Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
It's still way too early to judge the full impact of the 2009 NFL Rookie class, but it might be fun to look into the crystal ball and try to guess which first-year players might have an effect on your fantasy team.
Of course, rookies making a real contribution to your team are few and far between for a couple of reasons:
First, they must be drafted into a good situation. The best running back in the world, can't get many fantasy points if he is drafted by a team with no offensive line. And the best rookie wide receiver can run great routes all day, but if Ryan Leaf is the quarterback, he's not going to see many balls come his way, at least not ones he can catch.
Secondly, even if a running back comes to a team with a good offensive line, he has to get an opportunity to show his stuff. If Ahman Green and Chris Brown hadn't gotten hurt, would the third-round draft choice out of West Virginia, Steve Slaton, have gotten on the field enough to produce 248 fantasy points? Probably not.
So despite all the obstacles between now and a rookie's first game of the 2009 season next September, lets take a look at who might be viable fantasy option next year.
Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia - If Stafford is the first player selected and heads to Detroit, he will have a great receiver in Calvin Johnson a.k.a. "Megatron" to throw to. Johnson almost made both Dan Orlovsky and Daunte Culpepper look like NFL quarterbacks, so what could he do with a young, talented guy like Stafford?
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - All indications are that the Seattle Seahawks will grab Crabtree if he lasts to the fourth pick. Crabtree might be more talented than Johnson (see above) and he would certainly come into a great situation. The team has a solid veteran quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck) and is in desperate need at his position. He'd get on the field right away and would be the No.1 option.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia - Rumors have the Denver Broncos interested in the talented Georgia Bulldogs running back and we all know how well the Broncos have developed running backs. Of course, that was with Mike Shanahan as the head coach, so things could change as the high-powered Denver passing game might take precedence.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri - Maclin reminds me of DeSean Jackson who had a solid year in Philadelphia both as a wide receiver and a punt returner. Jackson was the No.2 fantasy rookie receiver in 2008 with 151 fantasy points (Eddie Royal was No.1 with 205 points).
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida - If Harvin were to go to a team like Baltimore as a late first-round selection, he could learn from a veteran like Derrek Mason and he could grow along with their young quarterback Joe Flacco. He probably wouldn't start out the season quickly, but could eventually be a viable No.3 fantasy receiver.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina - There are rumors that the Philadelphia Eagles, who have two first-round picks, might use one of them on another wide receiver to go along with Jackson. If the two teamed up, Donovan McNabb might have a lot of fun in 2009.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, New York Giants - The Giants have to have realized how much they missed Plaxico Burress after the shooting and the suspension and how much they can't have their whole season depend on him. With the Giants great line and running game, Heyward-Bey would be a perfect fit on the play-action pass.
Shone Greene, RB, Iowa - Greene didn't get much national attention, but he might get the opportunity as an early second-round pick to play right away.