We're close to the start of the 2015 NFL regular season. Fantasy football managers around the country are preparing and coordinating their fantasy drafts. For many, a new season means a new fantasy roster. For others, it's about the new additions to their rosters. Regardless, the NFL has a lot of new faces. There's a new draft class for fantasy owners to pick from, but they're unproven as pros and fantasy assets. For some, expectations couldn't be higher. For others, it's about making a name for themselves. Either way, there is a lot of new talent to shake up fantasy drafts.
Fantasy football itself is about projecting outcomes for any player, but rookies are a different breed. Until an NFL rookie takes his first steps on the field, we're working off of collegiate accomplishments, situation and opportunity. With that said, let's take a look at the rookies with the most potential heading into the 2015 NFL season.
To put it simply, the Chargers didn't draft Gordon in the first round of the 2015 draft just so he could ride the bench. As a team, the Chargers saw nearly 1,300 rushing yards when you take away Philip Rivers' contribution. In terms of big play ability, Gordon is the strongest option on San Diego's depth chart. However, most rookies struggle in pass protection, and according to reports, Gordon is no exception. Fellow running back Danny Woodhead may take away some of Gordon's receiving (PPR) production in 2015.
2. T.J. Yeldon, RB,
The Jaguars have been looking for a successor to, and they're hoping that Yeldon can fill that void. Yeldon was drafted in the second round, and he's reportedly fast tracking his way into Jacksonville's offense. He's a versatile back who should find no problem getting plenty of opportunity in 2015. One of the biggest knocks on Yeldon during his college career was his ball security issues, but a handful of fumbles won't discourage fantasy owners if the production is there. The Jaguars will need Yeldon to produce in the passing game. If he can succeed out of the backfield, he could end up being one of the top rookies for fantasy owners.
Let's start with this: Cooper caught 124 passes for 1,727 yards during his senior year at Alabama. It's no wonder that Cooper was the fourth overall pick of the 2015 draft. He can be used inside and outside and has the makings of a perennial high-volume target on any team he plays for. The question remains: Can the Raiders take advantage of their talented rookie? If Derek Carr can take the next step in his sophomore season, Cooper could be a PPR goldmine. Unfortunately, Cooper isn't going to be a value pick in most fantasy drafts. His current ADP is averaging in the middle of the fifth round.
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Abdullah is a shifty back whom many expect to fill the void of Reggie Bush. His size, burst and hands make him more similar to former Lions running back Jahvid Best. He may not be built for a full-time workload each week, but he has the talent to succeed in a limited role. The Lions will still lean onheavily, but Abdullah is going to complement the run game with enough touches to warrant a fantasy roster spot.
In terms of pure talent, Gurley may be the No. 1 rookie option for fantasy leagues in 2015. However, Gurley will likely miss a few regular season games before taking the field. Coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in November, Gurley will be eased into a full-time role. He's as powerful as he is quick on the field, but it remains to be seen if he can return to form after his recovery. In the meantime,will likely start for the Rams. Mason started 12 games in 2014, rushing for a respectable 765 yards on 179 carries.
Agholor has been tagged as Jeremy Maclin's successor in Philadelphia. The first-round pick will likely be utilized to extend plays and create mismatches with his quickness in the middle of the field. Head coach Chip Kelly won't hesitate to put a weapon like Agholor on the field immediately. Philadelphia is an ideal situation for someone with Agholor's skillset, so expect PPR production worthy of WR3 status right out of the gate.
The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 overallpick of 2015 will be the starter for the Titans this season. The fact that he's going to start in Week 1 is enough to warrant draft consideration by any format in fantasy football. Ideally, Mariota is incubating on your bench to start the season. While he's quick to escape pressure in the pocket, it could translate into rushing yards for fantasy owners as he benefits from defenses not being fully prepared for the newest signal-caller of the AFC South. Mariota is a physically gifted quarterback with a penchant for avoiding turnovers. We'll see how that translates in the NFL. Like any rookie, there is a lot of unknown here. However, any fantasy savvy manager knows that this could translate into surprise success. Consider him a QB2 with plenty of upside.
The Ravens have been desperate for wide receiver depth.played well in 2014 after the Ravens lost Anquan Boldin, while Torrey Smith moved to San Francisco this year. Even with both Smiths on the roster, the Ravens were lacking a big playmaker at wide receiver. Perriman may be a bit raw as a route runner, but he has the size and speed to compensate. Perriman will be a starter in Week 1. Considering the shaky production that Baltimore receivers have offered over the past year or two, it's probably best to acquire Perriman as a bench-warmer. He has every opportunity to achieve big numbers for fantasy owners, but consistency will be a concern.
The first overall pick of the 2015 draft will start for the Buccaneers in Week 1. Winston will deliver plenty of turnovers as he gets adjusted to the NFL, but he has enough established weapons around him to compensate. Winston will take plenty of chances in the passing game, and his big-play ability could make for some big weeks in fantasy. Of course, as a rookie, Winston will be a boom-or-bust prospect. He also needs to see some improvement from his offensive line. He's no more than a QB2 heading into the season, but he offers plenty of upside for anyone looking to take a risk.
