Rookies are always a risk in redraft leagues. Will they adjust to the speed of the NFL game? Will they get enough opportunities? Will their mom take them out of the game because the are worried about them getting hurt? You just don’t know. But there are always those few that get the opportunity and flourish.
Here are my top 10 that look like they’ll have the best shot at making an early impact in fantasy:
1. Ryan Mathews — Fantasy football is all about opportunity and a good offense and the Chargers have given Mathews both. Barring an injury his floor is 1,000 yards and 10 TD’s and his ceiling is more than that. He’ll be ranked in the top 15 overall running backs and has a good shot at breaking the top 10. He’ll be touted pretty hard and a more seasoned RB might be the way to go depending on his ADP, but he has the best shot out of all the rookies to lead your fake team to a real championship.
2. Ben Tate — Yes, there are better players than Tate that you’ll see further down the list (no peeking!), but just like with Mathews, Tate is getting a great opportunity on a high-powered offense. It pains me, literally deep down in the coxis, to be high on a Kubiak back, but after drafting him so high and showing that Slaton is not the guy they want running at the goal line and early downs, I just don’t see Tate not getting a heap of carries, including goal line carries.
3. Jahvid Best — The Lions have been making good moves this offseason and Best was one of the most good. The Lions will have Burleson, Johnson, Pettigrew, and Scheffler to spread the defense out, while Best will be taking dump offs for large chunks of real estate. Best won’t be able to carry a huge load so someone will probably need to vulture goal line TDs, but he is good enough to make things happen.
4. Dez Bryant — It will be a shame if he isn’t starting ahead of Roy Williams in week 1, but that is yet to be seen. With Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Felix Jones and now Bryant, Tony Romo has got a lot of toys to play with and that makes for a lot of scoring which Bryant can get in on. He may go a bit early on name value alone, but he has the ability to be fantasy worthy this year.
5. Demaryius Thomas — With the departure of Brandon Marshall there are a lot of receptions waiting to be received in Denver. It has yet to be seen if Eddie Royal can rebound and Thomas, as long as he’s healthy, could take over the #1 slot.
6. Montario Hardesty — I am still holding out some hope for my man Jerome Harrison, but Hardesty will be competing for that #1 running back position from day 1. It easily could turn into a RBBC, but with these two it could be a good one. Sadly Jake Delhomme could really bring the defense in if he can’t find some semblance of accuracy.
7. Golden Tate — He is being compared to Percy Harvin as to how he might be used in Carroll’s offense this season. That would be a good way to get him fantasy relevant sooner than later, but right now the Seahawks are a very risky team to put your money on. With Housh and Branch as his only obstacles to starting I think he’ll get a a lot of chances this year, just hope the team isn’t in a free fall when those chances comes around.
8. CJ Spiller — Another great talent on a craptastic team. Fred Jackson should be the main man in Buffalo and who knows what is going to happen with Marshawn Lynch. Only 2 of Trent Edwards’ 183 pass attempts in ’09 went for more than 40 yards in the air, which means there is absolutely no way teams won’t stack the box. Spiller will be a good dump down receiver which is really the only thing Edwards can do, so he will have value, but I believe in him in dynasty more than redraft.
9. Rob Gronkowski — Yes, Jermaine Gresham is good and he went ahead of The Gronker, but I see the Patriots using Gronkowski more productively than the Bengals will use Gresham. With Ben Watson gone, he’ll get an easy path to the starting TE slot and with his skill and Welker’s injury he could really flourish.
10. Arrelious Benn — In Tampa Bay he’ll easily see enough playing time to be worthy of a flier this season. Of course he’ll get playing time because he’s on such a bad team. They do have some reason for a smidge of optimism, but it will take a few miracles for them to contend and have an above average offense. As you can see, even in the top 10 we are reaching for productive rookies.