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Jake Ciely Senior Writer April 29, 2012 8:56PM EDT
Now that the rookies all have a place in the NFL, the big question is how they should be ranked. Andrew Luck has more passing ability than Robert Griffin, but does that necessarily mean he’s a better pick for 2012? Justin Blackmon had the best numbers for receivers, but he’s not the top receiver for Fantasy rookies. Where players end up plays a large part, and that factor, plus many others, all play a part in these rookie evaluations.

This is just the Top Five for 2012. If you want to see 34 rookies covered in depth with all ranked according to 2012 value, make sure you purchase the Year-Round Fantasy Football Edge Package. You’ll get those rookies, plus rankings, consistency reports, offseason coverage and more.

Trent Richardson, Browns – Just because he shared a backfield with former teammate Mark Ingram doesn’t mean Richardson will suffer the same disappointing rookie campaign. Ingram had a glut of other offensive weapons, many RBs, to deal with and Richardson is a more complete back. Peyton Hillis is gone and Montario Hardesty can’t stay healthy. TRich has the backfield to himself, and given his all-around ability (comparisons to Adrian Peterson are legitimate), Richardson is a Top 10 RB immediately. In fact, I recommend drafting Richardson before the aforementioned Peterson, given ADP is returning from injury.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers – Think of Martin as a Ray Rice or Maurice Jones-Drew type, where they use their low center of gravity to bowl through defenders. Now those RB comparisons are supremely high praise, but Martin isn’t far off in terms of ability. Martin was the most complete back behind TRich, and LeGarrette Blount shouldn’t let the door hit him… well, you know. Where Blount struggles on third down, Martin succeeds and actually can be an every-down option. Martin is a RB2 and worthy of a second round pick in 2012.

Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Some argue that Floyd was the most complete WR in the draft, and that certainly may be true. Floyd certainly was the best blocking receiver and routinely beats coverage, uses his size to separate and wins more than his share of 50/50 passes. Comparisons to Dwayne Bowe are warranted and playing alongside Larry Fitzgerald helps his value even more. The only thing standing in his way is the QB play of Kolb and Skelton. Consider him a WR3/4 and the top rookie receiver for 2012.

Robert Griffin, Redskins – In Fantasy terms, no QB has more upside as a rookie. Griffin has a great arm and runs well. As has always been the case, Mike Shanahan’s offense loves to use QBs in rollout plays. No QB is better suited for that style, and many will think of Cam Newton’s 2011 season when drafting Griffin. Don’t project him that high. Newton was/is still a better prospect and a rarity, and if Griffin cracks the Top 15 come season’s end, it will be a success. Griffin is a QB2 but worthy of being drafted right after the likes of Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco – around QB 14 or 15.

Coby Fleener, Colts – A tight end in the Top Five? Absolutely. Fleener benefited from having Luck at quarterback in Stanford, and guess what, he will in the NFL as well. Fleener’s only downside is his blocking, but we don’t care about that in Fantasy. After averaging 19.0 yards per catch at Stanford, Fleener ran in the 4.4s during his pro day. Thoughts of Manning connecting with Dallas Clark are warranted, and Fleener is already a borderline TE1. After all, Fred Davis finished 12th overall while missing the last four games of 2011 (suspended).


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