Rookies are risky to draft, you never know for sure how they will perform at the NFL level. To make matters worse, the lockout caused rookies to miss a huge piece of the training puzzle for early player development: OTA and rookie camp. Missing out on this valuable training and conditioning adds a whole new level of risk into the equation, which is why I'm using UP-SIDE as a major factor in this top 5 ranking. I recommend you target these rookies in the mid to late rounds of the draft. Many of them have an ADP much higher than I'd like to jump on, but more on that later.
Highlight the below top 5 guys on your draft cheat sheet and then don't reach early to grab them.
Daniel Thomas - Dolphins RB - 6'0, 230 lbs - ADP 61 -
Miami is a great run first offense and the simple fact that they cut Brown and Williams tells me they have a great deal of faith in Daniel Thomas. Bush will cut into carries early which is fine, gives Thomas time to acclimate and get into NFL shape. I project Thomas will get 15 to 20 carries and 1 to 3 catches per game plus the goal line work.
Mark Ingram - Saints RB - 5'9, 215 lbs - ADP 47 -
When compared to D. Thomas, Ingram comes in with a much higher draft cost with an ADP of 46. Ingram has plenty of talent and is on a great offense so he will get his chances no doubt but keep in mind he has a couple factors that add to his rookie risk.
- Huge platoon of "good" running backs - so if Ingram has any small hang ups Peyton will lean to his proven vets in a heartbeat until Ingram adjust.
- Peyton is a situational coach and I promise not ever situation will involve Ingram
With that said I feel Ingram is worth an ADP of 47 but the risk is so high with rookies I'm very hesitant to pay that price when Thomas can be had later in the draft.
Julio Jones - Falcons WR - 6'3, 220 lbs - ADP 91 -
Rookie WR are rarely productive in their rookie season do don't reach for Julio in the draft, but it's hard to deny his God given gifts. Here is what makes him #3 on my list.
- The Falcons traded, moving up more than 20 spots to grab Julio.
- Michael Turner, a great running back is always necessary for a strong pass game.
- Matt Ryan, really good QB, who has been working out with Julio at his house!
- Already pronounce the #2 WR which mean he'll get plenty of chances to show us all.
Roy Helu - Redskins RB - 6'0, 219 lbs - ADP 106 -
- Helu is a one-cut back and exceptional fit in Washington's zone blocking system. Unfortunately he is terribly raw in protection and this will cost him if it's not corrected in a hurry. Don't draft him until you have all major positions covered plus bye weeks, then go Helu - just to much risk for me until he falls just right.
Cam Newton - Panthers QB - 6'5, 248 lbs - ADP 171 -
As of right now Cam is competing for the starting gig, so add him to your personal agent to stay up-to-date on his PR. Cam has a huge amount of upside when compared to the other 4 rookies. Any QB that runs, and runs as well as Cam, is gold in fantasy football. If Cam Newton starts and can muster 1 passing TD and 1 rushing TD a game you'll wish you had him on your roster and with an ADP of 171 this guys VALUE in the draft is unreal.