Early 2013 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rookie Rankings

By Matt Schauf 7:05am EDT 4/14/13
The NFL Draft is almost here, but we just couldn't wait. 

That's why we're taking a too-early look at the top fantasy football rookies due to hit the League later this month. Of course, we don't really know any better than you do where each player will land.  And situation can mean a lot to fantasy value, even in dynasty formats. 

We'll roll out a full update on our 2013 fantasy football dynasty rankings after NFL Draft weekend.  And for redraft purposes, we'll take our annual look at the top 10 fantasy-impact rookies.  (You have to be a Draft Sharks member to access those exclusive features.)

Much will change in Radio City Music Hall.  But here's how we view the top 50 rookies for your dynasty draft right now ...

1. Alabama RB Eddie Lacy
2. West Virginia WR Tavon Austin
3. UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin
4. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball
5. Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson
6. UNC RB Giovani Bernard
7. Texas A&M RB Christine Michael
8. California WR Keenan Allen
9. Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins
10. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

Lacy's hamstring trouble and ensuing workout disappointment cloud his redraft fantasy football outlook.  Can he get ready to carry the load by this fall?  Will he get that opportunity?  We'll see.  But Lacy is the best back in this class, and the dynasty format mitigates any short-term concern.

Austin looks like this year's most exciting fantasy football rookie.  Percy Harvin is his ideal outcome.  But a healthier, less moronic DeSean Jackson would be fine, too. 

Franklin beats Ball on the strength of greater explosiveness.  Both look like 3-down types. 

Patterson is a long-term investment.  He flashed plenty of ability in 2012 but ultimately sports just 1 year of decent top-level production. 

Bernard is a big-play guy who has drawn comparisons to Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Patriots RB Shane Vereen.  Fantasy football owners would much prefer that he turn into McCoy, but Vereen is really just getting going.

Michael is a bit of an enigma.  NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock lauds the talent.  Let's hope the motivation is there. 

Allen and Hopkins look like this draft's safest wideouts.  Situation and upside stand as the only questions. 

Lattimore, meanwhile, carries plenty of upside.  We'll just have to see if he can come all the way back from the knee trauma.

11. West Virginia QB Geno Smith
12. Florida State QB E.J. Manuel
13. Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert
14. Baylor WR Terrance Williams
15. Michigan State RB Le'Veon Bell
16. Tennessee WR Justin Hunter
17. Clemson RB Andre Ellington
18. Oklahoma State RB Joseph Randle
19. USC WR Robert Woods
20. Oregon State WR Markus Wheaton Smith is the top passer. 

Manuel is the great upside hope.  Neither should start for your fantasy team in 2012.  Eifert might start for you this season, though, depending on where he lands.  He looks better than Notre Dame predecessor and Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph. 

We love the downfield ability and fluidity in Williams' game and can't wait to see who picks him.  Bell calls himself the draft's best back.  He might be delusional, but he also should at least be Shonn Greene. 

NFL Films guru Greg Cosell likes Hunter better than teammate Patterson.  We don't follow Mayock in liking Ellington better than Gio Bernard.  But we do like the big-play ability. 

Randle has already drawn some fantasy football sleeper love.  He ran for 38 TDs over the past 2 years and caught 108 passes in his 3 college seasons.  Woods has been called an "ideal slot guy" and compared to fellow former Trojans WR Steve Smith.  That former Giant put up a 100-catch season before injury derailed his career.

Yahoo! Sports' Doug Farrar compares Wheaton to the good side of WR Brandon Lloyd.

21. Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor
22. Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton
23. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson
24. Arizona QB Matt Scott
25. Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib
26. USC QB Matt Barkley
27. N.C. State QB Mike Glennon
28. West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey
29. Florida RB Mike Gillislee
30. Stanford TE Zach Ertz

Taylor fits the Ball mold of a dependable 3-down back without the electricity of the speedier guys.  Patton has been building buzz since the Senior Bowl.  He caught 183 passes over his 2 seasons at pass-happy Tech. 

Wilson looks intriguing.  He struggled through a senior year that proved tough on the whole program.  But he looked like a stud in 2011.  Barkley and Nassib certainly look like safer bets than Scott.  But the Wildcat's dual-threat ability makes him a more interesting fantasy play.  Glennon sits behind Barkley and Nassib because he's more scattershot.  But he brings potential. 

Bailey led this class of wideouts in "clutch receptions" last season, catches that produced 1st downs or TDs.  He hauled in 72 among 148 targets.  Gillislee ran for 1,152 yards -- including five 100-yard games -- in his 1st regular action as a senior.  He's not a special talent but a guy who could deliver if the opportunity arrives.  

Many talent evaluators rate Ertz near Eifert.  We might, too, if there weren't so little demand for TEs in fantasy football right now.

31. Arkansas RB Knile Davis
32. San Diego State TE Gavin Escobar
33. Kansas State WR Chris Harper
34. Tennessee QB Tyler Bray
35. South Carolina WR Ace Sanders
36. Oregon RB Kenjon Barner
37. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones
38. Cincinnati TE Travis Kelce
39. Georgia WR Tavarres King
40. Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope
41. Miami (Ohio) QB Zac Dysert
42. Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead
43. Marshall WR Aaron Dobson
44. Tennessee Tech WR Da'Rick Rogers
45. Oklahoma WR Kenny Stills
46. Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams
47. Texas WR Marquise Goodwin
48. Michigan State TE Dion Sims
49. Rice TE Vance McDonald
50. Florida TE Jordan Reed

Prospects become much more of a crapshoot lower down these rankings, obviously.  Situation figures to dictate these values even more than with the top options.  The 1st 5 guys among these final 20 lead the way on upside. Here's how our preliminary top 50 breaks down by position:

RBs

1. Eddie Lacy
2. Johnathan Franklin
3. Montee Ball
4. Giovani Bernard
5. Christine Michael
6. Marcus Lattimore
7. Le'Veon Bell
8. Andre Ellington
9. Joseph Randle
10. Stepfan Taylor
11. Mike Gillislee
12. Knile Davis \
13. Kenjon Barner
14. Rex Burkhead
15. Kerwynn Williams

WRs

1. Tavon Austin
2. Cordarrelle Patterson
3. Keenan Allen
4. DeAndre Hopkins
5. Terrance Williams
6. Justin Hunter
7. Robert Woods
8. Markus Wheaton
9. Quinton Patton
10. Stedman Bailey
11. Chris Harper
12. Ace Sanders
13. Tavarres King
14. Ryan Swope
15. Aaron Dobson
16. Da'Rick Rogers
17. Kenny Stills
18. Marquise Goodwin

QBs

1. Geno Smith
2. E.J. Manuel
3. Tyler Wilson
4. Matt Scott
5. Ryan Nassib
6. Matt Barkley
7. Mike Glennon
8. Tyler Bray
9. Landry Jones
10. Zac Dysert

TEs

1. Tyler Eifert
2. Zach Ertz
3. Gavin Escobar
4. Travis Kelce
5. Dion Sims
6. Vance McDonald
7. Jordan Reed

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