Rookies who will make the biggest 2013 fantasy impact

4/29/13 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Now that the NFL Draft is over, we know where the top prospects have gone and have an idea of where they stand on their teams' depth charts. It's never too soon to begin talking fantasy football as far as I'm concerned, so here is a list of the players drafted over the weekend who could make an impact in 2013 fantasy leagues:

Tavon Austin (WR, St. Louis Rams): It's generally a safe bet that the first offensive skill position player taken in the draft will be one of the top rookies in fantasy leagues. Austin is an immediate candidate to lead the Rams in receptions this season, with last year's two leaders (Danny Amendola - 63, and Brandon Gibson - 51) both signing with different teams. Austin can be a security blanket due to his rare quickness in short space, but also has explosive playmaking ability, making him a threat to rack up both receptions and yards. He will likely become a favorite of quarterback Sam Bradford early on.

Eddie Lacy (RB, Green Bay Packers): Lacy is a spectacular talent who just fell into a dream situation. Despite their drafting Jonathan Franklin, I think Lacy is the heavy frontrunner to earn an every-down role. He's a much better receiver out of the backfield than most people realize, and is a viable pass protector. We all know what he can do when handed the ball on a running play. If Lacy wins the starting job, he could end up with double-digit touchdowns.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Houston Texans): It looks like the Texans have finally found the No. 2 receiver they have been missing. The Texans have never really had a truly threatening presence to compliment the sensational Andre Johnson, but Hopkins is a special talent who should put a big smile on both Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub's faces. He'll likely be the Week 1 starter and should have plenty of opportunities to put up good numbers.
Blog Photo - Rookies who will make the biggest 2013 fantasy impact
Giovani Bernard (RB, Cincinnati Bengals): Bernard is a true all-purpose back, who lacks elite traits in any single facet of the game, but can do it all. As a result, he'll likely see the field quite a bit as a rookie. He's already clearly the Bengals' best pass catching back, and if BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to run at less than four yards a clip, Bernard could start eating into the team's rushing attempts as well.

Robert Woods (WR, Buffalo Bills): The Bills are moving Stevie Johnson to the slot, which essentially means that Woods won't even need to compete for a starting job on the outside. Woods was one of my favorite prospects in the draft due to his all-around ability. I believe he would be poised for a potentially huge season if the Bills had a reliable quarterback throwing him the football, but they don't. Quarterback play will limit Woods' fantasy value, but I still believe he has a chance to provide value as a rookie.

Le'Veon Bell (RB, Pittsburgh Steelers): The Steelers are not a team that hands starting jobs to rookies without a competition, but Bell has a real shot to earn the majority of the touches. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said he expects Bell to "get into the mix and be a factor" as a rookie, largely in part due to his experience in a pro-style offense. The Steelers expressed discontent with their running backs in 2012, so Bell is competing with some backs who are on short leashes. His size and power make him a threat to rack up some touchdowns if the Steelers' offense can get the ball moving.

Aaron Dobson (WR, New England Patriots): Any time you have a receiver with the potential to start on Tom Brady's offense, it's a situation worth monitoring for fantasy purposes. If Dobson can beat out Mike Jenkins and Josh Boyce, he'll start in the same position where Brandon Lloyd racked up 130 targets in 2012. I don't think he'll have too difficult of a time earning that starting role. Dobson has an excellent size/speed combination, and could immediately add a new dimension to the Patriots' offense as a burner who towers over cornerbacks. Also a nice red zone target, Dobson could rack up quite a few fantasy points as a rookie.
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