If you play in a dynasty league, you are probably already starting to prepare for you upcoming 2013 Fantasy Football Rookie-Only draft.
If your league mirrors most dynasty leagues, your rookie-only draft likely takes place after the actual 2013 NFL Draft, which gives you time to react and reorganize after all of the rookies find their NFL landing spots. If your league drafts before April’s NFL Draft, well, hopefully the mock draft below, and the analysis below that, can help you navigate through each player’s potential and upside. Just know that things will change quite a bit once these rookies have homes; landing spots are sometimes half the battle when it comes to fantasy value, and any one of the names listed below, or even not mentioned below, could jump straight to the top, that’s how important situation is when it comes to fantasy production.
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Rookie-Only Mock Draft – 2013
1.01 – Montee Ball (Smitty)
1.02 – Marcus Lattimore (greatprodigy)
1.03 – Giovanni Bernard (WTCM)
1.04 – Keenan Allen (bdd)
1.05 – Le’Veon Bell (greatprodigy)[level-all]
1.06 – Eddie Lacy (WTCM)
1.07 – Knile Davis (Smitty)
1.08 – Cordarrelle Patterson (BDD)
1.09 – Andre Ellington (TheHiddenOne)
1.10 – Zac Stacy (RBF)
1.11 – DeAndre Hopkins – (WTCM)
1.12 – Justin Hunter (BDD)
Before breaking down the above fantasy football rookie-only mock draft, I want to again stress that a lot of assumptions are being made here, and almost every single one of the players listed above, and some players not even listed, have the ability to go 1.01 in your rookie draft. Situations are that important. Think about players like Arian Foster, who went undrafted in many 2009 fantasy football rookie-only drafts. And, don’t get me wrong, I love Foster, in fact you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that predicted bolder things than I did entering Foster’s 2010 breakout season… but, let’s be honest, Foster wouldn’t be near the fantasy beast that he is today in many other situations outside of Houston… In fact, Foster may have never found the chance to start in the NFL if he had gone elsewhere on draft day, as every team doubted him enough to let him go undrafted. That’s right, if you didn’t know, Foster was the 24th-ranked runner heading into the 2009 NFL Draft, and he was a projected 6th-round pick… but he went undrafted. His situation in Houston was, and still is, ideal, and his offense has been built around the rushing attack since Foster was inserted into it back in 2010. My point is, situation rules, and often even over talent… and when talent and good situation collide, you’re left with the Arian Foster and Priest Holmes-type fantasy backs, rushers that, I’m sorry, wouldn’t be/have been near the fantasy beasts that they are/were in other situations, or environments. So, back to Montee Ball, he could be the 1.01 in all rookie drafts come fantasy draft day, or he could be the 1.12… only time will tell, and until time tells, we only have speculation and guesswork to work with. I, for now, and predicting that an NFL team drafts Ball to start, and in the right spot, I think top 5-10RB numbers are in the cards. Ball has all of the tools needed to be an elite fantasy football running back — For a more detailed write-up on Ball, check out this detailed Montee Ball Scouting Report.
What do we do with Marcus Lattimore? Do fantasy owners draft him as high as 1.02 or 1.03 and stash him away for 2014 and beyond? Does he even have a shot to play in 2013? These are all great questions, and unfortunately we are way too far away from Week 1 to know how healthy Lattimore will be come September. At the combine, it was reported he was way ahead of schedule, but news just broke that suggests that a 2013 return is now in question. It’s all guesswork right now! My advice to anyone considering investing in Lattimore is to snag him the moment you feel the rookies are getting iffy. Meaning, if you feel that two-to-three rushers and one wide receiver are as close to absolute locks as they come, draft all those players first, then scoop up Lattimore the moment you feel you’re taking stabs in the dark. Lattimore is talented enough to be worth that first stab in the dark that you make. So, for me, and again things could change with landing spots, I envision two, maybe three, backs looking more attractive than Lattimore, only because we have to weigh all three of: 1) immediate impact, 2) situation and 3) risk. Then, I see one receiver, maybe two, looking like eventual top 10 fantasy talents… past that, though, I think we’re looking at a bunch of players that have talent, but possibly face situational obstacles… that’s when I strike on Lattimore. Why? The upside. Yes, as I write here, his knee injury is a huge concern, and it was a brutal injury! However, he is young, and before the injury he was on the road to elite… I just think he is worth a shot in that middle-to-late first-round when things even get close to cloudy.
Giovanni Bernard is an interesting prospect, he really is. I keep hearing all kinds of Ray Rice comparisons, but he is about 10 pounds lighter, and he just plays so much smaller if you watch footage on him. I will admit that he is a player that could very well grow on me, so know that. However, for now, I’m not so sure he stands out as one of the top 1-2 fantasy rushers coming out of this 2013 draft class. It’s early on, though, one shouldn’t rule out anything, and things especially change as we near Pro Days and the 2013 NFL Draft. Bernard is for sure a player to monitor, and situation could instantly turn him into a top three overall rookie pick.
Keenan Allen is another interesting prospect this early on in the rookie evaluation process. He absolutely has the upside to be the top fantasy wide receiver coming out of this draft class, but he also has the injury risk and red flags to never amount to much. I do think that this receiver class is strong in 2013, and I think 1-2 of these 2013 receivers can be as elite as they come, but at this point, I’m not so sure that one of those two is named Keenan Allen.
Two weeks ago, Le’Veon Bell and Knile Davis were two runners that weren’t even close to being inside my top 1-3 for 2013 rookie rushers… I admit it. Thinking that anyone should have their rookie rankings and scouting ironed out in February is nuts. Assuming that both Davis and Bell will for sure stay inside my top 1-3RBs is also nuts. Look, here at DraftCalc, we dive into this stuff way ahead of most, and anytime you attack fantasy football as early as we do, or have year-round rankings, you’re going to have waves of change and adjustments, that’s just how it is! For now, though, and league-wide perception could absolutely change my stance (as opportunity is needed for success), I have both Bell and Davis pegged as monster rookie sleepers moving forward. You can find more on this, and some video footage on both backs, here.
I make it relatively clear in my rookie running back analysis article how much I doubt Eddie Lacy, but belief by NFL coaches and a good landing spot could have Lacy, by default, looking more and more promising heading into 2013. That said, even if he is drafted to start, and even if his 2013 outlook ends up looking strong (both very possible), I am not sold long-term, and if Lacy is the best option on the board during any of my drafts, well, I’ll draft him, but then look to sell him high. I just don’t feel it long-term, and I don’t see his running style holding up for multiple years.
As for the rest of the first-round mock above, there are some big sleepers slotted in that 1.08 to 1.12 range. Cordarrelle Patterson (1.08) has Terrell Owens upside, with almost a touch of Reggie Bush, which is a flat-out dominate combination. It’s almost an unheard of combination, actually… Is he too raw, though? With almost no experience or resume, can he be trusted? Will his crafty style ever translate at that next level, or are we looking at a utility player that never makes the kind of fantasy splash most are hoping for? I think landing spot will determine where we all need to grab Patterson so that risk doesn’t outweigh reward.
And, Andre Ellington is getting overlooked right now because he got hurt during the 2013 NFL Combine and didn’t have a chance to impress. If he can have a great Pro Day, it’s possible that NFL teams start taking an interest, which will surely increase his rookie draft stock in both real life and fantasy.
If there is a player in this draft that has a chance at being as good as a Julio Jones-type, it’s DeAndre Hopkins. Will NFL coaches agree, or will one team agree? All it takes is one team to believe and we could be looking at the next top 5-10 fantasy receiver. Of course, all it takes is 32 teams to doubt him and place him in a bad situation, but lets hope that doesn’t happen, because I see elite when I watch this kid play football. He is a combination of AJ Green and Julio!
If you take anything away from this article it should be this… things change fast, and they will begin to change even faster as we near April’s 2013 NFL Draft. Don’t lock into any kind of thinking thus far when it comes to the rookies, and don’t cement any one rookie into any slot as we head into March. So much can, and will, change! Comment, predict and talk anything rookie-related below!