The NFL season is quickly coming up with the start of training camp last week. Training camp is the time where we really get the feel for rookies trying to make a lasting impression in their full jerseys.
Rookies are a toss up coming up with fantasy production heading into the football season. We tend to come up with various predictions on role and production within different rookie situations but it’s usually a toss up with first-year guys. From reading reports or watching college film, we really don’t have that much to work with involving some rookies.
This year’s rookie class of wide receivers carry some sleeper appeal. The one guy that stands out amongst everyone else is Titans wide receiver, Corey Davis. Yes, he may be in the best situation right now, but many things can change in the upcoming weeks within training camp. It’s time to take a deeper dive into this rookie wide receiver class.
2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers
The 2017 NFL draft was an interesting one, to say the least. Three of the top ten picks in April’s draft were wide receivers. Corey Davis (5th overall), Mike Williams (7th overall), and John Ross (9th overall). The first round concluded with only three receivers taken within the first 32 picks. As we’ve learned year in and year out, no player is a lock to produce fantasy relevant numbers.
Opportunity and situation are the two biggest factors behind a successful fantasy football player. Just because player ‘A’ drafted ahead of player ‘B’ does not mean that player ‘A’ will outperform that respected player. Many people fail to realize the importance of certain player situations before and after training camp.
I will take a look at some of the upcoming rookies this season and what they bring to the fantasy football world. It’s always important to get a feel for where certain guys stand versus another. The supporting cast and team play a big role in fantasy production too. Without further ado, here’s my analysis on a couple of first year wide outs heading into this season.
Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Being the first player taken at your selected position in the NFL draft brings high hopes to that individual. Since 2007, there have been five wide receivers that were selected top five overall in the draft. Those receivers were A.J. Green, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, Justin Blackmon, and Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson ranked 37th overall in 2007 – last among those five players. A.J. Green was best at 17th. However, a top five pick in the NFL draft at the receiver position has seemingly better success in recent years.
Davis enters Tennessee filling a missing piece the team dealt with entering this season. The Titans were a team that lacked a true number one receiver. Rishard Mathews lead the Titans aerial attack last season posting 65 catches for 945 yards. The future for Matthews being relied on as a true number one receiver wasn’t too bright, hence why the Titans drafted Corey Davis top five overall.
A good environment
Corey Davis enters the fantasy football environment in good shape. He will step in and contribute right away catching passes from Marcus Mariota. With the addition of Eric Decker and the continuing presence of Delanie Walker on the team, they both will look to mentor the 22-year-old. Marcus Mariota struggled immensely last season in the red zone, an area where Davis offers a lot of potential to become a real threat lining out wide.
Although Corey Davis is a raw talent, you can acquire him late into fantasy drafts. The current drafting point for Davis is WR43 in redraft leagues. That equates to a late ninth round pick. Cameron Meredith and John Brown are guys being taken right before Corey Davis. I see Corey Davis giving fantasy owners WR3 production all year being Mariota’s main guy. Acquire him before its too late.
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
John Ross caught the NFL by storm. He became the fastest player ever at the NFL combine. He’s an exciting young player that has much more to his game than just his lightning quick speed. Ross is a guy that opens up the field more for star receiver A.J. Green. The top three weapons for Andy Dalton this upcoming season are Ross, Green and Tyler Eifert.
The Bengals look to have more balance in terms of running and passing in 2017. Negative game scripts last season forced the Bengals to throw the ball 553 times last season. An offensive revamp will keep the Bengals ahead of the negative game scripts they saw from a year ago.
Uphill for relevance
There are plenty of targets to go around in Cincinnati as well. Dalton will have no problem throwing the ball to Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green, Brandon LeFell, John Ross, Giovani Bernard, and even Joe Mixon. It might be tough for John Ross to blossom to fantasy relevance year one. He’ll be a good dynasty stash as he can be a game changer with his speed on the field.
John Ross is currently being the third rookie receiver taken in dynasty leagues. Falling behind Mike Williams and Corey Davis. Ross’ 12th round ADP is reasonable for the 2017 season. As arguably the third option on a team looking for balance between the running and passing game, can leave you optimistic about this player. That’s where I stand with John Ross and his fantasy situation in Cincinnati.
Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills
Not all rookies make an immediate impact their first year as a pro. Zay Jones enters Buffalo with a shot of producing from day one. He has no problem producing; as he set the NCAA record for most receptions ever in a four-year career. Jones was heavily involved in the aerial attack during his time at East Carolina. He’ll look to do the same catching passes from Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo.
