Rookie Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2015: Senior Bowl Recap

As the NFL Season concludes for most fans with the Super Bowl this Sunday, our maniacal efforts to help you win a 2015 fantasy championship at RosterWatch have just begun. It’s never too early to start uncovering next year’s rookie fantasy superstars. This process will include RosterWatch attending (in-person) College All-Star games, the NFL Combine, and various NFL Pro Days on major university campuses as usual.

The Senior Bowl is one of the premiere events of the NFL offseason. It’s the first opportunity for Scouts, NFL coaches, and general managers league-wide to assemble in one location to begin live-scouting this year’s incoming crop of NFL draft-eligible college all-stars. It’s an event that we attend annually, which has contributed largely to the fantasy football success of RosterWatch Nation. It’s a big reason why we have been dubbed “The Rookie Experts”.

After a week of around-the-clock, football-related activities – and some great Gulf seafood (namely oysters, fried green tomatoes with crawfish tails, and blackened redfish topped with jumbo Gulf shrimp), we’ve returned from Mobile, Al. to tell you which fantasy rookies to start keeping an eye on for your 2015 fantasy football teams and dynasty rosters. Many of these prospects will be impact players as rookies, and some will be future pro-bowlers. All of them had huge weeks at the Senior Bowl:

*** Don’t forget to follow our live coverage at the NFL Combine on Feb 17-23 on Sirius 210 / XM 87 and at / @RosterWatch on Twitter

Phillip Dorsett, WR University of Miami
Brandin Cooks 2.0, ladies and gentlemen. Dorsett is an electric player in space, and has good strength for his size. His ability to separate is uncanny (not just vertically, but over the middle and on slant and crossing routes) and his hands are reliable. He can beat you deep, he can take a short pass the distance, and he can beat you in the red zone. Watch out for Phillip Dorsett, RosterWatch Nation. Once he blows up the combine with what will be one of the fastest times among all participants in the 40-yard dash, the secret will be out.

Devin Smith, WR Ohio State
Coming immediately off of a National Championship victory, Smith came to Mobile and worked hard all week, which is notable as many players on the Ohio State and Oregon rosters elected to rest following two weeks of bowl practices and not come compete. He has infinite speed and reliable hands. All concerns about being a one-trick pony vertical threat were completely erased, as Smith dominated in the short and intermediate passing game showing polish as a route runner. Devin Smith has huge-play ability, and will be very difficult to cover in the NFL.

Tyler Lockett, WR Kansas State
A superstar out of the Big 12, Lockett is as versatile as they come. He was used all over the formation in every situation throughout the week of Senior Bowl practice and excelled time and time again. He has the look of a Randall Cobb-type of player. If he’s drafted into a good situation, we’ll be looking to roll him out in our own fantasy leagues as a rookie, possibly even in Week 1.

Sammie Coates, WR Auburn
A physical freak of nature who was heavily targeted throughout the week, but with the most frequency during Thursday red zone practice, where his most NFL-fitted skills were clearly on display. He answered a lot of questions about his hands and has become a near-lock to be a late first round pick. In many ways he reminds us of Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. There is a boom/bust factor with Coates, and in many ways he may be frustrating to own early – but his physical traits are undeniable. If he puts it all together, he’s going to have Pro Bowl potential in the NFL.

Jamison Crowder, WR Duke
A lightning fast jitterbug who could become a matchup nightmare in the slot. RosterWatch’s good friend Bill Carroll of Consensus Draft Services calls him the “next John Brown.” Almost every defensive back we spoke to throughout the week said Crowder was the toughest guy to cover in practice. We’ve learned through the years that the players who DBs say are hardest to cover go on to be, well, hard to cover at the next level.

Dezmin Lewis, WR Central Arkansas
A big, physical receiver who is extremely aggressive at he catch-point. Being form a small school, he adjusted well throughout the week and got better every day. At nearly 6’4″ and 215 pounds, we noticed that Lewis ran pretty well for a big man and broke down into his routes with greater comfort and ease than fellow “big WR” Sammie Coates. His trainers in Dallas, TX have told us they expect him to run 4.5 at the NFL Combine in February. If he does that, Lewis is going to start rising up draft boards. He has definite fantasy allure as a red-zone target and possession receiver at the next level.

David Cobb, RB University of Minnesota
The best all-around running back at the Senior Bowl. He reminds us of Jeremy Hill and Vick Ballard, two very important fantasy rookies in recent years. Cobb has good vision, burst, balance, and great hands. At 229 pounds, he also proved to be a formidable pass protector. He can play on all three downs. We love his potential as a fantasy rookie.

Ameer Abdullah, RB Nebraska
When he gets the touches he is going to be extremely dangerous in the NFL. Abullah is a big play waiting to happen. He’s small in stature, yet has a powerful build. We expect him to be a very threatening change-of-pace back to begin his NFL career, the lightning to another runner’s thunder, in a committee backfield. He’s going to be drafted to play right away, though. If he gets double-digit touches, he’s going to be a threat for double-digit fantasy points every week he starts, even as a rookie, with even greater upside in PPR. Ameer Abdullah is on our radar- big time.

David Johnson, RB Northern Iowa
A player whom some scouts felt was the best running back in Mobile. He’s got nifty feet, great size, tremendous vision, and was the best pass protector of any running back at the Senior Bowl hands down. Johnson also poses a threat as a receiver out of the backfield. If he’s drafted into a situation where he’s got the chance to become the starter, Johnson will be a must-own as a fantasy rookie. He’d also be a great, high-efficiency-yield handcuff if he lands as a backup to a premiere running back.

Tyler Varga, FB/RB Yale
He reminds us of Marcell Reece, and “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell with a small dash of Danny Woodhead. Some scouts even say Toby Gerhart. Varga is one of the most chiseled athletes we’ve every seen. His legs where the size of most people’s waists, yet he couples agility and burst with that power. The coaches fed him as a receiver out of the backfield all week long, where caught everything in sight and was always a threat for yards after contact. He was also very effective when used as a traditional running back and was featured heavily in all these aspects during the game itself where he scored two touchdowns. Varga is a big-time sleeper.

Clive Walford, TE University of Miami
The most athletic tight end at the Senior Bowl. Amongst scouts, Walford was the consensus “best playmaker” at the tight end position throughout the week. He’ll be a rookie tight end to watch.

Nick Boyle, TE Delaware
The Tennessee Titans coaching staff (who coached the North Squad) featured Nick Boyle at the tight end position. Primarily, because he showed a great mixture of blocking and pass catching abilities throughout the week. He’s really what teams are looking for at that position and our own Luke Shabro has compared his skill set favorably to Scott Chandler of the Buffalo Bills. Boyle is on the Dynasty radar.

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