Top 12 Rookies in Fantasy Football 2011

A.J. GreenWell the draft is all over, and here I’ll explain my Top 12 fantasy options in this year’s Rookie class.

1. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (4th Overall)

He’s target number 1 for anyone looking to take a rookie in this year’s fantasy draft. With easily the most raw talent of anyone here, all that can stop him is QB drama. But with T.O. and Ochocinco most likely gone, only upstart Jerome Simpson can get in Green’s way. Pick this guy up, and you might well have the next Megatron on your hands.

2. Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins (62nd Overall)

Sure, he may have been the fifth running back taken, but he seems to me the most likely to provide a consistent fantasy impact in 2011. With both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams moving away from their prime, Thomas is in a perfect position to snatch up a starting role, and will have little passing attack to compete with. When the Dolphins do pass, Thomas can still be a part of that (he was a pass-catching threat out of the backfield in his college days), and he even has some college experience in the Wildcat.

3. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (6th Overall)

It’s really confusing to me that the Falcons gave up so much to pick Jones at this spot, but they must have done so for a reason. With Jones and Roddy White, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has the best wideout tandem in the league to throw the ball at. The question is, how will Jones’ numbers stack up as an individual fantasy score? It’ll also be interesting to see whether White’s numbers are affected positively or negatively. He’ll have less coverage on him specifically, but Jones could eat into his targets.

4. Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints (28th Overall)

Ingram might have been the number one running back taken off the board, but he’s been drafted to a team that already has three decent backfield threats in Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Chris Ivory (although it’s doubtful all three will still be there when the next season rolls around). When you add to that the fact that the Saints are usually more likely to score their points and gain their yards through the arm of Drew Brees, Ingram’s value in 2011 fantasy drafts is definitely questionable.

5. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions (57th Overall)

Mikel Leshoure

Mikel Leshoure

He got taken after three other running backs, but pre-draft, many had him as their number one or number two back. With Kevin Smith a free agent, the Lions looked to sure up their backfield with this pick, and all Jahvid Best owners should have cringed with it. Leshoure has amazing hands, and should see a fair few snaps this season.

6. Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals (38th Overall)

Some experts saw Williams as the best running back in the draft, and he was just the second taken. Beanie Wells was taken in the first round in 2009, but many think his days are numbered. Tim Hightower has had his moments, but he’s never been the guy in Arizona. He’s a high-risk/high-reward fantasy back; if you’re already solid at running back and you’ve filled your roster, he’s a nice back to have on your bench.

7. Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans (8th Overall)

Locker was the eighth overall pick, and was taken ahead of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, which came as something of a surprise to most experts. It’s no lock that he’ll start at the position, but if he does he’ll be in quite a nice situation for a rookie QB. With a great offensive line, a top-tier running back and a solid receiving corps, he might be a solid player in 2011. Don’t draft him though, let him sit in free agency until he’s proven.

8. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (1st Overall)

Newton is one of those annoying players who has the potential to be explosive (and therefore a serious fantasy football commodity). The problem is, there will be someone in your league who will absolutely fall in love with him, and so if you want him, you’ll have to use too high-a-draft pick to do so. So steer clear. He might not even get the starting job (although he probably will), and the team surrounding him isn’t fantastic.

Jonathan Baldwin

Jonathan Baldwin

9. Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (26th Overall)

The Chiefs add to an offensive arsenal that already features Cassel throwing to Dwayne Bowe and Tony Moeaki, as well as handing off to Jamaal Charles. Baldwin might find it a little tough fitting in somewhere in this system, but at 6’5″, 230lbs, I’m sure he’ll find his way eventually.

10. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Washington Redskins (79th Overall)

Sure, he was picked in the third round, but Mel Kiper had him as his third-ranked wide receiver headed into the draft, and heck – who’s he got to compete with in Washington at the receiver slot? Santana Moss isn’t hanging around, and Anthony Armstrong can’t handle a WR1 load. The only problem is, who will throw it to him…

11. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars (10th Overall)

Gabbert isn’t really worth a spot on your fantasy team this year because he’ll still be behind David Garrard for the starting job. Dynasty leaguers could take a shot at him, though – many experts thought he was the most talented QB in this draft class.

12. Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings (12th Overall)

Ponder enters into a situation almost as nice as Jake Locker’s: great running back, solid offensive line, good receivers. He’s just nowhere near as good as Locker, and you’d have to be in a 32-team league before you’d consider him as your quarterback this year.

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4 Responses to “Top 12 Rookies in Fantasy Football 2011”

  1. […] To read the other 10, head over to my article at! […]

  2. AC Slater says:

    What do you think about Helu Nenu from Washington?

    • Helu (picked 8th in the fourth round, 105th overall) was the ninth running back taken off the board, and wrote that he had the size and speed to be a decent backup running back, but will probably not be able to carry a full load.

      Washington is by far not the worst landing spot for Helu, and I’m sure he’ll be relevant at some point this season (knowing their backfield). I wouldn’t draft him though.

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