Using the same concept as last weeks article, we will take a glimpse at a few more rookie wide receivers you should be targeting in your fantasy drafts this year. As Agholor, Cooper, and Perriman landed in seemingly advantageous spots, this week we will divulge into some rookies who have landed in locations with a somewhat cloudy forecast. As a recap, Agholor finds himself in Philadelphia, where the up-tempo Kelly offense bodes well for total passing attempts and yards, coinciding with lack of competition for a starting spot alongside Jordan Matthews. Cooper, the first WR selected in the draft, drops anchor in Oakland where he immediately steps in as their number 1 WR, and already has impressed coaches and teammates in OTAs. Lastly, Perriman, who should immediately take over as Flacco’s deep threat with Torrey Smith now in San Fransisco with the possibility of developing into more than just a deep threat throughout the season.
Kevin White, Chicago Bears
The debate on who should be the first wide out taken in the 2015 NFL draft was over when Amari Cooper was selected 4th overall by the Oakland Raiders. Cooper, who was heralded as the best WR in the draft by most scouts, backed it up by with the Biletnikoff Award as the NCAA’s best WR. The debate may have begun when White demonstrated his flat-out speed, running a 4.35 40-yard dash time, compared to Cooper, who ran his at a 4.42 time. The 6-foot-3, 215 pound Junior College stud transferred to West Virginia, where he finishied with a colossal stat line of 109/1,447/10 during his senior year. There are worries that he may have been a one year wonder at WVU, where their spread offense does not really force press coverage and can inflate WR’s stats (see Tavon Austin).
Some 2014 Bears stats can be indicative of the kind of production we can project for White in the 2015 season. The Bears attempted 609 passes (9th in the league) for 4,035 yards (14th in the league), 6.6 yards per attempt, and 237 yards per game. To feast one’s eyes at the receiving leaders from last year, there are still big mouths to feed, even with the loss of Brandon Marshall. Alshon Jeffery’s season stat line was 85(145 targets)/1,133 yards (13.3 YPC)/10 touchdowns. Marshall, now sporting a Jets uniform, had deflated numbers in only 13 games. Often injured, he had a stat line of 61(105 targets)/721 yards (11.8 YPC)/8 touchdowns. Matt Forte’s record 102 receptions by a running back should only regress if the receiving corps stays relatively healthy, but he is still a major threat coming out of the backfield.
The combination of 6-foot-3 wide receivers in Jeffery and White, give gunslinger Jay Cutler sizable targets who could take advantage of smaller secondaries in the NFL. White’s production really hinges on that of Jay Cutler’s. Will he be a top ten fantasy quarterback that people gamble on every year? Or will he be the sour faced, uncoachable quarterback of old? New coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase will have the task of writing the ship for Cutler. Regardless, if we see the efficient and highly productive Cutler, or the nonchalant, interception prone Cutler, there will be plenty of production to go around. If the 5-11 Bears have a turn around season offensively, they can be one of the most dynamic in the league with Forte, Jeffery, Bennett, and the newly acquired Eddie Royal and Kevin White. Furthermore, if their offense sputters like that of 2014, there will be plenty of garbage time production to go around, as they will be playing catch-up through the air.
White’s current average draft position is sitting at 84th overall, and 33 for wide receivers. His raw gifts, size, speed, and velcro hands make it easy to envision him as a WR3 for fantasy squads, with 1,000 yard upside. He is a very strong wide receiver, who tied for the lead at bench press reps among WR, giving him the strength to fend off cornerbacks in press coverage, which was worrisome to scouts. He has already impressed teammates and coaches in Chicago with his route running, body control, and acceleration off the ball, all attributes that could lead to promising things for the 2015 season. I would not reach too far to grab White in your fantasy draft, as there are still three viable targets Cutler may look to aside from White, but I would not fault one for taking him, as he has more upside over guys being drafted in a similar range such as Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz, or the wreck of Larry Fitzgerald.
LOCATION GRADE: B-
Devante Parker, Miami Dolphins
The Louisville Cardinal product was drafted into a newly-kindled offensive landscape in Miami. The 6-foot-3, 209 pound athlete was forced to miss half of his senior season due to a foot injury. Parker, who has looked impressive in OTA’s according to coaches and fellow teammates, recently just had a screw replaced in the 5th metatarsal of his foot. Although the surgery was successful, they are expecting him to need about 8 weeks to recover fully, which would make him ready right before the regular season were to kick off. The Dolphins opted to get this procedure done now as they think Parker can add a new dimension to their passing attack with his raw size and speed.
