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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Fantasy Football Rookie Watch

Wild on Sports
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Fantasy Football Rookie Watch
By Wild on Sports NFL Analyst Justin Davis

This years draft was less than desirable for offensive skill positions but that doesn’t mean that some solid fantasy players aren’t out there. In standard draft leagues, depending on the site and type of league, a fantasy team consist of 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, 1 flex position (either RB or WR), 1 Tight End, 1 Kicker, 1 Defense, and 5 bench players. Now you cant draft a defense and kickers are usually late picks or undrafted so its not really important to cover them for fantasy football but the other positions can make or break your team.  The last two years have been pretty awesome for rookie quarterbacks with wide-outs and tight ends doing pretty will and the running backs being a bit less productive.  This year is going to be completely opposite so lets take a look at our skilled position players that can possibly impact your fantasy team this year.

Unfortunately, if you find yourself looking for a quarterback in late rounds this year, stay away from the rookies. A solid fantasy football player should already have a starting quarterback in the first 3 rounds or so anyways if your playing in a league that awards quarterbacks 6 points for a touchdown and there is no rookie QB that’s going to be on that level. As of now it looks like the only rookie quarterbacks that even have a chance of being starters this year are E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, and Matt Barkley. Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley are probably only going to get to be starters later in the season if Josh Freeman and Mike Vick start to suck it up, which is a high possibility, but they have virtually no chance of being opening day starters.

Quarterbacks:
E.J Manuel will probably have a few games here and there with decent numbers but I don’t see him being a starter in fantasy football unless your normal guy is in a bye week. Hes probably worth taking as a last bench pick or in free agency if he’s still around if your normal bench QB gets hurt. E.J. has a pretty strong arm with decent accuracy but has been said to stare down targets and give away his throws because of the hitch in his delivery, giving the defender an extra second to get the jump on the ball. Manuel threw 18 interceptions in his last 2 years starting at Florida State which isn’t impressive playing in the ACC so I think his number this year, if he plays all 16 games, will be around 20. Nothing makes a fantasy team owner more mad than a fumble or several interceptions in a game and that’s what your going to get with Manuel. He does have the potential to throw for a decent amount of yards and touchdowns considering he has Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Scott Chandler, and Robert Woods to throw to so I think he might throw for around 3200 yards or so and maybe 20-25 touchdowns. All in all E.J. is probably going to get you around 15 points a game in a high scoring format and isn’t worth taking this year.

Geno Smith is the only other quarterback that may start all 16 games this year and that’s not going to be determined until more than likely a few days before the start of the season. With the thought that Geno will be the opening day starter, he still isn’t worth having as a number 3 quarterback on the bench that you will never use. I personally like Geno but he has absolutely nobody to throw to, no running game, and no line. The Jets did pick up a few linemen in the draft but nobody to help out in the running game and no extra receivers. Best scenario for Geno is if the young corps of backs show up this year with the addition of Chris Ivory, Santonio Holmes shows up like he knows how to, and Stephen Hill makes some noise. If that happens, Geno still isn’t worth taking but he could have a couple solid games throughout the season. The line is going to suck and allow for Geno to get pressured and have to play on the run most of the time. Geno is good at screen passes and quick throws, not looking for targets down field while rolling out and that is what hes going to have to do this year. Smith is known for being rattled under pressure and what more pressure is there than playing in NY for the great Rex Ryan and the circus that is the Jets. Stay away from Geno unless hes the only starter left in the league when you need a quarterback and even then, he might get you negative points.

Running Backs
Running backs might make some noise this year as we should have a few rookies getting an ample amount of starting time. I’m not going to cover the 3rd down backs and backups because there will probably be 8-10 of those guys this year from the draft but there should be a few actual starting guys with potential.

First up is Giovani Bernard who has a real chance at being a top running back in fantasy football. Bernard led the ACC in yards per game last year with 122.8, finished 3rd on his team in receptions with 47, and finish 4th in the nation in all-purpose yards with 198.1. With that being said he has shown that he is injury prone and might have some durability issues missing a few games last year with a knee injury and missed his entire 2010 season with a torn ACL. I think he is going to be fine this year and if he is, snatch him up as a number 2 or flex back option. The Bengals have just gotten better the last 2 years and this year shouldn’t be any different. Bernard has the possibility to run for 1200 yards and probably receive for another 300-400. I would put him in the 12-15 PPG type of back this year which is pretty good and see him being picked up in the 7th-9th rounds.

Another guy that has potential to get you some points this year is Le’Veon Bell. What do you get when you have the Pittsburgh Steelers and a big, mean, nasty running back? That’s right, a possible top tier runner. Everyone knows that the Steelers want to run the ball down your throat and with Bells size and running style, that’s what there going to do. I think Bell is has potential to be a 4th-5th round guy and a solid number 2 back or possible number 1 if your in a pinch on draft day. The Steelers are going to work Bell every game with 20-25 carries and Bell is going to average at least 4 yards per carry. Add in the fact that the receiving corps just got worse in Pittsburgh and I think Bell can be a pro bowler this year if he stays healthy. I see him gaining around 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns if not a little more.

Eddie Lacy and Montee Ball are other guys that will probably be starters for the Packers and Broncos respectively, but I would draft either of the two. Both are playing for pass first offenses behind great quarterbacks with great receiving corps. Both will have games that give good numbers but overall neither will have great seasons numbers wise. Keep a watch out if their playing a terrible team and your in need of a one week back and then maybe take a chance, but don’t take either unless that type of scenario comes up.

