Originally created 09/29/05

Rookies making an early impact



Ronnie Brown and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams are helping to prove a fantasy football warning wrong. They're showing that rookies can make a difference.

Usually drafting rookies is a huge risk. Their playing time can be limited due to inexperience or they just might not be ready.

Both former Auburn stars had huge games in Week 3. That's nothing new for Williams, who has gone over 100 yards in each of his three games for Tampa Bay. Brown tore up a very good Carolina defense for 132 yards in his breakout game with Miami.

Brown's emergence will have a big effect on those who took a chance with Ricky Williams. If Brown can keep his fantasy value up, it'll mean fewer carries for the former featured Dolphins back. It will almost certainly call for Williams' departure from the team at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Cadillac shows no signs of obeying any rookie speed limits.

Williams has already cemented himself as the centerpiece of the Buccaneers' offense, not to mention as the early odds-on favorite to win the rookie of the year.

Through three games, Williams leads the entire league in rushing. He's got three more 100-yard games than high fantasy draft picks Jamal Lewis, Domanick Davis, Julius Jones, Clinton Portis, Deuce McAllister, Corey Dillon and Priest Holmes.

He also leads the league in rushing attempts, average yards per game, attempts per game and runs over 20 yards.

Williams and Brown aren't the only rookies that are having early success.

Williams' teammate Alex Smith is tied for second among tight ends with two touchdown catches.

Minnesota rookie, and Silver Bluff grad, Troy Williamson caught his first career touchdown pass from Daunte Culpepper against the Saints in Week 3.

Williamson has also been joined in early success by Cleveland's Braylon Edwards and Detroit's Mike Williams.

Edwards collected his first 100-yard game and caught his first touchdown in Week 2 against Green Bay. Williams also got his first touchdown against Green Bay in Week 1.

One thing's for certain: This rookie class is way ahead of the curve.

GREEN LIGHT

Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina: The Packers' defense has surrendered seven passing touchdowns this year.

Kevan Barlow, RB, San Francisco: The Cardinals are giving up over 130 yards on the ground per game and Barlow's been running well.

RED LIGHT

Brooks Bollinger, QB, N.Y. Jets: This could be the week that the Ravens' defense gets back on track.

Domanick Davis, RB, Houston: Their defense won't be able to hold off Cincinnati's aerial onslaught, which will cut into his carries and productivity.

WAKE-UP CALL

Marshall Faulk, RB, St. Louis: Stephen Jackson's banged up, which could lead to more opportunities for the one-time fantasy stalwart.

ROOKIE WATCH

Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego: Sees little time in the offense but his kick return abilities are something to watch for.

Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or raymond.beasock@augustachronicle.com.