Fantasy Football: Four rookies who could make an impact in 2015


Fantasy Football: Four rookies who could make an impact in 2015

2014 saw an absurd number of rookies make an early impact in the NFL. 

From Odell Beckham Jr. to Mike Evans to Teddy Bridgewater, fantasy owners who took risks on rookies were mostly rewarded for their gamble (except for you, Bishop Sankey owners). 

Could we see another outburst of impact rookies in 2015? And could the success of the 2014 class cause fantasy owners to reach for some of the highly-rated rookies in the 2015 class?

We may not know some of those answers until training camp but looking at the some of the teams and situations the top playmakers in the 2015 NFL Draft ended up in got us excited for the fall.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

So here's a list of some rookies that should make an impact this fall if healthy:

1. Amari Cooper, WR, OAK

Of course Cooper is a rookie to watch in Fantasy Football this year. He was the fourth pick, after all. But there are plenty of reasons to believe Cooper will be a Fantasy stud in his rookie season. He's one of the most polished receivers we've seen in a long while and his game is pro-ready from Day 1. Cooper enters a great situation in Oakland where he should be the No. 1 option in the passing game immediately with up-and-comer Derek Carr at quarterback. Rookie wide receivers were a vital part of the 2014 Fantasy season and Cooper should lead the way for first-year wideouts in 2015. - Tony Andracki

[MORE: Four guys whose stock is falling after free agency, NFL Draft]

2. Maxx Williams, TE, BAL

There may not have been a more perfect match than Maxx Williams and the Baltimore Ravens in the 2015 NFL Draft, and the fact that the Ravens were able to grab the former Gopher at No. 55 and steal him from their AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers was just further icing on the cake. Williams, the No. 1 tight end in this year's draft, instantly adds a dynamic to the Ravens roster that they were previously missing. With Dennis Pitta's future in doubt, it's likely that Williams will be the starter in Baltimore this season. Williams possesses tremendous straight-line speed and has the ability to beat linebackers and safeties down the middle of the field. We saw what Joe Flacco could do with an aging Owen Daniels in 2014, just imagine the production he will get out of a player as talented as Williams. Another added bonus for Williams is new Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. During Trestman's two years in Chicago, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett hauled in 155 passes on 225 targets, making Bennett one of the league's top fantasy options at the tight end position. I know Williams is a rookie, but he's a must-target in the later rounds this year. A player with his upside should not be sitting on the wire in Week 1. - Scott Krinch

[RELATED: Four guys whose stock is on the rise after free agency, NFL Draft]

3. Tevin Coleman, RB, ATL

With most rookies, their first year success depends on two conditions: talent and depth chart. Coleman can check both of those boxes in Atlanta. The Falcons don't have a workhorse in the backfield with only Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith slated on the roster, immediately pushing Coleman towards the top of the depth chart. Third-down snaps may be harder to come by for Coleman because Freeman and Smith thrive catching balls out of the backfield but the former Hoosier is a strong enough back that he could be the Falcons' goal line runner and pick up major fantasy points that way. He's also in a division that lacks stout defenses (outside of the Panthers). With talent on the outside such as Julio Jones and Roddy White, Coleman is exactly the kind of offensive weapon the Falcons need to take their team to the next level and the kind of FLEX option that could put your fantasy team over the top. - John "The Professor" Paschall

4. Jameis Winston, QB, TB

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers felt comfortable enough about Jameis Winston off the field, he became a no-brainer choice for the No. 1 overall pick. That’s because he’s the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, a savvy quarterback mind and a gritty competitor. Pardon the John Gruden-isms there at the end, but Famous Jameis is that good. If he keeps his head on straight (I think he will) I see no reason why he can’t be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season. He’s got two 1,000-yard wide receivers in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, some talent in the backfield – expect a bounce-back year from Doug Martin, while one of Bobby Rainey, Mike James or Charles Sims should hold value. Tampa Bay allowed the third most sacks last season, but they invested in some protection by spending second-round picks on OT Donovan Smith and C Ali Marpet. The Bucs are invested in keeping Winston upright, and with a pair of 6-foot-5 targets to throw to I expect him to have a monster rookie year. I’m not sure it’ll result in Tampa Bay victories but the front office has put him in position to succeed from the jump. It’s too risky to bank on him being your No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues, but I’d absolutely use a mid-round pick on Winston. You’ll reap the rewards later. - Mark Strotman

