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.

Before we get to the rookies, I’ve also updated the dynasty rankings for running backs and wide receivers I & II. Check that out when you get a chance.

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.

  1. Isles Guru says:
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    Could Gronkowski be this year’s Jermichael Finley?

  2. Doc

    Doc says:
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    There is a chance. Need to see how much Belichick likes him.

  3. Greg says:
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    boys….boys…boys…TE’s and Belichick NEVER a good bet. The rookie TE to grab is Jermaine Gresham. Cincy NEEDS a TE to spread the ball round to. Chris Henry is DEAD…Carlson Palmer is an old man now and cant throw as deep… HE NEEDS a TE safety valve and FINALLY he has one!!

  4. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Greg: Watson was in the dog house, but they wanted to use him. The Bengals have never used a TE and they are more of a rushing team now and Gresham will need to be able to block to get on the field.

  5. Greg says:
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    good point on the blocking. Didnt think of that. Thats why I’m not real high on Witten anymore. Granted he’s good but they are using him more to block now more then ever (helps my boy Felix Jones)…

    I dunno I just don’t trust Belichick. He’s got a thing for veterans…look at who he rolls w. the RBs. But he did use Edelman a decent amt last yr out of necessity. Does NE have any other TEs or is this rookie coming in as top dog?

  6. Doc

    Doc says:
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    @Greg: They took Hernandez in the 4th round. A lot will depend on how he is used and there really is no reason to grab him in a normal 12 team league so he would be more of a waiver pick up. And the same for Gresham. Neither are going to be worth much in fantasy early in the season.

  7. YouthofToday says:
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    Although Witten did block more in ’09 this is in large part because Marc Colombo suffered from a high ankle injury in week 10, and Witten was asked to help replacement Free and Colombo when he returned.

    Nonetheless, Witten actually INCREASED his receptions and yards from his 2008 total. He is only 28 years old. With an improved offensive line that finally has decent depth, a WR core that is going to demand serious safety attention and three legit RBs I really do not understand why one would be down on Witten.

    Witten only had 2 TDs in 09. 2! The Cowboys were 14th in points scored in 09 with 361. Although they have a tough schedule they should easily place in the top 10 in scoring in 2010 and I expect them to end up with 440-500 points…

    which means Witten is definitely going to catch more than 2 TDs in 2009 barring injury.

    I’m not trying to hate, yet Witten is definitely a top 5 TE — with upside.

  8. Greg says:
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    @youthoftoday

    I’m not hating on Witten but many ppl I know feel Witten is a top 1-2 TE. I just don’t feel he is better then Clarke or Gates.

    2 TDs hurts when Gates had 8td’s and Clarke had 10td’s.

    You don’t think that having 2 legit WRs and a pass catching RB in Jones (who has surplanted Barber) is going to hurt Witten’s production? It definately will bc Romo will stop using Witten as much bc he will have btr options downfield. Witten was all he really had before….now my friend there are many. I agree his TDs will go up but receptions will fall. I’ll bet a case of Busch Lite that Witten catches 20 less balls this year (he caught 94 balls last year) Granted 70 catches is still top 5 TE numbers…just not 1-2

  9. YouthofToday says:
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    @Greg

    I’m on board with your thoughts. I never, ever draft TE’s early anyways as the game has changed to where the standard deviation of the top 20 TE’s has been reduced by a healthy margin in recent years. Look at the breakout’s that were largely available through waivers last year (Jermichael, Vernon Davis, Celek, amongst others).

    Last year Romo was 3rd in passing yards (4,483), 7th in completions (347) and 10th in passing TDs (26). That’s incredibly impressive considering his lack of production in weeks 2,3,4 before Austin’s emergence in week 5 (week 1 was against an awful TB defense).

    The Cowboys had the 17th most rushing attempts last year and were able to rank 7th in total team rushing yards. They ranked 13 in regards to the number of pass attempts.

    I expect the Cowboys to end up well within the top 10 in pass attempts and to stay in the 15-20 range for rushing attempts. Their tough schedule, and Garrett’s aggressive play-calling style, demand they put a lot of points on the board.

    My long-winded conclusion: I see Romo having a truly breakout year; there will be enough footballs to make all of his weapons happy and extremely productive. Although I’ll project Witten for less receptions, I still expect him to end up with 85+.

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