Monday, August 25, 2014

That time of year is back my friends, it is finally time to draft your fantasy football team (or seven if you're like me). It is well known that one of the keys to winning your fantasy league is identifying rookie talent. Rookies tend to be risky picks but for this reason they can also be valuable picks. Since it is once again draft season, here are 6 rookies that I love heading into the season:

Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans:

Sankey is going to have an opportunity to start immediately in Tennessee. The Titans only play 5 games this year against the teams who ranked in the top half of run defenses in 2013 and Sankey has shown his ability to rip apart defenses through his years at the University of Washington. During his junior year at UW he racked up 1,870 yards on the ground including a school record three 200-yard games to go along with his 20 TDs. Sankey will get the opportunity to run behind the Titans offensive line which is an excellent run blocking unit. Bishop Sankey shows above average agility and has good hands. He will seal his fate as the starter if he is able to grow in pass protection and prove he can reliably hold onto the football.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills:

Who doesn't love the young receiver out of Clemson? Fast? Check. Agile? Check. Good hands? Check. Sammy Watkins is the whole package. The only things holding him back now are the Bills quarterback play and how quickly he is able to learn the sight adjustments and route conversions the NFL will ask of him. Expect some growing pains early, but once he adjusts he has real fantasy starter potential this year, and in rookie keeper leagues he must be an early draft pick. The sky is the limit for this guy.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints:

Cooks led all receivers at the combine with a 4.33 40-yard dash and set the all time combine record in both the 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles. Long story short, this kid is fast and quick. Now add in the fact that he is going to be catching passes from Drew Brees and you have a winning combination. But, as with Sammy Watkins, the thing holding him back will be his ability to adjust to the pro game, but I have no worries of that issue with Cooks. Right now he is being taken as a top-30 WR pick which is a little high in my opinion seeing as how he is going to see less targets than Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, and Kenny Stills off the bat. However, I expect the Saints to have dedicated packages for Cooks since he is so dynamic. Right now Cooks is a solid flex option or a lower end #2 WR and with some luck he could play his way into a solid #2 this year.

Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

At 6'5" and 225 pounds Evans is a physically imposing target, and with the average NFL cornerback standing under six-foot even he has a tremendous advantage. I expect Evans to act like an Antonio Gate-style wide receiver and just box out the smaller defenders for easy receptions. Look for Evans to be a tremendous red-zone weapon for the Bucs this year. With Josh McCown now under center for Tampa Bay they will be vastly improved throwing the ball and the big wide receiver from Texas A&M is going to reap the benefits. Evans is a solid mid- to late-round draft pick right now as he is already slated to be Tampa Bay's #2 WR behind Vincent Jackson.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers:

Kelvin Benjamin landed in the best possible scenario for a rookie wide receiver; good running game, excellent quarterback, and no true #1 receiver in front of him. At 6'5" and 240 pounds Benjamin is a monster primed for red-zone targets to go along with him already being displayed this preseason as Cam Newton's favorite receiver. Take all of this and you have a rookie who could wind up being a must-play #2 wide receiver in any fantasy format. However, Benjamin does profile as a potential bust candidate, last year at Florida State he led the country in drop percentage and in his two years was only targeted 142 times. At his worst, Benjamin isn't a fantasy option at all, but I think he is going to be much closer to his top potential numbers and end up in the neighborhood of 50 receptions for 700 yards and 5 TDs.

Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions:

Ebron is a very similar player to Vernon Davis, highly athletic, advanced hands, and a good route runner at a young age. However, rookie tight ends tend to not be large statistical contributors. Ebron could be the exception, he is already slotted in as the Lions starter at TE and the Lions love to throw the ball. This combination bodes well for Ebron. I don't expect him to be a 'must-draft' player this year, but he should provide value in a bye-week substitution role or in re-draft leagues.
Categories: ,


Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!