Pre-Draft Top 50 Fantasy Rookies

Which fantasy rookies should you keep your eye on in the NFL Draft? Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down his pre-Draft Top 50 offensive rookies with insights and analysis into each player.

| 1 year ago
Amari Cooper

Pre-Draft Top 50 Fantasy Rookies

cooperWe’re less than two weeks away from the NFL Draft. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting larger. Finally.

It’s an exciting time of the year for fantasy purposes, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. A little over two months ago, I took an initial inventory of the fantasy landscape among this year’s rookie crop. Now here we sit with the Combine and pro days in the rear view, and it’s time to reassess.

With all the Combine/pro day measurables plus data from the recently unveiled (and absolutely amazing) College Football Focus, I sat down to reevaluate my initial thoughts. The following is the result: Version 2.0 of my rookie fantasy football rankings.

Keep in mind that this list exists in a team vacuum and assumes all players in equal landing spots. Of course, that’s not how things are going to play out in Chicago next weekend. Expect significant changes to these rankings after all the picks are in. For now, use this list to get a lay of the land in the build up to the Draft.

Rk Player Pos College Comments
1 Todd Gurley RB Georgia Impressive runner who averaged 3.9 yards after contact and forced 37 missed tackles on 117 rushes against Power 5 teams. Coming off a torn ACL in mid-November.
2 Amari Cooper WR Alabama The top fantasy WR in this year’s rookie class. Extremely polished. Led FBS with 174 total targets, 124 receptions and 26 missed tackles forced over the season.
3 Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin Not a traditional Wisconsin RB. Put up a massive 2,587 yards in 2014, and had 40 rushes of 15-plus yards. Averaged 7.6 yards per carry, and 3.6 yards after contact.
4 Kevin White WR West Virginia Big, strong receiver with great speed (4.35 at the Combine). Had seven scores on passes traveling 20-plus yards (only Devin Smith had more).
5 Devante Parker WR Louisville Has great size (6’3″, 208 lbs.) and speed (4.4). Excellent after the catch, forcing 15 missed tackles on just 43 catches.
6 Jay Ajayi RB Boise St. Solid back who ran the most routes among draft-eligible RBs last season, and averaged a strong 1.55 yards per route run. Also gained 1165 yards after contact (No. 2 among draft-eligible RBs) and forced 51 missed tackles.
7 Dorial Green-Beckham WR Oklahoma No relation to OBJ, DGB was dismissed from Mizzou and sat out 2014. Very big – 6’5″, 237lbs. Ran a 4.49 40 time at the Combine. In 2013, he put up 59 catches for 883 yards and 12 TDs.
8 Jaelen Strong WR ASU Big-bodied receiver who posted an impressive 4.44 40 time at the Combine. True to his last name, is able to outmuscle defenders for contested balls.
9 Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska Big year in 2014, racking up yards at a clip of 6.1 YPC. Also forced 66 total missed tackles (3rd in this year’s class). Among the bottom 10 RBs in pass blocking efficiency.
10 Breshad Perriman WR Central Florida Perriman’s size (6’3″) and blazing speed (sub-4.3 at his pro Day) make him very attactive for fantasy purposes. Had 525 yards and five scores on passes of 20-plus yards.
11 Marcus Mariota QB Oregon Dual-threat QB. Completed 50% of 20-plus yard passes last season, and was the second most-accurate draft-eligible QB under pressure in 2014. In the right landing spot, Mariota has the potential to be a dangerous fantasy option.
12 Duke Johnson RB Miami Not a big back, but has explosive speed. Had 826 yards on plays of 15-plus yards (50.3% of his total yards). Caused 13 missed tackles on receptions against Power 5 opponents.
13 Nelson Algholor WR Southern California Put up 104 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 scores in 2014. Caught 76.3% of pass thrown his direction, which is best among this year’s top draft-eligible receivers. Had 45 catches for 509 yards out of the slot in 2014.