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

Bears Season in Review: Adam Shaheen

The Chicago Bears 2019 season was a lesson in disappointment in almost every way possible, from the quarterback to the offensive line and even the vaunted pass rush. But no position underwhelmed more than tight end, and Adam Shaheen was a big reason why.

The former second-round pick of the 2017 NFL draft failed to make any impact whatsoever. And that's not hyperbole. He appeared in just eight games, registering nine catches for 74 yards and zero touchdowns. Believe it or not, his stat line was an improvement over 2018 when he had just five catches for 48 yards in six games.

Shaheen's career narrative has been defined by injury, and it continued last season. He was placed on injured reserve in late-November with an apparent foot injury, marking the second-straight season that his year came to an early end.

It's been a remarkably disappointing career for Shaheen so far, who was viewed as a Rob Gronkowski-lite coming out of Ashland University. His jump from the small-school ranks to the NFL was expected to include a steep learning curve, but after three forgettable seasons, it's safe to say Shaheen's failed in almost every way possible.

The Bears are expected to bring Shaheen back for 2020 and he'll likely be in a training-camp battle for a roster spot. Chicago is going to add more talent to the position via either free agency or the NFL Draft and it wouldn't be a surprise if Shaheen begins the offseason schedule last on the depth chart.

It's been an unfortunate outcome for a draft pick that seemed so promising in 2017. Instead of growing into a fixture in the Bears' lineup, Shaheen will be left to fight for his NFL future this summer.

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Kirk Cousins on John DeFilippo: 'He’s going to add a lot to Bears' staff'

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins spoke with Chicago Sun-Times reporter Patrick Finley at the 2020 Pro Bowl and offered a glowing review of Bears quarterback coach, John DeFilippo, whose addition to Chicago's coaching staff is expected to bring the best out of Mitch Trubisky, the Bears' incumbent starter who's entering a make-or-break offseason with the team.

“He’ll be outstanding,” Cousins said. “He’s a great coach. He’s been around this league for a long time. I think it says a lot when someone like Matt Nagy, who knows quarterbacks so well, hires him. I think that says a lot about ‘Flip.’

“When you look at what he did with Carson Wentz as a young player, I think there’s a lot to like there. And he’s going to add a lot to that staff. It’s going to be to my detriment, because we’re in his division. But he’s a great coach.”

DeFilippo was the Eagles quarterback coach for two seasons (2016-17) and played an integral part in Wentz's development between his rookie and second seasons. Under DeFilippo's tutelage, Wentz went from a solid rookie season to an MVP-worthy campaign in 2017. It's also noteworthy that DeFilippo managed to get the best out of veteran Nick Foles, who replaced Wentz after a season-ending injury. Foles went on to enjoy a miraculous Super Bowl run.

DeFilippo certainly has his work cut out for him with Trubisky. The former second-overall pick has looked like an average starter (at best) through 41 regular-season starts and regressed mightily in 2019. Blame for his regression has been shared among the offensive line and play-calling, but he deserves much of the criticism too. His mechanics were sloppy, his accuracy was lacking and he just didn't play with the kind of downfield killer instinct Nagy wants from his starter.

Nagy's end-of-year comments about Trubisky needing to learn how to identify coverages didn't create much confidence in his near-term trajectory, either.

But that's why DeFilippo is in town. And if Cousins' comments prove to be true, then we may be on the precipice of a breakout season from Trubisky.

Or maybe DeFilippo will be the tie-breaking voice that allows the Bears to move on if Trubisky's struggles continue.