Parker joins second year receiver Jarvis Landry, who had an extremely productive season in his rookie campaign, especially in PPR formats. Also, the Dolphins brought in Kenny Stills from New Orleans, Greg Jennings from Minnesota, and Jordan Cameron from Cleveland to help bolster their passing game. Tannehill’s passing stats from 2014 go as follows: 590 attempts (11th in the league), 4045 yards (14th in the league), 6.9 yards per attempt, at 231.8 passing yards per game. The Dolphins receiving corps from 2014 was an inconsistent one outside of Jarvis Landry. Landry posted a stat-line of 84(111 targets)/758 (9.0YPC)/5 touchdowns. Mike “Straight Line” Wallace, now in Minnesota, finished with a stat line of 67(115 targets)/862 (12.9YPC)/10 touchdowns. One major factor that certainly did not help the one trick pony Wallace with his ability to get vertical, is Tannehill’s atrocity in which he completes the long ball. In passes over 15 yards, Tannehill completed them at a rate of 16.6%. Completing balls at this clip was good for 37 out of 40 qualifying passers in 2014.
The health issues should not be a concern going forward, as Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas had similar procedures without any setbacks. As long as Parker can find a role in the offense with Landry, Stills, and Jennings, who are all established receivers ahead of him, he should be able to produce some fantasy value in the 2015 season. He gives Miami something they do not have with a wide bodied, quick receiver who can get vertical and use his wide catch radius to snare balls out of the air. His ADP among receivers is sitting right around 46, with his overall ADP sitting at 123. Until his foot problem no longer bothers him and he is able to move up in the pecking order of the offense, his current ADP is justified.
LOCATION GRADE: C
Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans
Let’s just get some of his issues out of the way, as DGB hopes to do the same preceding his NFL career. For starters, he missed all of last season after getting kicked out of Missouri due to an alleged role in a burglary case. Prior to this he was arrested and suspended twice for marijuana related incidents. Setting these problems aside may be the tell tale for the second round pick. In terms of this receivers on the field issues, he struggles to really free himself from any press coverage. His route running is somewhat suspect as well, running rounded routes, and failing to set up breaks leading cornerbacks to his destination. Green-Beckham is an imposing physical specimen standing at 6-foot-5, 237 pounds. His frame allows him to have a rare catch radius to go alongside with soft, sure hands. His smooth effortless stride gives him the ability to chomp up cushion and blow by corners. He has great body control, and when he is in the air he is able to contort his body to grab jump balls. All these qualities may help cover up some mistakes by first year quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The team totals in passing for the 2014 season were split between the trio of quarterbacks Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehurst, and Zach Mettenberger. The trio of quarterbacks attempted a total of 513 passes (18th in the league), for 3,738 yards (17th in the league), at 213.3 yards per game. The Tennessee Titans hope they do not have to revert back to any of the aforementioned QB, as they selected Mariota with the 2nd pick in the draft. The Titans also brought in veteran WR Hakeem Nicks and Harry Douglas to help bolster their roster that already has speedy Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, who is similar is size to DGB.
Green-Beckham has the tools and skills to be a productive receiver and will look to find chemistry with Mariota. Nevertheless, DGB has missed most of rookie camp and the first seven sessions during OTAs. His current ADP among WR is 65, and overall 153. Seeing as this year will be the Mariota experiment in Tennessee as he hopes to find his way, DGB may not even find himself getting consistent snaps, let alone be the guy that Mariota latches on to. All the attributes and ability is there, but do not let it reel you in to drafting this guy as one of your starting WR. Do you remember Stephen HIll? Yeah, neither do I.
Location Grade: D
All in all, the rookies discussed in the past two articles may assist your squad to the fantasy playoffs. Do not expect any one of these guys to carry your team like Odell Beckham Jr. did last season. The 2014 season for rookie WR was an anomaly and statistical outlier to those of seasons past. Nevertheless, it is becoming a passing league and we will see more and more of these rookies making an impact right off the bat. Agholor, Cooper, and White will all have an immediate impact in their landing spots, and could be WR3’s to start, with the upside of breaking WR2 territory. Perriman finds himself somewhat on the border of being an immediate impact player, as he may be inconsistent taking over the role of Torrey Smith in Baltimore. Parker and DGB can be more of a stash-and-hold type player, as we will take the wait-and-see approach of their playing time throughout the preseason and early weeks of the regular season. They may be more appealing if you are playing in a keeper or dynasty leauge, with a less value in your redraft leagues. Be cognizant when drafting these players, find the value in your draft. Do not lose your league by taking some of these players too high, yet, win your league by finding the diamonds in the rough that were ever so prevalent in 2014.
Stay tuned to hear about some free agency movement that may impact fantasy implications among WR in the 2015 season.
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Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday June 14th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646-915-8596. This week’s topics will be the MLB draft and which players need to be monitored by fantasy owners as well as the N.L. East and N.L. Central divisions and everything fantasy relevant within.