14 Tevin Coleman RB Indiana Only RB in this year’s class to average over four yards after contact per rush, but wasn’t nearly as elusive against Power 5 opponents. Posted 1156 of his 2028 yards on runs of 15-plus yards.
15 Jameis Winston QB Florida State The likely No. 1 pick doesn’t offer the fantasy ceiling of Mariota. Won’t put up many fantasy points with his legs (4.97 40 time). Had a 25:18 TD to INT ratio in 2014.
16 T.J. Yeldon RB Alabama Bigger back at 6’1″, 226lbs. Not a burner (4.61 40 at the Combine), but was productive as a runner at Alabama. Scored 37 touchdonws, including nine in his last seven games in college.
17 Devin Smith WR Ohio State Has the speed to take the top off a defense (4.42 40 time). Decent size (6’0″, 196lbs.). Led the FBS in 2014 with 754 yards on passes traveling 20-plus yards.
18 Sammie Coates WR Auburn Physical and athletic receiver, who isn’t the most polished in this year’s class, but was among the top WRs in four categories at the Combine. Put up 488 yards on passes of 20-plus yards (No. 7 in this year’s class).
19 Maxx Williams TE Minnesota Good size at 6’4″, 249lbs. Led all draft-eligible TEs last season with 166 receiver yards on throws of 20-plus yards, and was second with a YPRR of 2.78. Averaged 8.4 yards after the catch.
20 David Johnson RB Northern Iowa Big back at 6’1″ and 224lbs, who showed up at the Combine. Posted an impressive 4.50 40 time, which was fourth among RBs. Set 15 school records at UNI, but this came in the Missouri Valley Conference.
21 Chris Conley WR Georgia Only targeted 54 times last season, but averaged 18.3 YPC on 36 receptions. Great Combine performance, especially in the 40 where he ran 4.35.
22 Tyler Lockett WR Kansas State Stands just 5’10” and weighs 182 lbs, but plays much bigger than his size. Was behind only Amari Cooper and Tony Lippett with 3.64 yards per route run.
23 Mike Davis RB South Carolina His numbers regressed after an impressive 2013 campaign. YPC dipped from 5.8 to 4.9. Caused just 27 missed tackles last season, which ranked No. 25 among draft-eligible RBs.
24 DeAndre Smelter WR Georgia Tech Recovering from a torn ACL suffered late in 2014. Has good size at 6’2″ and 226lbs. Plays physical. Led all draft-eligible WRs last season with 4.36 yards per route run. Recovery timetable up in the air.
25 David Cobb RB Minnesota Not particularly fast (4.81 40 at the Combine), but caused the third most missed tackles (61) among draft-eligible RBs. Graded out 55-of-59 qualifiers in pass blocking efficiency.
26 Clive Walford TE Miami Led all draft-eligible TEs in 2014 with 3.26 yards per route run. Also forced 8 missed tackles. Excelled in the slot, with 22.6% of his snaps coming there. Caught 22-of-28 targets for for 348 yards out of the slot.
27 Tre McBride WR William & Mary Small schooler who excelled against non-Power Five competition. Had a good showing at the Shrine Game, and ran a 4.41 40 time at the Combine.
28 Jeremy Langford RB Michigan State Posted the top 40 time among RBs at the Combine. Averaged 5.5 YPC and scored 22 times in 2014. Not used heavily as a receiver. Caught 11-of-21 targets for just 58 yards last season.
29 Vince Mayle WR Washington State Oozing with upside, Mayle caught 106-of-163 targets for 1,483 yards and nine scores in Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense. Led the FBS with 19 drops.
30 Phillip Dorsett WR Miami Lacks size at 5’10”, 185lbs., but has blazing speed (4.33 40 time). Big play ability evidenced by 24.2 yards per catch and 10 touchdowns on just 67 targets.
31 Devin Funchess WR Michigan Lacks speed (4.70 40), and drops are an issue. Dropped 6-of-68 catchable passes in 2014. Projects as a “big-slot” receiver (think Marquess Colston).
32 Javorius Allen RB Southern California “Buck” is a strong receiver out of the backfield. Led all draft-eligible RBs with 1.71 yards per route run. Posted a strong 40 time at the Combine – 4.53.
33 Josh Robinson RB Mississippi State Not a burner (4.70 40 time), but had the second highest missed tackle forced rate among RBs with at least 100 carries in this year’s class. Only Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman had a higher yards after contact per attempt (3.5).
