Fantasy football tip No. 961: Just because a player was drafted in the first round does not automatically mean his fantasy value will be first-rate.
Some NFL rookies have fantasy impacts immediately. Washington’s Robert Griffin III is already a top-10 fantasy quarterback thanks to his 209 rushing yards and three straight multi-touchdown games.
Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck has thrown for 846 yards, more than Peyton Manning, Tony Romo or Cam Newton. Cleveland running back Trent Richardson has racked up 344 combined yards and four touchdowns in his first month of NFL action. And Tampa Bay tailback Doug Martin has shown signs of being a solid fantasy scorer this season and for years to come.
But as for the rest of the first-round lot from this past April’s NFL Draft, the early results have been as far from favorable as Mitt Romney’s poll numbers.
Quarterbacks Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden have thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, while Seattle’s Russell Wilson has been a nice story but not much of a fantasy find since his 434 passing yards rank him 31st in the NFL.
Though as poorly as Tannehill, Weeden and Wilson have done, fantasy-wise and otherwise, at least they have been playing regularly and putting up some stats. There are many other first-rounders who have vanished like Kate Gosselin.
Here are four first-round rookies who have not helped fantasy football owners at all so far:
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars (WR)
This was the same guy taken fifth overall in the draft, right? Blackmon was supposed to help drag Jacksonville’s passing attack out of the dead-last doldrums. Too bad his fantasy value is lower at the moment than Tim Tebow's, Cecil Shorts' and He Hate Me’s.
Blackmon has caught four passes for 31 yards in three games. If you are scoring at home, that is two less catches and 29 fewer yards than tight end Mercedes Lewis, who some say is actually a fictional character.
I know quarterback Blaine Gabbert is not accurate (50.6 completion percentage), and I know the Jacksonville offense revolves around running back Maurice Jones-Drew, but Blackmon and the coaching staff have to find ways to get the ball into his sticky hands.
Fantasy owners can only hope that Blackmon’s preseason DUI arrest is not the most notable thing he does in 2012. He has a few months to turn things around and relieve fantasy owners who used middle-round draft choices on him.
David Wilson, New York Giants (RB)
Looks like New York head honcho Tom Coughlin has another fumble-fingered running back he has to teach how to hold onto the ball. Until the coach does, this rookie will be kept off the field like he is a replacement ref.
Wilson was slated to be Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup coming into the season, but fantasy owners figured he would eventually split the carries and possibly take over as starter when Bradshaw suffered his annual injury.
But when Bradshaw’s yearly physical problem cropped up in Week 2, it was not Wilson who got the call, because he was shipped to Coughlin’s Turnover Siberia due to a Week 1 fumble Wilson lost against the Dallas Cowboys.
Third-stringer Andre Brown stepped in, rushed like a younger, smaller Brandon Jacobs, and now Wilson is a distant third on the depth chart. Wilson has six carries for eight yards and one reception for three yards in three games. Thanks for nothing.
It is way too early to write Wilson off as a fantasy bust. He just needs a couple weeks to get back into Coughlin’s good graces and jump ahead of Brown on the pecking order, plus he needs another Bradshaw injury. All of this is definitely possible, so hold onto Wilson if you can and pray his season turns around.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (WR)
If you figured Floyd would dominate the NFL just like Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green did during their rookie campaigns last year, you were as wrong as the one percent who thought Golden Tate made a simultaneous catch.
Floyd was the head cheerleader of the receiving corps in Arizona’s first two contests, registering no receptions. He finally magically appeared in the Cards’ third game when he caught an eight-yard touchdown pass, but that was all he mustered.
Most rookie receivers are not like Jones and Green were last season. They usually need time to adjust to the NFL, learn how to run routes, separate from cornerbacks, get away with offensive pass interference, berate their own quarterbacks, etc.
Floyd has the physical tools and talent to be a great receiver, so hopefully his eight-yard TD last weekend is a foreshadowing of things to come and not just a lucky break.
A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers (WR)
San Francisco supposedly drafted Jenkins late in the first round to bolster its receiving group and give quarterback Alex Smith a sorely needed deep threat. Instead, it seems Jenkins was drafted so he could keep fellow rookie LaMichael James company on the inactive list.
With Michael Crabtree playing the best football of his underwhelming career, Mario Manningham steadily contributing 9-yard catches and Randy Moss making the most of his limited targets, Jenkins has been the odd man out, so out that he is not even dressing.
The problem for Jenkins is that not only does he have to contend with the three veteran receivers ahead of him on the depth chart, he also has to fight tight end Vernon Davis for targets and receptions. There are not many to go around because San Fran still loves to ground-and-pound with Frank Gore.
Obviously rookie receivers have not prospered early on judging by this column, and Jenkins was the lowest-drafted among the aforementioned first-rounders. But there were probably some fantasy owners out there who took flyers on Jenkins in the late rounds in deep 12-to-14 team leagues who would appreciate it if the 49ers at least suited Jenkins up in the coming weeks.
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