Even Snooki will be fist-pumping over Mikel “Jersey” Leshoure.
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That’s right ladies and gents; it’s time for another rendition of the Canadian Perspective. We’ll be stepping away from the baseball diamond this week, focusing our attention on 2011 NFL rookies. Being as we are ahead of the curve at Sons of Roto, you won’t be seeing any familiar names here. That’s right gamers, no Cam Newton, Mark Ingram, or Daniel Thomas propaganda. We’re too cool for that.
Instead, enjoy analysis on some other prospects, the kind only we have the balls to talk about. Make the jump if you know what’s good for you:
Titus Young, WR (DET)
First off, check out some of this guy’s game film. Nasty isn’t it? A winner from Boise State, Young was selected by the Lions with the 44th overall pick. Although undersized (5-11, 170 lbs), his blazing speed and big play ability make him an excellent fit for the Lions' high powered offense. He also has a knack for scoring TDs, reaching pay dirt 25 times in his four-year collegiate career. Judging from his impressive credentials, we can fully expect him to produce a solid rookie campaign. For fantasy purposes, he’s an interesting deep sleeper. Due to his size, Young will likely play the slot in Detroit. With Megatron being the primary concern for opposing team’s defenses, Young will have plenty of open space to work with. He was also a star kick returner in college, a skill set that is likely to serve him well in the pros. The only real concern with Young is his quarterback, Matthew Stafford. Although the former #1 overall pick had surgery on his throwing shoulder, his arm strength is apparently better than ever. In early team workouts, Young had this to say about his QB according to The Detroit News:
“It's ridiculous, man,” Young said. “I would have thought he had surgery to make his arm stronger.”
The fact hat Young is even working out with his team also is a good sign. Although athleticism is an important factor, ambition and continuous effort is what makes or breaks an NFL rookie. So let’s go over the Titus Young checklist. Blazing speed? Check. Solid route running? Check. Sure-armed quarterback? Check. What’s not to love? Yes, being a rookie may lead to some growing pains, but Young has too much skill and potential to completely ignore. Remember his name gamers, and if all goes well in the off-season, Young may produce adequate WR3 numbers this season. A campaign akin to Percy Harvin’s rookie year is highly attainable.
Titus Young 2011-2012 Projection: 47 Catches, 657 Yards, 7 TDs, 2 Return TDs.
Mikel Leshoure, RB (DET)
Yup, I’m high on the Lion’s rookies this year, with good reason. Leshoure is another name all of you should stash away in your brains. Coming into the draft, Leshoure was touted as being the second best running back in the class behind Mark Ingram. For unknown reasons, he fell to the Lions in the late second round (57th overall). A monster physically (6’0, 231 lbs), Leshoure showed in college that he has all the tools to be a feature back in the NFL, totaling 1697 rushing yards on 281 attempts (6.0 YPC) and scoring a whopping 17 TDs in his final season at Illinois. Skeptics say that his impressive performance in college will not carry over to the NFL. With Jahvid Best expected to be the “running back of the future” in Detroit, it appears as if an opportunity to shine will be hard to come by for Mikel. Best’s presence, however, shouldn’t scare you away from the Illini alum. Best, although talented, has a history of injury problems, and showed last year that these problems are likely to haunt him in the NFL as well. In this expert’s opinion, it’s becoming clear that he is more suited to be a third down, change-of-pace back. The Lions, with their selection of Leshoure, must agree with this assessment. They now possess a lethal one-two punch in the backfield, one that they will surely use to their advantage.
Although it can be argued that Best has more “swagger”, Leshoure is better suited physically to handle the brutality that comes with being an NFL running back. Therefore, you can expect the Lions to heavily use both of their young backs. Best still has more potential, and his excellent catching ability makes him the better choice in PPR leagues. However, Leshoure will be getting carries, and with his size and strength, many of these carries may be coming in the red zone. You know what this means. He might not be the most exciting rookie, but for fantasy purposes, Leshoure might be your best bet in the backfield. Baring any bizarre setbacks, Leshoure will play and put up respectable RB3/flex numbers.
Mikel Leshoure 2011-2012 Projection: 195 Carries, 822 Rushing yards, 9 TDs. 10 Catches, 54 receiving yards, TD.
Leonard Hankerson, WR (WAS)
If there is one team who needed to draft a wide receiver, it was the Washington Redskins. Santana Moss isn’t getting much younger, and despite his somewhat successful end of the season surge, Anthony Armstrong isn’t his replacement. Also, Moss is a free agent, and considering his age, he may decide to jump ship and head to a team that actually deserves his talent. As such, The Skins drafted Leonard Hankerson out of The U in the third round. Possessing good size, excellent route running ability, and the skill to pluck footballs out of the air better than Mr. Miyagi plucks flies, Hankerson may be the most NFL ready wide receiver in this year’s class (video here). Coming into the Redskins organization, every opportunity will be given to him. He has Anthony Armstrong and Malcolm Kelly to compete with for a starting job. Barring drastic improvements, neither Armstrong nor Kelly are suited to be starters in this league. Hankerson also loves the end zone, as he set the single season school touchdown record (13) in his senior year at Miami. He has all the tools to become a legitimate receiver in the NFL. Although talented, it would be unwise to expect a monstrous rookie campaign. That rarely happens. Nevertheless, if given the opportunity, Hankerson will surely impress. Expect him to grab one of the starting receiver jobs in Washington this season. In standard leagues, Hankerson is a nice late-round/depth purchase. In deeper leagues, he will put up respectable WR3 numbers. In Dynasty Formats, he’s the next best rookie wideout to grab outside of the big two (Julio Jones and A.J. Green). Either way, Hankerson should be drafted. Don’t make the mistake of not getting to know this name; he will be a stud receiver for years to come.
Leonard Hankerson 2011-2012 Projection: 64 Catches, 700 Yards, 6 TDs.
That’s the end for this week gamers. Please feel free to argue, discuss, or laugh at my analysis. I have to warn you though; we Canadians are quite stubborn, especially when it comes to fantasy sports. All kidding aside, keep it real, and be sure to check back again next week.
*all stats from ESPN