First look: Impact NFL rookies

Daniel Thomas projects as the Dolphins’2011 feature back.

The NFL lockout has turned the league on its head. Normally, we’re evaluating how free agents will fit in with their new teams while rookies sit on the back burner. Not this year.

For now, all we have to go on is the rookie class. This group is not going to generate the fantasy hype that Ryan Mathews, C.J. Spiller and Dez Bryant did last year. But there are certainly some diamonds in the rough. Here are the best fantasy prospects:

Bye, bye Ronnie

Ideally, the Dolphins want to be a run-first team with Chad Henne as a game manager. Enter second-round pick Daniel Thomas, a physical runner out of Kansas State. Free agents Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are goners, paving the way for Thomas to get 300 touches.

Ocho’s replacement

The Bengals have holes all over the field, but chose WR A.J. Green No. 4 overall. That speaks to how talented this kid is. Green will immediately step in as the first option on most passing plays. 

Hello, Helu

We all know what Mike Shanahan can do with unknown, one-cut runners. Talented fourth-rounder Roy Helu fits the bill perfectly. He’ll have little problem beating out incumbent Ryan Torain.

Rookie sleepers

Greg Little
WR, Browns

A physical beast who dropped due to character concerns. Steps in as the best WR?on the roster.  

Jake Locker
QB, Titans

If he wins the job, Locker will have weapons galore to make plays for him. He also has serious mobility.

Leonard Hankerson
WR, Redskins

With Santana Moss set for free agency, Hankerson has a good chance to be the No. 1 receiver in Week 1.

NFL veterans

The stock of these three veterans took a major hit in the draft:

1. Beanie Wells, RB, ARZ — The Cards had enough of Wells’ inconsistency and fumbles. No. 38 pick Ryan Williams is just as talented.

2. Jahvid Best, RB, DET — Concerns about durability led the Lions to take Mikel LeShoure 57th. Best’s scoring upside is now capped.

3. Chris Ivory, RB, NO — The Saints traded up to draft Mark Ingram 28th. He plays the exact same bruising style that Ivory excelled at.


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