2015 All-Rookie Fantasy Team

Quarterback

  • Jameis Winston- He has already achieved a firm grip on the offense and has endeared himself to teammates and coaches by consistently putting in extra time in the gym and on the practice field. Armed with three 6’5 targets in receivers Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a cannon for an arm, and the fourth easiest schedule in the league, it appears Winston is destined for great things right from the start. Look for his yardage numbers to be better than average, and his TDs to be off the charts.

 Running Back

  1. Melvin Gordon- I know it’s still preseason, but word on the street is that this kid has a great chance to win  “Rookie of the Year” honors this season, and I don’t find that hard to believe at all. Since the moment he stepped on the field as a Wisconsin Badger, Gordon has been a human highlight reel, gashing through defenses like a knife through warm butter. As a Charger, he will be running behind one of the best offensive lines in the AFC, and for a unit that was just a running back away from being highly explosive. His numbers on the ground should be dynamic from the start, and if he can develop a rapport with Phillip Rivers, through the air, he could become a top fantasy back in his first year.
  2. Ameer Abdullah- The one knock on this guy coming out of college was his size, but we have seen plenty of smart, elusive, running backs with great vision, use a small frame to their advantage as they dart through the line. Abdullah has all of those skills and more, and should fit in nicely with a high powered offense that has been searching for a solid running game. He may start out the season in a committee with incumbent Joique Bell, but I have a feeling he will have a firm grip on the starting job not long into the season. Either way, he should be a solid producer for your fantasy team, and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield should make him a great addition in PPR leagues.

Wide Receiver

  1. Nelson Agholor- Say what you will about Chip Kelly, he knows how to put together an offense, and he is great at matching athletes skills to his needs. When DeSean Jackson left Philadelphia last season, Kelly replicated his numbers almost exactly with Jeremy Maclin. Now that Maclin is gone why not recreate those numbers with a guy who was compared to J-Mac long before he was even drafted by the Eagles? Agholor is that guy, and he has all the skills and character necessary to do just that. He has a high football IQ, is ridiculously fast, very elusive, and fits perfectly into Kelly’s scheme and vision for the offense. If Agholor comes even close to Maclin’s numbers from last year, he will definitely be a top fantasy producer and a great asset to your team.
  2. Devin Funchess- Last year Kelvin Benjamin gave Cam Newton a much needed, tall and athletic target. This year Newton will have two as the 6’5, 230 pound converted tight end, Funchess comes to town. Newton isn’t know as the most accurate QB in the league, so he is going to love having a target that can consistently reel in his wild throws,and for once defenses are going to have to pick their poison instead of just focusing on one receiver. If they choose wrong too often, Funchess will be filling up fantasy scoresheets early and often with ridiculous numbers. 
  3. Kevin White – I’m not a big fan of Jay Cutler as a Quarterback, but his receivers always seem to produce big fantasy numbers, and with Brandon Marshall departing and leaving a giant hole in the offense, the 6’3 White moves into an ideal position to succeed immediately. He had one of the highest ceilings of any receiver in the draft, and with a very physical style, great hands and 4.35 speed, should reach it sooner than later with the amount of targets he is bound to receive. When he does, he should be a great asset for any fantasy team.

Tight End

  • Clive Walford- He is the record holder for receptions at Miami, the university who has turned out a number of productive NFL receivers including Bubba Franks, Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Shockey, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham. Now he is teaming up with Derek Carr, who very quietly had one of the top seasons of any rookie QB ever, to bring some much needed life to a Raiders offense who finished at the bottom of the pile last year. As the best overall tight end in this year’s draft, he should be a perfect safety net and red-zone target for a team and quarterback who are on the rise. He probably won’t be setting any major records in his rookie season, but could be a pleasant surprise as a fantasy starter in a tight end group that leaves much to be desired. 


