Fantasy NFL

2011 NFL Fantasy Football: Complete Rookie Preview

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If you were dying for fantasy football news like we were you were probably watching the draft round by round to get your fix. This article will break down some of the rookies starting with guys that went in the first round then some other notable players that you might want to keep an eye on.

If you are a fan of the site you know our stand on rookies however, its all about value and we don’t like the big name guys since you have to take them too high and there is no reason to gamble on an unproven guy early in drafts. The later rounds is where you should be hoping for fantasy gold but look at it this way. Sam Bradford had a great year for a rookie quarterback last season and was not worth owning in a 10 team league, Boldin and Moss are the last two WR to have huge fantasy years at the wideout position, and Ryan Matthews, well if you drafted him you probably hate him now. Sure, some rookies have value every year but remember when drafting go with value not with the name.

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Cam Newton QB | Panthers

We are down on Newton like the rest of the fantasy world because he is not that accurate, he does not have the playmakers at the wideout positions (rumors are Steve Smith wants out, bad), and after all he is a rookie on the worst team from a season ago. With all that said we do see Newton starting from the get go and not sitting no matter how bad he does. Newton might actually end up being a better fantasy than real-life quarterback because of his legs. Six rushing touchdowns is not out of the question so he could have some value in a two quarterback league. In a standard 10 or 12 team league he should not be owned.

A.J. Green WR | Bengals

Dalton (see below) to Green for the touchdown, is what Cincy fans hope to hear for many years to come. With TO gone, Ocho soon to be out, and by all accounts Carson either getting traded or retiring. Cincy went with a youth movement in the draft, taking Green with the 4th overall pick and Dalton with the 35th pick. Green has all world talent and should be taken first in any dynasty leagues with a rookie draft but we would not bank on him to produce monster numbers this season. Green is the type of rookie that will get over drafted simply due to his name, happens every year. Sure, he is talented but it is a huge jump from college to the pros and by all accounts he will be the number one target out in Cincy. So the good news is he might lead the team in targets but the bad news is he will get top corner on him every week. We do like him as good late round value but he will probably go top 70 and that is just too high in our opinion.

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Julio Jones WR | Falcons

The Falcons traded away a ton of future picks to move up in the draft to take Jones and much like Green he will probably be overvalued as well. You might think of Jones as a great sleeper because all the attention will be on Roddy but, last year all the attention was on Roddy and he was still targeted over 175 times.  Jones will probably move right into the starting line-up and our guess is will be a hit or miss player from week to week. He does have a big frame so he might see some of the red zone targets but then again he is fighting Tony Gonzalez, Roddy, and of course Michael Turner for those touches. Jones is someone we would avoid unless you are in a deep draft simply since this rookie will not see his fair share of the ball.

Blaine Gabbert QB | Jaguars

David Garrard just cannot get any respect.  Every year he seems to have quality numbers and last year he even had his career high in passing touchdowns but the Jags decided to move up in the draft to take Gabbert. Our guess is Garrard will start the season and once they lose a few games in the beginning of the year the fans will call for Gabbert. Most likely (due to ticket sales) Gabbert will get the call but since we cannot project him to play more than 10 games this season there is no reason to even think of drafting him.

Jake Locker QB | Titans

Here is your best chance at finding Sam Bradford type numbers out of a rookie QB. Locker will be going to a team that has a scary good running back in Chris Johnson and a nice young wideout in Kenny Britt. Furthermore, he is the most NFL ready QB in the draft based on the system he played and his experience. Calling it now, Locker is the best rookie QB and puts up very similar numbers to Sam Bradford. (which means he is still not a starter in standard 10 team leagues) We would say he will win Offensive Rookie of the Year but that will go to Thomas RB for the Fins (see below in the notable RB section)

Christian Ponder QB | Vikings

Huh? Aren’t the Viking suppose to be trading for McNabb? Well at pick 12 the Vikings took the Ponder and if he starts, he, much like Locker, inherits some pretty good talent. There is this running back, Peterson on the Vikings that we really think will pan out this season. We kid, of course Peterson is money in the bank and with Rice returning Ponder will have some weapons. The biggest issue is the fact Ponder is not quite there as a real NFL quarterback so the Viking will probably have a very simple offense in place for him which never leads to great fantasy numbers. Also there are many reports saying the Viking still want McNabb so Ponder might not even play until the 2013 season.

