2012 Fantasy Football: Top 10 Rookie Sleepers
What is a rookie sleeper? Robert Griffin III doesn’t fit the mold. Neither does Trent Richardson or Doug Martin. Even Justin Blackmon playing with an inept quarterback in Jacksonville doesn’t fit the mold. These guys all have clear roles, and by all accounts, should have pretty darn good rookie campaigns.
But there are some other rookies you may want to be watching, monitoring, and even drafting in fantasy football in 2012. I’ve got my favorite 10 below:
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
RG3 is the guy everyone talks about, and for good reason, but Luck is also a pretty good athlete and is arguably the better pocket passer. I know Luck is walking into a tough situation, but he actually has better than advertised talent around him. The other thing working to his advantage is Indy’s terrible defense shouldn’t be a whole lot better in 2012, due to a scheme change. Bad defense should mean Luck and co. will be trying to keep up with the opposition on a weekly basis. I like him to nail down quality QB2 value, with a shot at low-end QB1 value. If Andy Dalton was serviceable as a rookie, Luck will be, too.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns
I liken Weeden to Andy Dalton. He’s very talented, but I don’t think he has a shot at a Cam Newton-style year like RG3 or Luck could possibly have. Still, he has some interesting weapons in Greg Little and Josh Gordon that have the potential to blow up. Fellow rookie Trent Richardson won’t hurt, either. Weeden will definitely have some bumps along the way, but he has a decent chance at posting QB2 numbers as a rookie.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
The biggest thing working against Tannehill is that he’s no lock to start in 2012. In fact, he’s no lock to play a single down. Beyond that, he’s super raw and his weapons are pretty average. With that said, he has a big arm and elite athleticism for the position, so he’s a guy you have to watch. With only Matt Moore and David Garrard ahead of him, he could see the field in 2012, even if he doesn’t win the job early.
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams
I love Pead’s blend of speed and power. He’s a dynamic, versatile back that is one Steve Jackson injury away from possibly boasting RB1 fantasy digits. I think S-Jax holds up this year, but Peads is a must-have handcuff and would see his value shoot through the roof if given the chance to get major touches.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, Denver Broncos
Hillman is second-fiddle to Willis McGahee to start his career, so he probably won’t have crazy value unless McGahee is hurt or ineffective. However, he’s a speedy back with nice explosiveness, and he actually better suits a Peyton Manning-type offense than McGahee does. He could see action on third downs early, and has sleeper potential for later in the year. McGahee owners would be smart to add him to their roster.
Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Turbin was a hot name right when Marshan Lynch first got a DUI this summer, but has since cooled off. I love his blend of size, speed and power, and if Lynch goes down ever, he is definitely going to be a guy to own. He should be Lynch’s top backup during the season, and is a solid handcuff for Lynch owners.
Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Normally I wouldn’t say Floyd fits as a rookie sleeper. He’s a first round pick and his combination of size, speed and ball skills rivals Justin Blackmon. However, he’s starting his career as the Cardinals #4 option, and he hasn’t done much yet to separate himself from his main competition, number two option Andre Roberts. He might not beat him out for that job until mid-season, but he’s still going to be worth a late-round flier in drafts. Trust me.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
I was praising slot man Josh Cooper earlier this summer, but it’s second-round supplemental pick Gordon that is getting my hype now. Greg Little is really the only reliable Browns receiver these days, and Gordon has great size and speed. He’s raw and has a sketchy environment in terms of proven talent, but he has a very high ceiling. Watch him in preseason and take a shot on him late if he starts showing up.
Danny Coale, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Coale has missed a good portion of the summer with a broken foot, but I still like the 5th-round pick to win the Cowboys’ number three wide receiver job. He’s got a lot of bodies competing, but none have his hands, route-running and reliable play-making ability. His ceiling isn’t the highest, but he gets the job done and could easily turn into a very solid slot man. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be a guy to watch.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Coby Fleener is the top rookie tight end because he was the first one taken, but fellow rookie tight end and teammate Allen could actually out-perform him. I wouldn’t necessarily bank on it, but I love Allen’s balance and play-making ability for his size. He blocks better than Fleener and is bigger and stronger with solid athleticism. I still think Fleener is the better fantasy bet, but I think Allen will shock some people as a rookie.