By Staff Writer John Belaska
The 2014 draft was loaded with talent at the wide receiver position. Because of this, the wide outs had to have their own list. Now, we can talk about all the other players who could end up having some value in fantasy football during their rookie seasons.
Typically, these young guys are going to start out low on the depth chart and be forced to fight their way up. However, some guys have a very good chance at eventually becoming a starter at some point in the season. These are the guys you want to target for your fantasy teams. Do not waste your time with guys who do not have a real shot of putting up some points this season if you are in a redraft league.
These guys could end up being steals in your draft or end up saving your season by being awesome waiver wire pickups. They do have a shot at helping you, so it is best to know ahead of time who these rookies are. This way some other owner in your league does not take him before you do.
10. Nate Freese
Normally seventh round picks do not hold much value in the fantasy football world. In the case of Nate Freese, a kicker from Boston College, there is an opportunity to make a splash from the very start. Freese is currently second behind Jason Hanson on the Detroit Lions’ depth chart. Hanson is going into his 21st year in the league. This means his body is very fragile at this point and he could be at risk of injury or even retire before the season. These risks might give the Lions reason to start Freese over Hanson in order to give him an early taste of the NFL.
Terrance West was the Cleveland Browns’ third round pick. In college at Towson University, West proved to be one of the best running backs in FSC history. He joins the Browns as a backup to the newly acquired Ben Tate. Tate has a history of being injury prone. This could mean West will be used to supplement Tate’s carries. If Tate goes down, expect the young running back to step in.
Devonta Freeman is the newest addition to the Atlanta Falcons’ back field. The fourth round selection out of Florida State is heading into a training camp battle with Jacquizz Rodgers to claim the second spot on the depth chart. This looks good for Freeman. He may very well win this position battle. If he does, he will be an excellent handcuff for owners who have Steven Jackson on their rosters. Jackson is over thirty and was battling injuries throughout the entire 2013 season.
No rookie with any fantasy value faces nearly the climb that Teddy Bridgewater does. The quarterback out of Louisville was drafted 32nd overall by the Minnesota Vikings. Normally, first round quarterbacks have potential to be day one starters. More than likely Bridgewater will not have this opportunity. He is currently third on the depth chart behind Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. However, Bridgewater has been impressive in training camp thus far and was said to be the most NFL ready quarterback in this year’s draft class. It may look like a long shot for him to be the day one starter, but he easily could become the starting quarterback by the end of this season. With all the talent surrounding him, he could be a useful waiver wire pickup at some point.
6. Zack Hocker
Another kicker? Yes, it looks like Arkansas’ Zack Hocker may very well be the Washington Redskins’ starting kicker from day one. If this is the case, he immediately his value over any player who is ranked number two or three on a depth chart. The Redskins have been very impressed with their seveth round choice. Currently, the team’s starting kicker is Kai Forbath. Do not be surprised if that changes during training camp.
5. Jeremy Hill
Like Bridgewater, the Cincinnati Bengals’ new running back also faces an uphill battle on the depth chart. Jeremy Hill out of LSU, is currently sitting behind Giovanni Bernard and Benjarvis Green-Ellis. Hill’s competition in the two-back system is with Green-Ellis. Bernard is an outside runner and excellent pass catcher. Both Green-Ellis and the 6’1” 233 pound Jeremy Hill are tough, between the tackles runners. The Bengals drafted Hill to be this type of running back for the future. It would not be surprising if he starts getting a heavy workload at some point in the season.
4. Eric Ebron
Eric Ebron was the tenth overall selection in the 2014 draft. The North Carolina tight end landed in a good situation with the Detroit Lions. He very easily could become the Lions’ number one tight end in passing situations. The team currently has three tight ends on the roster; Ebron is the only true pass catching threat on the team. Best of all, the Lions’ offense is so loaded with weapons that defensive coordinators will not be paying very much attention to this rookie.
Johnny Manziel is being hailed Cleveland’s greatest player since Jim Brown. The Texas A&M quarterback is currently fighting for the starting job with Brian Hoyer. Hoyer opened some eyes last season with some great play. It looks like the team is set on Hoyer at the moment, but that could change anytime. After all, Hoyer has only played four games in his pro career. If Johnny is not the day one starter for the Browns, he could take over at any moment. The second Hoyer does anything wrong, Browns’ fans will be screaming for Manziel to step in.
2. Jace Amaro
At this point, it looks like Jace Amaro is going to be the New York Jets’ number one tight end. At the very least, he will be number two. This gives him some draft value for this season. Amaro was a second round pick out of Texas Tech. He was considered a first round talent, but dropped due to a below average time in the 40-yard dash. At 6’5” and 265 pounds he is a huge receiving target. He will have even more value if Geno Smith is named the starting quarterback. Young quarterbacks typically have to rely on tight ends more than veteran players.
At this point, Bishop Sankey is the only sure fire pick in fantasy drafts. The rookie out of Washington was drafted in the second round by the Tennessee Titans. The Titans do not have a viable number one running back. His only competition for the job is Shonn Greene who just underwent knee surgery. Greene might not even be ready to play by the start of the season. This leaves the door wide open for Sankey. He is a low end second running back and a very good backup at the position.