The 2013 fantasy football rookie class wasn’t quite as sexy as the 2012 version. Doug Martin, Alfred Morris, Trent Richardson, RG III, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson. Now, some of those players fell victim to the sophomore slump and some of this year’s best may fall in that category next year as well.
In what is turning into a passing league, the majority of the best 2013 fantasy football rookies were running backs. Even with last year being the first NFL draft since 1963 where a back wasn’t taken in the first round.
So let’s reward the rooks for their season this year, and take a look at what we can expect from them this time next season.
Top 10 2013 Fantasy Football Rookies
1. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers – Just weeks before Peyton Manning kicked off the NFL season by lighting up the defending Super Bowl Champion Ravens, I told you… ‘I love me some Eddie Lacy!’ Yet, he was my third highest ranked rookie heading into the 2013 fantasy football season – behind Bell and Ball.
I loved Lacy’s style when he played with Alabama, but he was banged up coming into his rookie season. James Starks was still around and when Green Bay drafted a second back (Jonathan Franklin), it made you think Lacy wouldn’t be the horse. Oh boy… was I wrong. That’s exactly what this guy was… a HORSE! He ran over defences just as he did with ‘Bama.
Lacy really found his groove when he returned from missing a game with a concussion. Lacy had at least 20 carries in 10 of his last 13 games on way to 284 on the season, good for fourth most in the league.
Some might say that Eddie ran a lot because Aaron Rodgers missed 7 games with an injury, but that’s not the case. When Lacy returned from injury he averaged 99 rushing yards per game (4) with Rodgers as his quarterback. Nothing should change next season. Lacy is a first round talent next season.
2. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis Rams – Stacy was a waiver wire beauty. Each year there are always a couple waiver wire gems out there and Stacy was this year’s winner. Zac had one carry in the first four weeks while playing only nine snaps up until Week 5. It was there where he earned the nickname Zac-Attack.
The Rams averaged less than 50 yards per game on the ground through the first four weeks of the season. Clearly, it was a difficult time adjusting to life without Steven Jackson (who posted 1,000-yard seasons like clockwork). It took some time, five weeks to be exact, for Stacy to prove his worth: 973 yards on 250 carries and 26 grabs for 141 more with a total of eight touchdowns.
Stacy sored touchdowns in Weeks 10,11 and 12. Not to mention 14,15 and 16. Talk about fantasy football playoff clutch! Rams have a lot of picks next year, but don’t worry…Stacey isn’t going anywhere.
3. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers – Bell ran for 860 yards in only 13 games this season. Another back who posted terrific postseason numbers. Bell was my rookie of choice heading into the 2013 fantasy football season, but he injured his foot in the preseason and was forced to miss three games. Bell still finished with 244 carries.
What is impressive with Bell is the yards after contact plus his 45 receptions for another 405 yards. All of this behind a shaky Steelers O line. Bell improved as the season went along, finishing with over 4 yards per carry in four of his last five games. He has no competition in Pittsburgh and might be the top sophomore back to take in 2014. If he didn’t miss time he would have had 1,000 yards and double-digit scores easily. He’ll come to camp healthy next season, and should be the same high volume back next year. With a commitment to improving the offensive line in Pittsburgh expected, Ball could produce even better results in his sophomore campaign.
4. Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers – Here is another fantasy football waiver wire stud. Keenan Allen was fun to watch this season and in the playoffs too where he scored twice against the Broncos. If you were lucky enough to claim Allen in time for your fantasy football postseason then there’s a good chance you made a nice run.
Allen had five of his eight touchdowns from Week 14-16. He finished with over a 100 yards in a game five times and was the only rookie wideout to top 1000 yards on the season, finishing with 70 catches and 1046 yards.
Allen had six catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns against Denver in the Divisional round on Sunday.
Keenan Allen: 1st rookie with 100+ receiving yards and 2 TD receptions in a playoff game since Willie Green vs Cowboys in 1992
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2014
Keenan Allen will be even better next year. Consider Malcolm Floyd kind of useless.
5. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals – Gio won’t reach his fantasy potential until the Bengals stop relying on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Bernard showed flashes last season, but he isn’t an RB1 just yet. He is my least favorite rookie back of the bunch because of the timeshare in Cinci, but Bernard will get there and it may be sooner rather than later.
Hue Jackson will move from running back coach to offensive coordinator in 2014. We can only hope that means more touches for Gio moving forward. There is also talk that Jackson may lure Raiders running back Darren McFadden to town, reuniting the two from their days out West. One thing is for sure, Jackson says he wants to run the football more. McFadden coming to town will almost certainly result in Gio being a feature back when he goes down hurt.
6. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings - Fantasy Stalk Watch featured Patterson and how what we saw from him towards the end of the season is something we can expect next season as well. Much wasn’t expected from Patterson in his first year as he spent only one season playing College ball, but he had all the potential to be a big time player in the future. The perfect keeper. In some leagues, I bet this Patterson rotted on the waiver wire.
A beast in the open field. Patterson finished second in yardage as a kick returner and he will be given every opportunity to be among the top next year too. His two kick return touchdowns give him more value in certain leagues. Patterson managed only 28 targets through the first 10 weeks of the season, and then the Vikings figured it out and made him the 15th best fantasy wide out over the last seven weeks while collecting a total of 44 targets. Three rushing touchdowns, four in the air while returning two… all in the final weeks. Get this guy a quarterback would ya? Then get him the ball in open space! The new offense in Minnesota should look to do just that next year.
7. Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints – If anything, Stills showed he can make big plays. With Brees as his quarterback there is always the potential of big play points which makes him exciting. He still needs to show me more in order for me to draft him with confidence. Just because his quarterback is Brees doesn’t make me love him. I tried that already with Lance Moore… didn’t work out the way I wanted it too.
8. Terrance Williams, WR, Dallas Cowboys – Williams found the end zone in four consecutive weeks, clearly surpassing Miles Austin as the No. 2 receiver. There is no need to reach for Williams next season and his production near the end, or lack there of, will tell you that. He will be opposite of Dez Bryant for a long time and that makes him a sexy sleeper. Williams caught 44 passes for 736 receiving yards, the third most among rookies.
9. Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams – Austin showed us flashes. In Week 10 he went for 138 yards and two scores, but aside from that Austin didn’t do anything special. He has all the talent in the world to improve on his rookie season. He’ll need a steady quarterback to get him the ball in open space. Austin had five plays of 50 yards or more and four touchdowns between Weeks 11-14. His season ended early after an ankle injury in Week 14, but his role really picked up in the latter half of the season, suggesting that the Rams may try to get him more involved in ’14.
10. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins – Reed gets a mention because he was leading all rookie tight ends with 45 grabs and 499 yards when he suffered a concussion in Week 11. He still finished the year in Washington as the team’s second-leading receiver.
2013 Fantasy Football Rookies: Honorable mentions
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans – I consider Hopkins a bust just because of how inconsistent his performance was. Maybe I could give him a pass because nobody in Houston could throw a proper pass to the kid, and even still I’m probably being hard on him. His 802 receiving yards was the second most among rookies. He also ranked second among rooks’ with 12 receiving plays of 20 yards or more. Not a bad rookie season for Hopkins and it’ll be even better next season.
Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals – Ellington finished sixth among first year NFL players with over 1000 yards from scrimmage, and he did so on only 157 total touches. He led all rookies with eight carries of 20 or more yards.
2013 Fantasy Football Rookie Busts
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots – Considering where we all drafted this guy… he was 100 percent one of the biggest fantasy football busts of the season. His preseason teased us all.
Montee Ball – Ball started out as a disappointment after failing to beat out Knowshon Moreno for the starting running back job in Denver. With that said, Ball finished by posting 382 yards from scrimmage in his final five games and is line for a bigger role in 2014. His value hinges on whether or not Moreno returns to mile high, but in either case he should see more work.
1. Eddie Lacy
2. Le’Veon Bell
3. Zac Stacy
4. Keenan Allen
5. Montee Ball
6. Cordarrelle Patterson
7. DeAndre Hopkins
8. Jordan Reed
9. Giovani Bernard
10. Terrance Williams