Pre-Combine Top 50 Fantasy Rookies

Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down his pre-Combine Top 50 offensive rookies with insights and analysis into each player.

| 2 years ago
Todd Gurley

Pre-Combine Top 50 Fantasy Rookies

Todd GurleyIt begins. We’re about to crack the seal on the box and start putting together the massive jigsaw puzzle that will be the 2015 NFL season.

Over the last month, I’ve reviewed the numbers from the 2014 college season in order to start getting a sense of the lay of the land from a fantasy perspective for the 2015 rookie class. Of course, we’re still two and a half months out from the draft, but a picture is starting to emerge.

The following is Version 1.0 of my rookie fantasy football rankings. I expect this list to shift and morph significantly in the coming weeks and months. Of course, the most significant changes will come after all the pieces are in place following the NFL Draft.

While it’s really tough to gauge future fantasy value before the draft, it’s an important academic exercise to always be taking stock of the fantasy football landscape. As things currently sit, running back appears to be deeper than I can ever remember. Wide receiver also has depth, though this class won’t rival what we saw in 2014. Both quarterback and tight end are extremely thin for fantasy purposes, so this isn’t the year to expect to boost your dynasty roster at those positions.

We’re just five days out from the NFL Scouting Combine. I’ll revisit these ranks after those festivities are in the books. Until then, here’s the Top 50 fantasy rookies as I see them:


