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Published: Aug. 28, 2014 at 01:11 p.m.
Updated: Aug. 28, 2014 at 02:21 p.m.

Top fantasy rookies

The regular season is upon us. We've had a slew of preseason games and we've gotten to know some of the new names that could become fantasy stars in the near future. While rookies don't always have an immediate impact, there are a lot of first-year players who have etched their names into our collective consciousness. Here are the 15 NFL freshmen who are worth rostering this season.

15 Photos Total

  • 15. Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars 15

    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    15. Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    When Bortles was drafted, the Jaguars said there was almost no way he'd play during the 2014 season. Then the young man from Central Florida played so well during the preseason that Jacksonville's brass began to rethink that decision. Chad Henne was eventually named the Week 1 starter, but if things go sideways for the Jaguars, it could be easy to see Bortles taking over the gig.

  • 14. Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns 14

    Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL

    14. Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland Browns

    Manziel didn't win the starting job out of training camp, but most believe that Johnny Football will be the Browns starter before too long. It won't be easy for the former Heisman winner, especially with Josh Gordon suspended for the entire season. But his ability to make plays on the fly could serve him well in an offense that could struggle to score points this season.

  • 13. Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars 13

    Scott Boehm/Associated Press

    13. Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

    With so much turnover among the Jaguars receiving corps, Lee has an opportunity to produce right away. The former USC star picked things up in the preseason after his coaches criticized his initial effort. With opposing defenses mostly focused on slowing Toby Gerhart and Cecil Shorts this season, Lee could see a decent amount of targets.

  • 12. Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans 12

    David Goldman/Associated Press

    12. Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee Titans

    Sankey was the first running back selected in the NFL Draft, but his preseason struggles have bumped him down the list of rookie fantasy prospects. The former Washington Husky will still have his opportunities this season, but he'll have to show marked improvement if he's going to jump ahead of Dexter McCluster or Shonn Greene in Tennessee's pecking order.

  • 11. Dri Archer, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers 11

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    11. Dri Archer, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    Archer initially flashed his speed to the NFL world during this year's Combine. But his true "Welcome to the NFL" moment came during the preseason on a 46-yard catch and run. Archer is almost certain to see time as a wrinkle in the Steelers offense, but the presence of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will prevent him from logging consistent snaps.

  • 10. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers 10

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    10. Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers

    Hyde began the preseason with a bang and his arrow has been steadily pointing up throughout training camp. As the Niners begin the eventual transition away from Frank Gore, Hyde has been in the driver's seat for the gig. If San Francisco makes the choice to save Gore for a playoff run, Hyde could see more carries than any Niners backup rusher has in some time.

  • 9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons 9

    Jason Getz/USA Today Sports

    9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

    It was a bit of a surprise to see Freeman pushed so far down the Falcons depth chart, but that doesn't mean he'll stay there. Steven Jackson's injury history (including his hamstring issues this preseason) will remain a concern and Jacquizz Rodgers has never fully seized his opportunities in Atlanta. Freeman should be worth a late round flier in anticipation of an increased role in one of the NFL's more efficient offenses.

  • 8. Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants 8

    Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

    8. Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants

    Williams appears to be slotted as the thunder to Rashad Jennings' lightning in New York's offense. The former Boston College star has run effectively in the preseason and could be in line for a number of short yardage and goal-line carries. Not only is Williams the best handcuff for Jennings, but he could have some value as a potential fourth running back in some fantasy leagues.

  • 7. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7

    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    7. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    As one third of Tampa Bay's towering front line of pass-catchers, Evans could find his greatest value as a red zone target for Josh McCown. However, Evans has been fairly pedestrian during the preseason and could be impacted by an offense that is going to lead with Doug Martin and the running game. The former Texas A&M star is worth a pick in the later rounds, but will likely be a matchup-based option in most leagues.

  • 6. Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns 6

    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    6. Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns

    While all of the focus in Cleveland was on the Hoyer-Manziel battle, the competition between West and Ben Tate was much more interesting. The veteran won the job, but that doesn't mean West won't see plenty of touches this season. If you draft Tate, it's almost imperative that you eventually handcuff him with West. Or select West and try to trade him to the person in your league who took Tate.

  • 5. Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles 5

    Damian Strohmeyer/Associated Press

    5. Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

    Matthews wasn't one of the receivers people focused on when the preseason began. But now that it's ending, he's a name to remember. Matthews has good size, quality hands and an ability to line up either in the slot or out wide. Chip Kelly's offense should offer Matthews plenty of chances to be productive this season with an outside chance that he becomes one of Nick Foles' favorite targets in an attack loaded with them.

  • 4. Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals 4

    Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

    4. Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    Hill arrived in Cincinnati and immediately displaced BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the Bengals' No. 2 running back. Giovani Bernard will certainly do the bulk of the work between the 20-yard lines, but Hill could be the hammer near the goal line. Much like Andre Williams with the Giants, Jeremy Hill has an opportunity to not only be a fantasy handcuff, but potentially a fantasy deep sleeper in Hue Jackson's run-based offense.

  • 3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills 3

    Vincent Pugliese/Associated Press

    3. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

    Injuries in the preseason have limited Watkins' effectiveness. Even more concerning has been EJ Manuel's play in these early games. While Watkins' pure athleticism should help him become a bona fide playmaker, he might find himself facing double teams early in the season. Nonetheless, his upside is too great to not take a chance on him in the middle rounds.

  • 2. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers 2

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    2. Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

    Initially, Benjamin fell into the category of "someone's gotta catch the ball, right?" But the Panthers rookie has proven to be a legitimate target for Cam Newton in an offense that is breaking in an entire new set of receivers. Benjamin's play in the preseason has him trending in a positive direction as the regular season approaches and gives him true sleeper value for 2014.

  • 1. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints 1

    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    1. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

    It's hard to consider Cooks a sleeper anymore considering the hype that has built around the Saints receiver during the preseason. However, it's hard to imagine a better marriage of skills and system than the one the former Oregon State star is currently in. The Saints offense has a chance to do some big things this season and Cooks could be a significant part of that effort.

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