It’s a bit premature since we don’t even know if there will be a season but OGDraft stays one step ahead of the game! I’ll be listing some rookies that could make a significant impact this year. I’ll also mention a few sleepers to keep an eye on. All of this is assuming standard scoring. I’ll be going over the quarterbacks and running backs in Part 1. Part 2 will take a look at receivers and tight ends.
Cam Newton – QB – Carolina Panthers
How could I not mention the #1 overall pick in this list? I’m not a fan of Cam but he will help the Panthers win games. I don’t think hisÂ fantasy impact will be as significant as some would think. Sure he is a spectacular athlete but it’s very rare for a rookie QB to light the NFL up right away. I looked at stats for players similar to him and how they fared as rookies or as first year starters. The players I looked at were Vince Young, Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Josh Freeman and Donovan McNabb. Obviously each had very different careers. It gave me a good idea of what to expect from Newton though. I can see a line of 2500 passing yards, 14 TD’s, 16 INT’s, with 500 rushing yards. Anything more than that would be optimistic so for those hoping Newton will be a late round sleeper, sorry to crush your dreams.
Blaine Gabbert – QB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Gabbert shouldn’t be on the fantasy radar since we don’t know if he will start yet. You shouldn’t go with a rookie QB ever, I don’t recommend it. Way too risky and they can be a starter one week and benched the next week. Gabbert has potential, but again I don’t expect him to put up great numbers as a rookie.
Andy Dalton – QB – Cincinnati Bengals
He’ll probably start by default but stay away. That’s all I can say. I’m not a Dalton fan and I think he will struggle a lot in the NFL.
Christian Ponder – QB – Minnesota Vikings
This could change if the Vikings trade for McNabb but Ponder should be the starter. He’ll put up a modest line at best and won’t be good enough to be relied upon consistently in fantasy. I don’t expect a lot of yards as defenses should see a heavy dose of Adrian Peterson. He’s pretty smart so he’ll probably keep his mistakes down but again, not fantasy worthy.
Colin Kaepernick – QB – San Francisco 49ers
Kaepernick could win the starting job but I’m not expecting a good year. Gore will be run a lot so the opportunities for Kaepernick will be limited. He should be a good source of rushing yards, but nothing major.
Mark Ingram – RB – Alabama
The unanimous number one back in this years draft, and a player who I really liked. I can easily see a 1000 yard season from Ingram but again we have to wait and see how many carries he gets. If they do cut Reggie Bush, we can expect Ivory going back to a back-up role leaving only Ingram and Pierre Thomas to split carries. I love Thomas but I can’t see a first round pick being the #2. If that’s the case, expect at least 700-800 yards. He should also get quite a few TD’s and is a capable receiver as well.
Daniel Thomas – RB – Miami Dolphins
I’ll start off by saying Thomas is a risky prospect but he got himself into a good situation. He figures to see most of the carries in the Miami backfield. Both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents. I don’t know if they will bring any back but there we’re rumors that they really wanted DeAngelo Williams. We’ll have to keep an eye out on this situation. If the Dolphins don’t bring in a free agent and go with Thomas, a 1000 yard season is likely. If they sign DeAngelo they will split carries and Thomas could end up with anywhere between 600-800 yards depending on how the carries are split. Regardless, he is on the fantasy radar and one guy you need to keep an eye on.
Ryan Williams – RB – Arizona Cardinals
I love Ryan Williams and if it’s a head-to-head competition, he should easily be able to take Beanie Wells starting job. Tim Hightower makes the situation unclear. Williams fits the mold of a change-of-pace back but that’s Hightower’s job. If Ryan Williams starts, we can easily expect around 800 yards. If he is the 3rd down back and replaces as the back-up to Wells we can see something close to 500 yards with quite a few receptions. He’s very talented but we have to wait and see how the Cardinals use him.
Shane Vereen – RB – New England Patriots
Vereen probably shouldn’t be drafted because he plays for the Patriots. To make it worse he still has to split carries with Green-Ellis and Woodhead. At most I can see maybe 100 touches for 400-500 yards which is what Woodhead had last year. If Vereen starts over Green-Ellis he will probably get closer to 200 carries with around 800 yards. I don’t see that happening though.
Mikel LeShoure – RB – Detroit Lions
LeShoure is one guy who could have a significant fantasy impact. I imagine he will get the most carries and will also have all of the goal line carries. I can see LeShoure getting around 150 carries for around 600 yards with 8 TD’s. Don’t expect a high YPC but the TD’s will make him a borderline start almost every week.
Roy Helu – RB – Washington Redskins
Again, I’m not a fan of Helu but he figures to get a lot of carries for the Redskins. I’m not sure if Portis sticks around and what they will do with Torain which it makes it difficult to project Helu’s stats. I’m expecting something around 500-600 yards but he is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
Alex Green – RB – Green Bay Packers
Alex Green is very difficult to project. We don’t know if Ryan Grant will be back and if James Starks is still in the picture for a lot of carries. He’s way too risky to draft. If Grant remains as the number one, Starks as the number two, Green could be looking at around 50-75 carries for around 250 yards. Not fantasy worthy.
Jacquizz Rodgers – RB – Atlanta Falcons
Rodgers won’t amass a lot of rushing yards but he should be a beast in PPR leagues. He should see around 100 carries (If Turner gets hurt expect that to jump up even higher) but will also have a chance of getting close to 50 receptions. My stat line projection would be 100 carries for 400 yards and 40 receptions for 350 yards. Don’t expect a lot of touchdowns though.
Kendall Hunter – RB – SanÂ FranciscoÂ 49ers
Hunter is definitely the sleeper of this class. He is a MUST own handcuff for Frank Gore. Gore gets hurt nearly every year and the 49ers plan on giving him the ball a lot. He is bound to get hurt again and you want to make sure you have Kendall Hunter. Westbrook is a free agent so he should be gone and Hunter should take over the #2 role. I can see around 100 carries with the potential to go up to even 150 if Gore get’s hurt. 500 yards is not out of the question but again he’s valuable because we can almost guarantee Gore will miss a couple of games. That’s when he will get his chance to shine.