By Robert Woolf

The NFL Draft has came and went and it was an exciting one. OT Eric Fisher from Central Michigan became the first pick when the Kansas City Chiefs selected him. Now we have to start to look ahead to something everyone loves, Fantasy Football. It should be interesting to see how former rookie fantasy stars, such as Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson, change and get better. Now the million-dollar question is, which rookie will step up and be great this year?

10. Montee Ball, RB Denver Broncos

When Denver selected Montee Ball in the draft, his fantasy impact shot up immediately. With a couple injury prone running backs in Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno, don’t be surprised to see Ball take over the majority of carries. Ball was great at Wisconsin, running for over 5,000 yards. He was also productive in the passing game, with 6 receiving TD’s in his Junior year, which will help him even more with Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

9. Tyler Eifert, TE Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals selected Tyler Eifert with the 21st overall pick. The TE from Notre Dame had almost 700 yards and 4 TD’s with Everett Golson throwing the ball to him. Now with Pro-Bowler Andy Dalton throwing the ball to him, there is a chance for a great year. The only negative is A.J. Green who had over 1300 yards and 11 TD’s last year and was one of the most productive fantasy receivers.

 

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8. Geno Smith, QB New York Jets

QB’s like Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, and even Tim Tebow have one thing in common. They are all young, mobile QB’s who are great for fantasy and I see no reason Geno Smith can’t join that group. After not being taken the first day of the draft, the Jets selected him with the 39th pick. He was a great passer at West Virginia, but some credit has to be given to Tavon Austin for that. But as a mobile quarterback and a passer, Geno can have a great season.

7. Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee Titans

Hunter was just as, if not more, talented than Cordarrelle Patterson at Tennessee. This past year, Hunter had more yards and TD’s than Patterson. But there is one big reason I like Patterson more. Tennessee has a great talented receiver in Kenny Britt, a good free-agent signing in Delanie Walker, a few decent backup receivers, and two good running backs in Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene. With all these good players, I don’t see Hunter getting the touches he deserves.

6. Eddie Lacy, RB Green Bay Packers

The Packers offense was very one-dimensional last year. Aaron Rodgers had a great year with good receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Greg Jennings, and Randall Cobb. Their running game went from OK, to bad, to worse after Alex Green, Cedric Benson, and James Starks all went out with injuries. They brought back Ryan Grant and tried out DuJuan Harris. Both weren’t terrible, but they weren’t the Packers needed. Now that they brought in Eddie Lacy, who ran for over 1300 yards in the SEC against great defenses, the Packers became more rounded as a team. Look for Lacy to be the Week 1 starter, and take most of the carries. The only reason I’m skeptical is that the Packers also drafted Johnathan Franklin from UCLA, who might share carries with Lacy.

5. Keenan Allen, WR San Diego Chargers

After big free-agent Robert Meachem had a disappointing year last season, Keenan Allen was brought in for some competition. Allen was a great receiver at Cal and finished with just under 1000 yards and 6 TD’s last year. He has great hands and has a chance to become the Chargers number 1 receiver by the start of the season. Allen is also dangerous on kick and punt returns, and could help a team who is known to have the worst special teams in the league.

4. Le’Veon Ball, RB Pittsburgh Steelers

Some of the most productive fantasy running backs are one that people call “vultures”. Like Mike Tolbert and Brandon Jacobs, these backs come in and score goal line touchdowns to get your team points. In addition to vulturing some TD’s from either Jonathan Dwyer or Isaac Redman, if he has a good training camp, Bell could also handle most of the carries for the Steelers this year. With Big Ben still possibly recovering from an injury, Bell could have lots of yards and push it in on the goal line stands.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Minnesota Vikings

Now we get to the other Tennessee receiver in Cordarrelle Patterson. It’s true that Hunter had better stats in college, but you can’t only look at stats. Patterson has more big play potential as a down-field receiver that QB’s love so much. He is also primed to start, behind an older and injured Greg Jennings who probably won’t be as good now seeing he doesn;t have a QB named Aaron Rodgers or Brett Favre. Patterson is also a good return man who had a 98 yard kickoff return for a TD in his only college season.  The only thing working against him is Adrian Peterson who ran for over 2000 yards last year. Besides that, all signs point to Patterson for having a great year in fantasy.

2. DeAndre Hopkins, WR Houston Texans
Matt Schaub has seen a decrease in his stats over the past couple of years with Jacoby Jones going to Baltimore and the fact that tight end Owen Daniels has missed 15 games in the last 4 years. However, Andre Johnson has continued to be one of the most productive receivers. But what happens when a good corner on him? Schaub tends to shy away. Against Darrelle Revis and the Jets in 2009, Andre only put up 32 yards, while Joel Dreessen put up over 100 yards. Now that they took receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Clemson in the draft and they face good corners such as Richard Sherman and Vontae Davis, expect a great rookie season from Hopkins.

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1. Tavon Austin, WR St. Louis Rams

Last year might have been the year of the quarterback for rookies in fantasy football, but this year could be the year of the wide receiver. 28 receivers were taken which is the third most behind defensive ends (30) and cornerbacks (29). The first taken was Tavon Austin from West Virginia. Now that the Rams lost Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, and Steven Jackson, who was a pretty good pass catcher, Sam Bradford is looking for a new receiver. That man is Tavon Austin. He ended his career at West Virginia with 288 catches for 3413 yards and 29 TD’s. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the combine, second only to Olympian Marquise Goodwin. Austin will play receiver, line up at running back, return kicks and punts, and who knows what else. With all these things going for him and not a lot going against him, he could have a monster fantasy year.

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