Fantasy Football

2015 Fantasy Football: To Draft or Not to Draft — Rookie Edition

Rookies are the ultimate high-risk, high-reward players. We love their talent, but they have no NFL resume and even the brightest of scouts cannot definitely say how a prospect will perform on the next level. There are very few guys like Andrew Luck and Calvin Johnson who are can’t miss, slam dunk picks. In this article we will be going over which rookies you should draft and which you should pass on. Aside from quarterback, since it is so thin this season, we will avoid the obvious selections like Amari Cooper, Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley.

Quarterbacks

Draft

Jameis Winston, TB

Winston is not only the lone draft worthy quarterback in this year’s rookie class, he is the only legitimate first round talent as well.

I usually avoid rookie QBs since they’re so risky. There are enough talented signal callers in this league that it’s really not necessary to take one unless he’s merely a backup that you do not plan on starting unless there’s an emergency. Still, if you are going to draft one, Winston has to be your man. Despite having a below average offensive line, even after addressing the position in the draft, Winston has excellent pocket presence and a big body that makes him difficult to bring down. He can make every throw on the field and his big weapons will make it even easier on him if he needs to be bailed out.

His primary target will be the 6-foot-5, 231-pound budding superstar Mike Evans. On the other side he can target the 6-foot-5, 230-pound veteran Vincent Jackson. Not to be outdone, at tight end is Austin Seferian-Jenkins who stands 6-foot-5 and 262 pounds. Watch out for pass-catching RB Charles Sims, too; he’s in line for a breakout year in PPR leagues. As long as they can do a decent job protecting Winston, look for him to emerge as a QB2 this season.

Not to Draft

Marcus Mariota, TEN

Mariota has bust written all over him. He may be able to beat people with his legs until teams get film on him, but that is not enough to get it done. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner does not have a skill set that translates well to the next level. His arm is less than elite, and he’s never played in a pro-style offense. Oregon has a history of disappointing quarterbacks.

It doesn’t help that his offensive line isn’t great and his weapons are horrible. Kendall Wright has not lived up to expectations and Justin Hunter is yet another great athlete that hasn’t been able to put it all together in the NFL. Dorial Green-Beckham could be a star on the next level but is far from a lock, especially as a rookie. Delanie Walker is a solid TE, which is good to have as a young QB. Something else that can be a QBs best friend is a good rushing game. The Titans may have the worst RB corps in the league. They are absolutely horrendous.

Running Backs

Draft

Tevin Coleman, ATL

Coleman is a very talented and very confident young running back. He is expected to step in and immediately split carries with Devonta Freeman. He was a steal in the third round and could turn around a miserable Falcons’ rushing attack that hasn’t been the same since Michael Turner left. Last season Coleman rushed for over 2,000 yards and 15 TDs at Indiana. It would not be overly shocking if he manages to take over the RB1 spot in Atlanta by the year’s end. He is safe to draft as an RB3 with major upside.

T.J. Yeldon, JAX

Yeldon ended up being selected with the 36th-overall pick, making him the third back off the board. He steps into a situation where he can immediately be the feature back and has little to no competition for the job. Denard Robinson has talent but clearly isn’t a guy who is capable of carrying a heavy workload. Robinson will catch a good amount of passes and see some carries, nevertheless, Yeldon will be the primary ball carrier. With the exception of Gordon, no running back fell into a better situation in this draft.

Not to Draft

Ameer Abdullah, DET

Abdullah is a talented kid. Still, I’m not loving the situation in Detroit. Joique Bell is going to be the RB1 and Abdullah is expected to step into Reggie Bush’s spot. The issue is he will have to compete with Theo Riddick for the same job. Beating out Riddick is far from a sure thing. They really like Riddick in Detroit and he has experience in the system. It also doesn’t help that the Matthew Stafford is expected to air it out more this season. That means more balls deeper down field and Abdullah struggles in pass protection.

David Johnson, ARZ

The issue for Johnson is he’s just not that great and is clearly going to backup Andre Ellington. Johnson is a very good pass-catcher, unfortunately Ellington is also on the team and he’s better. As a pure runner Johnson doesn’t blow me away and that’s really what Arizona needed. He will see a decent amount of carries simply because he’s bigger and they don’t want to overload Ellington. With that said, it will take an injury for Johnson to gain fantasy relevancy. Otherwise his greatest strength will be negated by Ellington.

Wide Receivers

Draft

DeVante Parker, MIA

Parker is going to be a star in this league. If he’s not the best receiver in this class, he’s second best. I ranked him and Cooper as 1a and 1b. He also fits perfectly into the Dolphins’ offense. Parker is exactly what Ryan Tannehill needed and the perfect complement to Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. He’s 6-foot-3, 206 pounds and has the ability to beat defenders over the top or move the chains when needed. Look for him to have an immediate impact much like Landry did last season. This is quickly becoming a very talented young offense.

Devin Funchess, CAR

Funchess is a WR/TE hybrid and is going to be a matchup nightmare. Cam Newton really needed one more target and the Panthers stole him in the second round. I graded Funchess as a late first-round pick and projected him to New England at pick No. 32. A poor combine dropped his stock, however, you don’t play football in shorts with no pads on. Because of that I don’t put too much stock in the combine. At 6-foot-4, Funchess is one half of Carolina’s “Twin Towers” with the 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin. With Newton’s tendency to throw the ball high, Funchess is another perfect weapon for him. He is an excellent sleeper pick this season.

Not to Draft

Breshad Perriman, BAL

Speaking of not putting too much stock in the combine … Perriman was the worst pick in this year’s draft. Nothing aside from a 40 time at his pro day warranted him being a first or even second-round pick for that matter. His hands are among the worst in the draft and he lacks versatility. Baltimore pretty much replaced Torrey Smith with a less versatile version of himself with even worse hands. He will catch some bombs from Joe Flacco, however, he’s a lot more bust than boom.

Phillip Dorsett, IND

I love Dorsett’s talent. He is insanely fast and pretty versatile. He’s had some drop issues but overall has good hands. The issue here is he has a very similar skill set to the team’s top receiver T.Y Hilton. On top of that, he’ll also be competing with Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener for targets. He’ll be a fantasy option one day, just not this season.

Tight Ends

Draft

Clive Walford, OAK

Walford is by far the best tight end in this draft. He is much more well-rounded than a glorified receiver like Maxx Williams. He’s just as good a pass-catcher as well. His ability to block will earn him more playing time and opportunities. Also TEs like Walford tend to adjust to the pros much quicker, unlike TEs like Vernon Davis and Eric Ebron. Guys that are pure athletic pass-catchers tend to take a year or two for whatever reason. Usually the physical nature of playing with grown men throws them off their game.

Not to Draft

Jeff Heuerman, DEN

UPDATE: Out for Season (ACL)

Heuerman has been generating some buzz, mostly because he’s a tight end in a Peyton Manning offense. Drafting him based on that would be a very poor decision. First of all, he’s going to be third on the depth chart behind Owen Daniels and Virgil Green. Second, Manning’s offense is very difficult to learn and rookies rarely thrive in it. It takes a year or two to figure out the intricacies and timing. Heuerman has also never hit the plateaus of 30 receptions, 500 yards or five TDs. It’s safe to drop him completely off your draft board in all leagues, including dynasty.

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