We saw flashes of greatness from first year wide receivers last year in many players such as Josh Gordon, TY Hilton and Kendall Wright. Although there were only these flashes and these players lack consistency, patience is important with young receivers as development takes slightly longer for them than the running backs in our last post. In fantasy the wide receiver is often overlooked as a less important asset than positions like running back and quarterback and while that may be the case in re-draft it couldn’t further from the truth in dynasty. As compared to the high running back turnover in the top 10, and short shelf-life of running backs, wide receivers hold the best potential for long-term value. For running backs the age of 30, I know so old, is usually the breaking point for most players where as receivers are known to play at a competitive level far past this alleged breaking point, as seen with Reggie Wayne. I mean even Terrel Owens is begging for another chance in the NFL at the ripe old age of 39, we all know that it’s not going to happen but interesting to that a player at his age still believes he can compete, I don’t see 39 year old running backs lining up to get another chance. Regardless of TO and his off-season antics the point is that if you land a great wide receiver in your rookie draft, you might not be immediately rewarded in the 2013 season but the payoff later on down the road could be huge an that receiver could out perform any running back in this year’s current class. Lets take a look at my personal rankings and the short-term and long-term out look of some of these rookie standouts.
DeAndre Hopkins: Arguably the most complete receiver in the draft Hopkins finds an excellent landing spot on a Texans team that desperately needs a solid 2nd option in the passing game and with Andre Johnson’s injury struggles he could develop into this teams 1st option later on down the road. Some may be concerned with the lack of pass attempts in Houston, but the Schaub actually attempted 544 attempts in 2012 which is well above the league average. Look for the talented Hopkins to be an immediate factor and an even better long term asset to fantasy football teams.
Tavon Austin: The first wide receiver taken in the draft and my pre-draft number one wide receiver, Austin is lightning fast and really brings an extra element to the Rams passing attack. Austin may be the most productive rookie short term but at his size there are concerns with his durability and I question his ceiling as wide receivers locked in the slot rarely have the ability to sustain top fantasy production. There is also the issue of Sam Bradford’s struggles and a crowded group of talented recievers to compete with. Austin is certainly worth a high pick though as he as an exceptionally gifted athlete and football player, and could be a big asset to fantasy teams if used properly by the Rams.
Markus Wheaton: The newest addition to the Pittsburgh Steelers is a perfect fit. With the departure of Mike Wallace the Steelers are looking for a new deep threat and with Roethlisberger’s ability to extend plays with his feet, Wheaton who is excellent at creating separation could become their favorite down field target. The Steelers don’t have a ton of options at wide receiver so Wheaton could see action early and often in 2013. I like to compare him to Carolina’s Steve Smith due to his relentless pursuit and non stop motor on the field.
Justin Hunter: The talented but unproven Hunter has all the measurables you want from a prototypical WR1 standing 6’4″ with an amazing long and high jump, top performer in both at the combine, but his lack of fundamentals and inability to stay healthy really hurt his immediate potential. Another concern for Hunter is the uncertainty and lack of talent at the quarterback position and the crowded group of receivers in Tennessee. The Titans could be hoping that Hunter progresses and develops into a NFL caliber receiver so they can cut ties with Kenny Britt who is in a contract year. If this happens Hunter’s value increases tremendously.
Robert Woods: Woods found a great landing spot in Buffalo and could emerge as the number one target in what should be a very exciting offense. With his arrival it is rumored that Stevie Johnson will move to the slot, showing the confidence the Bills have in the very talented Robert Woods. Woods isn’t an athletic freak and he’s had his share of injury problems but when healthy he is a versatile athlete that catches everything thrown his way. Rookie EJ Manuel could be starting at quarterback which could effect Woods short term potential but the two could develop a very good connection moving forward, long-term.
Keenan Allen: The Chargers got a steal here as Allen was considered one of the top wide receivers in the draft. With injury concerns with Denario Alexander (Now out for the season), Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown, the Chargers needed to add depth to the position and Allen seems to be a perfect fit. He lacks the elite speed and size but much like Vincent Brown he is great in the short passing game which is what should be the focal point of the Chargers offense next season. Allen does have some knee issues of his own and with Phillip Rivers crumbling under pressure it could be some time before Allen emerges.
Cordarrelle Patterson: I know I know this seems low for a receiver that was taken as high as Patterson was in the draft but to be honest I wasn’t a big fan even before the draft. Patterson has elite speed and all the measruables that you want in a receiver but much like his Tennessee counter part he really fails to grasp the basics of what it takes to be a wide receiver in the NFL. He is notorious for dropping wide open passes and attempting to catch passes against his chest which really won’t fly at the NFL level. Take into account that Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback and the Vikings signed Greg Jennings, Patterson could see the majority of his playing time on special teams early in his career. He has a tremendous ceiling but he’s just not a player im willing to take a chance on in dynasty.
Aaron Dobson: Lots of hype from Patriots camp on a receiver we really don’t know that much about. Dobson, a surprising second round pick from Marshall, had a lot of people questioning the judgement of the Patriots front office. This diamond in the rough, although probably drafted a few rounds early has the size speed and talent to be a decent option the Patriots passing game. My only hesitation is that even with the loss of several key receivers and possibly two tight ends, the Patriots rarely rely heavily on rookie receivers due to the complex system they run. Maybe Dobson can overcome this uphill battle but I don’t see him being an immediate contributor but more of a long-term stash.