The question for fantasy leaguers is to gauge how this year's rookie class compares to previous seasons to understand the depth of the class and how it may impact veterans.
So I looked at the most recent classes:
- 2002-2004 - these classes were subpar at best.
- 2005 - Mostly busts but selections 9-11 (Aaron Rodgers, Frank Gore & Brandon Jacobs) were stellar and saved this class.
- 2006 - Guys like MJD, DeAngelo Williams & Jay Cutler have been good to great; others such as Reggie Bush & Joseph Addai have been mediocre based on expectations, many others have simply busted (Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Laurence Maroney, LenDale White among many others). A class that in '08 looked stellar has fallen hard, fast!
- 2007 - fairly typical year, there were some studs (Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Calvin Johnson & Dwayne Bowe) but some horrible busts (Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Brandon Jackson, Chris Henry, Drew Stanton to name a few).
- 2008 - was an incredible year (Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Ryan, Matt Forte and that's just the first four picks; Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Jamal Charles were all selected between 8-12; throw in Rashard Mendenhall & Steve Slaton who have both put up top 10 fantasy seasons) that was fruitful throughout and still is impactful, producing 5 of this years top 15 fantasy backs and 2 of the top 20 QB's.
- 2009 - There are some gems in this group (Matt Stafford, LeSean McCoy and Hakeem Nicks) but the first 4 are all busts or disappointments to date (Chris Wells, K. Moreno, Mark Sanchez, Donald Brown) and many of the later picks are total busts.
- 2010 - This has to be one of the worst years in a decade. Many of the guys hyped heading into the year have already burned out and none have established themselves yet.
- 2011 - A still to be determined grade; Cam Newton looks like a superstar, Dalton a solid starting QB but the jury is till out on Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Mikel LeShoure and just about every other QB & RB in the class. However the two top 5 WR's (Julio Jones & AJ Green) look like studs.
2008 has to be the best year, there's been enough time for the class to develop and its been impactful (top to bottom, across positions - though QB is a bit light). The rest of the classes are limited to a couple impactful players but many busts (at least 50%).
So where does 2012 fit among this group? My opinion is we'll see it among the top two or three. I'm confident that Luck, TRich & RG3 are impact players; Martin, Tannehill, Weeden, DWilson, LJames and Russell Wilson among others have impact potential. If half of those develop, this will be up there battling for the 2nd best of the past decade.