Rookies and Lockouts

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There is a reason that you haven't seen many fantasy columns on our site analyzing the 2011-12 NFL rookie class. That's because until they are associated with a team, there is no way to fairly evaluate their fantasy value.

As an example, suppose the Indianapolis Colts decide to bring in a backup quarterback for Peyton Manning as insurance against an injury.

There is plenty of reason to use just such a strategy as we have seen the lack of offensive production in preseason and in meaningless end-of-the-season games where the Colts have clinched their playoff position.

So think for a minute of the fantasy value of Indy rookie quarterback Colin Kaepernick or Christian Ponder if he gets selected by the Colts with the 53rd pick of the draft.

With Manning showing no signs of slowing down at 35 and having never missed a game throughout his career, the answer is that said rookie would have a value of zero. At the very best, he's a "handcuff."

On the other hand, what if Ponder, said to be one of the most "NFL-ready" quarterbacks in the draft, gets selected by San Francisco or Tennessee or any of the other seven or eight teams that desperately need a quality starting quarterback?

Given that he would have a chance to start at quarterback from Day 1, his fantasy value could be much higher.

This is also where the lockout comes into play. A rookie quarterback would have almost no chance to start from Day 1 a la Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco if there are no OTAs or training camp.

If the players and owners can't get together in a reasonable timeframe, it's likely that none of the top quarterback prospects will get enough reps and study time to start on Opening Day and possibly for his entire first year.

Not quite as bad, but also delayed in their ability to contribute would be wide receivers who have to learn to read defenses like their quarterback in order to be on the same page.

A long lockout would definitely hurt receivers as well.

On offense, only the rookie running backs would not be greatly effected by a game stoppage. Sure, they have to learn how to pick up the blitz, but their primary responsibility is running the ball and they've been doing that since grade school. That part of the game doesn't change - run to daylight.

The good news is that the 2011 NFL Draft is scheduled to start on Thursday night so we won't have long to wait before the answers begin to unfold.

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