Only a handful of players in the 2012 NFL Draft seem likely to merit immediate fantasy football consideration. In the draft, I prefer to treat rookies like I treat “sleepers.” They are usually only a value if they are picked relatively late in the draft. Their value should be based on their “floor,” not their “ceiling.” They are generally too risky to pick early in the draft, where you should be picking players in their primes with proven track records. If you get too cute with your “inspired” selections, you’ll end up looking like Pete Carroll. And not the USC Pete Carroll. The Seattle Pete Carroll that just managed to draft nearly everyone about two rounds too early.
With that in mind, I believe the following players at least merit consideration if they fall to you in the appropriate round.
- Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona – Floyd is in the right place at the right time. He will benefit greatly from Larry Fitzgerald‘s presence on the other side of the field. His raw ability will be enough to outmatch many of the second tier defenders that teams will usually throw his direction. If you don’t believe me, just ask Anquan Boldin, whose numbers dropped off considerably after parting ways with Fitzgerald, even though he is now the primary option in Baltimore’s offense. For fantasy purposes, I would rank him near the top of the list for #2 WR’s, likely ahead of some #1 WR’s on poor passing teams.
- Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland – I am usually very cautious about drafting rookie RB’s. (Mark Ingram certainly did not set the world on fire last year.) However, Richardson seems likely to be the primary RB in Cleveland’s offense from day one. Even relatively unpredictable primary backs have fantasy value. At the moment, I would rank Richardson near the bottom of the list of primary, non-platoon RB’s. He likely merits a bit of a bump in keeper leagues, particularly if your holdover keepers are starting to age.
- Robert Griffin, III, QB, Washington — Rookie QB’s are risky, but Griffin has the best chance to shine this year. He will have more talent around him than Andrew Luck. He also will pick up some valuable fantasy points on the ground, scrambling his way out of broken plays. For fantasy purposes, I would rank RG3 on the low side of the middle of the pack for all starting NFL QB’s.
- Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay — Martin should have every opportunity to see significant playing time in Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, at least to start the year, it may be as a platoon back with LeGarrette Blount. I would put Martin near the bottom of the list of platoon backs that merit consideration.
For now, I would leave the likes of Justin Blackmon (the team mascot may be the best QB on that roster) and Andrew Luck (basically a rookie QB on an expansion team) in the free agent pool under almost any circumstances.