Anxious. Impatient. Grumpy. Since the last second expired on the NFL season at Lucas Oil Field nearly four months ago, loyal Lions, Bears and Bengals supporters, to name a few, have hibernated in man-caves waiting for next year to begin. Sure the 'Shandy' may help pass along summer's dog days, but for those with an insatiable appetite for pigskin, the sweltering heat can't come and go soon enough.
Though training camps don't officially open until late July, the NFL Draft is the first step in reawakening the fantasy beast. Simply put, it gets people thinking and talking about fake football. And for those who quickly exited the playoffs last December, it sparks a renewed sense of optimism. In April, anything is possible. That is, unless you're a "cursed" Calvin Johnson owner in a keeper league. To those unfortunate few, the Noise offers his condolences.
This year's rookie crop is one of the finest to come along in years. A handful of incredibly talented players will be thrust into favorable situations, where statistical stardom could be immediately achieved.
In recent years, first-year commodities have typically fared only marginally on the virtual gridiron. Of course, there are exceptions. Cam Newton's historic 2011 carried many to championship glory. However, for every stud there are at least three duds. Ryan Mathews buyers, for example, who plunked down a large chunk of cheddar in 2010 presumably still hold a grudge. In fact, because of the air-focused evolution of the NFL, freshmen running backs have suffered the most. None have produced a top-10 return over a full season since Matt Forte in 2008. But, to be fair, DeMarco Murray (11.1 points per game in standard formats over seven starts) and Roy Helu (15.1 ppg in five starts) were strong RB2s in 12-team leagues when inserted into the starting lineup last year.
After weeks of poking, prodding and Wonderlicking, destinations are now determined. What newcomers will be cornerstones on fantasy rosters next season? Here's a half-rack of players poised to make an impact (in order of projected contribution):
Read More »from Dynamite Dozen: Twelve draftees bound to make a fantasy splash in ’12