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Leading up to the NFL Draft each year, the media hype machine gets into full swing regarding future football stars. Many fantasy owners find it hard to pass on these exciting rookies at their own draft, but the fact is that most players under-perform in their inaugural season. Though the general advice then is to avoid rookies, if you simply must have one or more of them on your team, you should go about it the right way. There is one criterion vastly more important than all of the other factors in determining whether a rookie will be relevant right away.
That factor is opportunity. In commercial real estate, the common mantra is “location, location, location.” Regarding fantasy football rookies, the appropriate axiom is “opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.” It doesn't matter that a player was a Heisman trophy winner coming out of college if he is drafted by a team that already has a star player at the position.
Conversely, you can sometimes correctly tab an underrated rookie talent by paying attention to circumstances where opportunity comes knocking. If a later-round draft pick has no competition for a starting gig, he might be a gold mine. Or perhaps a talented veteran gets injured in training camp, bequeathing the assignment to the rookie.