Rookies can have a big impact on your team, especially in contrast to how late you can grab them in your league draft. You’re not always going to get a Cam Newton, but a player you can rely on for your bye-week or when one of your starters goes down with injury is certainly hiding among the newcomers of the 2012-2013 season.
Who among the new draft class will prove to be a force in their first season and what can you expect from them? Here’s a look at a few of 2011’s notable rookies, their typical fantasy results, as well as their class of 2012 counterparts.
Cam Newton (QB)
NFL Draft: 1st Round, 1st Pick
ADP: 14th Round, 11th Pick
Overall Positional Rank: 4th among QBs
Total Fantasy Points: 370
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Robert Griffin III
Newton ended as a top 5 QB in 2011-2012. He already had the league’s attention based on an excellent college career but few could have predicted such success in his rookie year. It didn’t take a huge risk to pick him up in the later rounds of the draft and those who did were rewarded nicely.
Expecting RG3 to repeat in Newton’s footsteps would be a stretch but with similar play styles, Griffin may come in handy as a backup QB in case your starter just isn’t getting it done.
A.J. Green (WR)
NFL Draft: 1st Round, 4th Pick
ADP: 8th Round, 4th Pick
Who else could you have drafted: Jordy Nelson, Steve Smith
Overall Positional Rank: 14th among WRs
Total Fantasy Points: 153
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Justin Blackmon
Green had a terrific year, especially when you consider the fact that he had a fellow rookie throwing to him. He did not disappoint his owners, finishing with 7 TDs and over 1,000 yards.
Julio Jones (WR)
NFL Draft: 1st Round, 6th Pick
ADP: 6th Round, 8th Pick
Who else could you have drafted: Nate Washington, Laurent Robinson
Overall Positional Rank: 17th among WRs
Total Fantasy Points: 150
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Justin Blackmon
Fantasy owners were pretty high on Jones early on, as evidenced by his ADP coming in the 6th round, several places higher than the next rookie WR Greg Little, who had an ADP falling in the 12th round. He looked solid early on but injury put a damper on what was shaping up to be a monstrous season. Still, Jones really turned on the heat in the latter half of the year, finishing with 8 TDs and just shy of 1,000 yards.
A comparison between Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Justin Blackmon isn’t completely out of the question. Blackmon should expect a decent number of targets, especially if MJD continues to hold out into the season, and he may be a steal late in some drafts. Don’t reach too early though; he has Blaine Gabbert throwing to him.
Mark Ingram (RB)
NFL Draft: 1st Round, 28th Pick
ADP: 5th Round, 5th Pick
Who else could you have drafted: Marshawn Lynch, Willis McGahee, Ben Tate
Overall Positional Rank: 45th among RBs
Total Fantasy Points: 82
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Doug Martin
Ingram didn’t live up to the high expectations people set for him coming into the season. After missing 6 games, he ended the year with 474 years on 122 attempts, resulting in a lackluster 3.9 yards per carry. Not great, considering his average selection by fantasy owners in the 5th round, largely in part due to the shallowness of the RB player pool.
Tampa Bay’s rookie RB Doug Martin won’t have much competition for the starting spot, and unlike Ingram, the Bucs don’t have one of the best QBs in the league, leaving a lot of upside potential for Martin to be a great pick in his first year.
Andy Dalton (QB)
NFL Draft: 2nd Round, 35th Pick
Overall Positional Rank: 17th among QBs
Total Fantasy Points: 211
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Andrew Luck
There are a lot of great veteran quarterbacks out there, but it’s always nice to see the next generation come on strong right out of the gate. Though he doesn’t have the flare of Newton, Andy Dalton had a solid first season, finishing 17that the position. Going undrafted in most fantasy leagues, Dalton was a steal particularly for those unlucky enough to have grabbed Peyton Manning and a throwaway backup QB.
Luck has the potential to be the league’s best, according to some. Whether he lives up to the hype in his first season is uncertain.
DeMarco Murray (RB)
NFL Draft: 3rd Round, 71st Pick
ADP: 15th Round, 4th Pick
Overall Positional Rank: 31st among RBs
Total Fantasy Points: 119.8
2012-2013 Rookie Comparison: Trent Richardson
Though he raised eyebrows before the season, most people didn’t have DeMarco Murray on their radar, given that he was third string RB to start the season. That all changed when Felix Jones went down to injury, resulting in Murray rushing for over 250 yards in a single game. An ankle injury cut his record-breaking run short but hopefully he can pick up where he left off.
Trent Richardson is poised to become an elite running back in this league (fantasy owners seem to agree, giving Richardson an ADP in the early 2nd round). That said, he’s already suffered a pre-season setback, undergoing minor knee surgery, so caution is advised on how early you pick him up.