Another year another draft down and owners everywhere are scouring all sorts of facts and info on the rookies taken in this year’s draft, wondering if they are fantasy worthy. A major concern for the fantasy world was that this year’s draft would be such a let-down from last years (top-3 picks alone were all fantasy studs in RG III, Luck and Trent Richardson). The 2013 draft has been called “unsexy” and “boring” for people not big into football, yet for fantasy reasons I will respectfully disagree.
There are so many factors that go into whether a player is fantasy-worthy, especially a rookie. As far as rookies are concerned, you have to see what kind of production came out of that position the year(s) prior, if they are a WR who is their QB, if they are a RB how good in their offensive live, will they have to compete for a starting role, as well as countless other factors. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the top-5 offensive rookies worth drafting in 2013.
TAVON AUSTIN– WR ST. Louis 5-9 175lbs
The Rams traded up to get him, clearly wanted him, and will make him a focal point of their offense. Austin will be joining forces with a deep threat in Chris Givens, whose speed had been compared to Mike Wallace’s (Givens averaged 16.6 ypr last year) and is a more than capable of several deep strikes down the field (5 receptions of over 50 yards last year with only 42 total receptions), as well as newly acquired Jared Cook who is a freakish athlete capable of lining up at TE or even the slot. The biggest concern though is the Rams offensive line that has allowed Bradford to be sacked 71 times in 26 games. Well to solve that the Rams went out and signed Pro Bowler LT Jake Long who should add some much needed extra protection for Bradford. All of this surrounding Austin should allow him to have a pretty productive rookie season, one making him fantasy worthy.
WOULD I START HIM? In deeper leagues yes, he could be your WR 3/ Flex deepening on your league. Wouldn’t draft him until around the 7-9th round.
DEANDRE HOPKINS- WR Houston 6-1 214lbs
For the better part of a decade the Texans have tried finding a complimentary receiver to Andre Johnson, and they may have just done that with Hopkins. Hopkins has big (10-inch), reliable hands, sub 4.5 40 speed, and is very durable. While he may not be the deep-threat that could stretch the field, he is a good enough to catch the eye of Schaub who will have to look elsewhere than just Johnson (who was target an NFL-high on 60% of Houston’s plays last year). He has been compared to Anquan Boldin and Roddy White, and while I am not saying he is that caliber just yet, that is good company to be compared to, coupled in with lining up across from Johnson, and do not forget about Arian Foster, Hopkins may find his way into your fantasy line-up.
WOULD I START HIM? Only as a WR3, would not use him in your flex spot just yet until he proves himself a little, but see no problem as a WR3. Also have no problem drafting him as early as the 8-9th round.
EDDIE LACY-RB Green Bay 5-11 231
There is something to be said about a guy on Lacy’s size, and can still run a sub 4.5 40 (4.44 to be precise). Then again he is going to Packers, a team that has not had a 100-yard rusher in 43 games, scored 9 total rushing TDs last season, and were led by Alex Green’s 464 rushing yards. Then again, this is the same Packers team that allowed Ryan Grant to rush for 11 TDs a few seasons ago, a team in desperate need of a guy to finally step up in the backfield. I know there are some mummers of his injury history with his turf toe at Alabama, and the fact that the Packers also drafted Jonathan Franklin, but even if he does end up splitting carries with him, if there is one thing Lacy can do is run people over. That is a skill that comes in handy near the goal line. So while I am not predicting a 1,000 yard season, do not be surprised to if Lacy’s TD total is in the double digits.
WOULD I START HIM? Possible flex player, definitely great reserve RB for bye-round and if he can stay health, could turn into a consistent starter. Could see him going as early as the 7-8th round in drafts.
MONTEE BALL- RB Denver 5-10 214lbs
This is a great scenario of a good player landing in a great spot. Denver has an elite offense, and Peyton Manning has made many RB look great during his career. Ball is inheriting a great situation where, McGahee is turning 32 and likely on his way out after tearing his MCL and breaking his leg, Moreno is coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery, and Hillman has proved nothing more than that he is a good 3rd down back. There are always a ton of opportunities to carry the ball on early downs, and despite Manning throwing for over 4,600 yards and 37 TDs, the rushing attack still managed 12 TDs, and over 30 rushing attempts/game.
WOULD I START HIM? Yes, as a flex, even possibly a RB 2 depending on his early season production. Have no problem drafting him between the 5-8th round.
AARON DOBSON- WR New England 6-3 214LB
This one may be more of a sleeper pick, but I love Dobson’s chances to produce in New England. Dobson (listed above at 6-3) gives the Patriots some much needed height at the WR position, since the other wide outs on the roster (minus the TE and newly acquired veteran Mike Jenkins who might not even make the final roster) average height teeters right around 6 foot. Let’s also let history give us some confidence in Dobson moving forward. Dobson is out of Marshal, where Brady’s last two WR out of Marshal have been Randy Moss and Troy Brown. Those are two pretty solid names to follow up on, as Brady helped make Brown’s career, and resurrect Moss’s. Nevertheless, while Dobson’s top-end speed is not phenomenal, he can stretch the field which is something the Patriots so desperately need. After failing to land Emanuel Sanders, expect Dobson to line up on the outside in his place, and give the Pats the chance to open up the field.
WOULD I START HIM? Flex/WR 3 dependent on your league. Brady WR do not typically get tons of receptions, but expect Dobson to find his fair share, and especially find the end-zone. Potential to move up to WR 2. His stock will not be high, so you can grab him late after the 10th round.
ACTUALLY, WHILE YOU’RE READING, HERE ARE TWO GUYS TO AVOID IN FANTASY THIS YEAR.
TYLER EIFERT- TE Cincy 6-5 250lbs
This is one of those scenarios gone wrong. Before the draft I believed Eifert had potential to be a fantastic surprise fantasy rookie this year, which was before the Bengals drafted him. While this may be a great move for their team’s success this year, it crushed both Eifert’s potential value and Greshem’s as well. A two TE set may work in New England, but it will not work in Cincy, and here’s why. 1 Andy Dalton is not Tom Brady. 2 Greshem and Eifert are pretty much the same player, the move and go type-players, whereas Gronk is an in-line killer, and Hernandez is the guy who can move and go. Unless Greshem somehow leaves town in Cincy, avoid Eifert.
JUSTIN HUNTER- WR Tennessee 6-4 196lbs
Same sort of deal as Eifert, good player but not the best landing spot. Hunter has inherited a QB in Locker who has yet to prove himself worthy of trust in the fantasy world, a RB in Chris Johnson who is as predictable as the weather in New England, and a WR who needs a big year for a new contract in Kenny Britt. Hunter, who is pretty much and undersized Britt, has to also worry about Nate Washington and Kendall Wright. Although the Titans did trade up to get him so they might incorporate him more then I think they will. Nevertheless, a few years down the road Hunter could be making some noise and be a very good fantasy WR, but just not this year.