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By Jim Day

So all of the Draft speculation is finally behind us. We saw The Good; Mark Ingram’s note from his Dad, The Bad; Chicago screwing Baltimore in a trade, and The Ugly; constant booing of Commissioner Goodell. At times it had him visually shaken.

We also saw the lockout lifted and then reinforced. This is absolutely going to be ugly folks. I am starting to feel like we won’t see any organized NFL football until late July, early August at the earliest.

One of the weird notes of this particular draft  is that most of the first round picks were able to get their team’s playbooks, but none drafted outside round one were afforded the same chance. This will give the first rounders a little bit of a leg up on the rest, especially if this continues to drag out. That being said, while having a playbook is nice, working with the coaches is the only way they see the field in year one.The biggest fantasy issue with any prolonged lockout is that these rookies will not get anywhere near enough time to learn their offenses. While this won’t hurt Dynasty owners as much, it will absolutely hurt drafters in Redraft leagues that draft RBs early.

While this will affect all rookies across the board, I think the rookie RBs take the biggest hit. The easiest way for a rookie RB to NOT get on the field is to not know how to block. We have seen this time and time again, and while some of these backs are decent blockers, there is still a ton for them to learn.

Receivers also have a lot to learn, but without the added difficulty of protecting the QB, it allows them to get on the field quicker. And we know that getting on the field is the biggest step to becoming a fantasy producer.

With all that in mind here is Part 1 of 2 of “Taz’s Top 50 Dynasty Rookies”.

 1. A.J. Green WR CIN – Green has the talent to be a stud right out of the gate.  OchoCincoDeMayo is a free agent and will most likely move on, so Green easily becomes the best receiver on this team.  Heck, he clearly is the best even if Ocho stays.

 2. Julio Jones WR ATL – Jones landed in a great spot.  A good young QB, an excellent running game, and oh yes, one of the best WRs in the game opposite him.  This will take a lot of the pressure off him right from the start, and with Tony Gonzalez finally starting to slow down, Jones could easily end up as the #2 passing option for this team in 2011.

 3. Mark Ingram RB NOS – Ingram is clearly the most talented back in this year’s class and the Saints gave up a lot to move back into the first to get him.  While he landed in a crowded situation, Ingram has everything that is needed to become a 3-down back for the Saints as early as mid-season in 2011.

 4. Greg Little WR CLE – Little should become the #1WR right away for the Browns and will get the chance to grow into the role with Colt McCoy.  While this offense is not the highest scoring, the fact that he will be the #1 target should easily equate to good fantasy production.

 5. Ryan Williams RB ARI – Williams is another talented back entering a crowded backfield, but like Ingram above, he should easily shake out as the best option in Arizona.  Williams will have to work on fumbling issues or he could end up as another Hightower in this offense.

 6. Daniel Thomas RB MIA – Thomas looks to be handed the starting job right away as both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents, and the team looks to be moving on.  This team did not do well inside the 5, and Thomas will be expected to change that.

 7. Leonard Hankerson WR WAS – Hankerson is simply a playmaker, as he showed at the Senior Bowl.  He is stepping into a great opportunity, well unless John Beck or Rex Grossman really does become the starter, as there is no real competition with Santana Moss looking like he will test the free agent market.  Well, when we do finally have one.

 8. Bilal Powell RB NYJ – Powell is a strong runner who will push Shonn Greene as soon as camp starts.  Greene has not been very impressive so far in his career which just might open the door for Powell.  If Powell gets the starting job on this run heavy offense, his value will skyrocket in fantasy drafts.

 9. Delone Carter RB IND – Carter is a strong, physical runner, who also has the ability to break a big play at any time. He also has the benefit of coming to the Colts. Addai is a free agent and may not be back, while Donald Brown has been a complete bust so far.

 10. Kendall Hunter RB SFR – Hunter is a very quick and explosive runner, who will also contribute in the passing game. He comes in behind Gore, but Gore will be a free agent in 2012, opening the door for Hunter.  The big IF for Hunter is whether or not he can excel at picking up the blitz in the pros.

 11. Randall Cobb WR GBP – Cobb falls into a premier offense that has an opening for a good slot receiver.  Cobb is a very strong route runner, who can make things happen with the ball in his hands. Donald Driver is almost done and James Jones is a free agent which should allow Cobb to be the 3rd or 4th receiving option right away.