Rk Player Pos Tm Comments
1 Todd Gurley RB Georgia This kid has all the numbers to become an RB1. Coming off a torn ACL in mid-November, but the sky is the limit for Gurley’s fantasy potential.
2 Amari Cooper WR Alabama Doesn’t have off-the-charts size-speed, but put up 1,727 yards and 16 scores in 2014. Would have been fourth fantasy WR in last year’s rookie fantasy drafts behind Watkins, Evans, and Beckham.
3 Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin Not a traditional Wisconsin RB in that his fantasy profile is more Jamaal Charles than Montee Ball. Put up a massive 2,587 yards in 2014.
4 Kevin White WR West Virginia Big receiver with good speed. Scored in 9-of-13 games in 2014. His fantasy ceiling would be Julio Jones.
5 Devante Parker WR Louisville Size: check. Parker checks in at 6’3″ and 208 lbs. Speed: check. We could see sub-4.4 out of Parker at the Combine.
6 Dorial Green-Beckham WR Oklahoma No relation to OBJ, DGB was dismissed from Mizzou and sat out 2014. Very big. Very fast. Similar fantasy profile to A.J. Green.
7 Jaelen Strong WR ASU Big-bodied receiver who put up 1,165 yards and 10 scores in 2014. Fantasy profile could be similar to Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston.
8 Duke Johnson RB Miami Was tempted to put Johnson even higher. Not a big back, but has very good speed. Comparable to C.J. Spiller with a high fantasy ceiling, but potentially low fantasy floor.
9 Tevin Coleman RB Indiana Home run hitter with ability to put a week’s worth of fantasy points up in just one play. Racked up 2,073 yards and 15 scores in 2014.
10 Jay Ajayi RB Boise St. Huge numbers in 2014. Put up 1,823 yards and 28 scores on the ground, and caught 50 balls for 535 yards and 4 touchdowns. Similar fantasy profile to Joique Bell.
11 T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama Bigger back who averaged 5.0 yards per carry in 2014. RB2 ceiling in most offenses, but could produce RB1 numbers on the right team.
12 Devin Funchess WR Michigan Moved from TE to WR last season. Fantasy stock will rise if he’s drafted as a tight end as is currently expected.
13 Sammie Coates WR Auburn Receiver with good size but his profile suggests it could take time before he becomes a strong fantasy producer.
14 Jameis Winston QB Florida State Get’s the edge on Mariota, but it’s very close. Potential landing spot is key for his fantasy value.
15 Marcus Mariota QB Oregon I’m back and forth between Mariota and Winston. Like Winston, his fantasy value will be closely linked to which team drafts him.
16 Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska Big year in 2014, racking up yards at a clip of 6.1 YPC and also caught 22 balls. For those in return yardage leagues, Abdullah can return kicks and punts.
17 Maxx Williams TE Minnesota Not a Gronkowski type for fantasy purposes, but has the potential to offer a similar fantasy profile to Greg Olsen and Jason Witten.
18 Mike Davis RB South Carolina His numbers regressed after an impressive 2013 campaign. His YPC dipped from 5.8 to 4.9.
19 David Cobb RB Minnesota Put up 1,626 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. Not a massive fantasy ceiling, but RB2 numbers well within the realm of possiblity.
20 Clive Walford TE Miami Caught 44 balls and scored 7 times in 2014. For fantasy purposes, there’s a bit of Vernon Davis to his game.
21 Devin Smith WR Ohio State Speedy receiver who offers big-play fantasy upside. His fantasy profile suggests an extremely poor man’s DeSean Jackson.
22 Nelson Algholor WR Souther California Put up 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 scores in 2014. For fantasy purposes, he’s Reggie Wayne lite.
23 Rashad Greene WR Florida State Rarely drops a pass. Only dropped 1.3% of passes thrown his direction in 2014. Stands 6’1″, but only weighs 175 lbs. Has an Emmanuel Sanders fantasy profile.
24 Phillip Dorsett WR Miami Smaller receiver with 4.3 speed who offers a similar fantasy profile to a young Steve Smith.
25 Javorius Allen RB Southern California “Buck” caught 41 balls for 458 yards and racked up 1,489 yards and 11 scores on the ground. Immediate fantasy value hinges on his landing spot.
26 Breshad Perriman WR Central Florida Size-speed receiver who posted 50 catches for 1,044 yards and 9 scores. Was the first UCF receiver to top 1,000 yards since Mike Sims-Walker in 2006.
27 Josh Robinson RB Mississippi State In the fantasy mold of Maurice Jones-Drew, but doesn’t have the fantasy ceiling of MJD in his prime. Not a burner, but decent potential to become a fantasy asset at the pro level.
28 Vince Mayle WR Washington State At 6’3″ and 219 lbs., Mayle is a big receiver who the only player in the country to top 250 yards receiving twice in 2014.
29 Jamison Crowder WR Duke In college career had 12 touchdown catches of 20-plus yards and 4 scores of over 60 yards. Fantasy profile is a poor man’s Antonio Brown. Has experience as a returner.
30 Ty Montgomery WR Stanford Numbers regressed from 958 yards and 10 touchdowns in his Junior year to 604 yards and three scores in his Senior year despite catching 61 balls in each season.
31 Devante Davis WR UNLV Has the size that you can’t teach and decent speed. Dealt with wrist injury in 2014.
32 Justin Hardy WR East Carolina Small school receiver who put up 1,000-plus yards in each of the last three seasons. Not the biggest receiver.
33 David Johnson RB Northern Iowa Big back who posted 1,286 yards on the ground and 393 receiving yards in 2014. Scored 32 touchdowns in his college career.
34 Stefon Diggs WR Maryland Speedy player who offers a similar fantasy profile to Ted Ginn Jr. Likely to be a WR4, but his ceiling is in the WR3 range.
35 Jeremy Langford RB Michigan State Bigger back at 6’1″ and 208 lbs. Posted 11-straight 100-yard games to end 2014. Found the end zone a combined 41 times over the last two seasons.
36 Tyler Lockett WR Kansas State Slight build in the mold of T.Y. Hilton, but doesn’t have Hilton’s fantasy ceiling. Put up big numbers over the last two seasons: 187 catches for a combined 2,777 yards and 22 scores.
37 Brett Hundley QB UCLA Completed 69.1 percent of his passes in 2014, but that number dipped to 65.4 over his last six games. Doesn’t project to be a top-end long-term fantasy option.
38 Jesse James TE Penn State Awesome name. Big body at 6’7″ and 254 lbs. Caught 38 passes for 396 yards and three scores in 2014.
39 Karlos Williams RB Florida State Good size and speed, but his yards per carry dipped from 8.0 in 2013 to 4.9 in 2014. Would be an extremely risky fantasy pick if your rookie dynasty draft was held today.
40 Antwan Goodley WR Baylor Timed at 4.41 in the 40 and posted a 10’7″ broad jump in college. His fantasy ceiling is similar to Anquan Boldin.
41 Cameron Artis-Payne RB Auburn Big senior year where he got 1,608 yards and 13 scores. Had 10 carries for 43 yards in the Senior Bowl.
42 Bryce Petty QB Baylor Threw a combined 62 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions over the last two seasons. Completed just 62.6 percent of his passes during that span.
43 Nick O’Leary TE Florida State The Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus’ grandson isn’t the biggest TE at 6’3″, but he snagged 48 catches for 618 yards and six scores in 2014. In the fantasy mold of Dallas Clark.
44 Austin Hill WR Arizona Was awesome in 2012 with 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns, but tore his ACL and missed 2013. Numbers dipped while recovering in 2014.
45 Deontay Greenberry WR Houston Not invited to the Combine. Has good size at 6’3″ 200 lbs. Posted 841 yards and six scores in 2014.
46 Tony Lippett WR Michigan State Solid college career that culminated with 1,198 yards and 11 touchdowns in his Senior year. There’s a chance he could be converted to a corner at the pro level, so he could be off the fantasy radar.
47 Ben Koyack TE Notre Dame Caught 30 balls for 317 yards and two scores in 2014. Projects as a back-end TE2 at best.
48 Matt Jones RB Florida No, not that Matt Jones. Big back at 6’2″ and 235 lbs. Averaged just 4.9 yards per carry for the Gators in 2014.
49 Josh Harper WR Fresno State Put up 1,000-plus receiving yards in each of the last two seasons. Also found the end zone 20 times during that span.
50 Tre McBride WR William & Mary Small schooler who played in the Shrine Game. Caught 64 balls for 809 yards and four scores in 2014, but flashed a high ceiling with 359 all-purpose yards against Villanova. Projects as a deep dynasty stash.


Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of PFF Fantasy.  

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Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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