There were many rookies that exceeded expectations last year and can be considered obvious early round picks this year in fantasy. Don’t forget about these 2nd year players that are also poised to impress, my sophomore sellouts:
1. Andre Ellington (RB, Arizona Cardinals): With the recent retirement of injury prone Rashard Mendenhall, Ellington has a good shot at taking over as the lead back with promising upside. This versatile weapon learned all three receiver sets this offseason and is hopeful to play an even greater role in the passing game, one that he already flourishes in. Not to mention putting on 10 pounds of muscle this spring, the reward outweighs the risk for this speed demon. Ellington led his team with 5.5 yards per carry last season and is expected to work with more touches this season, despite the offseason signing of veteran bruiser Jonathon Dwyer who may vulture some goal line carries. Andre Ellington reminds me of a younger version of Jamaal Charles, he can score from anywhere on the field. It seems very likely that he will receive and should receive at least 18 total touches a game. With his versatility, he has the potential to put up stud RB2 numbers in any format. A mediocre offensive line should lead to lots of check downs. Having veteran and experienced Carson Palmer calling the shots, the reliable hands of Larry Fitzgerald and late season stud Michael Floyd will free up space for the ground game. There will be a plentiful supporting cast for Ellington. Last season against divisional opponents (STL, SF, & SEA) Ellington had 60 total touches for 295 total yards, that’s nearly 5 yards a pop against his toughest matchups! He averaged only 10 touches a game and those totes can easily double this season.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Minnesota Vikings): Maybe trading Percy Harvin to the Seahawks won’t be so bad after all? With the 29th overall pick the Minnesota Vikings selected Cordarrelle Patterson. #84 matured throughout the course of last season and went on a run towards the end. He showed electrifying speed, quickness and big play ability especially in the return game; like a younger Percy Harvin. Although, he has been criticized for his messy routes, Minnesota brought in Norv Turner from Cleveland as their Offensive Coordinator who had recent success with WR Josh Gordon in a pitiful offense. The Vikings need to balance their run attack by having an aerial threat. Cordarrelle has the raw talent to take the pressure off of Adrian Peterson. I expect this guy to run a few back and get open down field a lot. Regardless of who earns the starting QB job in Minnesota, I am all in on this guy.
3. Giovanni Bernard (RB, Cincinnati Bengals): Gio is way too talented and can be as deadly as anybody in open space. The law firm’s days are diminishing and even though rookie Jeremy Hill may be in the mix, Gio is the guy to have in this running back committee. He fits in perfectly with this pass heavy offense. He could very well lead the league in receptions and yards amongst running backs. Look, if Marvin Lewis wants to win a damn playoff game he will have to, I repeat he will have to give this guy the ball!
4. Jordan Reed (TE, Washington Redskins): With Jay Gruden in town, look for the Redskins to take some shots with RG3 and the air attack. Even though the WR core has vastly improved by bringing on DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the middle of the field will be wide open for this young beast to roam. With a record 14 targets in one game last year, RG3 will look his way, especially in the red zone. Double-digit TD machine this year so save your TE pick and wait for him.
5. Terrance Williams (WR, Dallas Cowboys): 3rd in fantasy points for rookie WR last year and Miles Austin has moved on to Cleveland; Williams will take over as the number two wideout for Tony Romo. You already know Dez is going to draw double teams being one of the best in the league. Williams went on a little streak of his own last year grabbing 5 TD within a 6 game span during the middle of the season. Look for his stats to improve across the board.
6. Markus Wheaton (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers): They let Emmanuel Sanders walk for a reason. 2011 version of Jordy Nelson? Maybe to a lesser degree but get this guy late. Big Ben throws it more then you think.
7. Monte Ball (RB, Denver Broncos): Manning has to hand it off to somebody. The former Badger has the talent to handle the load if he can solve his fumbling issue and stay on the field. Manning draws enough attention. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of fantasy teams named Monte Ball so hard.
8. Le’Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers): He put up impressive numbers last year even though he missed some time due to injury. He is a great receiver and although Blount could vulture some touchdowns, Bell’s getting his. Strong RB2 candidate.
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/3VMNWJ
Jack Ghizoni is a fantasy football contributor at The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @CapnJack2424!