Opportunity, situation, key for 2009 rookie wideouts

I’ve been meaning to chime in on this topic, since it’s been eating at me a little bit after we finished up the magazine. Looking at last year’s mag, our rookie WR rankings for 2008 look pretty bad (Devin Thomas, James Hardy, and Donnie Avery were 1-2-3).

However, if you check out the 2008 preseason homepage and look at the final rookie WR rankings on the site, you’ll see they were quite different (Eddie Royal, DeSean Jackson, and Josh Morgan ranked 1-2-3).

It’s really hard to rank the rookie wideouts in May, June, or even July. This year, the logical #1 choice is Michael Crabtree, and we currently have Jeremy Maclin at #2 simply because we love his ability and his situation. Darrius Heyward-Bey checks in at #3 based on his appealing talent and opportunity, but he’s playing with a shaky QB. But it’s entirely possible that 2-3 different wideouts will make it to the top-3 in our final rookie rankings later this summer, and here are two possible reasons why:

  • The player surprisingly emerges as a legit starting prospect due to a stellar preseason, like Royal in 2008.
  • The player is cast into a starting role due to an injury, like Jackson last year, and he gets the job done.

Now the two items above we perfect examples of how a rookie can quickly go from an afterthought in the spring to a hot fantasy commodity in the late summer, but both players had an added advantage in that they played in good offenses and with good QBs, so that’s another factor to watch with this year’s rookies.

I do expect Crabtree to remain high in our rookie rankings barring injury issues because he’s very talented, and I do believe he’ll play a lot right away. But Maclin, as much as I like him, will likely tumble, since he’s only their 3rd wideout, and Heyward-Bay’s situation isn’t ideal, plus he’s a little raw.

What you ideally want to see from a rookie wideout is a guy who’s on a good team and in a great offense, which at times can eliminate some of the top picks, and you also like to see a guy stepping into a good situation and alongside a stud #1, like Royal last year with Brandon Marshall. Jackson was in a great situation, and there was a big need for him, so he blew away guys like Thomas and Hardy, who presumably were going to have some immediate fantasy value once drafted.

I honestly don’t see a ton of guys who might be sneaking under the radar this year, but there are definitely some guys to watch, and that’s the reason behind this post. Here are the guys to keep an eye on.

Percy Harvin, Min – Clearly, he’s a real wildcard this year, and he’s already impressing with his playmaking ability. He probably won’t “start” so he won’t be a high fantasy pick, yet his situation could be very good (read: Brett Favre), and defenses won’t be able to focus on him with their other weapons, namely RB Adrian Peterson.

Brooks Foster, Stl – Watch out for this guy because he can play and he might have a great opportunity on the Rams. Although his situation isn’t ideal, QB Marc Bulger isn’t a stiff, at least. If Laurent Robinson has more injury issues, Foster could easily start, despite his raw route-running. He has good size, very good speed, and excellent hands. He could be a perfect guy for them to line opposite Donnie Avery – and they need help at receiver.

Louis Murphy, Oak – His QB and overall offense is shaky, but QB JaMarcus Russell is improving and might be ready to help a young receiver like Murphy this year. Murphy is a big-time sleeper; he’s big, fast, and he does everything well, so he could be a real surprise.

Juaquin Iglesias, Chi – He’s a little more of an obvious choice, since he should have a good chance to start, but he needs to be on the radar since he’s a solid player, and he’s in a good situation playing with Jay Cutler.

Austin Collie, Ind – For one, playing with QB Peyton Manning is a good thing. Collie was drafted by the Colts for a reason: he’s a good fit for their scheme and is a nice player who could potentially catch a lot of passes from the slot. If there’s an injury, he could be forced to start, and he’s good enough to produce.

Deon Butler, Sea – He’ll probably be a complementary player, but not if there’s an injury or two, and let’s face it: veterans Deion Branch and Nate Burleson have durability issues. Butler’s small, but he’s tough, fast, elusive, and he’s really made a positive impression so far, so he’s definitely someone to watch. In fact, he’s already being compared to Royal.

Category: Fantasy Football


11 Responses

  1. Petenic says:

    If Hakeem Nicks comes ready to play, he could put up numbers his rookie season. The WR position is there for the taking, in NYG

  2. Idiot Savant says:

    Great read and insight John…this is ahead of the curve reporting in my eyes.

  3. John Hansen says:

    No doubt, Petenic. I didn’t list him because he’s an obvious choice. He’s in a damn good situation even though the Giants want to be a running team. Talent, opportunity, good enough QB. Hard to beat that. I really need to see Nicks in the preseason, that will help a lot because right now I could go either way on him.

  4. big daddies says:

    come on, you left off the real dark horse, Robiskie in Cleveland. The kid is gonna blow up big!

  5. MI-5 says:

    John –

    You did a podcast about two months ago and either Greg or Adam raved about a rockie slot WR with the Lions. Do you have any thoughts there???

  6. jbeau says:

    I agree with Daddie, but maybe he wasn’t on this list because it may be a little more obvious, and I think the point of this article is to list the less obvious. These are great guys to target in a dynasty league.

  7. John Hansen says:

    Robiskie isn’t a darkhorse as far as rookie wideouts are concerned, I view him as pretty obvious, I was trying to dig deeper.

    Derrick Williams in Detroit would be a good guy to fit in this group. I didn’t add him due to a less than desirable QB situation and the presence of a couple of solid veterans, who should be better #2s, but he’s also someone to watch.

  8. hughc says:

    John, Long time subscriber from NC here…As a HEELS season ticket for the last 16 years, I saw every play that Hakeem, BTate, and Brooks played the last 3 and 4 years respectively. Hakeem has the best hands and will be best pro based on his physicality alone. Those chump CB’s will just not be able to bump this guy at the line. Foster while a good ATH, was inconsistent at best in his 4 years on the Hill. I don’t expect him to ever be a great pro. Just doesn’t have the “Want to” factor. Watch out for Brandon Tate. He was actually our best WR over the last 1.5 years. I would put him on some of your Keeper WR ranking lists.

    Later, Hugh C

  9. Idiot Savant says:

    I read that Pierre Garcon is taking the lead over Collie in Indy? Any news on devlopments there.

  10. John Hansen says:

    Agreed on Tate, he could be the best overall. Foster we’ll have to see, but he does have a great opportunity. Garcon should have the lead over Collie right now, he’s been on the team a year and Collie’s been on the team only 2 months. Collie was drafted specifically to be their 3rd.

  11. Paydirt says:

    I’m under the impression that Garcon and Collie play different positions. Garcon plays Harrison’s old spot, Collie plays Gonzalez spot…?

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