Impact Dynasty Rookie Wide Receivers
Eric Moody discusses which rookie wideouts will provide the largest impact in dynasty leagues.
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The biggest factor that influences the probability of success of a rookie wide receiver is the offensive situation he finds himself in. Two rookie wide receivers in the last 15 years that helped win fantasy leagues were Giants Odell Beckham Jr. and Cardinals Anquan Boldin.
Beckham was rostered on many fantasy football championship teams in 2014. He only played in 12 games (11 starts), but finished the season with 91 catches, 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Beckham averaged 17 fantasy points per game and provided WR1 value essentially for free.
Boldin played in 16 games (16 starts) and rewarded fantasy owners with 101 catches, 1,377 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged 11.4 fantasy points per game and finished as a top-five wide receiver in 2003.
Beckham and Boldin are two of four wide receivers with 1,300 or more receiving yards in a rookie season. Not every rookie wide receiver can make this type of an impact for your fantasy football team. The goal of this article is to share with you four rookie wide receivers that I see providing consistent high-end WR3 value on a weekly basis with WR1 upside certain weeks.
Corey Coleman (CLE)
Coleman has very good play speed to threaten defenders deep and athletic ability to attack jump balls. The areas of opportunity are working the middle of the field, his hands, and his frame. Coleman may not be the ideal fit on the outside against NFL caliber cornerbacks.
The situation he finds himself in is where the true value lies. Coleman will be the focal point of the Browns’ passing game. Targets present opportunity and I project that he will receive around 130.
Coleman could finish with 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Robert Griffin III, who is the frontrunner to be the Browns’ starting quarterback, excels at throwing the football 20 yards or more. He and Coleman played at Baylor University under Art Briles in his explosive offensive scheme.
A scheme that could attack multiple parts of the football field and break many defensive schemes. Coleman was the first player in school history to record two 1,000 receiving yard seasons. He is first in school history for receiving yards per game (85.9) and seventh in all-purpose yards (3,833).
When you evaluate his physical profile, combine metrics, and collegiate production he is eerily similar to other notable NFL wide receivers such as Santonio Holmes, Beckham and Roddy White. This is a player with a very high ceiling if the Browns provide him opportunities to touch the football whether it be through receptions, carries and punt returns. New Browns head coach Hue Jackson’s offensive philosophy revolves around building a scheme around his player’s talent.
This bodes well for Coleman because he is the most explosive receiving weapon on the team’s roster. He will provide immediate WR3 value with WR2 upside in certain weeks.
Michael Thomas (NO)
Thomas has the frame and athletic ability of an NFL No. 1 wide receiver. He has very good hands and quickness. The biggest area of opportunity is his route running.
Thomas landed a perfect landing spot in New Orleans with Drew Brees under center. Do you remember what impact Peyton Manning had on a young Demaryius Thomas? I envision Brees having this type of impact on the development of Thomas.
He was not tasked with attacking defenses vertically at Ohio State, but neither was Marques Colston with the Saints. Thomas was Ohio State’s No. 1 wide receiver over the past two seasons with 110 catches, 1,580 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns.
No other team in the NFL last season had more passing yards (4,970) and first downs from pass completions (247) than the Saints. The Saints’ defense could be improved heading into 2016, but the offense has consistently put up a high number of pass attempts and passing yards in the Brees era. I envision Thomas filling the void left by Marques Colston.
The Saints used Colston in his prime lined up in the slot primarily running short to intermediate routes to create mismatches in the middle of the field. The word on the street is that Brees and Thomas have been working well together during OTAs and building rapport.
This situation is perfect for him to make an immediate fantasy impact in 2016 especially as a WR3 in PPR leagues. Thomas will have many opportunities to display his run-after-the-catch abilities on the NFL stage.
Sterling Shepard (NYG)
Shepard has solid play speed, very good acceleration and route-running ability. The areas of opportunity are his adequate play strength, catch frame and ability to defeat press coverage against NFL caliber cornerbacks. The Giants’ offense is a great fit for Shepard’s skill set because they run a high percentage of three wide receiver sets.
He will be in a position to catch a high number of passes and win matchups as a slot receiver. There is a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the health of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. It would be shocking if Shepard does not open the NFL season as the Giants’ No. 2 wide receiver.
He played in all 14 games as a senior at Oklahoma generating 86 receptions, 1,288 receiving yards and scoring 11 touchdowns. Shepard has a similar physical profile to wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Wes Welker, but has a tremendous work ethic which gives him the upside of Antonio Brown. The Giants scored points on 38.2 percent of their offensive drives and scored the sixth-most points in the league.
The offense tied the New England Patriots for the most passing touchdowns (36) in the NFL and ranked sixth in net yards per offensive play with 5.7. The stars continue to align for Shepard to make a fantasy impact sooner rather than later in the Giants’ explosive offense, but his ADP (average draft position) continues to rise each day. He is on the WR3 radar and will have opportunities to produce as opposing defenses will look to contain Beckham.
Josh Doctson (WAS)
Doctson has very good play speed, catching radius and competitive toughness to reel in jump balls. He has the growth mindset of a No. 1 wide receiver. Doctson was targeted on 36.5 percent of the time he was on the field at TCU.
It remains to be seen how press coverage and NFL caliber cornerbacks impact his productivity. Doctson will be better suited as a No. 2 wide receiver in the NFL and that is what makes his landing spot in Washington so intriguing.
We watched the Redskins’ offense adapt before our eyes. The passing game became more aggressive each week. Reed emerged as a matchup nightmare and helped win fantasy leagues.
He led the team with 87 receptions, 952 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed was the most reliable receiving option the Redskins had. Jamison Crowder had an adequate rookie season after suffering a hamstring injury during training camp.
I envision Doctson overtaking Garcon as the Redskins’ No. 2 wide receiver. If that scenario does not happen then his height and ball skills will surely be leveraged in the red zone. My projection for Doctson is 74 targets, 46 receptions, 640 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
In the scenario that Jackson or Garcon loses games due to an injury then Doctson will be in a prime position to take advantage. Either way, he is on the WR3 radar in fantasy football.
Not every wide receiver will have a rookie season like Beckham, Anquan Boldin or Randy Moss. The goal in dynasty leagues is to target wide receivers who will have the highest probability of success of their skill sets translating to the next level. The context of the offensive situations these wide receivers find themselves is equally important.
The Browns’ offensive coordinator will give Coleman all the work he can physically handle. Thomas has landed in a Saints’ offensive scheme that has a specific wide receiver role that aligns perfectly with his skill set and what he was asked to do at Ohio State.
Shepard is a perfect fit in the Giants’ quick-hitting passing attack that is screaming for another receiver to step up in order to complement Beckham. Doctson is in a position with the Redskins to leverage his strengths, but his rookie season outlook will be impacted by the presence of Garcon and Jackson.
Even if these rookie wide receivers do not top 1,300 or more receiving yards it is not the end of the world for your dynasty teams. Here are a list of rookie wide receivers over the last 10 years to top 1,000 or more receiving yards: Marques Colston, A.J. Green, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Amari Cooper. It will be fascinating to observe this year’s rookie wide receivers to see which one emerges at the top once the statistical dust settles.
To check out more impact rookies for dynasty leagues, check out our “Impact Dynasty Rookie Running Backs” article.