This is the second of two articles covering the fantasy winners and losers among the rookies selected in the 2010 draft. For the "Rookie Winners" article, see here.
C.J. Spiller, Bills
While fellow first-round backs Ryan Mathews and Jahvid Best landed in situations ready made for fantasy success, the No. 9 overall pick was banished to the NFL's version of Siberia.
Forget the anonymity and lake effect snow, Spiller enters an offense flush with established running backs yet lacking in NFL caliber quarterbacks and offensive tackles. Presumed starter Trent Edwards was benched for noodle-armed Ryan Fitzpatrick, who gave way to former Packers draft bust Brian Brohm late in the season. The three of them will stage a "competition," with the winner dragging down the rest of the offense behind swinging gates Cornell Green and Demetrius Bell at tackle.
Coach Chan Gailey envisions Spiller as a hybrid weapon in the mold of Reggie Bush. Spiller (like Bush) refuses to run between the tackles, so he's best used out wide and on pitches and misdirections. Fred Jackson will continue to receive much of the early-down work, so Spiller's workload could be heavily dependent on game momentum. Whether he's truly a difference-making talent or not, the situation in Buffalo is a fantasy killer.
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
Carson Palmer finally has a stud pass-catching tight end. Unfortunately, it's about four years too late. If the late-season version of Palmer shows up again in 2010, the Bengals will be saddled with a passer lacking in accuracy and arm strength.
Even if Palmer's right arm improves, Gresham will have to convince offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski that a tight end is more than just a sixth lineman. The Bratkowski/Marvin Lewis Bengals have never utilized the tight end as a significant part of passing attack. In Cincy's new run-heavy offense, Gresham will be worked in on situational passing downs and in the red zone. It's not a recipe for fantasy success in year one.
Dexter McCluster, Chiefs
Toby Gerhart, Vikings
The Heisman Trophy runner-up could have ended up as the power half of a committee attack in Seattle, Houston, or Cleveland. Instead, he'll spend his rookie season picking up splinters behind Adrian Peterson. Gerhart isn't as advanced as Peterson in pass protection or receiving, so we can rule out third-down duties as well. The second-rounder is nothing more than a handcuff in fantasy leagues.
Jimmy Clausen, Pathers
For all we know, Clausen's attitude and leadership “issues” may be mythical. He was a first-rounder based on talent alone, and conventional wisdom holds that he landed in a spot chock full of opportunity.
Not so fast. The Panthers cut franchise icon Jake Delhomme, assigned a first- and third-round tender to Matt Moore, and named Moore the starting quarterback as early as March. Does the addition of Clausen change things? Sure, but probably not for 2010. After finishing up last season 4-1 with a passer rating near 100, Moore is the heavy favorite to hold off Clausen for the starting job in Week 1.
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Colt McCoy, Browns
Even with washed-up Delhomme penciled in under center, McCoy has zero chance of opening the season as the Browns’ starting quarterback. Team president Mike Holmgren announced Saturday that the third-rounder simply isn't ready to take the reins, and he'll spend his rookie season holding a clipboard. The Longhorn is a long-term project for Holmgren.
Joe McKnight, Jets
Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers
One of the most decorated backs in college football the past two seasons, the former Yellow Jacket sunk like a stone the past two months due to undisclosed medical reasons. The Steelers obviously believe the "risk" is worth taking, even if Dwyer slipped all the way to the sixth round. Though Dwyer is a pure power back drawing comparisons to Jerome Bettis, he'll take a backseat to Rashard Mendenhall for the foreseeable future.
Anthony Dixon, 49ers
Dwyer wasn't the only big back falling to the sixth round. Dixon, the Mississippi State bull-dozer, joined him in a free fall over the weekend. Though Dixon has drawn comparisons to the Jets' Shonn Greene, his foot speed just doesn't match up. Niners coordinator Jimmy Raye envisions Dixon as a fourth-quarter "closer" spelling Frank Gore. I wouldn't take that to the bank. Raye planned to use Glen Coffee in the same role last year, but Gore was simply too good to take off the field.
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Images of player and fan reactions during the three-day 2010 NFL draft in New York.
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