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updated: 11/21/2012 10:55 AM

Some fantasy football advice on drafting rookies

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  • For fantasy football owners, rookie running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay has been a huge surprise this season.

      For fantasy football owners, rookie running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay has been a huge surprise this season.
    Associated Press

 
 

Brutal.

That, in a word, sums up my fantasy football season.

Most of my key players on draft day -- Darren McFadden and Jamaal Charles in one league; Matthew Stafford, Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew in another -- have all either greatly disappointed or gotten hurt.

As the season has unfolded, I've watched a bunch of rookies tear up the league and it made me think, "Man, if I'd just taken a few of these guys in the middle or late rounds, my teams would be preparing for the playoffs instead of the Toilet Bowl."

Imagine a team that starts Robert Griffin III at quarterback and Trent Richardson and Doug Martin at running back. In terms of fantasy points, that's the No. 5 QB, and the No. 8 and No. 1 RBs, thank you very much. And if you missed out on RG3, Andrew Luck (10th among QBs) is doing just fine, too.

Of course, you have to choose wisely because other rookies such as QBs Ryan Tannehill (29th) and Brandon Weeden (25th) or RB David Wilson wouldn't sniff our lineups this season.

And let's not forget Washington's Alfred Morris, the 13th running back taken on draft day. Because of the uncertainty in the Redskins' backfield, he mostly went undrafted. But once he came out in Week 1 and ran 28 times for 96 yards with 2 TDs, it was clear we should have sold our first born to acquire the rookie sensation.

So, is this season an anomaly or the beginning of a trend telling us we should start taking rookies more seriously?

Looking back at the 2008-11 drafts, here's what I found among QBs and RBs who were taken in the first round:

2011

Only Carolina QB Cam Newton was worth the time. He finished with an incredible 35 total touchdowns, 4,051 passing yards and 706 rushing yards. That put him fifth among QBs.

Other than that, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were all worthless.

It was a lean year for running backs as New Orleans' Mark Ingram finished 43rd in fantasy points.

2010

Sam Bradford was taken No. 1 overall by the St. Louis Rams, but he finished 20th among QBs in fantasy points, hardly worth a roster spot except in those oddball leagues that start two quarterbacks.

As for tailbacks, CJ Spiller (taken ninth by Buffalo) did nothing and Ryan Mathews (to San Diego with the 12th pick) got hurt and struggled when he played.

2009

Here we had three QBs taken in the first round that gave us no help -- Matthew Stafford (24th in fantasy points), Mark Sanchez (22nd) and Josh Freeman (25th).

The tailbacks were Knowshon Moreno (17th), Donald Brown (49th) and Beanie Wells (32nd).

2008

Of the seven QBs and RBs taken in the first round, only Matt Ryan (12th in fantasy points) and Chris Johnson (11th) did anything of note.

So what can we conclude? It seems like this season is the anomaly, but put in the right situations, these youngsters can thrive.

Obviously, fantasy owners can't load up on a bunch of rookies on draft day. It does make sense, though, to take a chance on the top picks in the middle and late rounds of our drafts.

At the least, it's going to lead me to give readers a separate section in years to come on rookies to gauge their readiness to contribute.

My teams:

Two more losses. The season's over unless my regular-league team can kick it into gear the last two weeks and qualify based on points.

Good bets

• Cowboys QB Tony Romo vs. Washington. On Turkey Day, Romo should feast on the weak Redskins defense.

• Jets RB Shonn Greene vs. New England. Probably just a flex play, but Greene has scored two of the last three times he has faced the Pats.

• Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman at Kansas City. With Willis McGahee out 6-8 weeks, the explosive rookie from San Diego State is about to show his stuff.

• Bears RB Matt Forte vs. Minnesota. I expect the Bears to come out with a purpose after back-to-back abysmal performances. Watch Forte to go over 100 yards from scrimmage and get in the end zone.

• Bengals QB Andy Dalton vs. Oakland. Dalton is a must start against a Raiders team that has allowed 45 points a game and 9 TDs to opposing quarterbacks the last three weeks.

• Colts RB Vick Ballard vs. Buffalo. Averaging 17 touches a game the last five weeks, Ballard makes for a great play at home against the Bills.

• Titans WR Kenny Britt at Jacksonville. The Titans say they're going to get the ball into Britt's hands more. Taking them at their word, this would be the week for him to explode.

• Jaguars WRs Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon vs. Tennessee. With Chad Henne having at least temporarily won the starting QB job, it's time to trust Jacksonville's receivers a lot more. Also, Shorts is the No. 5 fantasy wideout the last five weeks.

• Seahawks WR Sidney Rice at Miami. Rice has scored in four of the last five games.

• Niners WR Michael Crabtree at New Orleans. He only has 3-5 catches the last five games, but Crabtree has scored in three of them and this week he faces a Saints team that can be exploited.

Bad bets

• Lions QB Matthew Stafford vs. Houston. It's been a rough year for Stafford, and he should struggle vs. the Texans.

• Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles vs. Denver. The Broncos are fifth in the league against the run and have only allowed 5 rushing TDs.

• Steelers WR Mike Wallace at Cleveland. Charlie Batch at QB means find another wideout this week if you can.

• Dolphins RB Reggie Bush vs. Seattle. Now that I've given up on Bush, I suppose he'll explode. But odds are he keeps throwing up massive stinkers.

• Giants QB Eli Manning vs. Green Bay. After a bye week, Manning actually should get it back together. Can you trust him, though, after a three-game stretch in which he didn't throw a single TD pass?

• Broncos defense at Kansas City. Sit back and enjoy the avalanche of points.

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