These rankings have been updated. Please go here for the latest rankings….
The NFL season is over and while many will now turn their attention to other sports (heard there was a big basketball game last night…), there are many of us that are already preparing for the 2012 fantasy football season. The guys that write for this site are in a dynasty fantasy football league and each year we have a “rookie only” draft to add to our existing veterans. I’ve taken a look at the rookie prospects that will soon be taking the field at the combine and various pro days around the country to show their skills and impress NFL teams… and perhaps more importantly their future fantasy owners. Here are my top 20 pre-combine offensive fantasy rookies ranked for a standard lineup in a PPR league. I’ll give you some details on my top 10 and fill out the top 20 with a list. Look for more details after the combine with the 11-20 players.
**Note: click player names for highlight reels and leave your thoughts/praise/gripes in the comments**
1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford – There seems to be no fear about this guy’s success in the NFL. Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t already been named Offensive Rookie of the Year. While many consider he had a down year after Harbaugh left Stanford, the guy has all the tools necessary to be successful in the NFL. For a Dynasty league, this is a guy that can serve your team for 10+ years. You won’t get that out of many players you draft over several seasons, which is why I have him at the top of my list.2. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State – Top WR prospect projects as a possession receiver in the NFL. Think Brandon Marshall or Miles Austin. I’ve heard lots of talk about his smarts as well as his toughness. I would normally the top RB ahead of the top WR here but with the recent success of rookie WR’s and Trent Richardson’s lack of receptions, Blackmon gets the nod.
3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama – Truthfully, this guy may have the most talent in the top 3 but as I mentioned above, receptions are a concern. His career high for catches is 29 and that came with only a 3 reception improvement over his previous season after his carries nearly tripled over the same span of time. There is also fear around the short shelf life of RB’s in the NFL today which causes some concern. However, RB’s are scarce and Richardson is the best available.
5. Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor – Perhaps I’m riding the wave of rookie QB success that we witnessed last season with Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder (when he was healthy). But I feel RG3 is going to be a touchdown machine in the NFL and we all know that rushing touchdowns from QB’s can propel them into the top tier very quickly even with modest passing numbers. This may be the guy that moves the most on my list depending on who drafts him.
6. Chris Polk, RB, Washington – Sneaking up on many people is Polk. Consistent production in his final 3 seasons at Washington including 1341 yards in his senior season after Jake Locker left town. Also impressive to me, 1 fumble in 263 carries during the 2011 season.
7. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina – It scares me to think that I am ranking a South Carolina WR this high but at 6’4” and 229 lbs. he has the size to make big catches over even the best NFL DB’s. However, this is another player that could drop when I update these rankings. I want to see how he shows up to the combine/pro day and go from there. I’ve heard many knocks on his motivation. This ranking is based on the raw talent he possesses.
8. Doug Martin, RB, Boise State – I think Martin has the best potential to produce in PPR leagues out of the RB prospects. He had over 40 career rushing TDs at Boise State and upped his yards each season. He had a slow start in production in his final college season but finished strong despite a mid-season injury.
9. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor – What wright lacks in size he makes up for with his speed and quickness. He has the chance to make an impact similar to Percy Harvin, without all the migraines. This is another guy who’s value can shoot up if selected by the right team. If you like him, root for a team with top level talent on the outside where he can take advantage from the slot and find the open spots in the coverage.
10. David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech – I’ve read that Wilson benefitted from the play calling at Virginia Tech. They were able to take advantage of his abilities by running a lot of sweeps to take advantage of his speed. He wasn’t great in between the tackles at VT but look for him to improve that part of his game as he prepares for the rigors of the NFL. I know this much, VT would have been (more) awful on offense if it weren’t for him.
11. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon – Size and durability in the NFL are my concerns.
12. Lamar Miller, RB, Miami – Inconsistency lands him here.
13. Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina – What a season he had… reminds me of Hakeem Nicks but has a problem with drops.
14. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers – Good but not elite type talent. Lacks Speed.
15. Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson – You need a good TE to be competitive in fantasy, is this your guy?
16. Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin – First year with a real QB and he catches 10 TD. Al Toon’s son. Could blossom in the NFL.
17. Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple – 27 TDs in 2011, but only 3 receptions all year.
18. Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech – Physical WR at 6’5” but lacks experience. 29.3 YPC.
19. Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati – Solid runner and contributes in the passing game.
20. Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – Accurate, smart player. Needs to sneak into a good NFL situation to stay in the top 20.