Top Rookies Landing Spots: WR (2019 Fantasy Football)
The first few months of the fantasy football off-season involves scouting out incoming rookies. The fantasy community watches hundreds of hours of tape on all of the potential skill position players, and between the tape, the NFL combine, the pro days, and production analysis, we form our positional rankings heading into the NFL draft. These rankings are based on how well the players performed in college and how smoothly we think their skills will translate to the next level.
While the skill of the players is important, the situation might matter most of all. That’s what we learn on draft night. Landing spot is the most crucial part of the equation when figuring out, at least from a fantasy perspective, how well all the players we’ve been researching for the past few months will actually perform and how much they’ll be able to contribute.
In this article, I’m going to highlight my favorite landing spots for rookie wide receivers. Just to give you an idea of how much the draft shook up my receiver rankings, I had A.J. Brown as my WR1 going into draft night, but he landed in a terrible situation in Tennessee. Corey Davis is the top dog there, they just signed Adam Humphries to play in the slot, and Marcus Mariota is just not a very good quarterback. Since Mariota has been the Quarterback, the Titans have ranked 28th, 14th, 19th, and 27th in offensive points. Due to a crowded depth chart on a low scoring offense with mediocre (at best) quarterback play, I had to move Brown to my WR7 overall.
With my least favorite landing spot out of the way, here are the ones I actually liked.
Parris Campbell (WR – IND)
Indianapolis was identified by many as an ideal landing spot for a wide receiver. Many thought that about the Colts last year as well but they didn’t take a receiver until Daurice Fountain in the fifth round and then Deon Cain in the sixth, so the door was still wide open to add one this year. Parris Campbell was taken with the Cots’ second round pick, so he’s definitely in their immediate plans, and should start as the primary slot receiver right away. Campbell gets lauded for his blazing (4.31 40yd dash) speed, and people somehow get the idea that he’s a small guy. Well, he’s not. At six feet and 205 pounds, Campbell won’t get bullied around or easily shoved off his routes by defending corners. He’s a complete package that can gain separation on all three levels of the field.
There aren’t many better quarterbacks for a young receiver to be paired up with than 29-year-old Andrew Luck. After missing an entire season with a shoulder injury, there was significant doubt as to whether or not Luck would be able to play anything like his former self. He put the doubters quickly to rest though, as he finished fifth in passing yards and second in passing attempts, completions, and touchdowns in 2018. In four fully healthy seasons, Luck has not thrown less than 570 passes, and topped 600 passes in the other three years. That’s a ton of targets to go around. Defenses are not going to have an easy time keeping up with both Parris Campbell and T.Y. Hilton on every play, but Luck is going to have a field day with his embarrassment of riches.
D.K. Metcalf (WR – SEA)
Metcalf was a polarizing figure in the pre-draft rookie analysis process. It felt like half of the fantasy community was obsessed with his combination of size and speed and had him at the top of their rankings, while the other half took issue with his limited route running and low agility scores and weren’t as impressed. Regardless of which side of that debate you were on, you have to like his landing spot in Seattle, especially with the news that Doug Baldwin will likely not play another NFL down due to multiple injures (which also came out during the draft).
Russell Wilson may not throw a ton of passes, in fact, 19 quarterbacks threw more passes than he did last year but on his career, he averages 466 passes per year. Those targets need to go somewhere, and Metcalf just became the de facto number two option in that offense. Tyler Lockett‘s career high in targets was 71 in 2017, and that’s the highest total of any Seahawk currently on the team. Lockett isn’t a possession style receiver and a big chunk of his production comes on deep passes, so who steps up? Jaron Brown? David Moore? Maybe their second round draft pick who is bigger and stronger than anyone else on the field. His agility may not be great but I don’t doubt Wilson will be able to get him the ball. I don’t see a rookie with a better chance to lead his team in targets than Metcalf.
Deebo Samuel (WR – SF)
San Francisco coveted landing spot for a wide receiver, and they used an early second round pick on Deebo Samuel. The best landing spots for rookie receivers are teams who don’t have a clear number one option, teams where the path to lead the team in targets is a relatively clear one. What lies “ahead” of Samuel right now is journeyman Jordan Matthews who’s playing on his fourth team in six years (including two separate stints in Philly), Marquise Goodwin who finally had a breakout season in 2017 only to take a step backwards last year, and second-year man Dante Pettis who played well in the second half of last season but still only has 27 catches to his name.
Samuel is tough, physical slot receiver who plays like a running back with the ball in his hands, and should start on a creative, Kyle Shanahan led offense. It’s true that Pettis is a similar player to Samuel, but draft stock goes a long way here for me. The 49ers used the fourth pick in the second round on Samuel and made him the third wide receiver taken overall, that says a lot about how they feel about it.