Evaluation of college players isn't what this blog is about, so I will be focusing primarily on the situations they find themselves in and how this affects fantasy value.
The real news is Beanie Wells, a power runner lands in a very good situation. The knock on Wells was his lack of versatility. In Arizona, he won't need any, they have everything but straightforward running. He will be the starter on this team, even if he is nominally not at the beginning of the year. James and Hightower are not good, the Arizona line may be better than they made it look. With the highpowered offense, the Cardinals should be in the red zone alot, especially in that weak division against a good schedule. Wells has the highest odds of being this year's rookie breakout. You won't go wrong picking Wells. Ideally, experts may be touting before the drafts that Hightower will get the goal line carries, forgetting that Hightower is awful at goal line carries. Things are really lining up for Wells.
I find it hard to be objective about Knowshon Moreno, being a UGA fan. Moreno has been my favorite player for a few years and needless to say, I was unhappy about where he ended up. Denver in some ways is still the perfect place for a running back. Now that Shanahan is gone, maybe they will stick with a back. If so, it will be Moreno, he has all the tools. His great field vision and decision making would have been perfect for Denver's old one-cut running scheme. The thing that worries me is all the free agent rbs they picked up this season. What is everyone's role on that team? It just seems like chaos. In my heart I want Moreno on all my teams, but I'm skeptical of what will happen there. Is it possible to be wary of a great, durable back behind a great line? Needless to say, no other Denver or Arizona back has any value anymore.
Donald Brown presents some more interesting questions. Were the Colts making a value pick, or is there something wrong with Addai. I don't think this downgrades Addai from where he is, since he already has a substantial risk premium built into his rating. Brown has handcuff value, and value of his own in deep leagues. He basically fills the role formerly occupied by Rhodes.
Heyward-Bey caught a lot of people by surprise. He is a burner and could match up well with the big arm of Jamarcus Russell. I like him as a sleeper this year, moreso than I previously liked Johnnie Lee Higgins, whom I still like. He is still a late round flier which means your picking him on upside. He has plenty of that, just don't be afraid to drop him if he doesn't produce immediately.
2008 aside, wide receivers tend not to make too much impact as rookies. Michael Crabtree is ready to make an exception to this rule. He doesn't land in the perfect situation so his impact in 2009 should be moderate. Think Calvin Johnson in his rookie year on a bad team. He most likely puts up middling numbers en route to putting up big numbers a year or too from now. He will be the number one guy immediately, so that makes him a likely middle round pick. I think he delivers with middle round value, a safe third receiver type. The value of any other 49er receivers has been stripped.
One other guy in an ideal situation is Hakeem Nicks. It seems like he will take Hixon's place as the replacement Plaxico. A Plaxico type, he takes all the Hixon value. I'd draft him if I could get him low, than be prepared to cut bait if he is not stepping into that role. My money would be on Hicks putting up the best numbers of the rookie receivers, but Hixon may not give up his spot so easily. Nicks will likely eventually be the guy in the Meadowlands, but it may not be this year.
Jeremy Maclin has upside, but he may not develop as quickly as Desean Jackson did last year. However the Eagles need him to be ready now, as their window isn't open much longer. The Eagles would only have drafted a player they thought was ready to impact now. Additionally, he has value as a returner. I think he may be just outside draftablility in a standard league, but he may be the player you pick up when you drop your fliers that don't pan out.
It seems like a lot of receiver ended up in really good situations and here is one more, Kenny Britt. The ideal nature of the setup is derived from the fact that Britt is the exact type of receiver they need. He is the perfect complement to Nate Washington, and this allows Gage to move to a slot role, where he is best suited. Combined with Scaife on tight end, the Titans now have a nice receiving corps, worlds better than last year. I think Washington is still the premier value with his deep threat, but Britt has the potential to be a solid number one option for Collins this year. He again falls into that, wait and see, pick him up if he produces in the first two weeks guys. That was Eddie Royal last year, and those that picked him up after week 1 were satisfied with his 2008 numbers. In a deep league all these rooks should be drafted.
Percy Harvin is a bit more iffy as it is unclear how his skills will translate in the NFL, He is a bigger risk than the other first rounders and he is also entering a team with a clear number one that he isn't likely to supplant. I would wait and see on Harvin, and be a little less eager to pick him up.
The two Cleveland receivers seem to indicate that Braylon Edwards is on the move. I'm not to thrilled with either of their chances in the short term. Its a poor offense with an unclear quarterback situation in a tough division. Both of these guys could end up being very good, but their situation is notably worse than any of the first rounders besides Harvin.
Matt Stafford, who by all accounts is an NFL ready qb, was selected first by the Lions. Its not a great situation for him, but he does have Calvin Johnson, who will get his TDs, meaning Stafford will get his too. Kitna had value going into last year, and despite the worst season ever, qbs put up a few fantasy points. Stafford should have a thoroughly mediocre year, providing fantasy teams with a reliable backup and spot starter.
Mark Sanchez is most likely not ready. It's unclear how much he plays this season but I wouldn't be surprised if he sits out most of the year. The same applies to Josh Freeman, who will probably never be relevant. I can't imagine much of a scenario where either would be drafted.
Pat White, regardless of position doesn't have much fantasy value. 7-10 snaps a game will not cut it.