While all the guys from the first round get all the glory, it's important to remember that most of the impact rookies for fantasy football don't come in the first round. DeMarco Murray went 71st, Roy Helu was off the board at 105, Torrey Smith at 58 and Denarius Moore at 158 were all key assets for fantasy teams last year. Before we hit on Friday and Saturday's picks, make sure you check out my analysis from the first round. OK, let's take a look at which players have great opportunities to flourish in their rookie campaign:
Rookies that might be drafted in most leagues
Coby Fleener, 34th pick by the Indianapolis Colts- The Colts got in the good graces of their franchise player by selecting his tight end from Stanford with their next pick. Fleener caught 10 touchdowns from Luck last year and really saw his stock rise after clocking in at 4.45 on the hand timer. The Colts are really thin at receiver with Reggie Wayne and only the oft-injured Austin Collie. It's not out unusual for rookie tight ends to start off their careers with bangs and as long as Fleener can learn the blocking schemes, there's a very good chance he can become a low-end TE1.
Brian Quick, 33rd pick by the St. Louis Rams- The Jaguars screwed over the Rams a little bit as they leapfrogged them in the first round to grab Justin Blackmon. Conventional wisdom would suggest that STL would have taken Blackmon, so they put that WR need on the backburner and finally struck with Quick on the second day. The Appalachian St. standout didn't have eye-popping numbers with 71 catches for 1,096 yards and 11 scores and certainly isn't even close to Blackmon for potential in the long term. While Quick isn't the most talented receiver in this class, there is absolutely no doubt that he has the best opportunity of any. Despite Sam Bradford's gigantic step back last year, even his naysayers can't rule out that he'll resemble his 2010 form.
When you're spending your late picks in drafts, it's always important to grab a guy that has big upside. Quick has a ton of it and could emerge as the best rookie WR to draft as long as we hear good news out of St. Louis on his progress because he's a little bit raw. He's a huge gamble.
Stephen Hill, 43rd pick by the New York Jets- Stephen Hill isn't Calvin Johnson and it's unbelievably annoying to hear when people compare Hill to Megatron. Just because they went to the same school and have a similar frame, doesn't mean they're the same guy. But I digress. The Jets really like Hill and Rex Ryan has already said that he'll be starting along side of Santonio Holmes. There really wasn't much of a doubt with only newly-acquired Chaz Schilens and third-down option Patrick Turner behind him on the roster.
Hill's measurable traits stack up with any receiver in this draft with a 6-foot-4 frame, a 4.35 40-yard time and tipping the scales at 205. His flabbergasting 29.3 yards per reception last year led the nation, too. How absurd is that number? Well, the second-best was just 21.3 by Jalen Sanders of Fresno State. This sounds great and all, but the Jet offense will be built on the running game. Hill's floor, by my estimation,is that he's able to score five times and pull down 40 receptions. His ceiling can be double-digit scores and 65 catches based on how Santonio has been quite the mercurial one and a suspension is always a possibility.
Mohamed Sanu, 83rd pick by the Cincinnati Bengals- Sanu steps into a fantastic opportunity with Cincy. Jerome Simpson will take his skills (and drug business) to Minnesota which opens the door wide for the Rutgers product. Furthermore, the Bengals don't figure to be as run-orientated as they have been with lackluster BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the main back. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green made some big strides last year and Sanu figures to mesh extremely well with them.
Sanu looks a lot faster on tape than his 4.62 40-time suggests. Sanu did it all for the Scarlet Knights by being the Wildcat QB as well as being their primary playmaker. He had 115 receptions to lead the Big East and was fourth-best in the country.
Robert Turbin, 106th pick by the Seattle Seahawks- Everybody loves handcuffs, right? Turbin figures to be the handcuff for MarShawn Lynch.The Utah State back is a load at 222 pounds at 5-foot-10 and ran a respectable 4.5 40-yard dash. The Seahawks showed immense improvement in their running game in the second half by allowing Beast Mode to run for 105 yards per game in the last nine contests. For what it's worth, Lynch only had 38 yards per game in his first seven. There's upside as the backup here.
Ronnie Hillman, 67th pick by the Denver Broncos- You think the Broncos would like to have that Knowshon Moreno pick back? Even before he tore his ACL, he has made it abundantly clear that he is not a back that should have been off the board in the top half of the first round. Hillman comes in and should have no problem stripping the third-down work from the Georgia Bulldog. Hillman caught 27 passes last year for the San Diego St. Aztecs and ran a 4.45 40. Hillman is really unlikely to have an immediate impact but with the likelihood of Willis McGahee getting hurt and the loads of points the Broncos can potentially put on the board, he makes for an intriguing pick for competitive leagues.
Alshon Jeffery, 45th pick by the Chicago Bears- If you followed the NFL Draft prospects all year, you might remember that Jeffery was a top-10 player by some of the expert draftniks. The Gamecock basically ate himself out of the first round with reports of him weighing 250 and running 40-yard times in the 4.8s. Jeffery's stats were almost cut in half in his junior year with just 49 receptions for 762 yards as well; that was following his breakout sophomore campaign that included 88 catches for 1,517 yards. Therefore, he slipped. As it turned out, Jeffery came in 230 and his 40-yard time was 4.47 which proved he took his job as an NFL receiver seriously.
The 6'3" wideout comes into an advantageous spot. The Bears appear to be willing to let Cutler sling the ball around more now that he is equipped with Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall and a solid young receiving corps. Jeffery should have no problem taking the X or Y next to Marshall since Earl Bennett appears to be best fit for the slot position. Marshall is such a tremendous red-zone target that we really shouldn't expect Alshon to catch many scores. There's enough upside to grab him late in your drafts based on the numerous matchups against weaker secondaries on their schedule.
Devier Posey, 68th pick by the Houston Texans- The Texans took a chance on Posey after the Buckeye only played in three games thanks to the memorabilia suspensions. Compound that with being only 6'1" and only running a 4.5 40-yard dash, and it's easy for Texans fans to scratch their heads. The opportunity is there though with Jacoby Jones likely to be released or traded, so Posey might have the inside track for the WR2 spot.
While the Texans have a potent offense, it's not like the receiver opposite Andre Johnson has been productive. Arian Foster is an absolute beast around the goal line and Owen Daniels is a very productive red-zone option. All that said, the upside with Posey lies with the propensity of Andre suffering an injury. A.J. missed nine games last year with hamstring injury (which was recurring and could be a problem for him this year) and he missed three games in 2010 as well. Posey isn't really a guy that should be drafted in anything but a deeper league.
Thanks for reading and we'll have more info on some other guys that are dark horses to have value.