      Maxed Out: Five Players Who Are Bound to Fall Short of Their Breakout Seasons From Last Year

      1. Odell Beckham Jr.- Don’t get me wrong this guy has phenomenal talent. With great hands, a positive outlook and mad springs, he has all the tools to be a great receiver, but he just did it all too fast. Expectations are way to high for this second year player who will spend the rest of his career trying in vain to replicate a ridiculous rookie year and an impossible catch.
      2. DeMarco Murray- It has nothing to do with the line he had in Dallas, it’s just that nobody is going to feed  Murray the amount of carries he had last season. He should still thrive in Philadelphia, but it is nearly impossible to repeat a year that took that much of a toll on this workhorse’s body.
      3. Andrew Luck- There is no doubt this young QB is special, and that he is destined to be one of the greats. However, after a season of having to make up for the disparity of the Colts defense by airing the ball out on a consistent basis, expect him to start to fall off earlier this year, and finish quite shy of last year’s stellar numbers.
      4. DeAndre Hopkins- With Andre Johnson gone, this young star is going to have to step up in a big way as he tries to carry a major portion of this offense. With uncertainty at the QB position, and question marks all over this offense, this could be a trying year for Hopkins.
      5. Justin Forsett- We have all heard his name for years and had been waiting for him to make some noise. Right about the time we started to forget about him, Forsett had a season none of us could have ever imagined. The sad part is, with the change in coaching philosophy in Baltimore, it appears his “15 minutes” are up, but it was sure fun while it lasted.

      Top 5 Fantasy Wide Receivers 2015

      1. Julio Jones- 104 receptions and 1593 receiving yards on a bum leg with his Quarterback having to make up for a injury riddled offensive line is superhuman. Yeah, his 6 TD’s are a bit of a let down, but with a patched up line and a healthy Jones, all of his numbers should climb and his trips to the end zone should once again reach double digits. There should be no doubt this “Dirty Bird” is by far the best Wide Receiver in football.
      2. Randall Cobb- As long as he can stay healthy, Cobb should easily take over as the Packers number one receiver and aaron Rodgers favorite target. His QB has shown utmost faith in him since the minute he stepped on the field, and we have seen what happens when Rodgers trusts his guys. He has all the tools of a superstar in the most high powered offense in the league. At 24 years old this young veteran is still climbing the mountain and this year should be his best yet.
      3. Dez Bryant-This dude is a touchdown machine, and with DeMarco Murray gone and the weight of the offense falling squarely on his shoulders,  I look for him to step up even more this year. Dez craves the spotlight,  and he should have plenty of that and a ton of targets to haul in, especially in the red-zone. As long as he stays focused he should be a great catch.
      4. Demaryius Thomas-Even with a full stable of receiving options, DT stood head and shoulders above the other Broncos receivers. With Julius Thomas gone I look for Peyton Manning to find Demaryius even more often, especially in the end zone. This guy has yet to hit his peak, and should have mind blowing numbers again this year.
      5. Antonio Brown-He is the receiver that is defining what the passing game in the NFL will be in the future. He is the antithesis of the monster end zone threats we are used to, but with his team showing a lot of inconsistency last year, and facing turmoil in the offseason, I look for AB to take a minor step back. Defenses are becoming familiar with him now, and his style of play is less of a surprise. That being said, he will still have eye popping numbers and should be a game changing asset to any team.

      Offensive Behavior

      They may have gotten off to a slow start last season, but the Packers still had the highest scoring offense in the league. With their top two receivers (Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb) locked down for the near future, Eddie Lacy entering his third year, and the best Quarterback in the league behind center, could the Pack be even more explosive in 2015?

      Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, David Baktiari, and Corey Linsley make up one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, and we all know it starts in the trenches. After being sacked a career high 51 times in 2012, Rodgers was only taken down 21 and 28 times in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

      The Packers signal caller should be able to rest easy knowing that the complete line that has been the best since he took over at Quarterback (based on the efficiency of their run blocking and pass blocking proficiency) is returning this upcoming season.

      The Line also helped Packer running backs achieve 4.39 yards per carry last year. With Eddie Lacy returning for his third year and only getting better, that can cause nightmares for defenses who ‘s main concern is the passing game.