Wide Receiver
This years draft held a ton of talent at the receiver position but with their being so many playing that position in the NFL every week putting up numbers, few will have seasons that possess fantasy numbers that will be worth you drafting. The 3 guys that can help your team this year are Tavon Austin, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter.

Tavon Austin has potential to be a number 1 receiver in fantasy football. After the preseason is where we will see for sure but I think hes worth a chance at a top guy after your sure thing receivers are taken off the board. The Rams offense isn’t the worst in the world and with a new young backfield and the loss of Danny Amendola, Austin is the new guy in St. Louis. Sam Bradford should have more time to throw as the Rams have been upgrading their line for the last years and he is a very accurate QB who can chuck the ball down field. Don’t be surprised to see Austin end up with 100 catches and 10 TDs this year. His small frame at 5’9 174 pounds will let him slip threw the defense with speed but he need to put on about 15 pounds in the off season do be able to take those hits across the middle that the Rams need him to take.

Cordarrelle Patterson is a relatively underrated receiver out of Tennessee with some serious speed. This guy has great size at 6’2 216 pounds and ran his 40 in 4.33 seconds. Patterson came to Tennessee from a junior college in 2012 and lit it up with over 1,800 al purpose yards and 10 TD’s. The guy has all the talent, speed, and size to be great but he still needs work on his route running and that could lead to some missed connections. Regardless, the Vikings lost Sidney Rice this year and picked up Greg Jennings so Patterson should step in as their number two and be pretty productive. I see him getting around 800 receiving yards with 6 or so TD’s and maybe slip in a couple rushing TD’s throughout the year as well. Take him as a flex or a good bench receiver late in the draft and you wont be sorry.

Justin Hunter is a wild card in my eyes. The Tennessee Titans have the most dramatic receiving corps lately and Hunter is going to come in and change all of that. Nate Washington and Kenny Britt can never be counted on and this year I think Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter could emerge. Jake Locker has some experience under his belt now and has shown that he has what it takes to be a starter in the league so Hunter shouldn’t have to worry about a bad quarterback and he played locally at the University of Tennessee so the crowd should love him. Justin is a tall receiver at 6’4 but is weighing in under 200 pounds right now so he needs to put on some weight do go along with him big frame. At Tennessee he had a great freshman year followed by a torn ACL in his sophomore year but came right back last year with over 70 receptions and a 1000 yard season. Hunter should fit right in and take on a role as a down field threat as he is quick with a 4.35 40 time and he also won the state title 2 years in a row in high school in both the high jump and long jump. I can see Hunter being the next Julio Jones type and have a breakout rookie campaign. Depending on how the preseason goes and the depth chart, I see Justin going as a number 2 receiver in most fantasy formats with around 9-14 points per week.

Tight End
Tight Ends in the draft this year went pretty high, but most went to teams who already have a solid number one ahead of them. I really only see solid fantasy numbers coming out of 2 this year and one of them is probably not one that you would expect. The two guys I see making an impact off the bat this year are Tyler Eifert who went to the Bengals in the first round and Jordan Reed who was picked up in the 3rd from the Redskins.

Tyler Eifert has been projected to be the next big thing at the tight end position and I don’t have a reason not to agree. Going to the Bengals is a great place for him as he is going to a dynamic offense with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green plus the addition this year of Giovani Bernard. Dalton loves to chuck the ball down field to A.J. Green which is awesome but the problem is that he has been the only real threat on that receiving corps until now. Eifert is a huge target for Dalton now sitting at 6’6 250 pounds and has decent speed at a 4.65 40 time and has been commended for his great hands and ability to go up and snatch balls in tight spaces. Eifert will have an immediate impact in fantasy and would be worth a take as a number one tight end when your normal top tier tight ends have been taken. I could see him falling in around the 6-8 tight end taken and could fall to you late in the draft which would be a steal. Don’t be surprised to see Eifert with 80 catches and 8 touchdowns at the end of the season.

Jordan Reed is a wild card to me. He is going to a very dynamic offense that likes to stretch the field but will be playing behind Fred Davis. I see him having an immediate impact because the Redskins are trying to move to more two tight end sets and the wide receivers for the Skins are less than great. The Skins have Pierre Garcon but after that there is really no player that is consistent other than maybe Santana Moss who has injury issues and is at the end of his career. Fred Davis has finished his last two seasons under suspension from drugs and a torn ACL so his ability to stay on the field is uncertain. Davis also has gotten into trouble lately from getting into an altercation with a female in a night club so I don’t exactly trust his ability to make an impact when hes always in trouble. Reed is going to start off as a number two this year but will put up solid numbers on a team that can score on any possession and likes to get to tight ends in the end zone. Reed is constantly compared to Aaron Hernandez for his speed and athleticism and ability to be put into the slot which is another way Reed is going to get the ball. I think Reed could come out this year if he stays healthy with 700 plus yards and 7 TD’s. I see him as a solid backup in all fantasy formats and has the possibility on becoming your started a few weeks into the year.


Just like every year we will see guys that get drafted high and don’t produce as well as guys who get drafted late and make an immediate impact so projecting is always hard to do but these guys should be sure things. Rookie mini camps have started for 9 teams already and the season is gearing up so we will know soon if these guys pan out the way I project, or fall off the grid once the year starts.

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