Round One

1.  AJ Green (WR) Bengals

If you need RB help I wouldn’t fault anybody for taking Ingram #1 but talents like this don’t come around everyday.  There will be plenty of Ingram type RB’s out there in the future.  Green has the potential to be great and he could be good right away.  I’ve always believed that it’s much harder to find stud WR’s than RB’s.  The drafting of Green finally signals the end to the Ochocinco era in Cincy and Green will open the season as the #1 WR.  The Bengals drafted Andy Dalton and I don’t imagine Carson Palmer being back after threatening to retire.  Regardless of the QB situation, Green will contribute immediately.

2.  Mark Ingram (RB) Saints

Before the NFL draft I had Green and Julio Jones as the top 2 but Ingram landed in the perfect situation and is a close 2nd behind Green.  The Saints have a few average RB’s on their roster, Bush, Ivory and Pierre Thomas, but Ingram is by far the most talented out of the bunch and I expect the Saints to cut atleast one of the mentioned RB’s.  With the Saints high powered offense, double digit TD’s are a realistic possibility.  He will likely enter the season as the Saints feature back and will be a solid #2 fantasy RB with the potential to be top 10.

3.  Julio Jones (WR) Falcons

Jones couldn’t have landed in a better spot.  6’3, 220, with 4.39 speed, he is a physical specimen, an outstanding run blocker and should be a red zone force in the NFL.  Defenses will have a hard time containing both Roddy White and Julio Jones.  The fantasy values of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White just rose significantly because of this move.

4.  Daniel Thomas (RB) Dolphins

No other player had his value helped more by his drafting spot than Thomas did.  He’s going to a run first offense with a quality offensive line with his only competition for touches being washed up veterans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  6’2 228, he showed good hands catching 27 balls in 2010 at Kansas State.  He fits perfectly in the Dolphins offense and actually ran the wildcat at KSU.  He could easily be the rookie of the year and will be a solid #2 RB with upside.

5.  Ryan Williams (RB) Cardinals

An interesting selection by the Cardinals considering they already have Tim Hightower and former 1st round pick Beanie Wells on the roster.  I don’t envision Wells being in Arizona for much longer and if the Cardinals were smart they would trade him while he is still young.  I expect the Cardinals to give Williams every chance to start the season as the #1 RB.  He’s a high risk/high reward pick with a ton of upside that is worth a pick between 4-6.

6.  Mikel Leshoure (RB) Lions

Jahvid Best owners cringed at the drafting of Mikel Leshoure by the Lions.  Leshoure is an extremely talented back and before the draft I had him as my #2 RB behind Ingram.  This landing spot certainly hurts his value, atleast short-term, but he represents great value with a mid first round pick.  The Lions obviously don’t believe that Best can be a feature back and I envision Leshoure taking over that role in the near future.  6 foot, 227, Leshoure is a good goal line back and should have plenty of TD opportunities on a suddenly explosive Lions offense.

7.  Leonard Hankerson (WR) Redskins

A great situation for the former Hurricane.  Santana Moss is a free agent, and Anthony Armstrong is nothing more than a #3 WR so Hankerson will likely be starting week 1.  At 6’3 205 and 4.4 speed, Mel Kiper had him as the #3 WR on his draft board.  He has the potential to put up pretty good numbers right away and could very well be a #3 WR in 2011.

8.  Jonathan Baldwin (WR) Chiefs

At 6’5 230 lbs, this kid is a physical specimen.  It’s going to be hard to stop an offense that features Charles, Bowe, Moeaki and Jon Baldwin.  He will probably take a couple of years to develop but you’ll want for 2012 and beyond.  He could be great in PPR leagues.

9.  Alex Green (RB) Packers

A bit of an unknown coming out of the University of Hawaii, he won’t be off the radar for much longer after landing in a great situation in Green Bay.  Ryan Grant is 28 and missed almost all of 2010 and James Starks is still a bit of an unknown.  Green is a between the tackles runner which the Packers are in desperate need of and he has good hands, totaling 27 catches in 2010.  Starks will probably open the season as the starter but it is a realistic possibility that Green could be starting at some point.  He won’t be anything more than a flex option in 2011 but you’ll want him for 2012 and beyond.  I expect his value to increase throughout the offseason while the hype machine ramps up so grab him while you can.

10.  Torrey Smith (WR) Ravens

The Ravens were desperate for a deep threat to complement Anquan Boldin and they got their man.  6’1, 200 with 4.3 speed, he racked up over 1000 yards and 12 TD’s playing for Maryland.  He will get plenty of playing time right away as the Ravens lack many quality WR options outside of Boldin.

11.  Greg Little (WR) Browns

Another great situation, the former Tar Heel will be the hands down #1 WR in Cleveland on a roster that is deplete of any playmakers.  At 6’3, 231, he’s a bit raw and will probably take a couple of years to develop but the sky is the limit for the former UNC Tar Heel.

12.  Kendall Hunter (RB) 49ers

Could be a steal if you are able to land him this late in the 1st round.  Gore is 28, coming off yet another injury, and has a ton of mileage on his legs dating all the way back to The U.  Hunter overtakes Anthony Dixon as the must have handcuff to Frank Gore.  Gore has bust written all over him and it is a very realistic possibility that Hunter will have the #1 job by 2012.  Only 5’7 200 lbs, he looks and runs a lot like Maurice Jones-Drew.