 12. Demarco Murray RB DAL – Murray is not only an extremely talented runner, but also has elite receiving skills.  For now, he will backup Felix Jones, but it shouldn’t be long before Murray gets the chance to be the showcase back in Dallas.

 13. Torrey Smith WR BAL – Smith is exactly what this teams needs; he is someone to stretch the defense and be able to break the big play.  Boldin is a possession receiver, Houshmandzadeh is a free agent, and Derrick Mason is 37 years old.  The door is wide open for Smith.

 14. Mikel Leshoure RB DET – Leshoure falls on this list only because he is behind another young back in Jahvid Best.  Best had a decent rookie season, especially considering he played a lot of it on two turf toe injuries.  At the very least, Leshoure should see a lot of goal line action and could be a very nice short yardage back.

 15. Roy Helu RB WAS – Helu is a back that is very decisive and hits the holes quickly.  He comes in behind Ryan Torain. Torain was fairly productive last year, but seems to be always injured.  The problem for Helu is that he has had to fight injuries every year too. He will need to stay healthy for this to pay off.

 16. Jacquizz Rodgers RB ATL – Rodgers steps into a position where he will be used as a 3rd down/change of pace back right away.  He is a very good receiver who could easily develop into the top back in a couple of years.

 17. Jerrel Jernigan WR NYG – Jernigan gives the Giants a very strong return guy for the 1st time in a long while, and if the Giants don’t bring back free agent Steve Smith, he could move right into the #3 role.   Jernigan is a playmaker that can take it to the house on any play, but he will have to work on his route running at this level.

 18. Vincent Brown WR SDC – Brown falls into an excellent situation in a pass heavy offense that doesn’t have a ton of depth.  With the likes of Floyd, Crayton, Ajirotutu and Craig (BUST) Davis, there is not enough talent here to keep Brown off the field.

 19. Shane Vereen RB NEP – Vereen is an explosive runner and an excellent receiver out of the backfield.  The only reason he is this far down the list is because of the logjam in NE at the running back position.  I know many believe Vereen will be starter by the beginning of the season, but it will be a tricky situation to follow, so stay away unless you can get him at great value.

 20. Jordan Todman RB SDC – Todman is another strong player that is stuck in depth chart hell.  Right now he is behind 2010 12th pick Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert.  Tolbert had an excellent year in 2010 and Matthews struggled at times, but also showed flashes of why San Diego drafted him so early.  Todman is going to need some help to get on the field, but if he gets his chance, there may be no turning back.

 21. Blaine Gabbert QB JAC – Before the Draft, many felt that Gabbert was the most complete pro style QB in this draft and there has been nothing to change this.  He is behind David Garrard for now, but the team has been looking to replace Garrard for the last couple of years and he will be on a short leash now.

 22. Alex Green RB GBP – Green lands in a sticky situation.  Ryan Grant is said to be fully healthy, plus James Starks is highly thought of in the organization, so it will be interesting to see where they slot Green.  He is a big bruiser that may very well end up as the short yardage/goal line back right away, which could still provide decent fantasy value on this offense.

 23. Kyle Rudolph TE MIN – Rudolph was the #1 TE in this draft by most every draftnik on the air, but there is so many unknowns in Minny right now that it is hard to know how much he will be used.  Visanthe Shiancoe is a huge red zone threat, but Rudolph has much better receiving skills.  If the QB situation falls right for Minny,  Rudolph will move up this list by the start of the season.

 24. Jonathan Baldwin WR KCC – Many felt that KC reached for Baldwin.  There were not many pundits that thought he would go in the 1st round.  While he has natural athleticism and is a big, strong receiver, there are many that feel he will not work hard enough to make himself a star in the NFL.  He will have a hard time producing the type of numbers that people are expecting from him. Don’t reach for him in your fantasy drafts.

 25. Christian Ponder QB MIN – Ponder is a very smart football player with excellent accuracy and has worked in a pro style offense.  The problem here is that outside of a star running back in Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice is a FA and all indications are that he will try out the market. If Rice leaves the WR situation is pretty scary for now and it would seem the team would make getting a WR or three in free agency a big deal.

 Free agency will have a big say in how these rankings fall out come the start of the season, but with the info we have now this list should hold together for any of you that have early rookie drafts.

 Watch out for Part 2 (26-50) on Monday and then Top 100 including IDP the following week.

 Also if you have not checked out the Draftmaster leagues, you can check out the latest one here: GO Ahead Score Draftmaster 74. There are still openings if you want to give it a try. Just contact me on Twitter @fantasytaz or by email at

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