This year's crop of rookies is considered more appealing than those in recent years for Fantasy purposes if only because of the elite players atop their respective positions: Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III overshadow the quarterbacks, Trent Richardson overshadows the running backs, Justin Blackmon overshadows the receivers and Coby Fleener overshadows the tight ends. All five have displayed outstanding collegiate careers that have been well documented. All five will get drafted in every single league. And all five have very lofty expectations.
And they're just five of a plethora of rookies that owners in leagues of varying shapes and sizes have to evaluate. Here's a crash course on the top rookies in this year's class ...
Andrew Luck, Colts: Think Peyton Manning with better mobility and a healthy neck. Luck has great accuracy, great intelligence, a strong arm and even the football pedigree Manning has.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins: RG3 doesn't quite have the pinpoint accuracy of Luck, but he's not far off. He does have a strong arm, and anything he lacks to Luck's passing he more than makes up for with his speed.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins: Good fit for a Miami offense that's installing the playbook he learned in college. Good arm and accuracy to go with good mobility, but his decision-making skills have been questioned.
Brandon Weeden, Browns: Might have been drafted in the Top 10 if he wasn't close to 30 years old. A former baseball player, Weeden has a cannon and lots of experience.
Trent Richardson, Browns: Pretty much the best running back prospect to enter the league since Adrian Peterson. Can do it all, can play every down and distance and can plow into the end zone. He'll be fun to watch.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers: Has the same skill set as Ray Rice without the breakaway speed. He's also considered a capable three-down back, though it's yet to be determined if he can be routinely successful at the goal line.
David Wilson, Giants: Wilson is an outside speed rusher with pretty good hands. Never was a consistent inside runner and might take some time before developing into a starter.
Isaiah Pead, Rams: A quick runner, Pead might be considered more of a change-of-pace guy than a featured back. Might make some highlight-reel plays this season but playing time might not be consistent.
LaMichael James, 49ers: An experienced running back with solid speed but not a lot of size. Could contribute as much on special teams as he will on offense.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos: Here's all you need to know: He broke many of Marshall Faulk's records at San Diego State. He's got good speed and hands but doesn't have the size most teams look for. Ball security is a minor issue.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars: A thick, fast combination that will wreak havoc on smaller cornerbacks and safeties. Blackmon is very physical and has very good, very big hands. Should be able to adjust to errant passes from Blaine Gabbert. Considered NFL-ready.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals: Floyd is basically a taller version of Blackmon who comes with some baggage based on off-field incidents in college. Questions about his receiving consistency and deep speed kept him from passing Blackmon in the draft. Playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald doesn't exactly increase his prospects for 100-plus targets.
Kendall Wright, Titans: Benefited greatly from playing with Robert Griffin in college thanks to his deep speed. Should fit in the slot immediately.
A.J. Jenkins, 49ers: Very capable receiver with speed, but he showed up to Niners minicamp out of shape. He's lanky, which could cause problems versus press coverage.
Brian Quick, Rams: Huge size/speed combination could make him a sensation at the pro level, but experience is a huge question mark. Getting playing time might not be as big of a question mark, though.
Stephen Hill, Jets: Potential Demaryius Thomas clone given his lack of production at Georgia Tech but considerable measurables and speed.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears: A big target with good hands but not great speed.
Ryan Broyles, Lions: An accomplished receiver in college but coming off of surgery for a torn ACL. It's unknown if his size will be a detriment.
Rueben Randle, Giants: Might be a better receiver than his college stats indicate. Great size, good speed, but could get buried behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in playing time and targets.
Mohamed Sanu, Bengals: Polished receiver with good skill set including tight route running. Doesn't have bulk or deep speed.
Coby Fleener, Colts: Luck's best buddy from college -- and for good reason. More receiver than tight end, Fleener's size and speed makes him a mismatch nightmare for defenses to account for down the middle of the field. Should have an easy transition to the NFL with Luck passing to him.
Dwayne Allen, Colts: Capable big-bodied tight end, more of the blocking type than pure receiver style that Fleener is.
