A few quick rules on these rankings - First, they're for dynasty leagues, not one-year only leagues. Rookies don’t tend to matter that much in one year leagues, and especially this year because you don’t really have too many of the immediate impact kind of guys you need in those leagues. But, if you're a serious fantasy football player and haven’t yet found a good dynasty league, do so, they're about ten to a billion times better than a regular league. In fact, if you need help finding or starting one, just get at me.
Second, they're for standard scoring and lineup leagues. That means no PPR (Points per Reception). Yeah, I know, lame, PPR leagues are way better, but alas most reading this don’t play in them, so no PPR.
Ok, enough with the rules, here we go.
1. Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos - Fantasy value comes down to a combination of skill and opportunity, and no player in this year's class has both like Ball does. He was one of the most productive backs in college football history and lands in place where they need young legs. Ball will get the chance to play early and often, and his high workload in college doesn’t mean he won't have a good start to his NFL career, it most likely means that he won't have a long NFL career. The Broncos didn’t draft him for his long term potential, they drafted him because they think he can help them win now.
2. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers made Bell the second back taken in the draft while Eddy Lacy and Montee Ball were still on the board, so you know they think highly of him. They let Mendenhall go to Arizona in free agency, and they only signed Dwyer and Redman to one year deals, so you know they're going to give Bell every chance to become the number one back in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.
3. Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams - The most talented skill position player in the draft, Austin brings speed and agility to an offense that is in dire need of a playmaker for Sam Bradford. The Rams will find ways to get him into the offense early and often, and he will rack up the yardage points. Time will tell if he can get into the end zone enough to be a top tier fantasy wideout, but his touches alone will be enough to make him a solid option, especially in the PPR leagues.
4. Eddy Lacy, RB, Green Bay Packers - Lacy had a stellar career at Alabama, and comes into the league on a team that doesn't have much talent already on it's running back depth chart. Lacy will get the chance to show the world what he has at the NFL level, but he does come with some injury concerns, nursing a recurring turf toe injury he suffered in college. He ran behind one of the best offensive lines in college football history, and that may have inflated his draft stock. Plus, it says something that the Packers took another running back just two rounds later.
5. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans - The Texans have been searching for a receiver to take advantage of the single coverage that defenses will give to whoever happens to be lining up on the other side of Andre Johnson, and they may have just found they’re guy in Hopkins. Where others have failed, Hopkins is only the second receiver taken in the first round by the Texans. The other? Andre Johnson. The pick shows Houston is committed to improving their passing game, and Hopkins is talented enough to capitolize.
6. Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals - The first running back taken in the draft, Bernard has everything you want in a third down, speed type of back. He has what it take for a good NFL career, but his fantasy value is hurt by the Law Firm lingering around on the Bengals roster. Green-Ellis has always been undervalued, but the never-fumbling back will be hard to overtake on the roster. Also, it tends to take third down type backs a little longer to get a footing in the pros, so expect to see more from Bernard in years three or four than you will get from him in years one and two.