Fantasy Football Rookies
We may have been spoiled by fantasy rookie quarterbacks in 2012, but 2013 brought a spoil of rookie running backs to compensate for the lack of depth at the position entering our drafts. Rookies that ended up being steals in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds won’t be on the board much past Round 2 in 2014. Here is a look back at the best of the 2013 rookie class for fantasy with a look to the future as well.
QB – Mike Glennon
Calling Mike Glennon the stud of the 2013 QB draft class is like saying any one of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies after “Signs” stands out above the rest. From a fantasy perspective, the class was weak to say the least. 2013 didn’t bring any Andrew Lucks, Robert Griffin IIIs or even Russell Wilsons. Mike Glennon, leading the Bucs to a 5-11 season was the bright spot of an abysmal fantasy year for rookie quarterbacks. Woof. In a league plentiful of fantasy QB studs, the odds of a rookie quarterback finding his way into your starting lineup are rare. 2013 was proof of that. Glennon might not even start for the Bucs this year. Thank Glennon for keeping Vincent Jackson relevant, but aside from that he probably didn’t help your fantasy squad in any other way last year. It doesn’t look like he’ll help your squad this year either.
RB1 – Eddie Lacy
Raise your hand if that fat Eddie Lacy picture circulating social media scared you out of drafting him this year. Keep in mind I’m typing with one hand as I shamelessly raise my other. Last August, it was hard to imagine an out-of-shape rookie running back with asthma on a team that never runs the ball, would wind up being the top rookie running back in a loaded 2013 draft class. Shame on our imaginations. Eddie Lacy bruised his way to 1,000+ yards, even after missing some time due to injuries. The back we saw manhandle Notre Dame in the BCS Championship was the same back we saw manhandle NFL defenses in his rookie campaign. Lacy proved to be one of the toughest tackles in football. When All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers went down, Lacy shouldered the load and kept the Pack in contention. He even gave the Niners vaunted defense a beating in the playoffs. If healthy, Lacy can be a stud for years to come. I’ve already got him ranked in my top 5 for 2014, and I would be shocked to see him fall outside the top 10.
RB2 – Le’Veon Bell
It wasn’t always pretty, but fantasy rookie Le’Veon Bell produced in 2013. Patience proved to be a virtue for those fortunate enough to snag Bell in the draft, knowing he would miss at least the first three weeks of his rookie season. The young back grinded his way to 1,259 total yards and 8 scores, showing versatility as a receiver out of the backfield as well. Behind an abysmal Steelers line plagued by injury, I was thoroughly impressed with Bell’s success as a rookie. His 17+ ppg average in the last three weeks was promising as well, as the retooled Steeler line showed growth over the year. If Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey returns to full health in 2014, the hype around Bell could be well-warranted on draft day. His rookie numbers alone projected over a full season would give him 1,550 total yards and 10 TDs (6th in PPR and standard scoring).
WR1 – Keenan Allen
Last August I wrote a column about Keenan Allen’s fantasy value that I decided not to publish. I didn’t love what I wrote and I wasn’t sure, coming off of an injury, if Allen could meet the expectations I laid out for him. Turns out he not only met those expectations, he far exceeded them. Allen started slow in 2013, but finished stronger than anyone. Strong enough to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors when it was all said and done. Once heralded as a first round pick, Allen’s draft stock faded after suffering a PCL tear his junior year at Cal. After falling to San Diego in the third round, Allen battled a deep roster of WRs all showing potential to be Rivers’ number 1 target, and emerged a cut above the rest. The future is bright for Allen who’s sure to be a WR2 at worst, if healthy.
WR2 – Cordarrelle Patterson
Tucked away on an awful Vikings team, hidden behind the fantasy glare Adrian Peterson emits, is a young wide receiver with a TON of talent. Cordarrelle Patterson quietly emerged as one of the league’s most explosive players in 2013. The rookie led the league in yards per return and put together a host of highlight reel plays throughout the season. Get this guy a viable quarterback and the skies are the limit. Patterson is a threat through the air, on the ground, and most notably, as a returner. Sound familiar Vikings fans? Percy Harvin might be gone, but the Vikings had no trouble finding his replacement. Looking for a second year wide receiver that could really break out? Look no further than Patterson.
FLEX – Giovani Bernard
Gio was the consensus stud rookie running back pick going into the 2013 season. A Bernard supporter from Day 1, I started to wonder if he became overvalued by fantasy draft week. It’s easy to fall victim to the Hard Knocks trap HBO sets for us each season. They turn a player whose college stats look great on paper into a likable, relatable character we develop subconscious bias towards through reality television. We saw the speed, the explosiveness. We heard Gruden gush about him and the ways he could be involved in the offense this year. And because of that, we saw Gio burst up the fantasy draft board. I decided it wasn’t worth the pick at that value and, all in all, I’d say I was wrong. For the most part, with the exception of a few lackluster efforts, Gio was a reliable fantasy starter this season. He held down the RB2 spot, and in PPR formats, looked like an RB1 on a few occasions. With Hue Jackson calling the shots this year, a former running backs coach, riding Gio could be a wise fantasy decision for 2014. He’s small in stature, but he runs with a big heart.
TE – Timothy Wright
Wright lacked consistency from a fantasy perspective, but he did put up six respectable efforts in his last 12 games of 2013. He wasn’t a high volume target, but he made the most of his opportunities, finding the end zone 5 times (tops among all rookie TEs). As a guy that benefited from a few Wright spot starts in 2013, I can see the talent. He’s a tough matchup at 6’3’ 220 lbs with underrated athleticism. Paired with Josh McCown the potential is there for Wright to improve upon his 2013 numbers. Considering he ranked 13th among all tight ends in a season in which he didn’t emerge until after Week 4, leads me to believe this guy has top-10 potential.
IR – Jordan Reed
Fantasy rookie Jordan Reed had his season cut short by a concussion, but not before he put the fantasy world on notice. Reed had several impressive games in his short 2013 stint and quickly emerged as one of RG3’s favorite targets. If the two can stay healthy, Reed has top-5 potential in 2014. Project Reed’s stats through 8 games over a full season and he finishes with 90 catches for 998 yards and 6 TDs. Good for fourth best among TEs in standard scoring. Second best in PPR. Not half bad for a rookie.
What rookie studs will 2014 bring?