Here are five fantasy football rookies you should target in redraft leagues. Talent and situation have converged with each one of these players to make them exciting fantasy prospects even in year one.
5) Ameer Abdullah
The Lions have a crowded backfield but plug their backs in to particular roles. Abdullah struggles in pass protection, but his athleticism and aggressive style could make him an instant replacement for the Reggie Bush role in this offense. He catches the ball better than Bush and brings a compact running style similar to Ray Rice. Abdullah’s value will be even greater in PPR.
4) Nelson Agholor
The Eagles have drafted a big-time playmaker in Nelson Agholor. He is the only receiver on the roster with the skill set to fill the recently-vacated Jeremy Maclin role in Chip Kelly’s offense. Agholor doesn’t have the same straight line speed as Maclin, but he is a better route runner and can do amazing things with the ball after the catch. The combination of his versatility and the lack of playmakers in this offense will ensure that Agholor instantly gets a healthy number of targets.
3) Melvin Gordon
The Chargers traded up to get their man. Melvin Gordon is the guaranteed two down starter in San Diego, but his issues with pass protection may keep him from taking Danny Woodhead’s third down role. Gordon also struggles with patience as a runner and can make poor choices, but between the pure volume he will see and his big-play potential, he can produce similar if not greater results than Ryan Mathews did last season.
2) Amari Cooper
The Raiders made a smart decision by acquiring the ideal weapon for their talented young quarterback. Amari Cooper is the only player who brings an exciting level of consistency to the Raiders roster. He will instantly be the primary option and could have a very productive relationship with an accurate Derek Carr.
AJ Green had 65-1057-7 his rookie season with a rookie Andy Dalton. Amari Cooper could be looking at similar numbers with a second year quarterback in Derek Carr.
1) T.J. Yeldon
The Jaguars have been looking for their workhorse ever since Gus Bradley took over. Toby Gerhart didn’t pan out last season, and DeMarco Murray and Adrian Peterson were discussed but not effectively acquired as offseason additions. The Jags then turned to the draft and went after T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon is a true three down back. He catches the ball well, is good in pass protection, and runs with power while having the burst you need to be a productive workhorse back. Yeldon successfully produced via two different coordinators pro-style offenses at Alabama, out-producing the career (all three years) rushing totals of past Alabama greats: Mark Ingram (3,261), Trent Richardson (3,130) and Eddie Lacy (2,402). Finishing with 3,322 rushing yards, Yeldon’s success wasn’t just derived from that great Alabama offensive line; he had to produce without the same great blocking that his predecessors received.
2010: Ingram had three 1st Rounders
2011: Richardson had two 1st Rounders
2012: Lacy had two 1st Rounders and one 2nd Rounder
2013: Yeldon had one 2nd Rounder
2014: Yeldon had zero 1st-3rd Rounders
T.J. Yeldon doesn’t require every block to be perfect like Gerhart did to be productive; he can be productive with a healthy Jaguars offensive line. Don’t be surprised if this is the ROY in 2015.