After another long and unexpected delay, Fantasy in Five is back and running! In all of these columns, I’ve given advice for fantasy baseball while the season has been progressing. But I think it’s time to debut this segment of SFC into fantasy football since we’re quickly nearing the NFL season.
In this article, I will talk about five rookies who will make an impact their first year and where they should be drafted. There might be some obvious ones, but a few may surprise you. The players are in no specific order of lowest to highest impact. Let’s start off, shall we?
1. Andrew Luck, QB, 9th-10th round- Luck has been hyped up to no extent, and deserves to be. Throughout his collegiate career, he’s shown glimpses to scouts that remind them of quarterbacks like John Elway and Peyton Manning. That’s pretty good company if you ask me.
What could be a similar trend for Luck like the guys he’s compared to is the first year. We tend to forget Manning struggled in his rookie season, while Elway played baseball for the New York Yankees, forced a trade out of Baltimore, and failed under “The Elway Watch.”
The fact the Colts are in full rebuild mode doesn’t help Luck’s fantasy stock. Indianapolis has gone from releasing their franchise quarterback to firing the head coach and general manager. They have a small amount of offensive weapons, including a lackluster running game.
While the negatives outshine the positives, some good news can be taken from all of this. Former Stanford teammate of Luck and tight end Coby Fleener was drafted in the second round by the Colts. Having chemistry with your tight end is always key for stat padding. Speaking of stat padding, since the Colts most likely won’t be in contention to win a lot of games, most defenses could play a prevent for sportsmanship. Luck could gain some garbage numbers where his team has no chances of contending.
All said and done, Luck at this point is a solid backup quarterback. He could even be your starter when your first option has a bye week. The potential is there, but we won’t see it until the next few years.
2. Robert Griffin III, QB, 8th-9th round- Remember when NFL experts would have debates saying who should they pick first (Luck or Griffin)? Well in this situation, it’s not going to matter one bit.
While Griffin and Luck are in the same boat to a certain extent, Griffin has a slight advantage. The Washington Redskins are about done rebuilding (I’d say so since Dan Snyder gave up about 85 percent of his future picks for just Griffin), have a solid defense, and posses an offense with decent weapons.
The only downside to drafting the Baylor alum is playing in the NFC East. Facing the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and the “Dream Team” Philadelphia Eagles twice each year won’t be an easy task to handle. His numbers won’t benefit from playing three of the top defenses in the league.
Nonetheless, Griffin will be a future fantasy stud, but not now. If you’re in a dynasty league, he should be a top priority. For the average yearly snake draft, he shouldn’t be lower than the ninth round as a second option.
3. Trent Richardson, RB, 4th-5th round- The Cleveland Browns averaged 3.7 yards per carry last season with only four rushing touchdowns. With Trent Richardson coming to town, these numbers should elevate. However, they won’t by that much.
The Cleveland Browns have a very diverse offensive line. The left side is considered one of the best in the league, while the right is plain awful. Defenses will take this into consideration and blitz the right side while containing the left. Richardson has the ability to break tackles like it’s nothing, but when half of your line is mediocre, he’ll still be tackled for a loss. Cleveland also has one of the worst passing games in the league, so that doesn’t benefit Richardson either.
Richardson’s stats will grow with the Browns, as they’re in rebuilding mode. By drafting 28-year-old Brandon Weeden in the first round along with Richardson, Cleveland seems to be in the right direction. As of now, he’s a good second or third running back.
4. Doug Martin, RB, 4th-5th round- This is the most perfect fit when it comes to player and team. Martin will become Tampa Bay’s number one option at running back, while moving LaGarrette Blount to the third down back. This gives Martin a good amount of touches and Tampa Bay some depth where they most needed it.
Martin’s ability to catch the ball helps the Buccaneers’ passing game as well. By having this type of running back, their deep ball game will benefit, especially with new receiver Vincent Jackson. Expanding the field will force defenses to play prevent, giving Martin a lot more space to run through on carries.
This combination screams early production. Being a rookie, I would make Martin a second option at running back. He might eventually become a steal at his projected draft spot.
5. Michael Floyd, WR, 6th-8th round- I honestly thought the Arizona Cardinals got a steal when they selected Floyd in the first round this previous NFL Draft.
Floyd is the most complete rookie wide receiver. He’s very physical, has a good set of hands, and can blow by defenders with the snap of a finger. Lining up with Larry Fitzgerald helps his cause as well since Floyd won’t receive as much attention. There is potential to have breakout numbers as early as this year.
His only flaw is not under his control. The Cardinals have a quarterback problem between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton that could linger this whole season. Being a rookie, Floyd has no previous experience with Kolb or Skelton and could have issues obtaining chemistry this season.
Although he’s got a good setup, Floyd is still a second option at wide receiver. If the quarterback problem gets solved before the preseason, keep an eye on him.