Wide Receivers, one hopes when drafting, are like fine wine …. we hope they better with age. You may get lucky (with the right situation) to find one or two rookies who jump out in the first couple NFL weeks. The bulk of your WRs take usually half the season and right place and right time opportunities to arise. Many become fantasy gold in their second year. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. A QB getting used to the new guys, thicker play books, veterans blocking the way, and just the want to learn may be some guesses. Don’t believe me? Check out a sampling of the last two draft classes.
2010- Demaryius Thomas (KC), Dez Bryant (Dal), Arrelious Benn (TB), Golden Tate (Sea),Damian Williams (Tenn), Brandon LaFell (Car), Emmanuel Sanders (Pitt), Jordan Shipley (Cinn), Eric Decker (Dev), Carlton Michell (Clev) and Mike Williams (TB)
So what should you grab from this 2010 vintage for your fantasy or 2011 draft? Let everyone get excited about the rookie guys and pay too much or draft them early. While you wait for them in the late rounds or carp them off the free agent pile. I know Dynasty leagues are a different vine so here are some notes and thoughts for those of us who do need to mash the grapes and pray for fine wine earlier.
A.J. Green (Georgia) 6’3″ 211 lbs 4.40
He is the type of guy that would give ya the jersey off his back! Well maybe not that nice but if you had a extra $1000 and were in the right place and time he would sell it to ya. This move earned A.J. a four game suspension in 2010 season w Georgia. OK we all have done some questionable things when young so most scouts are letting this one slide down the laundry shoot due to his talent. Despite missing the 4 games he led The Bulldogs with 57 reception, 8478 yards and nine TDs. He is one of the top Dynasty grabs in this WR class but keep in mind he left school early so he has many productive years ahead, but also a lot to still learn.
Kris Durham 6’5″ 214 lbs
Ok, so Kris isn’t the second best guy on the board here for WR but since we are covering A.J. and Georgia we’ll give you some info on this bulldog Senior who filled in while Green was out those four games and complimented A.J. when he returned with out slipping much in production. Durham avergaged 20.6 yard per grab with 32 receptions and 3 Tds. Tall lanky guy who needs to bulk up a bit to fight off the line but can be a great sleeper option down the road if given the right team and a shot at a roster spot. Yes, wake up dynasty guys and gals this is one you file away and remember deep in drafts.
Julio Jones (Alabama) 6’2″ 220lbs
Some believe that Julio will be the top WR taken in NFL draft. This depends on what you think… are you more impressed by a guy who just wowed everyone at the combine with great jumps and and a fast 40 of 4.39 and to know that he did all of this with a broken foot which he knew about 2 days before the work out? This legend continues to grow around Jones. Or are you worried about the screw that he had to get inserted to fix the broken foot that he wowed scouts on? The 49ers Michael Crabtree had the same thing done before the NFL and he looks ok to me now.
Here is what I see, this guy can flat out block; I mean lock on and roll down field dominate blocking skills. Jones also faced LSU’s Patrick Perterson (Projected as a top 10 overall CB this year) three times and had 21 receptions, 319 yards and two TDs against LSU in these match ups. So you know he can play vs highly touted corners. Last year he posted 78 reception 1133 yards and 7 tds. He is ready and I would say has a solid chance at greatness in the NFL. I hands down rank him the best and safest in this bunch. No shocker here but all fantasy formats should take him.
Jonathan Baldwin (Pitt) 6’4″ 228lbs
Awe good old Jonathan thought before the combine that he would be able to run a sub 4.00, 40. I wanted to, at some point, date a playboy playmate……neither has happen yet. What Baldwin did do was 4.50. Not great but that’s not what you care about him. He plays much taller than his 6’4″ height. Baldwin posted decent number consider he didn’t have a real stud at QB during his time at Pitt. In 2010 alone he had 53 receptions 822 yards and 5 TDs. He does have run after the catch abilities which makes him even more intriguing. Baldwin needs some polishing over all but will be a nice mid sleeper grab for Dynasty league and late round pick for all other formats.
Greg Little (North Carolina) 6’2″ 231lbs
Most college football fans thought North Carolina could run the table this past preseason…until the roof came crashing in with multiple suspensions. Little was one of them who was busted with making contact with an agent, so he lost his whole 2010 junior season. In 2009 he was the top guy for the Tar Heels with 62 reception (5th in school history) 724 yards and 5 TDs. I really think I will stay away from him in all my drafts just because he is so raw and needs many years to mature. Tools are there, so if you like high risk high reward, here is your guy!
Randall Cobb (Kentucky) 5’10” 191 lbs 4.46
Here is Mr. Everything at UK. Not sure how to take these stats. Randall was ranked first or second in team stats for receiving, passing and rushing. So is he that good or is UK that bad? Lets look further. He was the top WR in the SEC with 84 receptions 1017 yards and 7 TDs. Running the “Wild Cobb” offense, which is the UK version of the Wildcat for you NFL only guys. Cobb rushed 55 times for 424 yards and 5 TDs. Obviously has the speed to succeed. Cobb posted a great 4.46 40 at the combine. Shhhh, if your enemies don’t know this guy yet don’t tell them cus here is a major sleeper that if you haven’t figured it out by now will be a great multi threat player in the NFL within two years.
