Just as NFL teams often look to rookies to help strengthen their teams, fantasy owners have grown somewhat accustomed to adding a few first-year players to their rosters on draft day. Sometimes these rookies turn out to be busts, but on some occasions — QB Sam Bradford, RB LeGarrette Blount and WR Mike Williams in 2010 come to mind — they can help carry your fantasy football team. With that in mind, Pro Football Weekly takes a look at five rookies who could make a major impact during their first season in the NFL.
The fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, Green has been praised by some as the best wideout to enter the league since Lions WR Calvin Johnson in '07. Green proved he had the speed and athleticism throughout his career at Georgia and figures to get plenty of passes thrown his way with WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco not returning. He's not quite a sure thing though, as the Bengals likely will be starting rookie QB Andy Dalton.
One of two Heisman Trophy winners on this list, Ingram is a hard-nosed runner who appears to have all the necessary skills to get it done at the next level. The problem with Ingram will be his competition. As of now, the Saints still have RBs Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory on their roster. Ingram likely will have to earn his carriers, but New Orleans would not have spent a first-round pick on Ingram if it didn't expect him to contribute right away.
Jones enters a nearly perfect situation in Atlanta. Playing with an improving quarterback in Matt Ryan and proven talent alongside him at the running back and receiver positions, Jones figures to see plenty of open looks when the season kicks off. But his talented teammates could be bad news from a fantasy perspective, as the Falcons could struggle to get Jones the ball as much as his owners wish.
Rookie quarterbacks are always risky when it comes to fantasy football. Unlike other positions, if a rookie QB isn't named the starter it's highly likely he won't see the field at all on game day. But if a player like Newton does see the field, he could do some serious damage. The draft's top overall pick was scrutinized plenty prior to going first overall, but the controversy rarely was in regards to his athletic ability. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner can pick up yards with both his arm and his legs, giving him the ability to add fantasy points in a variety of ways.
Thomas might become the Dolphins' starting running back, though the addition of Reggie Bush via trade means that Thomas likely will be sharing touches with the former Saint. There's another way the second-round pick can find his way onto the field, as well. Recruited to Kansas State as a quarterback, Thomas has the skills to effectively run the "Wildcat" in Miami.