Jonathan Baldwin WR | Chiefs

Baldwin is a huge wideout, almost 230 pounds and standing 6 foot 5 inches. That is what we call a red zone target and Baldwin never had a great QB at Pitt so he might have been under drafted. A big receiver taken out of the top 10 always seems to have a productive fantasy year, remember drafting Mike Williams in the last round a season ago? If you listened to us, you did, and you were a happy owner. Baldwin is that guy this season, now we think Green and Jones are better at the game of football but it is all about value. Green and Jones will go too high for you to get a good return on the investment. We would rather spend a 15th round pick on Baldwin than a 6th round pick on Green or a 7th on Jones. You have heard us say this a 1,000 times before: at the end of your draft go with young with upside and that is Baldwin.

Mark Ingram RB | Saints

Ingram just kept falling and the Saints made a play to move up in the draft to grab him. With Thomas always banged up and Bush possibly out the door, Ingram might only have to battle a guy that only people that played fantasy football know, Chris Ivory. Ingram is not a flashy runner but that style might be the perfect fit for the Saints offense. If he ends up starting he could produce monster numbers. We believe he is worth drafting in all leagues for this upside and if he is announced the starter for any reason he moves into the top 30 as a rookie. On the flip side if Thomas is healthy Ingram will just be a committee guy and not have too much value.

Other Notable QBs

Andy Dalton QB | Bengals

The weapons just are not there for Dalton to have a huge fantasy season. He might be starting week 1 for the Bangles but hopefully not for your fantasy team.

Colin Kaepernick QB | 49ers

Crabtree, Davis, and the fact Gore can catch makes Kaepernick kind of interesting but we cant suggest drafting him in any formats.

Ryan Mallett QB | Patriots

We see him battling Tom Brady for a starting gig this year.
Obviously we are joking, the Pats might have drafted Mallet just as trade bait – don’t be surprised if he showcased in the pre-season and then dealt

Other Notable RBs

Ryan Williams RB | Cardinals

To us this speaks more of Wells’ health and the teams thoughts about Hightower than anything else. Williams could have been an every down back if he was drafted by another team but he is now part of a very crowded back field. Tough to imagine Williams having huge value this season but he is a good value pick in dynasty and deeper leagues.

Shane Vereen RB | Patriots

More of a third down back than anything, the Law Firm has nothing to worry about here.

Mikel Leshoure RB | Lions

Best could not have been happy with this pick. The Lions said that Best is the starter and Leshoure will be the change of pace back but we think they were lying. Leshourse is a prototypically back and we feel will get the nod at some point in the season. With that said Best will get enough touches to make this situation a mess out there in Detroit.

Daniel Thomas RB | Dolphins

YES, WE LOVE THOMAS, If you draft early grab him before he shoots up draft boards. If both free agents Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams leave the Fins (which is a very good possibility) Thomas might be the top fantasy rookie running back in the draft. He is the only one that might be announced the starter coming into the season and he was drafted late enough in this draft that he is not on many fantasy radars at this point. He has nice hands and has the frame to be an every down back. Keep an eye on what happens in Miami because things are setting up for Thomas to be the steal of your fantasy draft. Disclaimer: if Ricky or Ronnie stay our love becomes a strong like

Alex Green RB | Packers

Nice little player right here. The Packers might have gotten a steal in the draft with Green. He has great hands and is a nice fit for their system but more of a third down back than anything for the Packers with the return of Grant and the emergence of Starks.

Other Notable WRs

Greg Little WR | Brown

Little had to sit out last season for violating NCAA regulations but that did not stop the Browns from drafting him. He is a good fit for a West Coast offense with nice hands and could very well but the best option for McCoy heading into the 2011 season. He is the type of sleeper you should be considering with your last round pick.

Titus Young WR | Lions

He is a little guy (under 6 feet tall) but he is a sneaky runner. He reminds us more of a Wes Welker type than a down the field threat but he will probably return kicks so if you are in a league that counts return yards you got a sleeper right here.

Torrey Smith WR | Ravens

Nice pick for the Ravens and early reports are saying he will compete for the starting job. Either way we don’t see much value here and we like other rookie WR like Baldwin and Little more than Smith.

Randall Cobb WR | Packers

Like Young only worth grabbing in return yard leagues, that is what he was drafted for.

Leonard Hankerson WR | Redskins

With Moss leaving the Redskins were in the market for a number one guy and Hankerson was a wonderful pick for them. He has had questions about his hands but, he was well worth the risk for the Skins. Hankerson has a real chance of producing this year for the Skins and we certainly like him more than Young, Smith, and Cobb (all above) but not as much as Green, Jones, Baldwin, or Little so only really look at him in the deepest of leagues.

If you have any rookie, keeper, or dynasty league questions, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.