It may be a bit too early to start thinking about your traditional, standard fantasy football league draft. However, with the 2010 NFL Draft fresh in our minds, now is the perfect time to take a look at the rookie class from a fantasy perspective.
We're sure to find out in the coming months which rookies will be starting, as performance in training camp, injuries, and off-field incidents will paint a clearer picture.
But right now, in the beginning of May (yes, we're starting that early), this is how the Dynasty rookie rankings shape-up:
1. Ryan Mathews , RB, San Diego Chargers
Mathews is the total package. He has the size, speed, hands, and vision to excel right away for the Chargers. And with LaDainian Tomlinson in New York and Darren Sproles set for third down duties, he's set to be the starter and get the bulk of the carries.
Without a doubt, Mathews is the top rookie running back fantasy option heading into the 2010 season.
2. Dez Bryant , WR, Dallas Cowboys
Bryant has been a hot name for the past week for all the wrong reasons, but we have a good feeling he'll be in the news all season long for all the right reasons.
He's walking into a great offense with a prolific quarterback and a heck of a distraction opposite him in Miles Austin. Early talk suggests he has a battle on his hands with Roy Williams, but don't fall for the gossip.
He'll be the starter next to Austin guaranteed.
3. Jahvid Best , RB, Detroit Lions
Jahvid Best may be a bit more suited to be a part of a two-man rushing attack, but from the looks of it, there is a good chance he starts the season as the main man in Detroit.
Kevin Smith is still rehabbing, making Best the current favorite to start. With his excellent speed and play-making ability, Best's own health questions may be the only thing keeping him from rookie stardom.
4. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills
Like Best, Spiller enters his NFL career as a pre-determined "specialty" back, and while he has more than enough talent to go against the "Reggie Bush" grain, that's likely how his first year will start off.
However, even with playing behind Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch, Spiller should still be a vital part of a new Buffalo offense. Spiller will obviously have an impact on the return game, and should get a decent amount of touches in the backfield, but we could actually find him having the good portion of his success working out of the slot as a receiver.
5. Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Thomas doesn't have much competition for the starting receiver gig in Denver, and providing he's at full health (which he's expected to be), he should be able to step-in and do his best Brandon Marshall impersonation.
There will still be targets spread around to the likes of Eddie Royal, Brandon Stokley, and fellow rookie, Eric Decker, but Thomas' big-play ability should earn him major action right away.
6. Sam Bradford , QB, St. Louis Rams
It's extremely likely the Rams ask Bradford to step-up and earn his paycheck from day one, both because they need their face of the franchise to help with ticket sales, and because their alternatives aren't very promising.
The Rams will struggle to be competitive regardless, and Bradford's weapons and offensive line aren't encouraging, but he should still be the starter very early in the season, if not the first week of the season.
7. Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Ben Tate was clearly brought in by the Texans to help out their paltry rush offense, and to give them a more balanced approach in their backfield.
Tate is a punishing runner with good vision and natural instincts, and should be able to mesh well with their current slew of runners. He may have some trouble showing obvious separation from Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats initially, but he definitely has the potential to steal the majority of the carries by the end of the season.
8. Golden Tate , WR, Seattle Seahawks
Tate is entering a sticky situation, where Seattle is hoping either Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst can step up, and their newly repaired offensive line and hold up.
Both situations are iffy, to say the least.
Still, Tate will be battling a slew of mediocre talent at his position, while fending off veteran would-be cast-off Deion Branch (who no one wants around) and free agent bust, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
He may not earn one of the top two starting spots from day one, but Tate should be able to help in the return game, and should make a name for himself in the slot early on.
9. Montario Hardesty, RB, Cleveland Browns
Much like Ben Tate, Hardesty is walking into a situation where his front office clearly drafted him because they envision him as a guy with the potential to be the feature back, but there is also still a lot of competition in the backfield.
The argument can be made that Hardesty is already better than any of his competition, but it's also hard to ignore Jerome Harrion's numbers to close the 2009 season, James Davis' potential, and the hard-running of Peyton Hillis.
There should be some tough competition, and Hardesty is no lock to get the majority of the carries, but he's still definitely a back to watch in 2010.
10. Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The first year for rookie receivers in never a cake-walk, and it's never any easier when there's not a whole lot of talent around you to help take the pressure off.
Benn is an immensely talented play-maker with good speed and ball skills, but is walking into a situation where his quarterback is only in his second season, and his receiving corps is filled with mediocre talent and/or guys with no experience.
He should be a starter from day one, but his value has to be considered high risk/high reward due to his surroundings.
11. Jimmy Clausen , QB, Carolina Panthers
Clausen is a very interesting case, as he was arguably brought in to be Carolina's future franchise passer, but also faces immediate stiff competition for the starting job.
Clausen has the tools and experience to step-in as the starter from day one, but his opportunity to do so may be thwarted by Matt Moore if Moore can continue his stellar play from the end of 2009.
12. Toby Gerhart , RB, Minnesota Vikings
The first thing you think of when you see Toby Gerhart? A white guy who wants to run with the rock at the pro level.
Doubters will be eating their negative words, however, as Gerhart gets to work behind arguably the best running back in the game (Adrian Peterson). The fact that he's a legit No. one runner acting as a back-up should be able to elevate his game, and make him fresh for short yardage and third down situations.
Gerhart could be the surprise of this draft at the running back situation, and should excel as Peterson's top backup in Chester Taylor's old role.
13. Jonathan Dwyer , RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Dwyer is another interesting running back case, as he fell far down into the sixth round of the draft, despite arguably being a first or second-round talent.
Dwyer does have some learning to do, coming out of Georgia Tech's triple-option offense, but he still is a great talent and should be a fantastic gem for the Steelers.
Rashard Mendenhall surely can't do it all alone, and with Willie Parker now in Washington, look for Dwyer to step in and make a solid impact as Mendenhall's top back-up.
14. Tim Tebow, QB, Denver Broncos
True, Tebow has a lot of work to do, and he's not very likely to be touching the field as a pure quarterback in 2010.
However, that does still remain a possibility. Regardless, Tebow offers too much versatility and athleticism to be wasted on the sidelines in his rookie season, which should at least prompt Josh McDaniels and company to use him in special packages.
Tebow could still work all off-season, make strides, and take the field as quarterback, but considering the extreme unlikeliness of this, there's a great chance he'll make an impact as a short-yardage and goal-line runner.
15. Jermaine Gresham , TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Gresham earns the final spot in the top 15, simply because he's a first-round pick, and the Bengals absolutely need him to step-up right away.
Chase Coffman simply didn't work out last year, and considering Gresham is a better athlete and receiver, there's really no argument for Coffman earning the job over him.
If Gresham can stay healthy and learn the offense, he could quickly give Cincinnati an entirely new dimension in their passing attack, something that suffered greatly in 2009.
Stay tuned for NFL Soup 's fantasy rookie positional rankings for the 2010 NFL season.
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