Last season, NFL rookies took fantasy football to new levels, as names like Robert Griffin III, Doug Martin and Trent Richardson paid off for owners who likely drafted them in the first few rounds. Prepare for disappointment in 2013, because history won't be repeating itself with the newest group of first-year players.
Will there be standout rookies this fall? Of course. But none of the latest draft picks look like they will be dominating for anyone's fantasy team right away.
Skill positions didn't encompass much of Round 1 in the 2013 NFL Draft. This was the first year a running back didn't go off the board in the first round since 1963, a telling sign to how the early stages played out. There are still plenty of rookies to monitor in preparation for fantasy drafts, though.
Here's a look at the top 10 draft picks in terms of their fantasy potential for the upcoming season.
Willis McGahee looks to be on his way out in Denver. Ronnie Hillman isn't becoming the full-time starter. Lance Ball is, well, he's Lance Ball, and that doesn't scare anyone. Knowshon Moreno is coming off knee surgery. The newest Ball on the roster can outperform this group. If he wins the starting role, expect him to be a Round 2-3 pick. Peyton Manning will feel confident handing the ball off to him around the goal line.
Sam Bradford finally has a solid weapon in the passing game. The Rams moved up to No. 8 overall to acquire Austin. He'll be targeted early and often in St. Louis, especially with Danny Amendola gone. Bradford needs a new go-to guy. Austin will be utilized in multiple ways. If they stick him to the slot, PPR leagues will be pleased with the production. Bradford needs to be kept upright (looking at you, Jake Long), but if he stays healthy, his connection will Austin will flourish.
3) Le'Veon Bell, RB, Steelers
Jonathan Dwyer is Bell's top competition right now. So, it shouldn't take much to move into the No. 1 role. Dwyer's production fluctuated throughout 2012. The Steelers gave him a chance to lock down the starting job, but he didn't take advantage. Mike Tomlin loves a strong running game. Bell should see a lot of work with a chance of becoming the featured back.
Johnathan Franklin hinders his value a bit, but Lacy was the best running back in the draft as far as talent goes. Green Bay can actually factor in a running game with these two. Lacy should be the red-zone threat, so his value is promising in the Packers' high-scoring offense.
Andre Johnson must have been relieved to see Houston finally deliver a legitimate threat to line up opposite him. DeVier Posey is coming off an Achilles injury. Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin aren't starting over Hopkins. The Texans need to utilize Nuk. Plus, Johnson has been prone to injury late in his career. If he goes down at all, Hopkins steps in as the No. 1 for Matt Schaub.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis showed glimpses of fantasy greatness during a stretch late in 2012. He's a pedestrian runner, though. Bernard is versatile and explosive, providing much more than The Law Firm can offer. The two will battle for playing time, but look for the rookie to see more action as he progresses in his first year. His big-play ability is also enticing for owners.
7) Johnathan Franklin, RB, Packers
Franklin won't be overlooked just because Green Bay drafted Lacy. They're both extremely talented runners. Scouts were reportedly wary of Lacy's injury concerns. If his toe issue plagues his rookie campaign at all, Franklin's value shoots up immediately.
DeMarco Murray is bound to get injured while walking out of the locker room. Do Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner intimidate anyone? Randle is better than both, and if/when Murray is forced to sit out, he'll be stepping in.
Woods is projected to start opposite of Stevie Johnson. An early prediction, but he should be playing flanker more often if the Bills are serious about using Johnson in the slot more. Woods' value depends on who is starting at quarterback, too. Kevin Kolb could create a combination with decent value. You're starting to reach for options here, though.
Kenny Britt is injury-prone and inconsistent. Kendall Wright is a decent slot receiver. Nate Washington is just kind of there. The Titans traded up to grab Hunter for a reason. He should be finding playing time at some point, and after drawing potential comparisons to A.J. Green, it's hard not to want to see his upside come around.