As we all know, the Bills are a team with one of the weakest wide receiver cores in the league. There isn’t a whole lot of production coming from anyone behind Sammy Watkins when he’s on the field. The Bills lost some key receivers from a year ago. A few names are Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and Justin Hunter.
Opportunity will come
Approximately 166 targets were accumulated by those three guys a year ago. That equals out to 35% of missing targets looking ahead this season. Zay Jones enters Buffalo with a real shot to take over and carry production Robert Woods once saw playing second fiddle behind Sammy Watkins.
The opportunity is there for the 22-year old. He has every opportunity to make a case for Taylor to give him the ball. With the recent injury history of Sammy Watkins as well, this can become a very intriguing fantasy sleeper.
His fantasy situation may not be ideal for fantasy owners though. One big thing about drafting a player such as Zay Jones is having patience. No, he will not produce WR2 numbers every week. But given the lack of talent and depth at the given position in Buffalo, as well as how well he’s been performing at training camp early on, Jones may carry some flex appeal during the 2017 season.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
With training camp opening up recently for the Lions, there’s been no shortage of play from rookie Kenny Golladay. He has quickly emerged himself as the WR3 for the team. Last season the Lions threw the ball the tenth most in the NFL. In fact, the Lions lined up with a three wide receiver set on 92.7% of their passing plays in 2016. The Giants were the only team that lined up with more three wide achiever sets from a year ago.
There’s plenty of targets to go around in Detroit for Golladay to have some fantasy value. Veteran Anquan Boldin held down the role as the third receiver for the Lions in 2016. His final stat line was 67 catches for 584 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers were good enough to finish as the 45th best receiver in fantasy from a year ago.
Boldin is no longer on the team anymore. He accumulated a total of 15 red zone targets a year ago. That ranked second best in the league. With Boldin out of Detroit, that leaves room for 6’4 Golladay to play a big factor in the red zone.
A possible bargain
The great combination of size and speed plays an advantage in favor for the former Husky star. Building a connection with your quarterback early on tends to lead to great success down the road. The Chicago, Illinois native is doing just that by staying after practices with Mathew Stafford. The future looks bright for the rookie as he’ll look to have a big part in the Lions offense.
Drafting Golladay in rookie drafts may be a bargain to some people. The ADP for the 23-year-old sits in the third round, being taken at pick number 43rd overall. Keep an eye on this rookie moving forward closer to the start of the regular season. He can become a guy that can score 7+ touchdowns in year one. Look for his ADP to even rise as the season keeps getting closer and closer.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
One of the more interesting rookie receivers is Mike Williams. We may not even get a chance to see the former Clemson Tiger in a Charger uniform during the 2017 season. A surprise back injury could cost Mike Williams’ fantasy stock to continue to decline as we inch closer towards the new season.
Mike Williams entered the 2017 NFL draft as a highly coveted receiver. He raised some eyebrows his final season at Clemson posting 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns, ultimately helping lead the team to a National Championship. The 6’4 big time playmaker has the ability to make big time plays with his big frame. He uses his body well against defenders while using his big hands to go up and bring down the 50/50 balls.
The fantasy outlook for the 22-year old is mystifying. We all know how talented Keenan Allen is as a receiver. But will he finally be able to produce a full healthy season in 2017? Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way for fantasy owners last season. His stellar play helped him land as a top 20 fantasy receiver. Deep ball threat Travis Benjamin has shown that he can make the big time plays for Rivers down the field. And finally, the tight end that caught fantasy owners’ attention last season is expected to be just that much better in 2017.
There’s a reason why the Chargers took this promising rookie so early in Aprils’s draft. They saw the potential he can live up to make Phillip Rivers that much better of a quarterback. When healthy, he can become Rivers’ second or third main option on the team. His big frame also makes him a serious red zone threat for a team that struggled in the red zone a year ago.
Mike William’s current ADP is an early 14th rounder. As training camp lingers on, we’ll soon start to get a better feel on whether or not we’ll see Mike Williams play his rookie season. It’s worth a shot to take him at his current asking price. It’s a risky pick but the upside is there with a player like Mike Williams.
|2017 Fantasy Football Position Previews|
|Quarterbacks||Running Backs||Wide Receivers||Tight Ends|
For more F6P preseason coverage please visit our 2017 Draft Kit section.
Source: NFL News