With all the coverage and hype surrounding the NFL draft, the fantasy football community has been over-drafting rookies for years. Often times owners look at the college stats and think it will immediately translate into the NFL. That is rarely the case, however there are usually a handful of rookies that emerge to have fantasy value in their first season. Let’s take a look at the top fantasy football rookies for 2014 and determine if their situation could equal instant fantasy success. The order below is based on the order in which they were selected in the 2014 NFL draft.
Sure, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III all had stellar rookie seasons in the past few years but I do not see the same for Bortles. I do like him long term but with no weapons to throw to he is useless in a one QB league. Yes, Marqise Lee is a solid option for Bortles but I cannot endorse a rookie to rookie connection for fantasy goodness. If you are in a two QB league maybe you grab him late as your bench guy but by no means target him.
Every year I write this and every year no one listens to me – rookie wide receivers do not produce stellar fantasy numbers. EJ Manuel’s season was cut short last year but he did not impress me enough to think Watkins will blow up this year. An explosive player Watkins is built for the NFL due to his speed and the fact corners are no longer allowed to be too physical but he will be over drafted. If you think about taking him just remember how Austin was supposed to be a beast for the Rams last year and what he actualized in terms of stats when it was all said and done – that will be Watkins season.
I love this kid’s upside long term and if I did not just write about how rookie receivers never pan out year one fantasy wise, I might tell you to target him. Evans looks more like a Tight End than a wideout (6’5” – weighing in at 225 pounds) and being across from Vincent Jackson (who is also a monster) should ensure no safeties over the top for Evans. I do not see him having huge games due to monster yards but I think he has a real chance to find the end zone close to 10 times this year. That paired with 800 yards makes him my sleeper pick for offensive rookie of the year and a viable WR3 in 12 team leagues.
Sneaky pick for the Lions here which I really liked for them. I see Vernon Davis when I look at Ebron not because he broke his single season Tight End Conference record last year (973 yards) but due to his good speed, great hands and solid build. With all that said here is another one that might be over drafted. Pettigrew is still under contract for the Lions and in the Red Zone they love to throw the ball up to Calvin Johnson so I do not see high touchdown potential. Ebron is still somewhat raw so let someone else draft him in the middle rounds then let that someone cut him after he does not play much the first few weeks, then scoop him as I think his second half will be fairly solid.
I get it, Hakeem Nicks is gone but fantasy darling Rueben Randle is still in play for the Giants so this pick was a odd to me. After doing my research apparently the Giants are not as pleased or have as high of hopes for Randle as I do and all sign point to the fact that the WR2 spot is an open competition between the two. Still, due to Randle and the fact that it seems Eli Manning getting worse and worse year to year I will not draft Beckham in any leagues no matter how deep this year. Do not fall into the first round hype as Beckham will not be fantasy relevant this season.
Now this is an interesting pick – Saints lost Darren Sproles so they were looking for a return guy and found a wide receiver. Last year at Oregon State Cooks put up amazing numbers, 128 catches, 1,730 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He is basically a better Kenny Stills and we all know that Drew Brees loves to throw the deep ball. Cooks should be a boom or bust play week to week with a decent upside. There are worse late round picks you could draft.
We will not rank Manziel in the top ten this year but in any two quarterback league target him. A duel treat equals fantasy gold, remember Tim Tebow was a stud when starting in terms of fantasy due to that yards he gained on the ground. Manziel accounted for 88 touchdowns in two years in college – that is absolutely insane. Even in a one quarterback league I like drafting him as a back-up because if he has a good first few weeks the trade value alone would be through the roof. I am betting on Johnny Football this season.
Let’s first look at the positives – Hodor would be looking up to this guy. (Game of Thrones Reference there) Benjamin is 6 foot 5 and tips the scales at almost 250 pounds but he slipped to the end of the first round for a reason; he is raw – a true rookie in every sense of it. I think Benjamin will have a tough time adopting to the NFL but the shear size of Benjamin and lack of competition for a starting job intrigues me. Maybe a late round pick in re-draft leagues and I guy I love in keeper or dynasty leagues. You can’t teach gigantic.
So two months ago Teddy Bridgewater was being talked about as the first overall pick but after a pro day where he could not hit receivers with no coverage on them he fell quite a bit in the draft. Fantasy-wise I do not love him, I think he ends up starting by week two at the latest but I see no reason to draft him in any leagues. We all know the offense for the Vikings is simply give the ball to Peterson.
Here comes the hype train, a wideout from USC, decent size, and the fact he should start since Justin Blackmon is going to be out all year equals people loving this kid. I do however, somewhat agree but, for a different reason. Jacksonville is terrible at football until further notice. So terrible football teams get down early and then throw the ball the entire game. I believe Lee will lead all rookie wideouts in targets this season so he will have slightly more value in point per reception leagues since I do not see him finding the endzone an awful lot.
I really like the upside of Sankey here, I think the improvements made to the offense line and the fact that the Titans cut Chris Johnson makes Sankey a very interesting player this fantasy season. Last season Sankey rushed for 1,870 yards, catch 28 passes for 304 yards, and totaled 21 touchdowns. The man has a nose for the endzone scoring in every game last year. I love the upside here and will be targeting him in draft.
Probably not a guy you want to draft for this season simply since Giovani Bernard should be the man in Cincinnati this year and BenJarus Green-Ellis is still getting his 3 yards a carry but in a keeper or dynasty league he might be slightly interesting. Dustin has been driving the hate bus on the Law-Firm and soon enough Hill be the one splitting carries with Bernard and vulturing those touchdowns.
At some point Frank Gore is not going to be able to move anymore and the 49ers have been drafting running backs to ensure they are ready when he finally falls off the cliff. With that said after taking a back each draft for the last three years I think Hyde has the most potential. He averaged over 150 yards in conference play and seems to rush for over 100 yards in every game he played in. To me he is a Gore clone and I believe he will be the handcuff to Gore this year. I do not wish bad things upon anyone but in deep deep leagues I am taking Hyde and banking on the fact this is the year that Gore goes down by week 6.