The first instinct of some fantasy owners is to see Griffin's skill set and expect him to be the second coming of Cam Newton. But realistically, that probably not going to happen. I mean, Newton scored close to 370 fantasy points -- as a rookie! If RG3 scores even 100 fewer points in his first year, he'd still be ranked as a top-10 signal-caller based on the final 2011 totals. What makes him so valuable to me is his skills as a runner. Keep in mind, Tim Tebow and his sub-50 percent completion percentage posted solid numbers in 2011 due in large part to what he did as a runner. In his final year at Baylor, RG3 rushed for 644 yards and nine touchdowns. Even if we go on the conservative side, is projecting him for 500 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns unrealistic? And, that would be in addition to what he'll give you with his arm. While I won't draft him as a No. 1 quarterback, I will target RG3 in the middle rounds as a high-end No. 2 with upside.
Not to be a contrarian, but who says Richardson is going to be the No. 1 fantasy rookie? He's a running back in a division that shuts down running backs. It's all about the quarterbacks now -- in real football and in fantasy football. With that said, I'll take Griffin III. Statistically, he probably won't repeat Newton's 2011, but then again, Cam's was the greatest rookie season in NFL history. Here's one thing RG3 might have in common with his Heisman predecessor: a wide receiver on the wrong side of 30 and with the number 89 on his back who just might be rejuvenated with a big-armed rookie. I don't have a lot of faith in the new twin Skins wide receiver, Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan (aka -- quantity over quality), but Fred Davis' presence and the return of Chris Cooley should provide a poor man's version of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
This might be a surprise to come, but I'm going with Colts tight end Coby Fleener -- he is going to have an advantage having already played with Andrew Luck. Here's the thing, guys like Luck, Griffin III and some of the receivers might score more points than Fleener, but nobody is going to have a better season when compared to his colleagues. My first pass at the 2012 tight end rankings will have Fleener slotted along with Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez, Jacob Tamme and Fred Davis as the best low-end No. 1 options at the position. So if you miss out on some of the elite options like Gronkowski, Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley and Antonio Gates, don't panic. Fleener will be a great value pick in seasonal leagues.
- Jason SmithNFL.com
I'm feeling pretty Lucky
I'm going with Luck over RG3. It's like people are forgetting that Luck comes in with a higher evaluation than any quarterback since John Elway! He's going to be good right away, and he plays in a soft division. In fact, I think Luck's rookie year will be similar to Peyton Manning's as far as statistics (3,700 yards and 26 TDs), but without all of those interceptions. Remember, Luck is extremely accurate where it's most difficult: in the middle of the field. I also think Reggie Wayne can do for Luck this year what Steve Smith did for Newton a year ago. Indianapolis also added two tight ends in the draft, including his college teammate, Fleener. Luck is going to get every chance possible to throw the football as a rookie, and I can see more than a couple of three-touchdown games for him this fall. The numbers I project him at means he'll put up stats worthy of being a fantasy starter, albeit a low-end starter, and finishing in the top 12 in fantasy points at the position. Outside of Newton, Luck could have the second-best fantasy season ever for a rookie quarterback.
I'm going with Martin, and I'll take it one step further -- he will post better numbers than Richardson. He's joining a team stocked with weapons, so he won't see constant eight-man fronts like Richardson is likely to face in Cleveland. Martin is also playing for a coach in Greg Schiano that loved to run the ball at Rutgers with Ray Rice -- he rode that guy nearly all the way to a Big East title! In addition to posting 1,200-plus rushing yards in his final two seasons at Boise State, he also averaged nearly 300 receiving yards. I do have to be careful when talking up Martin, though, as he carries the "Matt "Money" Smith bias tag". Before a lot of people realized there were actually players on Boise State's roster not named Kellen Moore, I called the Broncos-Oregon State game in 2010. Martin put it on the Beavers something fierce in that contest, sticking Mike Riley's crew for over seven yards per carry as Boise State cruised to a victory. I've kept tabs on and celebrated Martin ever since. Overall, he has the measurables to succeed, and he's heading to the best situation of all the rookie running backs taken in Round 1. I'm putting a middle to late second round grade on Martin in fantasy drafts.