Jun 10, 2009
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.