A few years back rookie wide receivers took the league by storm. There’s a few must have players this season. Some to keep an eye on and avoid. Let’s take a look at 2017’s crop.
Photo Credit: Al Wagner
Davis was selected 5th overall by Tennessee. He’s signed and in camp. Not to mention already catching passes from Marcus Mariota. Mariota is back earlier from injury than many thought. All early reports say Davis is making tremendous catches and is fitting the role of number one receiver. Which the Titans needed. I’d grab Davis in the early-mid rounds(4-6). 70 receptions, 1,000+ yards and 6-8 TDs is a reasonable benchmark for the rookie. A good WR2 or 3. Not to mention a future keeper. Davis could be an AJ Green level talent, but it takes time to get to there. He’s already closer than most. Corey Davis stands alone as the top rookie receiver to have.
A couple picks after Corey Davis, Williams found a home in LA. With Philip Rivers as his quarterback, the post-draft buzz was high. A back injury has landed him on the PUP. There’s been rumors swirling about him missing the season. I’m filing Williams under the “Let someone else draft him” category. Unless it’s the last couple picks and you want to gamble. You can always stash him on the IR if you have one. Think about keeping him for next year at a nothing cost. Depending on your date of draft, it’s a situation to monitor. I’d shy away from Williams this year.
I was so upset when Kupp landed with the Rams. Jared Goff didn’t look like an up and coming star as a rookie. All that said, Kupp is still a very talented receiver. News on Goff says he’s growing and Kupp should start. He could be a solid surprise WR3 / Flex this season. Cooper Kupp could be a later round steal but don’t let him slide too long. Look for him after rounds 10-12 depending on your league size. If he’s on the field, Kupp will rack up some targets. I don’t think the receptions will be over 65 or yardage more than 750. Getting in the end zone will be the key to his fantasy season.
Ross was the talk of the combine after his blazing 40 time. Cincinnati selected him in the first round and gives AJ Green a speedy compliment. Ross had off-season labrum surgery and hasn’t yet started participating in full practice. Never good for a rookie at any position. He’s working after practice with Dalton to catch up. Ross could go through some growing pains and I consider him a later round pick. Round 10 and after. He could be in the mix to handle return duties which helps his fantasy value. Ross seems like a spot start bench depth player for now. Could be a wait till next year type of player. The future should be bright for him.
Godwin joins an offense that is on the upswing. Mike Evans is the star. Desean Jackson was brought in but he has a history of missing games. Something that will help Godwin see the field more. Tight end Cameron Brate played a lot of slot receiver last season, so the passing attack looks diversified. Godwin has been impressing early in camp. He will fly under the radar this preseason for many. Godwin should be owned and could be a solid play in weekly fantasy if Jackson misses some games. Godwin has good size and speed. If he earns playing time I fully expect him to battle for the surprise rookie of the year at the receiver position. Draft him in the later rounds and expect to be happy with the selection.
Golladay was taken by Detroit in the third round this year. He has great size and has a chance to take over Aquan Boldin’s vacant spot. Boldin provided some solid fantasy value at times last season, leaving the door open for the rookie to do the same. If he can get on track in year one, Golladay is a name to know and draft late. If he plays well in the preseason, you’ll have to draft him a bit earlier. Could be in the mix for surprise rookie of the year.
Zay Jones stood out at the senior bowl. He has great size and speed. He’s been lining up all over the offense early in camp. The focus will be on Sammy Watkins. I expect Jones to make a big impact as a rookie. There isn’t a ton of competition around him and opportunity to play should be early and often. Look for Jones to catch 40-50 balls and be targeted in the end zone quite a bit. Draft Jones late and stash him until he starts putting up solid numbers.
We’ve seen Jaguars receivers be a part of the fantasy mix and total busts. Westbrook is no sure thing. The Biletnikoff award winner small but speedy. I expect him at some point this season to take Marquis Lee’s job. It will be tough on him against bigger defensive backs and Blake Bortles is not the ideal guy to be catching passes from. He may be a solid bench guy or weekly play. More of a PPR threat.
When the Panthers drafted Samuel, I loved the fit. Samuel has been dealing with hamstring issues early in camp and a banged up Cam Newton coming into the season isn’t ideal. I’m going to pass on Samuel this year. But he could be a solid player in the future. Monitor his status in camp and early in the season.
Anotonio Brown and Le’veon Bell are the two main cogs in the passing game. But someone else always emerges. Nobody ever sticks though. We’ve seen Martavis Bryant be great, suspended and ineffective. Eli Rogers was hit or miss as a rookie. Sammy Coates flashed some potential in his second season before a finger injury. Smith-Schuster has good size and is someone to keep an eye on. You may not want to draft him because he’s in a crowded receiver committee and an early camp ankle injury will slow him a bit. But remember his name. Steeler receivers always seem to be up and down besides Brown.
Carlos Henderson is in a good spot in Denver. After Thomas and Sanders things are pretty wide open. If they can establish a quarterback it will help the offense even more. Henderson should contribute as a returner and can play outside or in the slot. A last round PPR pick could play off for you. He’s not a must draft at this point.