Wrapping up my segment on rookie players in the fantasy football game I am just going to summarize what I found and provide my predictions for the upcoming season.
Quarterbacks: Only about 20% of rookie quarterbacks see significant playing time in their first season and the average stat line of those that do comes out to 2520 yards, 12.7 TD passes and 13.5 interceptions. Those numbers do not put you anywhere close to being a top 20 fantasy quarterback and therefore, not worth being owned or drafted initially. The best producers will be similar to Andy Dalton and Sam Bradford in their respective rookie campaigns, and you can expect them to end up in the late teens in the position ranks by the end of the season, making them solid options as a backup/bye-week fill in, but not worth more than a mid to late round fantasy pick.
Predictions: The first 2 picks in the real NFL draft are the only options as rookie quarterbacks in the fantasy game. With Luck I expect an Andy Dalton type stat line at the very best, and RGIII could do just a little more, but both of them have serious questions surrounding their offenses. I would value them as the non-starters in 12 team leagues and only consider drafting them as backup quarterbacks. As previously mentioned I don’t think Ryan Tannehill should touch the field this season and I can say the same for Brock Osweiler. Brandon Weeden will very likely earn the starting job in Cleveland but with a lack of options around him, I can’t imagine he cracks the top 20 quarterbacks list on the season, though he could have a few good weeks.
Running Backs: Roughly 25% of rookie running backs tend to see significant playing time, with an average stat line of 762 yards and 5 TDs for those who do. That stat line would be just inside the top 30 running backs in the fantasy game and worth a draft pick as a top bench player. Only 6 rookie RBs have cracked 1000 yards over the last 5 seasons, and while it is likely to be an high draft pick, running back can come from anywhere and being a 1st or 2nd round pick doesn’t guarantee anything as situation is everything.
Predictions: Trent Richardson will be a guy everyone wants to draft in the fantasy game but I would worry about his ceiling being around the average line of 760 and 5. The Cleveland offense will have a lot of questions and I’m just not convinced Trent can stay healthy. Of the first rounders, Doug Martin could produce right away as he could at least share carries with Blount in Tampa. David Wilson might not see the first too much early on unless Ahmad Bradshaw gets hurt. Isaiah Pead interests me as he has the talent to spell Steven Jackson but will have to earn his playing time. I don’t think I would draft them but some of the rookies that I can see ending up in the right situation this season include Ronnie Hillman, Bernard Pierce and Vick Ballard.
Wide Receivers: The NFL is a passing league and more and more wide receivers are able to take advantage. Of the pass catchers in the last 5 years to see significant playing time, their average stat line comes out to 50 catches, 680 yards and 4.5 TD catches. This would be a solid WR#3 in the Fantasy game. The absolute upside is a season like AJ Green had last year, but even he finished as the 16th ranked WR. Don’t overvalue rookie receivers, no matter how good they are, they won’t be worth more than a WR#3 spot draft-wise. Also consider that with pass catchers, the ones drafted highly are the ones who are capable of producing right away and rarely does the production come from later round picks, don’t get cute. Being a high round pick doesn’t guarantee production however, just ask Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Predictions: I love Justin Blackmon as an NFL prospect and as a long term option at wide receiver. That said I don’t trust him forthisseason. That Jacksonville offense was just too disorganized last season. I think he has a solid but not great rookie season and has value as a bench player you can use on a matchup basis. I’ve mentioned that I think Michael Floyd is in the perfect situation, should start early on and has all the benefits of having Larry Fitzgerald opposite him. Quarterback play is the only thing that will limit him but I think he could easily match or outdo the average stat line from above and finish in the high teens or low 20s positionally. The rest of the wide outs to me will be like playing with fire and while several have the upside of being a strong #3 receiver this season I wouldn’t draft them as more than a late round, fill out my bench type player.
Tight Ends: Rookie tight ends rarely produce significant numbers, with about 500-600 yards and 5 touchdowns being the absolute upside. Again the ones who can produce right away are usually high draft picks, and this year only saw 1 tight end go in the first 2 rounds. Outside of a bye-week plug and play, stay away this season.