starter, the question remains as to whether the talented but erratic youngster will take advantage of it.

23. Jacquizz Rodgers: RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Running back Jacquizz Rodgers could see some third-down work for the Atlanta Falcons early to get him in the open field, but given the Oregon State speedster's diminutive 5'6", 196-lb. frame, he may be limited to a complementary back role in the NFL.

22. Jake Locker: QB, Tennessee Titans

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    Quarterback Jake Locker will hold a clipboard for Matt Hasselbeck with the Tennessee Titans in 2011, but if Hasselbeck's tutelage can help Locker take full advantage of his considerable physical gifts, then it will have been worth the wait when Locker finally does take over.

21. Greg Salas: WR, St. Louis Rams

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    Greg Salas wasn't the first wide receiver that the St. Louis Rams selected in April's NFL draft, but he's the best bet to make a fantasy football contribution, as Salas is an excellent possession receiver capable of being a reliable contributor in PPR leagues.

20. Delone Carter: RB, Indianapolis Colts

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    Delone Carter rushed for over 1,200 yards as a senior at Syracuse and has a between-the-tackles style that the other Indianapolis Colts running backs lack, but the crowded backfield situation in Indy (including the return of Joseph Addai) caps Carter's fantasy upside in the short term.

19. Cam Newton: QB, Carolina Panthers

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    Many fantasy football pundits have first overall pick and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers ranked higher on their boards, but frankly I still have my doubts as to whether the quarterback's skill set will translate to the NFL.

18. Kyle Rudolph: TE, Minnesota Vikings

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    Kyle Rudolph is the top tight end prospect in this draft class, and while the former Notre Dame star's short-term fantasy upside is capped by the presence of Visanthe Shiancoe atop the depth chart for the Minnesota Vikings, the future is still bright.

17. Torrey Smith: WR, Baltimore Ravens

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    Derrick Mason's departure from the Baltimore Ravens opens the door for wide receiver Torrey Smith to make an immediate impact, and with 1,000-plus receiving yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago at the University of Maryland, Smith has shown the ability to do just that.

16. DeMarco Murray: RB, Dallas Cowboys

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    Running back DeMarco Murray showed at the University of Oklahoma that he can be an outstanding rusher and receiver, but given that he's stuck behind both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice with the Dallas Cowboys, it may take time for him to make an impact in Big D.

15. Andy Dalton: QB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Quarterback Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals wasn't the first signal caller drafted last April, but he appears in line to start from day one and has the intangibles and collegiate résumé to make him the most attractive option at his position in rookie drafts this summer.

14. Bilal Powell: RB, New York Jets

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    Running back Shonn Greene is set to be the feature back for the New York Jets in 2011, but should the underwhelming Greene falter in his audition, Bilal Powell could see himself thrust into a significant role for Gang Green early.

13. Jonathan Baldwin: WR, Kansas City Chiefs

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    There's no question that Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin has loads of talent, and if the former Pitt Panther focuses on improvement at the next level (some have questioned his work ethic), he may well easily outperform this draft position.

12. Randall Cobb: WR, Green Bay Packers

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    Wide receiver Randall Cobb is a versatile threat that caught 84 passes for over a thousand yards at Kentucky in 2010, and falling into one of the NFL's most prolific offenses with the Green Bay Packers, Cobb may actually be set for a better NFL career than some of his more hyped counterparts.

11. Vincent Brown: WR, San Diego Chargers

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    Another wide receiver selected by a team with a high-octane offense, Vincent Brown racked up 1,300-plus receiving yards and double-digit scores at San Diego State a year ago and could be set for a very productive future given the uncertainty surrounding the wide receiver corps in San Diego.

10. Leonard Hankerson: WR, Washington Redskins

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    Washington Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson ran a blistering 4.43-second 40-yard dash at this year's NFL combine, and while the former Hurricane may project more as a possession receiver than a downfield threat, Hankerson will have the opportunity to contribute early on the WR-needy Redskins.

9. Shane Vereen: RB, New England Patriots

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    Shane Vereen enters a very crowded backfield situation with the New England Patriots, but with no world-beating talent standing between Vereen and playing time, the 5'10", 200-lb. former Cal standout should at least find himself part of the running back rotation and could become the Patriots' lead back fairly quickly.

8. Kendall Hunter: RB, San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco 49ers running back Kendall Hunter is stuck behind Frank Gore on the depth chart for the time being, but given Gore's age, injury history and unhappiness about his contract, it's very possible that this will not remain the status quo for long, and the former Oklahoma State Cowboy is at the very least a necessary handcuff for Gore owners.

7. Greg Little: WR, Cleveland Browns

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    Despite missing the entire 2010 season due to accepting improper benefits while at North Carolina, 6'2", 220-lb. wide receiver Greg Little may be in the best position of any rookie wideout to make a fantasy football impact in 2010, as no team in the NFL has a bigger need at the position than Cleveland, especially with injuries already striking in training camp.

6. Mikel Leshoure: RB, Detroit Lions

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    Running back Mikel Leshoure is a solid between-the-tackles runner and should see immediate playing time as an early-down complement to Jahvid Best with the Detroit Lions, and given Best's injury history, Leshoure is one play away from becoming the feature back on a prolific offense.

5. Daniel Thomas: RB, Miami Dolphins

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    Running back Daniel Thomas may not be the most talented back on this list, but no rookie runner enters a better fantasy situation for 2011, as the former Kansas State star should lead the Miami Dolphins in carries from day one, making him arguably the top rookie available for redraft fantasy football leagues this year.

4. A.J. Green: WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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    A.J. Green will immediately step into the role of top receiver for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals, and while the former Bulldogs star should become at least a viable fantasy WR3 fairly quickly, his upside may be capped by the offense on which he plays.

3. Julio Jones: WR, Atlanta Falcons

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    Wide receiver Julio Jones may not find himself thrust atop the depth chart at his position like Green does, but the Atlanta Falcons rookie is a more explosive talent on a better team, leading us to believe that while it may take a while, Jones will become the top fantasy pass-catcher from this class.

2. Ryan Williams: RB, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ryan Williams rolled for over 1,600 yards and scored 21 touchdowns at Virginia Tech in 2009, and while injuries derailed his 2010 season and he finds himself behind Beanie Wells on the Arizona Cardinals running back depth chart for now, given Wells' own injury history and lackluster play in the desert, that may not stay the case for long.

1. Mark Ingram: RB, New Orleans Saints

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    Running back Mark Ingram seems an ideal fit for the New Orleans Saints backfield, as the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner is equally at home as a rusher and a receiver.

    The Saints are a crowded team at running back, even with Reggie Bush now out of the picture, but as training camp and the preseason progress, the cream will rise to the top, and the former Alabama star will one day emerge as the top fantasy football option at any position to come from the Class of 2011.


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