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Ranking the top five rookies from this year's NFL draft class based on 2014 fantasy projections

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL draft has long since come and gone and apart from a few OTA storylines, we've entered a dead zone in the NFL offseason. With that being the case, it's time to talk fantasy football!

Many leagues will begin drafting in August (just over three months from now) and every fantasy owner will be debating between now and then if they should take a gamble on a rookie from this year's draft class. We're here to help.

First things first, don't be that guy and select a rookie high on draft day. Just say no.

Here's a list of my top five rookies entering draft season:

No. 1 Rookie:

Name: Sammy Watkins
Height/Weight: 6’1," 211 pounds
Drafted: 4th Overall
Team/Position: Buffalo Bills, Receiver
Bye: Week 9
Draft: Yes

Sammy Watkins will be sharing targets with Robert Woods and Mike Williams this fall, but that’s not something that should scare fantasy owners away. The only thing that should alarm potential Watkins drafters is E.J. Manuel, Watkins’ second-year quarterback. Watkins is a talented receiver, but he can only go as far as Manuel will take him. With that being the case, stay away from Watkins in the early rounds of drafts.

No. 2 Rookie:

Name: Mike Evens
Height/Weight: 6’5," 231 pounds
Drafted: 7th Overall
Team/Position: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Receiver
Bye: Week 7
Draft: Yes

With Mike Williams now out of town, Mike Evens has the potential to sit behind only Vincent Jackson on Tampa Bay’s depth chart. That’s good news for fantasy owners—there are plenty of productive WR fantasy duos in the NFL—but similarly to Watkins, it comes with a clause. Evens' quarterback, Josh McCown, filled in nicely for the Chicago Bears in 2013, but he has never been a steady starter. With McCown under center, Evens’ value is capped as a third-to-fourth receiver option, and that’s being generous.

No. 3 Rookie:

Name: Teddy Bridgewater
Height/Weight: 6’0," 207 pounds
Drafted: 32nd Overall
Team/Position: Minnesota Vikings, Quarterback
Bye: Week 10
Draft: Yes

With Adrian Peterson at running back, Teddy Bridgewater is going into an ideal fantasy situation from a run game standpoint. Athletic QB-RB duos have historically done well in fantasy football (see Michael Vick-Warrick Dunn and Tim Tebow-Willis McGahee), so Bridgewater is primed for success, at least from a rushing standpoint. That’s not the limit of his abilities, though, as Bridgewater also has a dangerous arm. Consider Bridgewater a No. 2 QB option with the potential to become starter material by mid-season.

No. 4 Rookie:

Name: Johnny Manziel
Height/Weight: 6’0," 207 pounds
Drafted: 22nd Overall
Team/Position: Cleveland Browns, Quarterback
Bye: Week 4
Draft: Yes

Johnny Manziel fits the mold of a young Tim Tebow or a veteran Mike Vick—not elite by NFL quarterbacking standards, but a solid fantasy football pickup. Manziel is an ideal No. 2 QB in all fantasy football leagues. It won’t take him long to beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job, and while losing receiver Josh Gordon for potentially the entire year hurts Manziel’s value, he’s still worth drafting in the later rounds. Manziel will have his struggles, but an interception here and there will be offset by potentially frequent rushing scores. If you can stash Johnny Football, do it.

No. 5 Rookie:

Name: Odell Beckham Jr.
Height/Weight: 5’11," 198 pounds
Drafted: 12th Overall
Team/Position: New York Giants, Receiver
Bye: Week 8
Draft: Yes

With Hakeem Nicks gone, Odell Beckham Jr. will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in New York. Though his size is less than ideal by NFL standards, Beckham has the raw talent needed to become Eli Manning’s new favorite target. Beckham is worth stashing as a reserve receiver with the potential to become a second-to-third receiver option.

Not ranked: Tight end Eric Ebron (draft with caution), wide receiver Brandin Cooks (draft with caution), receiver Kelvin Benjamin (draft in keeper leagues), and quarterback Blake Bortles (do not draft).

Agree with my rankings? Disagree? Give your take in the comments below!

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