By: Dennis Fithian
When looking at rookies in fantasy football you have to take two things into account. If a rookie has both of them they can be on your fantasy roster. Those two things are talent and opportunity. If they only have the talent, they should probably only be on your roster in a keeper league. Here are the top 25 rookies in fantasy football this year. Most of them have both talent and opportunity and could be good bye week fill ins and a very select few could be starters day one on your fantasy team.
1. Trent Richardson RB Cleveland Browns
Richardson has the most talent of all of these guys and appears to be the number one running back in Cleveland to start the season. Barring any injury issues his production will be very high from week one all the way to the fantasy playoffs.
2. Justin Blackmon WR Jacksonville Jaguars
Although he was very late to sign his contract and is late to camp Blackmon is still the most talented Wide Receiver in this draft class and should be the number one target for QB Blaine Gabbert this year.
3. Doug Martin RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Martin may have to share some carries with incumbent RB Lagerette Blount but Blount has proved over the last few years that he cannot carry the load without fumbling. Martin is sure handed and will get the bulk of the carries and should shine once he gets them.
4. Michael Floyd WR Arizona Cardinals
With number one WR Larry Fitzgerald taking a lot of the coverage Floyd will be able to stretch the field and could have a rookie season similar to the one Falcon WR Julio Jones had last year, low reception totals but high yards and touchdowns.
5. Kendall Wright WR Tennessee Titans
About a month ago Wright would’ve been much lower on this list because of the lack of opportunity. But since then Titan receiver Kenny Britt has had another surgery on his knee and been arrested. Looks like Wright could be the number one or two in Tennessee this year.
6. Robert Griffin III QB Washington Redskins
He’s not Cam Newton and probably will not have the rushing touchdowns Newton did last year but he is in a similar situation. Going to a team with a good offensive line and running game will open up some time for Griffin to showcase his accurate passing skills.
7. David Wilson RB New York Giants
Brandon Jacobs is now in San Francisco and that leaves a void to be filled. The Giants love using multiple backs and spent a first round pick on Wilson for a reason. Look for him to get a lot of carries especially if Ahmad Bradshaw’s health issues continue.
8. Mohamed Sanu WR Cincinnati Bengals
I have him ranked higher than most but it’s because of the rookie rule. Talent plus opportunity. Sanu is loaded with talent and may be the number two receiver behind second year man A.J. Green. And if Green steals some coverage, Sanu has the talent to take advantage of it.
9. Reuben Randle WR New York Giants
Mario Manningham followed Brandon Jacobs to the 49ers and the third WR spot is wide open. Randle will fill it nicely. He’s got speed and decent size. QB Eli Manning likes to spread the ball around and Randle will get a good amount thrown his way.
10. Ronnie Hillman RB Denver Broncos
How much longer can Willis Mcgahee last? If it’s not too much longer than Hillman is the guy that’s going to step in. He’s number three on the depth chart right now but look for him to move up as the preseason continues and he will get the opportunity to show off his pass catching skills with Peyton Manning behind center.
11. Alshon Jeffrey WR Chicago Bears
He’s not as talented as Floyd or as fast as Randle but just like them he will benefit from the number one guy, Brandon Marshall, taking a lot of coverage. If Jeffrey can stay focused he will take advantage of a lot of single coverage this year.
12. Isaiah Pead RB St. Louis Rams
Stephen Jackson is still very talented and productive but he is 29 years old and the coaching staff will get Pead a lot of carries this year to see if he can be the next feature back when Jackson moves on. Pead is up for the task and will be productive when he gets to carry the ball.
13. Brian Quick WR St. Louis Rams
The number one receiver spot in St. Louis is wide open. Quick has the size and speed to take it. And even if he doesn’t he will at least be the number two and more than likely will be the most productive receiver on the team.
14. Coby Fleener TE Indianapolis Colts
He’s the starting tight end on the colts and has his college QB throwing him the ball. He’s quick off the line and a great pass catcher. He could be a starting TE on a fantasy roster week one.
15. Andrew Luck QB Indianapolis Colts
2012 could be a tough year for Luck. He’s the starting quarterback for sure but his O-line is questionable at best and there’s no clear running back yet. He does have a familiar face in TE Coby Fleener to throw to and by the end of the season he may be able to put some decent fantasy numbers up. He’s this high on the list because he has the talent and opportunity just not the supporting cast that RGIII has.
16. Stephen Hill WR New York Jets
Hill looks to be the number two receiver on the Jets and is possibly the fastest guy in this draft class. He has all the talent and the opportunity and could be in the top ten of this list if not for the guys who are throwing him the ball.
17. Robert Turbin RB Seattle Seahawks
If current number one RB Marshawn Lynch gets suspended coming off of his DUI arrest and especially if it’s a long term suspension Turbin could be the number one guy in Seattle for an extended time. If Lynch doesn’t get suspended Turbin will still get a lot of carries and will take advantage of all of them.
18. Lamar Miller RB Miami Dolphins
Miller may be the third most talented RB in this draft class. The problem is he was drafted by a team that also drafted Daniel Thomas last year and still has Reggie Bush. If Miller sees playing time he will take advantage of it because of his outstanding speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
19. T.J. Graham WR Buffalo Bills
Graham is not the most talented guy on this list and he’s very small (5’11” 188 lbs) but he’s fast. The number two spot is up for grabs in Buffalo so if Graham can learn to put his speed into the game he could become the next Mike Wallace. But probably not this year.
20. T.Y. Hilton WR Indianapolis Colts
Much like Graham, Hilton is a speedster but not very big. He’s got a great opportunity to showcase it with a QB (Andrew Luck) who has a big arm. Question is will the O-line in Indy give Luck the time to throw it downfield to Hilton.
21. Bernard Pierce RB Baltimore Ravens
No question RB Ray Rice is the guy in Baltimore and there will not be much of an opportunity for a guy to come in and take carries away. But last year Ricky Williams did have 108 carries and he’s now gone. Pierce could get most if not all of those carries.
22. Juron Criner WR Oakland Raiders
there are a lot of receivers in Oakland and they all have speed like Criner. But Criner is 6’4” and 221 lbs. Much better size than the other guys so if he gets on the field he could be a great red zone target for QB Carson Palmer.
23. Vick Ballard RB Indianapolis Colts
Donald Brown is the starting RB in Indy right now and there are a couple guys behind him before you get to Ballard. But Ballard is a big back at 5’10” 217 lbs so he could get some goal line carries and score some touchdowns this year.
24. Chris Rainey RB Pittsburgh Steelers
RB Rashard Mendenhall is out for a while and Isaac Redman is the starter right now. But neither of those guys have the speed of Rainey. He could be a nice change of pace guy and get some catches out of the backfield and do a lot with them if he does.
25. Keshawn Martin WR Houston Texans
Martin is the lead candidate right now to be the Texans third WR. However that is behind injury ridden Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. Houston is and always will be a run first team but