      Lacy has averaged 1159 yards and 10 TD’s per season in his short career, and is improving as a receiver adding 4 TD’s through the air last year.

      Cobb and Nelson combined for 189 receptions, 2806 receiving yards, and 25 TD’s last season, and may not even be the best receivers on the team.

      “Devante  is a very polished player and he has an excellent demeanor for a guy who’s going to be a star.” Aaron Rodgers said about receiver Davante Adams who is heading into his 2nd NFL season. He also compared his charisma to Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson, and added, “But there are few guys that ‘get it.’ And he has supreme confidence, and it’s contagious.”

      The Packers stable of receivers also includes 2nd year player Jeff Janis who is bigger and faster than Jordy Nelson who he’s been compared to, and rookie Ty Montgomery, who is being called a bigger Randall Cobb.

      The position that has been the weakest for the Packers has been tight end, and Rodgers sees a player who he thinks is greatly improved there as well. He believes that Andrew Quarles has finally made the jump. If so, that means Rodgers will be looking to him more often, and that may give the Packers the most potent offense in many years, if not ever.

      Last year when the offense sputtered early, Rodgers told anxious Packer fans to relax. This year Packer fans have reason to be excited, but for another reason. With an offense that appears to be much improved. They could be  looking history square in the eyes.

      He Who’s Name We Dare not Speak

      I bet you didn’t know that Pete Rose was more than just a great ballplayer who loved to gamble on sporting events. Since his ban from baseball, people rarely talk about him anymore, and if they do its in hushed tones behind closed doors as if he is some type of pariah.

      The truth is, he was the personification of what any athlete who loves their sport should aim to be. He received his nickname “Charlie Hustle” when opposing manager Whitey Ford watched him sprint to first base after drawing a walk in a preseason game before his rookie year. Ford meant it as an insult. Rose wore it as a badge of honor throughout his career.

      “I’d walk through Hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” Is how Rose explained it.

      He went on to win Rookie of the Year that season, which would be the first of many awards in what would turn out to be a very illustrious career.

      He holds the Major League record for most hits, 4256, games played, 3563, most at bats, 14053, singles, 3215, and outs,10,328.

      He made seven All-Star teams, at five different positions (something no one else has ever accomplished), won three batting titles, two Gold Gloves, one MVP award, and has three World Series rings.

      He definitely left his name imprinted all over the statistical side of Major League Baseball. However, what impresses me even more than the numbers, is the way he played the game, head first, full speed ahead, and with a reckless abandon unequalled by anyone.

      “Sliding headfirst is the safest way to get to the next base, I think, and the fastest. You don’t lose your momentum, and there is one more important reason I slide head first, it gets my picture in the paper.” Rose explained.

      Critics like to think there should be an asterisk next to his hits record because he played more games and had more at bats than anyone else, and spent the last two years as a player/manager, resting and only playing when he wanted to.

      I find those accimplishments impressive in there own right. It means that he laced up the cleats and stepped into the batter’s box more than anyone else in league history, and is a testament to the type of determination this dude played with, and that he was hell bent on owning Ty Cobb’s record no matter what measures he had to take.

      Cobb had a reputation as one mean human being on and off the field. That means Rose had to out nasty the nastiest to get the record, and he did it with his own type of class.

      Rose saw it a bit different then I do. “When I get the record all it will make me is the player with the most hits. I’m also the player with the most at bats and the most outs. I never said I was a greater player than Cobb.”He said.

      He also said. “I’m just like everybody else. I have two arms, two legs, and four-thousand hits.

      It’s that kind of humility and humor that endears me to this man who was known for his grit on the ball diamond. He had a honest perspective on life that very few athletes share. He knew he wasn’t perfect, that he was going to make mistakes, but he forgave himself for it and refused to come up short.

      Major League Baseball seems to think that the mistakes Rose made are big enough to just delete him from its memory. The man who defined what “America’s Pastime” is all about, gone with one click of the button. His memory stolen from generations of sports fans to come. 

