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It’s hard to top the rookie class of 2012. Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, Alfred Morris and Trent Richardson all turned into valuable fantasy options. Here are some rookies in this year’s class with the potential to put up big numbers:
Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: Rookie wide receivers usually have to go through a bit of a learning curve. But Austin has the skills to make big things happen for the Rams as the slot receiver.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Steelers: Bell will likely earn the first-team job for the Steelers. The 6-foot-1, 244-pound power runner will see plenty of goal-line carries and will be a good source for touchdowns. He can handle the workload of an every-down back — he led the NCAA last season with 382 rushing attempts — and was the second running back taken in the draft.
Montee Ball, RB, Broncos: No other rookie has a nose for the end zone like Ball, who set the NCAA record for career rushing touchdowns with 77. But he may not win the No. 1 role with Ronnie Hillman starting the preseason as the feature back. Given Denver coach John Fox’s history of splitting carries, don’t be too confident that Ball will be the go-to guy.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: The first running back taken in the NFL draft will have to beat out BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the starting role. Bernard averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season at North Carolina, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield, too.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills: This may be a shot in the dark, but he’s the only quarterback taken in the first round. The Bills think they have something here.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers; Johnathan Franklin, RB, Packers; Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots; Zach Stacy, RB, Rams; Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers; DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans; Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals; Justin Hunter, WR, Titans; Geno Smith, QB, Jets; Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars; Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots; Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings; Matt Barkley, QB, Eagles.