Tandon Doss (Indiana) 6’2″ 204 lbs
Here is another multi-tool guy who stood out at Indiana. Doss lead the Big Ten in all purpose yards 178 per game with his receiving and returning skills. Tandon lead the Hoosier with 63 receptions 706 yards and 7 TDs in 20120 his junior year. Great hands and return skills will get him a roster spot somewhere. Look for him as a 2-3 year project but worth a late round flyer in your dynasty draft.
Titus Young (Boise State) 5’11″174 lbs
Let me introduce you all to Titus Young the Boise State all time leader in receiving yards with 3,063. He also set the season record for yardage with 1215. Young ran a 4.41 at the combine and with great hands, will be one to check out if he gets drafted in the top three rounds as some project. Nothing flashy here but sometimes I’ll take vanilla ice cream over Rocky Road! I can see Young getting a chance to show his skill once settled in with the NFL.
Austin Pettis (Boise State) 6’2″ 209
Ok so here is the other half of the Broncos dynamic duo. Pettis leaves as the schools career leader in receptions 229 and TDs 39. His uncle is MLB player Gary Pettis. I had him last year in my college fantasy team (FYI a great way to scout these guys). He isn’t the all around WR that Young is but he plays taller than his 6’2″ frame. He is very good at blocking so that will keep him stay on a NFL roster for sure. Young is the safe option but Pettis can be a nice gamble in your deeper dynasty rounds. Look for him to do more in pro year two.
Torrey Smith (Maryland) 6’0″ 204 lbs 4.43
Smith is a one dimensional deep threat for now. Last year he had 67 receptions, 1055 yards and 12 TDs. This guy hates going over the middle more than I hate these mindless housewives shows that women love on TV …Trust me that’s a whole lot of hate! He has been known to drop a few balls but does possess nice speed. Torrey ran a 4.43 at the combine. I am gonna pass on this project even though many NFL teams like him. It just seems like too much for him to learn, so maybe in year three I can see him progress. Super high risk high reward.
Edmund Gates (Abilene Christian) 5’11” 192 lbs
Ladies and gentleman here is the fastest man at this years NFL combine with a 4.37 40 from Abilene Christian. Bears fans will know this D2 power house as the home of Johnny Knox and Cincy fans may recall Bernard Scott playing there as well. In Gates SR year he had 66 receptions 1182 yards and 13 TDs and is second on the ACU all time receiving yards. He had a bit of a rough upbringing and will enter draft at age of 25, so some scouts are scared off. Here is one you may want very late in dynasty draft but he will take until at least his second year to get going.
Gregory Salas (Hawaii) 6’1″ 210 lbs
If you’re in PPR league, here is your guy! I love guys who the QBs can trust on short gains and if he finds the right team, look out. Salas had 119 receptions, 1889 yards 14 TDs. Of course this was in Hawaii’s spread offense. NFL teams will need to work on his blocking so that will hold him back a bit. He has great hands and rarely drops the ball. He isn’t the fastest man alive but he runs with passion. I’m gonna try to get him maybe a bit higher than I should in dynasty. I may even grab him in my other ppr league in the last round. It depends on where he lands of course.
Ronald Johnson (USC) 5’11” 199 lbs
And finally we come to an interesting Trojan. I get into it here in LA with USC guys who think they have all of these great WRs in the NFL. Many more have been busty that have really produced. I have seen Johnson in person a couple times and watched most of his games on TV. He had 64 receptions, 692 yards and 8 TDs at USC. I was impressed because he was always working after the catch. he has good speed ran a 4.46 40 at the combine. He is a dangerous return man too so that adds value in some leagues. In the right spot he may even contribute in the first year in NFL. Don’t sleep on him, but be easy on what pick you spend. Maybe one of your last dynasty picks.
Here are a few others you might see come draft day:
(Tall trees-6’4″ and above in alphabetical order)
DeAndre Brown 6’5″ 233lbs (Southren Miss), Xavier Dye 6’4″ 210lbs (Clemson) Tori Gurley 6’4⅛” 216 lbs (SouthCarolina), Courtney Smith 6’4″ 220lbs (South Alabama)
(Speed demons- Below 6’4 but with top 40 combine times)
4.37 Edmund Gates 6’0″ 192lbs (Abilene Christian), 4.37 Ricardo Lockette 6’2″ 211 lbs (Fort Valley ST.), 4.43 Leonard Hankerson 6’2″ 209 lbs (Miami), 4.43 Aldrick Robinson 5’10” 184lbs (SMU),4.44 Joe Morgan 6’1″ 189lbs (Walsh),4.45 Denarius Moore 6’0″ 194lbs (Tennessee), 4.46 Jerrel Jerrigan 5’9″185lbs (Troy), 4.51 Jamar Newsome 6’1″ 200lbs (Central Florida), 4.51 Niles Paul 6’1″ 224lbs (Nebraska)
- NFL Draft 2011: Power-Ranking the Draft’s Top 10 Wide Receivers (bleacherreport.com)