Rookies in the National Football League are often over hyped the few months after the draft and leading up to football regular season. This carries over to fantasy football leagues where they are often ranked higher than they might deserve and drafted sooner than they should be. There are those rookies that perform well and deserve to be in your fantasy football lineup but you have to be careful when drafting them too early and passing on well-established veterans. If I had to choose a few rookies that will impress and have successful debut seasons here are my choices, I will call them my 2014 Fantasy Football Pre-Season All-Rookie Team.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (ADP – N/A)
Height: 6’2” Weight: 214 College: Louisville
In the months leading up the 2014 National Football League draft, Teddy Bridgewater was a top prospect and even had some predicting he would be the first overall pick. A rough pro day hurt his draft stock and he tumbled to the last pick of the first round, 32nd overall, where he was selected by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings traded up with the Seattle Seahawks to draft Bridgewater. He was the third quarterback selected behind Blake Bortles (third pick) and Johnny Manziel (22nd pick), who were selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns respectively. Bridgewater will battle veterans Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder in the preseason for the starting position. I think he will win the job and should be penciled in as the opening day starter in Minnesota.
“That (pro day) workout is something I’ve been fighting for a couple months now. His pro day didn’t confirm what I saw on the game tape. But he needs to get stronger. Bridgewater has the intangibles; he’s smart.” — Mike Mayock
Currently Manziel is being selected more than Bridgewater in most 12 team fantasy leagues. His off the field activities have scared me a bit and I think he has a tougher time cracking the starting lineup then Bridgewater does.
My 2014 Stat Projections for Teddy Bridgewater: 2,750 passing yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 205 rushing yards, two rushing touchdown – 244 fantasy points.
Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (ADP – 39.4)
Height: 5’9” Weight: 209 College: Washington
Bishop Sankey led the Pac-12 in rushing yards last year with the Washington Huskies and was selected by the Tennessee Titans. He was drafted to replace Chris Johnson who left for the New York Jets this off-season. Sankey was the first running back selected when he was picked with the 22nd pick in the second round and 54th pick overall. He is the only rookie running back at this point that I believe will win a starting job, with Shonn Greene his only real competition.
“What he gives the Titans is not a Chris Johnson clone. He runs inside and can get to the edges. He’s a big-volume guy; he gets better with more touches.” — Charles Davis
Sankey’s ADP puts him as an early fourth-round pick along with other running backs such as Reggie Bush of the Detroit Lions, Toby Gerhart of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ryan Matthews of the San Diego Chargers, and Rashad Jennings of the New York Giants.
My 2014 Stat Projections for Bishop Sankey: 1,100 rushing yards, seven receiving touchdowns, 39 receptions, 286 receiving yards, two receiving touchdowns – 231 fantasy points.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP – 97.3)
Height: 6’1” Weight: 233 College: LSU
Selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the 23rd pick of the second round and 55th pick overall. He joins a backfield that includes 2013 rookie standout Giovani Bernard and veteran BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis appears to be the odd-man out here with Hill expecting to claim the number two running back spot and give the Bengals a lethal 1-2 punch along with Bernard. Hill rushed for 1,401 yards in 2013, the second most in LSU history, and 16 touchdowns.
“His tape against Auburn was as good a tape I saw out of a running back this year. He’s made to be a tailback in the NFL.” — Mike Mayock
Hill’s ADP puts him as an early ninth-round pick along with other running backs such as Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders, Fred Jackson of the Buffalo Bills, Khiry Robinson of the New Orleans Saints, and Knowshon Moreno of the Miami Dolphins.
My 2014 Stat Projections for Jeremy Hill: 650 rushing yards, five touchdowns, eight receptions, 50 receiving yards – 108 fantasy points
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (ADP – 93.4)
Height: 5’10” Weight: 189 College: Oregon State
The New Orleans Saints traded up with the Arizona Cardinals to select Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks with the 20th pick in the first round. Cooks was the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Winner as the best wide receiver in college football, He led the nation in receiving yards with 1,730 and led the Pac-12 in receiving touchdowns with 16. Cooks should battle second year receiver Kenny Stills for a starting job opposite Marques Colston in the Saints high powered offense. Even if Stills can hold onto his current spot, Cooks will fill the role of Lance Moore who left New Orleans for Pittsburgh.
“At 190 pounds, he was able to make a lot of people miss (while playing for Oregon State). At the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.33 40-yard dash (the second-fastest among all performers). This is a guy who catches the ball easily.” — Mike Mayock
Cooks’ ADP puts him as a late eighth-round pick along with other wide receivers such as Kendall Wright of the Tennessee Titans, Eric Decker of the New York Jets, Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Rueben Randle of the New York Giants.
My 2014 Stat Projections for Brandin Cooks: 75 receptions, 900 receiving yards, five touchdowns – 195 fantasy points.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP – 103.8)
Height: 6’5” Weight: 231 College: Texas A&M
It was not a secret the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were interested in Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans so it wasn’t a shock they selected him with the seventh overall pick in the draft. Evans was the second wide receiver selected behind Sammy Watkins who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. College teammate of Cleveland Browns first round pick Johnny Manziel, the two formed one of the best QB-WR duos in all of college football last season. Evans is slated for the second receiving spot in Tampa Bay behind Vincent Jackson, where they will form one of the tallest wide receiver duos in the game. Both Jackson and Evans measure in at six feet and five inches which will no doubt give shorter NFL cornerbacks fits for years to come.
“He’s what today’s wide receiver is all about, with the advent of back-shoulder fade, and with big wide receivers playing outside the numbers and in the red zone. The buzz word is catching radius. When paired with Vincent Jackson it’s going to be like basketball on grass.” — Mike Mayock
Evans’ ADP puts him as a mid to late pick in the ninth-round along with other receivers such as Hakeem Nicks of the Indianapolis Colts, Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs, Tavon Austin of the St. Louis Rams; and Cecil Shorts of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
My 2014 Stat Projections for Mike Evans: 65 receptions, 800 receiving yards, seven touchdowns – 187 fantasy points.
Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (ADP – 122.6)
Height: 6’4” Weight: 250 College: North Carolina
It is not very often a rookie tight end can come into the league and make an impact, this year we may see one who does. The Detroit Lions made Eric Ebron their first selection in this years’ draft, the tenth overall pick overall. Ebron set the North Carolina single season tight end records for receptions with 62 and receiving yards with 973 as well as career receptions with 112 and career receiving yards with 1,805. He will have to share the field with current Lions tight ends’ Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria but I believe he will end the season as one of Matthew Stafford’s favorite targets.
“People ask me to compare him to Vernon Davis. He’s not as quick or as twitchy as Davis, but he’s a better athlete with better hands. Everything this kid does is easy. He is one of best athletes I’ve seen at that size. When you combine him with (the Lions’ other tight ends) Joseph Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew, all of a sudden Matthew Stafford has a lot of weapons on that offense.” — Mike Mayock
My 2014 Stat Projections for Eric Ebron: 65 receptions, 740 receiving yards, eight touchdowns – 187 fantasy points.
Note: Average Draft Position (ADP) for each player is based off 12 team fantasy league mock drafts.
About the Author: Jason Culley
Jason Culley is a contributor at Sports Unbiased and a future award-winning columnist. (A guy can dream, right?!) Currently living in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he recently retired from the United States Air Force after almost 20 years of service. Originally from California and a big fan of the Oakland Raiders (from their Los Angeles days) and the San Francisco Giants, he also enjoys fantasy sports with a concentration in football but has been known to dabble in baseball.