Round Two

1. Roy Helu (RB) Redskins

A great landing spot for the former Nebraska Husker.  Ryan Torain is not the long-term answer in Washington and he has never been able to stay healthy.  We all know how good Shanahan is at recognizing late round RB talent, Terrell Davis, Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson.  I won’t mention Maurice Clarett.  Helu is a one-cut runner which fits perfectly in Shanahan’s offense.  Helu has a ton of upside and is worth a shot this late in the 1st round or early in the 2nd.  There’s a pretty big dropoff at RB’s after Helu.

2.  Cam Newton (QB) Panthers

I never advocate taking a QB in the 1st round of rookie drafts and somebody will probably reach for Newton based on his name value.  He’s by far the most talented QB coming out of the draft so if you need a QB he’s the one to get.  He will likely be starting from week 1 and should put up some decent rushing numbers.  Like most QB’s coming out of the draft he’s high risk/high reward and has the talent to be a top 10 QB within a few years.

3.  Titus Young (WR) Lions

At 5’11, 175 and 4.4 speed, Young is the perfect complement to the Megatron in Detroit.  Even Nate Burleson put up decent numbers as the #2 WR and Young is much more talented.  He won’t see any double teams playing next to the best young WR in the league.  If Stafford is able to stay healthy, the Lions offense could be great and Young could be a steal in the 2nd round.

4.  Randall Cobb (WR) Packers

The former Kentucky Wildcate is entering an offense that already has young pass catchers Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones.  Regardless of the abundance of talent on the Packers I still like the situation for Cobb long-term.  Jones will probably leave via free agency and Cobb should overtake Nelson as the #2 WR within a year or two.  Rodgers likes to spread the ball around so Cobb could get a fair amount of looks in 2011 but he’s more of a long-term prospect.

5.  Shane Vereen (RB) Patriots

A horrible location for one of the most talented RB’s coming out of the draft.  You always want to avoid Patriot RB’s since Belichick loves to rotate backs and he will also be competing for playing time against BJGE and Danny Woodhead.  He’s a low risk/high reward pick if you can grab him in the 2nd round.  I wouldn’t expect much production in 2011 but he’s worth a roster stash.

6.  Jacquinn Rodgers (RB) Falcons

Only 5’7 192, Rodgers will replace Jerious Norwood as the Falcons third down RB.  He lacks the size to ever be an everydown RB but he has the potential to put up a healthy amount of catches playing for a great offense in Atlanta.

7.  DeMarco Murray (RB) Cowboys

A puzzling choice by the Cowboys who continue to stockpile RB’s.  I expect the Cowboys to trade or release either Tashard Choice or Marion Barber and Felix Jones has never been able to stay healthy so there is a possibility that Murray could see a fair amount of carries.  Murray is an outstanding pass catcher, racking up an astounding 71 catches for Oklahoma in 2010.  He’s a must have handcuff for Felix Jones owners and has the potential to replace Jones in the future.

8.  Blaine Gabbert (QB) Jaguars

Gabbert will likely sit behind David Garrard for atleast a couple of years which hurts his value short-term but increases his value long-term.  I’ve always believed it’s beneficial for a QB to sit behind a veteran QB, especially for someone like Gabbert who comes from a spread offense at Missouri.  Stash him for a couple of years if you have room on your roster.

9.  Jake Locker (QB) Titans

A good situation for Locker with Chris Johnson in the backfield and Kenny Britt to throw the ball to.  He will probably get a chance to start at some point in 2011 and has the talent to be a #1 QB if he can improve his accuracy.

10.  Jordan Todman (RB) Chargers

Only 5’9, 200 lbs and 4.4 speed, Todman overtakes Mike Tolbert as the handcuff to Ryan Mathews.  Because of his size there are questions about whether Todman can be a feature back but he carried the ball 334 times in his senior year and is a good pass catcher out of the backfield.  I’m not sold on Mathews so Todman will have the chance to compete for a starting gig if Mathews doesn’t step it up this year.

11.  Christian Ponder (QB) Vikings

Ponder might be the most pro ready QB coming out of the draft and will likely start the season for the Vikings.  He doesn’t have much upside as Newton, Gabbert or Locker and will probably be no better than a #2 fantasy QB long-term.  He goes to a great situation with the Vikings who feature some great young weapons in Percy Harving and AP.

12.  Greg Salas (WR) Rams

A great situation for Salas who will be able to compete for playing time right away.  He doesn’t have much speed but he’s a possession receiver with great hands and should take over Amendola’s role in the future.  He’s a PPR stud in the making and could contribute right away.  Another low risk/high reward pick this late in the draft.

  1. James says:

    No love delone Carter in Indy?

  2. Matt Dougherty

    Matt Dougherty says:

    I’ve got Carter in the beginning of the 3rd round. I think he’s an average talent that will likely be nothing more than a backup and he has to compete with Addai, Hart, and Donald Brown who are still relatively young.

  3. Rick says:

    Nice job on the rankings…I’m with you on almost all of them. I was wondering about Bilal Powell though. If you aren’t sold on Ryan Mathews, do you feel better about Shonn Greene? Sure Rex has talked him up, but Rex talks up everyone…

  4. Matt Dougherty

    Matt Dougherty says:

    Powell would be next in my rookie RB rankings. It’s a crowded RB situation in NY with Greene, LT (for 2011 atleast) and McKnight who I haven’t given up on just yet and probably has more upside than Powell does. Powell won’t see many touches in 2011 while Todman has a chance to steal some carries away from Mathews, while Tolbert will likely go back to fullback and goal line work.

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