Six IDP Rookies that Should Make an Impact in 2012
Drafting rookies in fantasy football is like starring at a black jack dealer’s ace while you’re sitting there with a 16.
You may draw a four or five if you hit but odds suggest that you’re going to bust.
Still, drafting rookies in fantasy football is exciting. If you hit on one you look like the Nostradamus of your league and young players are always easy to root for. If you’re going to draft a rookie in your IDP league, here are your six best bets.
Mark Barron, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Barron is one of the only defensive rookies that should be targeted relatively early in your IDP draft. He’ll play strong safety in Bill Sheridan’s defensive scheme and considering how soft the Buccaneers’ front seven is, Barron should rack up a ton of tackles in his rookie year. He’s also NFL-ready after playing for Nick Saban at Alabama so draft him with confidence.
Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers
I spoke to one former NFL scout before this year’s draft and he said Luke Kuechly reminded him of current Rams’ middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who already has 310 solo tackles in just three years with St. Louis. Kuechly was a tackling machine while at Boston College, leading the nation in stops in each of the last two seasons. He’ll also have an opportunity to start after taking the majority of his reps during OTAs and minicamp at middle linebacker. It appears as though Carolina is prepared to move veteran Jon Beason to the weak side after Kuechly impressed during offseason workouts.
Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David is expected to start at weak-side linebacker for the Bucs this year and is a candidate to rack up over 100 tackles as a rookie thanks to his size and speed. He was one of the fastest linebacker prospects in the draft and after the Bucs traded two picks to move up and select him back in April, it’s clear that they think highly of him. He’ll be active in coverage so he should have opportunities to get his hands on a couple of interceptions but his high tackle total is what will make him attractive to IDP owners.
Bobby Wagner, LB, Seahawks
Seattle couldn’t enter 2012 with Barrett Ruud as its starter so the Hawks drafted Bobby Wagner, who is already handling play-calling duties at middle linebacker. His instincts were questioned coming out of Utah State but just like a couple of names on this list, he could rack up a ton of tackles in his first year. The key is whether or not Wagner can earn a role as a three-down ‘backer and stay on the field in nickel packages. If he does, then his value grows immensely.
Courtney Upshaw, LB/DE, Baltimore Ravens
When he was drafted by the Ravens with the No. 35 overall pick in April, the thought was that Upshaw would compete with Paul Kruger at the strong-side linebacker spot. But after Terrell Suggs tore his Achillies in early May, reports now state that Upshaw is ticketed for a Suggs-like role. Now, it would be drastic to suggest that Upshaw is going to fill the shoes of the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year but you have to like Upshaw’s potential to make an impact in year one. Despite lacking explosiveness, he was a terrific pass rusher at Alabama and with the talent that Baltimore has around him, Upshaw is a sleeper to win this year’s DROY.
Mychal Kendricks, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
Kendricks is undersized at 5’11” and 239 pounds but projects as a three-down player after tearing up the Pac 12 last season as the defensive player of the year. He’s expected to be the Eagles’ starter at the SAM linebacker position and thanks to his explosiveness, athleticism and pass-rushing abilities, he’s worth a look in IDP leagues. One concern, however, is that he doesn’t have the size to shed blockers. He’ll see plenty of offensive linemen coming at him because the Eagles play a Wide-9 up front, but he’ll also have plenty of opportunities to make plays, too.