Michael Egnew, Dolphins: Pretty good receiving skills to go with a big body and pretty good speed. Should have a chance to make some plays in thin Dolphins receiving corps.
Randy Bullock, Texans: Made 29 of 33 kicks last season. Born and raised in Texas.
Greg Zuerlein, Rams: Made 23 of 24 attempts last season including nine from 50-plus yards and two of three from 60 yards.
Blair Walsh, Vikings: Tough senior year (21 of 35 field goals made) overshadows his rank as the SEC's all-time leading scorer.
Rookies for 2012
If you are in a league that will only play the 2012 season (simply known as a seasonal league), then targeting rookies who might not play much or might eventually become great players won't help you. Typically, carry into your draft a longer list of running back rookies than players at any other position. Below is our take on the order in which these players should be drafted along with an expectation of when they'll get picked in a standard league.
|Quarterback||Running back||Wide receiver||Tight end|
|Robert Griffin III (Round 9)||Trent Richardson (Round 2-3)||Justin Blackmon (Round 7)||Coby Fleener (Round 9)|
|Andrew Luck (Round 10)||Doug Martin (Round 5)||Alshon Jeffery (Round 9)||Michael Egnew (Round 14)|
|Brandon Weeden (Round 13)||Ronnie Hillman (Round 8)||Michael Floyd (Round 9)|
|Ryan Tannehill (Round 14)||David Wilson (Round 8)||Kendall Wright (Round 10)|
|Isaiah Pead (Round 11)||Mohamed Sanu (Round 12)|
|LaMichael James (Round 12)||Rueben Randle (Round 12)|
|Stephen Hill (Round 13)|
Rookies for 2012 and beyond
If you are in a league that is looking more long-term, then more rookies should be on your pre-draft rank list. These leagues typically consist of dynasty or keeper leagues that allow players to be kept for a number of seasons. Their drafts are either limited to rookies or are start-ups that include everyone in the NFL but feature rookies getting picked higher than usual. Below is our take on the order in which rookies at all positions should get taken in long-term formats in a standard league.
|1. Andrew Luck, QB, IND||13. Rueben Randle, WR, NYG||25. Lamar Miller, RB, MIA||37. T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND|
|2. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE||14. Ryan Tannehill, QB, MIA||26. Chris Rainey, RB, PIT||38. Ladarius Green, TE, SD|
|3. Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS||15. A.J. Jenkins, WR, SF||27. Nick Toon, WR, NO||39. T.J. Graham, WR, BUF|
|4. Justin Blackmon, WR, JAC||16. Brandon Weeden, QB, CLE||28. Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE||40. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA|
|5. Doug Martin, RB, TB||17. Mohamed Sanu, WR, CIN||29. Dwayne Allen, TE, IND||41. Taylor Thompson, TE, TEN|
|6. Michael Floyd, WR, ARI||18. Brian Quick, WR, STL||30. Robert Turbin, RB, SEA||42. Cyrus Gray, RB, KC|
|7. Alshon Jeffery, WR, CHI||19. LaMichael James, RB, SF||31. B.J. Cunningham, WR, MIA||43. Bryce Brown, RB, PHI|
|8. Kendall Wright, WR, TEN||20. Isaiah Pead, RB, STL||32. Marvin Jones, WR, CIN||44. Edwin Baker, RB, SD|
|9. Coby Fleener, TE, IND||21. Ryan Broyles, WR, DET||33. Bernard Pierce, RB, BAL||45. Alfred Morris, RB, WAS|
|10. Stephen Hill, WR, NYJ||22. Michael Egnew, TE, MIA||34. Danny Coale, WR, DAL||46. Randy Bullock, K, HOU|
|11. Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN||23. DeVier Posey, WR, HOU||35. Terrance Ganaway, RB, NYJ||47. Greg Zuerlein, K, STL|
|12. David Wilson, RB, NYG||24. Juron Criner, WR, OAK||36. Devon Wylie, WR, KC||48. Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS|