Last year was a great season for rookie NFL players. I can’t remember a season when so many rookies impacted Fantasy Football leagues. It certainly sets up for more great production from Fantasy Football sophomores for 2013.
If you only listen to the talking heads, you would think that the quarterback play of last year’s rookies was the most impressive. While the Big Three had fantastic years, I think a couple of running backs did even better.
So what about this year?
How are these players going to do in 2013 and when should we draft them? I’ll rank them and share some of my stat projections, as well.
Top 12 Fantasy Football Sophomores for 2013
1. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay
Nearly 1,500 yards rushing, 11 TDs, and almost 50 receptions out of the back field in 2012 secures Martin as my top pick in 2013 for second-year players. I’m not sure he will have another 259-yd/4-TD game like he did last year against the Raiders, but he will have a very solid year. I give him 1,350 yards on the ground, 45 catches, and 9 touchdowns.
2. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland
Richardson had almost 1,000 yards last year, while averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. But he killed it catching the ball with 51 receptions averaging over 7 yards per catch. That’s pretty good considering the Browns’ air attack was null and void. Give Richardson 1,200 yards rushing, 12 TDs, and another 50-plus catch season.
3. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington
Holy smokes, where did this guy come from? If you drafted him last year and thought you were going to get 1,000 yards out of him, you’re just simply not telling the truth.
The only thing that scares me about Morris this year is that head coach Mike Shanahan tends to ride his running backs hard and then puts them up wet. If Morris has to carry the football another 335 times this year, he may not finish the season. Barring injury, I see Morris with another 1,500-yard season and 12 touchdowns. Don’t count on many receptions.
4. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis
Luck surprised a lot of us last year, not necessarily because he didn’t have talent, but because he didn’t have much talent around him. I think the Colts are better this year and will allow Luck to have another great year through the air with more TDs and fewer picks.
5. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle
Wilson had a great year on the ground last year, as well as throwing for 26 TD passes. I don’t see head coach Pete Carroll taking his legs out from under him. He will continue to get designed carries while heading an effective air attack, assuming a wide receiver will step up for the injured Percy Harvin.
Wilson is going to have a very similar stat line as last year with 2,500 passing yards, 25 touchdowns through the air, another four TDs on the ground, and around 500 rushing yards.
6. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington
RGIII had the second-best season for a rookie QB in NFL history last year. So why do I have him ranked lower than Wilson and Luck? One simple reason. There is no way he’s going to rush for 800 yards again this year.
Shanahan almost got him killed last year and with Morris as his RB, I can’t see Griffin getting the call to run the ball as much he did in 2013. He’s going to throw for more yards (3,500), more TDs (25), but not nearly as many yards on the ground (300) and fewer rushing touchdowns (4).
7. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland / Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville
Did I just put two players on the same ranking? Yes I did because they will be sharing similar fates this year with the serving of suspensions. Josh Gordon two games and Justin Blackmon will sit out four games.
Gordon will be Cleveland’s No. 1 receiver this year. In the past, that hasn’t meant much. But in Norv Turner’s offense, look for the receivers and the RBs to catch a lot of balls this year. I have Gordon with 75 catches, close to 1,000 yards, and 8 TDs.
Blackmon is the real wild card here. He has crazy talent and serious game changing capabilities. However, his off the field issues are doing just that…keeping him off the field. Hard to rack up stats when you’re in street clothes on the sidelines. If he and Blaine Gabbert can get on the same page, we could be surprised by Blackmon’s year end totals. If he doesn’t do something crazy and watches who he has dinner with, I see some pretty good stats from a guy that will only be in 12 regular season games. 800 yards, 65 catches, and 6 TDs.
8. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis
Hilton had a strong rookie year for the surprising Colts and fellow rookie Andrew Luck. Hilton only had 50 receptions last year, and while I see a player like Gordon’s receptions increasing, Hilton’s will not. He’s the “big play” guy, not a possession receiver. If you are happy with last year’s numbers from Hilton, then grab him in Round 8 or 9. He’s going to have the same year he had last year.
9. Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis
Ballard took the starting job from Donald Brown last year and had a nice season. So that means he’ll be the No. 1 RB this year, right? Not so fast. Colts signed Ahmad Bradshaw and I see the dreaded platoon situation on the horizon.
If Bradshaw goes down, though, Ballard will be getting a lot of carries in Indy. Ballard should give you close to 1,000 yards this year and 7 or 8 touchdowns.
10. Chris Givens, WR, St. Louis
Givens will be splitting targets with rookie Tavon Austin this year. Although he is widely thought of as the “go” guy for the Rams, he has also shown the ability to be a possession receiver. If the Rams can keep QB Sam Bradford upright, look for Givens to have a good year — 50 catches, 800 yards, and five TDs.
11. David Wilson, RB, N.Y. Giants
With the departure of Ahmad Bradshaw, Wilson could have a breakout season.The problem is that the Giants always seem to find away to split carries between two running backs, and you never know which one will be productive from game to game.
If he’s not being platooned with Andre Brown, this will be an amazing year for Wilson. I just don’t see head coach Tom Coughlin handing the keys to just one running back. He never does. So I predict 800 yards rushing, six touchdowns and 25 receptions.
12. Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee
Last year, Wright had 64 receptions and over 600 yards, which is nothing to sneeze at. However, the yards per catch and four touchdowns can make your eyes water a little bit. If the Titans can get the running game going and get some man coverage on Wright and Kenny Britt, we could see some big plays in Tennessee this year. Wright should, at the very least, have a similar year to last year — 70 catches, 850 yards, 6 TDs.