34 Rashad Greene WR Florida State Stands 6’1″, but only weighs 182lbs. Ran an unimpressive 4.53 at the Combine. His 6.0 yards after catch per reception ranked just 43rd among draft-eligible WRs.
35 Kenny Bell WR Nebraska Not heavily used in 2014. Caught 47-of-90 targets for 782 yards and six scores. Ran 4.42 40 time. Finished No. 9 amoung draft-eligible receivers in yards per route run with 2.95.
36 Devante Davis WR UNLV Has the size (6’3″, 220lbs.) that you can’t teach and decent speed (4.53 40 time). Dealt with wrist injury in 2014, but averaged 10 targets per game in eight games played.
37 Justin Hardy WR East Carolina Small school receiver who CFF’s Gordon McGuinness calls “a jack of all trades, a master on none.” Posted a yards per route run of 2.33, which ranked 16th among draft-eligible WRs. Third most-productive receiver out of the slot on a per-route basis in 2014.
38 Stefon Diggs WR Maryland Not the biggest receiver at 6’0″ and 195lbs., but has good speed (4.46 40 time). Posted an above-average 8.3 yards after catch per reception.
39 Brett Hundley QB UCLA Has loads of athleticism and can make plays with his legs. Only Grant Hedrick was more accurate (77.9%) among draft-eligible QBs last season.
40 Tony Lippett WR Michigan State Lacks top-end speed (4.61 40 time), but he has good size (6’3″) and put up strong numbers in 2014 (1198 yards and 11 TDs). Finished No. 4 last season in yards per route run (3.65).
41 Karlos Williams RB Florida State Impressive 40 time at the Combine – 4.48. YPC dipped last season to 4.6 after point up 8.0 in 2013. Scored 11 TDs in each of his two college seasons. Fantasy stock could rise in the right landing spot.
42 Cameron Artis-Payne RB Auburn Big senior year where he out 1,608 yards and 13 scores. Solid performance at the Combine with a 4.53 40 time. Only Melvin Gordon caused more missed tackles (64) among draft-eligible RBs last season.
43 Ty Montgomery WR Stanford Stuggles catching the ball, but very good as a runner. Averaged 12.4 yards per carry on wide receiver runs, and 4.8 yards per carry on running back carries.
44 Antwan Goodley WR Baylor Ran 4.44 at the Combine speed and is built like a running back at 5’10” and 209lbs. Numberes regressed in Sr. year after a big Jr. year where he put up 1339 yards and 13 TDs.
45 Nick O’Leary TE Florida State The Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus’ grandson isn’t the biggest TE, at 6’3″. But he’s a strong receiver who dropped just one of 49 catchable balls last season.
46 Austin Hill WR Arizona Big production in 2012 with 81 catches for 1364 yards and 11 TDs. Tore his ACL and missed 2013. Numbers dipped while recovering in 2014.
47 Deontay Greenberry WR Houston Not invited to the Combine, but has good size at 6’3″. Ran 4.5 at his pro day. Saw 11th most targets (135) among draft-eligible WRs last season. Had 72 receptions for 841 yards and six touchdowns.
48 Darren Waller WR Georgia Tech It’s hard to ignore a 6’6″ receiver who ran a 4.46 at the Combine. Only caught 26 balls last season, but six of them were for touchdowns, including scores in each of the last three games of the season.
49 Jesse James TE Penn State Big body player who wasn’t used a ton in 2014. Caught 38-of-60 for 396 yards and three scores last season. Impressive measurables at the Combine with top performer numbers in four categories.
50 James O’Shaughnessy TE Illinois State Relatively unknown small schooler who put up nine touchdowns and an average of 18.8 YPC in the Missouri Valley Conference last season. Could be a riser in the post-Draft fantasy rankings.


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

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| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is one of the most accurate rankers 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.

  • hfh

    what ? where is the IDP please :( ?

    • Jeff Ratcliffe

      Sorry man, offense always get priority over IDP. Just released the IDP today.

      • hfh

        ok thanks