It's a battle for the starting running back position in Atlanta. Coleman and Devonta Freeman have yet to separate themselves. Coleman suffered a hamstring injury during camp several weeks ago, but Freeman found himself in the same situation shortly after. Coleman is built to be a workhorse running back. He may lack some patience at times, but he's aggressive in finding lanes and finishing strong. The Falcons haven't had a 1,000-yard running back since 2011 (). Coleman will need to get a firm grip on No. 1 duties if he can reach his full potential for fantasy owners.
Johnson is an elusive running back who was drafted in the third round by the Browns. The Browns have yet to find a clear cut option as their feature back. While Johnson may be the answer, he's behind the eight ball after missing a lot of the offseason with a tweaked hamstring. It could be a slow start for owners of Johnson. However, Cleveland is notorious for adjusting with the hot hand ever since Trent Richardson was traded to the. The Browns need an every-down back, and Johnson could easily take the role provided he can recover and stay healthy.
Parker is still recovering from foot surgery. All signs point toward a Week 1 start regardless of his preparation, at least according to Miami's coaching staff. Parker is a great addition to the Dolphins' offense. Of course, his success will rely on the consistency of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Fantasy owners will need to be patient with Parker early in the season. He'll be catching up with the rest of the offense considering the fact that he missed a lot of the offseason. Parker will likely be a low-risk option at the end of fantasy drafts.
Funchess is a big receiver (6'4) who will likely be expected to take on an immediate role alongside wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Funchess' size enables him to use his body for passes in traffic. He could find himself the most effective in the middle of the field. Drops are an issue for Funchess after he committed 20 of them in his last three seasons at Michigan. However, drops don't always hinder fantasy production. He's a sleeper pick who could pay off if Benjamin can help push the Panthers' offense to the next level.
14., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Of all of the rookies in this list, Dorsett has the most speed. He was drafted in the first round by the Colts, which was an interesting choice for Indianapolis. The Colts have T.Y. Hilton, Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief atop their depth chart at the wide receiver position. However, Dorsett is a special player the Colts are determined to find opportunities for. Dorsett ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He was the favorite to beat running back Chris Johnson's record of 4.24 seconds, and while he fell short, his speed was no less coveted by NFL teams. He can attack defenses on the inside as much as the outside. Dorsett is a great dynasty option, but his immediate impact on a deep Colts roster remains the big question heading into 2015.
15., RB, Tennessee Titans
Cobb may only be a factor if everything lines up perfectly for him. Regardless, Bishop Sankey is standing between Cobb and fantasy relevance. That isn't exactly a daunting roadblock. Sankey was underwhelming his rookie season, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and managing just two touchdowns in 2014. Sankey is reportedly in better shape and improved during the offseason. Cobb is struggling with pass protection, which isn't all that surprising for a rookie. If he can fast track his development, he's worth consideration in deeper leagues, especially for Sankey owners.
Andre Ellington has yet to prove he can be an every-down back and stay healthy. Without Ellington in 2014, the Cardinals lost any sort of threat for defenses out of the backfield. With Johnson entering the mix, expect a balanced approach from Bruce Arians. Johnson has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and Arians is hinting that it may hurt Johnson's chances for a serious workload to start the season. His opportunities will increase as long as no other running backs are added t the roster. Johnson lacks the build for feature back duties, but he's a capable receiver and can make big plays in open space. He has the potential to be a viable flex option in most formats.
17., WR, Tennessee Titans
Green-Beckham is a physical specimen. At 6'5, he ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine. His incredible measurables contributed toward the Titans scooping him up early in the second round of the draft. He is undoubtedly a mismatch when he's on the field. The issue with Green-Beckham is the fact that he's a raw route runner that Tennessee will possibly ease into a starting role. The Titans have a crowded roster at the position. Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter, Hakeem Nicks andare all looking for work.
White is a promising rookie that will be tasked to fill the void left by Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately, White will start the season on the reserve/PUP list due to a stress fracture in his shin. He'll be out for at least the first six games of the season. If his availability after those six weeks was likely, he'd be higher up this list. However, indications are that White could possibly miss his entire rookie season. For now, he's ranked as a player out for half of most fantasy football seasons. White's upside is tremendous. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the, which -- along with his 6'3 frame -- makes him the ideal NFL receiver. He could be a good pickup later into the season.
19., TE, Baltimore Ravens
Unfortunately, there aren't many great rookie tight end prospects for fantasy owners in 2015. Williams is likely no exception. Williams was drafted in the second round of the draft as the Ravens continue looking for a durable playmaker at the position. Williams has struggled with the team's playbook this offseason and it's likely he won't see much playing time early on. Crockett Gillmore is likely the starter for the Ravens, but he's a second-year player with plenty to prove. Williams has impressive burst and speed at 6'7. He could be a threat up the seam and in the red zone. The question remains as to when he'll be ready to see playing time worth fantasy recognition.
Jones will be expected to move the chains behind Washington starter Alfred Morris. As a third-down back, Jones is capable of making big plays, but he'll remain a handcuff for Morris owners as long as Morris is on the field. Expect Roy Helu levels of production. Jones can get the tough yards on the ground and out of the backfield as a capable pass catcher. It remains to be seen if he can become a workhorse back.
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