Fantasy Football: Smitty’s 5 Breakout Rookies

Tavon Austin WR – Rams

tavon austin-wvu-rams-july23-icon

Austin could be the rookie pick of the year. An electrifying playmaker with good hands, Austin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the NFL Combine, the second best time at the event. Austin caught 114 passes for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012 at West Virginia — outstanding numbers for a college player. He should be one of the focal points of a Rams offense in desperate need of playmakers.

Giovanni Bernard RB – Bengals

The first running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft, Bernard is a prototypical type of fantasy running back. He’s proven capable of generating points both rushing and catching the ball out of the backfield, racking up 490 receiving yards in 2012 at North Carolina. Bernard is one of the top rookie running backs this year and has added value in PPR leagues.

DeAndre Hopkins WR – Texans

Miami Dolphins v Houston Texans

Finally, the Texans have a secondary receiving threat to Andre Johnson. Hopkins was one of the top wideouts in college football in 2012 and is Clemson’s all-time leader in yards (3,020) and receiving touchdowns (27). Hopkins can stretch the field as well as go over the middle and figures to be a major part of the Texans’ offense as a rookie.

Cordarelle Patterson WR – Vikings

Minnesota was great at running the ball a year ago, but their passing attack was abysmal. They ranked 31st in the league in both passing yards and passing yards per game — that looks to change with Patterson. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch in 2012 at Tennessee and at 6 foot 3, 205 pounds, Patterson is a big-bodied playmaker who should make an immediate impact for both the Vikings and your fantasy team.

Eddie Lacy RB – Packers

Discover BCS National Championship Game - Notre Dame v Alabama

While the Packers are set with their passing game in Aaron Rodgers, they left a lot to be desired in the rushing department. The Packers ranked 20th (106 ypg) in the league in rushing last year and 22nd in the league in yards per carry (3.9). This physical Crimson Tide running back should help change that. Lacy averaged 6.4 yards per carry in 2012 at Alabama. He should definitely help balance the Packers offensive attack en route to a solid fantasy season.   

Eric Smith is an MMA and fantasy football contributor with Craveonline.com. Follow him on twitter or @EricSmith_SP or email him at [email protected]

Photo Credit: Austin; Icon, Hopkins; Getty, Lacy; Getty