      He’s never been convicted of using illegal drugs, steroids or ever even appeared in a erectile dysfunction commercial, and yet he is shunned from the sport he sold his soul to.

      “During the times I gambled as a manager, I never took an unfair advantage…I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information. I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So in my mind I wasn’t corrupt.” Rose explained.

      Can we forgive a man for being human enough, to risk his health and well being to play the game the way it was meant to be played? Who was just reckless enough that he risked his reputation to live his life to the fullest and to leave us with a legend we should never forget?

      “I never gave up as a player and I won’t give up as someone who wants to go to the Hall of Fame because it’s the ultimate goal for a baseball player or a football player or a basketball player.” He said.

      So do I think Peter Edward Rose should be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Hell No! I think we should erect a Casino in Cooperstown with his name splashed all over it that overshadows every other building in the town, just like he overshadowed his peers in his day, and deny access to anyone associated with pursuing his demise. 

      It’s okay that he made mistakes. His humanity makes his accomplishments even more god-like. His failures are just an intriguing part of his legend.


      King Nothing

      I’m well aware that Kevin Love missed the most important part of the playoffs, and Kyrie Irving was unavailable for the Finals. I also understand that the Cavaliers went into the Championships facing great adversity, and that it would probably have taken a miracle for them to beat Golden State, but who else could have one of the best Finals performances ever, and still lose, besides LeBron James?

      After following this year’s playoffs, I can’t help admit that James has established himself as one of the best all around individual players of all time in the NBA. With his size, athleticism, ability to hurt you inside and out and his overall knack for the game, he is a matchup nightmare for anyone.

      He’s proven that no matter who is around him, he can put his team on his back and will them to victory in many games. About the time you think he’s buried and has no hope, he does something ridiculous to remind the world just how good he really is.

      “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world.” Where the words that came out of his mouth after Sunday’s 104-91 Game 5 loss to Golden State, when a reporter suggested he may be feeling less pressure because his team was undermanned.

      It would appear that this is the very attitude that has alienated James from a lot of NBA fans, members of the media, and possibly even past and current teammates. 

      We all know he’s great, maybe even the best in the world, and possibly one of the greatest ever, but do we really need to hear it from him? Yeah, it’s good for him to be his own man, but sometimes he comes across as very egotistical and selfish, like the only person on the team that matters is him.

      “First of all, I’ve got three very good friends in this league, and that’s Carmelo [Anthony], and that’s C.P. [Chris Paul], and that’s D-Wade,” James said, according to Cleveland.com. “And after that I have a bunch of teammates. I have guys I ride for every day.”

      Ironically, he ditched one of those friends to come back to Cleveland, after losing last year’s championship in Miami. 

      As an NBA fan, I’ve found it hard to cheer for LeBron James ever since I saw how easily he turned his back on his hometown, and even harder now that he came prancing back into Cleveland like nothing happened expecting everyone to just forgive him. The sad part is they did.

      It’s hard to feel any pride for a guy who’s only loyalty seems to be toward himself. It may not be that ironic then, that he has lost exactly two-thirds of the Championships he’s played in. Maybe his teammates get tired of knowing that no matter how hard they try, he’ll take all the credit anyway.

      We all heard the stories of how he showered his teammates with gifts and took them to the movies to “destress”. What a fun and loveable guy right? My question is, was this a selfless act, or a peace offering to satisfy his own guilt?

      Arrogance, defiance, disloyalty, and selfishness only go so far in a team sport, and LeBron is reaping the product of what he has sowed.  He had ridiculous numbers all series long, and once again walked away empty handed, but it doesn’t seem to even bother him as long as he gets the stats and the press, and everyone still knows he’s the King.

      He is one of, if not the greatest individual player ever, but that is where his legend will end. The guy who consistently climbs the mountain just to get pushed down. A large portion of his fans are just as frivolous as he is, riding his coat tails from team to team, drawing off his fame, and hoping one day he will pull through again. However, once again he has built his kingdom just to watch it fall.

      Where’s your crown, King Nothing?