Michael Fabiano is the master of all-things fantasy football and the fantasy football editor for both NFL.com and the NFL Network. We called him up last night so as to get an idea of how the rookie class of 2011 projects fantasy-wise, particularly some of the guys drafted by the Dolphins. One of the first things he said to us was some pretty cool news: he has Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas rated as the number-one ranked fantasy player in this entire rookie class. Fabiano warned, though, that if Ronnie Brown returns to the Fins, Thomas’s value would go down a bit (because he’d be sharing the load), but if Miami went with a Darren Sproles-type guy as a third down back, Thomas will still have plenty of value.
When asked about h-back Charles Clay, Fabiano said that there is a ton of depth at the tight end position that could limit his value. He brought up former Hurricane Jimmy Graham as one of the big sleepers in 2011 and also mentioned that if Carson Palmer is not in Cincinnati and rookie Andy Dalton starts for the Bengals, that their TE, Jermaine Gresham, could have major value, as he projects to be a bit of a security blanket for the young QB.
The other Dolphin rookie that could have some fantasy impact is WR Clyde Gates. Fabiano warned against drafting Gates in a seasonal league and when I made the Mike Wallace comparison for him (Wallace was my team’s MVP last year), Fabiano reminded us that Wallace had a good rookie year but his second NFL season was when he really broke out. He also made the point that Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess catch a ton of balls, which could hurt Gates’ fantasy impact.
As for the rookie class of quarterbacks, Fabiano doesn’t see any of them being go-to options in seasonal leagues. Not only is there a ton of depth at quarterback, but he pointed out that last year’s best rookie QB, Sam Bradford, was 20th in fantasy points.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of questions about rookie wide receivers, as well. Despite both AJ Green and Julio Jones going in the top six, Fabiano had warnings about both. If Palmer is not in Cincinnati, Green could struggle getting the ball. And in Atlanta, Jones will be the third or fourth option for QB Matt Ryan. The rookie WR Fabiano really likes is Greg Little, the Browns’ second round selection out of North Carolina.
Finally, Fabiano made the following critical point about selecting fantasy players–rookie or veteran: you have to look as much at opportunity as you do at talent. That’s the main point with Jones. Fabiano recounted the tale of Rams RB Steven Jackson, one of the most talented running backs in the NFL when he came into the league in 2004. Jackson, though, ran for just over 600 yards that season. Why? Because soon-to-be Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk was in front of him on the depth chart.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.