Fantasy Football is all about value. It is selecting the right players, for sure, but it is also about when you take them. Every year, owners reach for certain players far too early, while the smart owners know that selecting the right player is more important than taking the flashy one who everyone predicts big things from when you haven’t seen them play a single snap.
We are talking about NFL rookies, of course.
Rookies can be a risky proposition in fantasy football drafts. Just because everyone has Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton in their minds from his record breaking performance last season, that does not mean that the same will be true of any of teh four or five projected rookie quarterbacks expected to start the 2012 season. They are all hit or miss, regardless of their “can’t-miss” labels.
But while quarterbacks are a bit risky, running backs and wide receivers are even more of a gamble.
But like every year, rookies will be a major part of fantasy football drafts. And if you don’t reach for them based on pure speculation, they could pay dividends in the end. Here is a look at the top 10 rookies in the NFL in 2012, as well as where you should consider drafting them.
* Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns – Ah, the first round rookie running back. They are often the most highly touted player amongst rookies in fantasy football drafts. Unfortunately, they rarely work out for owners. Richardson is coming off of two knee injuries. Yes, the Browns will run the ball, but I don’t like him at all where people are drafting him, with his ADP (Average Draft Position) at 37.3. I would target him more around the 60 mark. he is too big of a risk that early.
* Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins – Yes, RG3 is being compared to Newton, and the comparisons do make sense. He can run, he can throw, he can do it all. But the odds that he can come even close to repeating what Newton did as a rookie are almost slim and none. His ADP is 82.9, meaning many owners are taking him as their starting fantasy QB. That is insane. You can do much better.
* Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This one is tricky. The Bucs could feature Martin, making his ADP of 83.4 a steal, believe it or not, even for a rookie running back. But if LeGarrette Blount still gets a lot of action, then Martin is too high. It will all depend on what Greg Schiano decides going forward. But either way, you are better off drafting Martin a little later on, just in case. Remember, no rookie running back has averaged more than 80 yards per game his first season.
* Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars – Rookie wide outs are also tricky. Not many turn into Randy Moss his first year with the Minnesota Vikings. Still, they are more reliable than many running backs. Blackmon is loaded with talent. If Blaine Gabbert can just look his way, then his ADP of 111.9 is about right. Do not draft him as one of your three starting WRs, but take Blackmon is figure on being able to use him on bye weeks and based on matchups at times.
* Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts – Luck was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. He should have been. He may be more NFL ready than any rookie quarterback in the past 20 or 30 years. He could be that good. But his ADP of 112.7 is still too high. He should not be drafted as a starting fantasy QB this year, unless it is in a two QB league. If not, take Luck as a back up in deep leagues.
Other rookies with their ADP ranking, by position:
QB: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (170.4), Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns (172.8)
RB: David Wilson, New York Giants (115.4), Isaih Pead, St. Louis Rams (184.9)
WR: Rueben Randle, New York Giants (140.3), Alshon Jeffrey, Chicago Bears (143.7), Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (145.6), Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (146.9)
TE: Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (138.9)