Thinking Skins Posted July 4, 2008 Share Posted July 4, 2008 http://fftoday.com/articles/marcoccio/08_young_targets.htm Salvatore Marcoccio III Young Targets An Examination of Rookie WRs 6/24/08 In each of the last 10 seasons at least one wide receiver that was capable of starting for your fantasy football team has emerged. In most of those seasons more than one was highly productive.¹ Below is a chart showing all rookie wide receivers from the past 10 years that amassed at least 700 receiving yards (with the exception of Chris Henry and Braylon Edwards who were the biggest impact rookies in 2005 but finished below 700 yards). While 700 yards could be considered an arbitrary total, it should fairly accurately reflect the yardage minimum one would expect from a fantasy football starter at the wide receiver position. The fantasy point totals below are based on six point touchdowns, a point per ten yards, and a point per reception. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ¹2005 was an exception where Chris Henry and Braylon Edwards were the two highest performing rookie WRs and were spot starters at best, although Henry did manage 6 trips to the end zone. Rookie WRs: 700 Yds + Player - (Rec Yds, Rec TDs) Randy Moss - (1313, 17) Anquan Boldin - (1377, 8) Michael Clayton - (1193, 7) Marques Colston - (1038, 8) Kevin Johnson - (986, 8) Dwayne Bowe - (995, 5) Lee Evans - (843, 9) Larry Fitzgerald - (780, 8) Roy Williams - (817, 8) Chris Chambers - (883, 7) Antonio Bryant - (883, 7) Torry Holt - (788, 6) Troy Edwards - (714, 5) Darrell Jackson - (713, 6) Andre Johnson - (733, 6) Keary Colbert - (754, 5) Calvin Johnson - (756, 4) Rod Gardner - (741, 4) Chris Henry - (422, 6) Braylon Edwards - (512, 3) I don’t think the fact that Randy Moss sits atop this list would come as a surprise to anyone. His rookie year was legendary, but the fact that 18 rookie wide receivers have amassed over 700 yards – with many eclipsing or approaching 1,000 yards and 15 have grabbed at least six touchdowns - in the last ten seasons puts to rest the notion that rookie wide receivers have no rightful place on your fantasy football roster. Of course picking the right rookie is the key factor. Far and away, most rookies don’t even sniff these totals, so let’s look at some factors that may help one find a rookie gem on draft day. Opportunity: Obviously a rookie needs to receive significant time on the field as a prerequisite for putting up stats that lead to fantasy points. A young wide receiver that is going to sit behind veterans will not help your squad. There’s no need to really explore this factor much further, since it’s quite apparent all who appear on the list above must have received an opportunity to see playing time as first year players due to either superior talent or injury to a teammate. Size: There are virtually no mighty mites on this list with Lee Evans being the shortest player at 5’10” and Torry Holt being the lightest player at 190 pounds. In fact all but four of these successful rookies are at least six feet tall (and twelve are 6’2” or taller) and all but five are at least 200 pounds. Even more compelling is that three of the top four most successful rookie wide receivers of the last ten years - all of which had “stud” fantasy seasons - are 6’4” tall (Randy Moss, Marques Colston and Michael Clayton) and while Anquan Boldin is only 6’1” he weighs in at a sturdy 217 pounds. So it seems, contrary to what some of your girlfriends may say politely, size DOES matter (at least when it comes to evaluating successful rookie wide receivers). Draft Position: All but three wide receivers on the above list were drafted in the first two rounds of their respective NFL drafts with two of those remaining three, Darrell Jackson and Chris Henry, only falling to round three. Only Marques Colston was a second day pick (amazingly he lasted until round seven). Looking further, 12 of the 20 successful rookie wide receivers listed above were first round picks. One can assume draft position is an important determining factor for two reasons – really the two reasons that any player is a success – a combination of talent and opportunity. A first or second round draft pick should be more talented than a late round pick (in theory at least) and it logically follows that a player chosen with a premium pick will more likely be given an opportunity to play since they are talented, being paid well and in most cases likely chosen with a high pick because they were a need position for their new team. QB: These rookie producers must have all had Hall of Fame quarterbacks tossing the rock to them as young bucks right? Guess again. The following uninspiring QBs were behind most of these breakout rookie campaigns: Jeff Blake Josh McCown Brian Griese Tim Couch Damon Huard/Brodie Croyle Joey Harrington Jay Fiedler Kordell Stewart/Mike Tomczak David Carr Tony Banks Trent Dilfer/Charlie Frye Jon Kitna The only better than average quarterbacks that were responsible for helping the wide receivers on the above list were Jake Delhomme, Carson Palmer, Drew Bledsoe, and Randall Cunningham and both Bledsoe and Cunningham were past their primes at the time. Does this mean that one should look for rookie wide receivers that are matched up with poor quarterbacks when attempting to guess which rookie wide receiver will be worth a spot on your redraft team? Of course not. However, it should tell you not to automatically dismiss a targeted rookie just because he will have a “no name” QB behind center. ... So which rookie wide receivers fit into the above criteria? Who should a fantasy owner target in 2008? Bear in mind than not one wide receiver was deemed worthy enough to be drafted in round one, so this could be a down year, but there were certainly some talented wide receivers that went off the board in rounds two and three. Below are my top five rookie wide receivers that I feel are most likely to break-out and put up fantasy numbers worthy of starting in 2008. Devin Thomas (6’2”, 215): Thomas was drafted in round two by the Washington Redskins, a team that will be converting to a West Coast Offense and started two undersized wide-outs (Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El) last season. Randle El is better suited to play in the slot so Thomas is very likely to crack the starting line-up in his rookie season. Thomas has a nifty combination of size and speed and is a terrific runner after the catch – an important part of the WCO. It would not shock me if he ends up leading the Redskins in receptions, yards and touchdowns at season’s end. 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