Fantasy Football – Rookie WR Breakdown (Part 1)

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Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

11.) Cody Latimer, Broncos:

Playing time – Latimer probably should have stayed at school one more year, but his first year with the Broncos will be like a master’s course in receiving. The Broncos lost Eric Decker, but replaced him with Emmanuel Sanders so they are still loaded at receiver. Latimer’s snaps will most likely be limited to start the year as the 4th or 5th WR, but that will give him time to learn from guys like Manning, Thomas and Welker. I think Latimer will beat out 4th WR Andre Caldwell as the season progresses, Emmanuel Sanders isn’t the most durable guy, and Wes Welker is concussion prone. It’s a long-shot, but Latimer has a chance to play significant minutes in 2014.

Fantasy Outlook – Probably minimal for this year at least, but if you are in a keeper league with a deep bench, then Latimer would be an ideal stash. Any receiver on the field has value in this offense and if Latimer gets a chance this year, he’s worth a spot on your roster. If not, there is a good chance he’s gets starter snaps next year with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. That’s just about an ideal situation for any receiver.

Auction value – $1, Keeper $5

2013 Statistical comparison – Cordarrelle Patterson

12.) Paul Richardson, Seahawks:

Playing time – The Seahawks top 3 is pretty well established with Harvin, Baldwin and Kearse. Richardson should still see the field because he possess one skill the rest of them don’t and that’s world-class speed. He’s too thin right now to be much more than a specialist but I think we’ll see him catch a handful of bombs from Russell Wilson this year.

Fantasy outlook – I see there being a rush to the waiver wire to pick up Richardson in week 4 or so after he catches a couple of long TD passes and then he’ll be dropped two weeks later when he hasn’t had a catch since. Richardson is a deep threat but not much more at this point of his career. He is a rail thin 170 pounds and will be pushed around by NFL corners until he gets stronger. He can run though and I think he will catch a couple of deep TDs this season, but not enough to have value on weekly basis.

Auction value – $1, Keeper $3

2013 Statistical comparison – Kenny Stills

13.) Martavis Bryant, Steelers:

Playing time – Ben Roethlisberger asked for a big receiver and deep threat and he got both in Bryant. I can’t believe he lasted as long as he did (4th round) and could eventually develop into a steal for the Steelers (too easy!). Eventually is probably the key word in that statement as Bryant is very raw. Despite his considerable physical skills, it might take him a year of refinement before he can be a consistent contributor in the passing game. Antonio Brown is a lock for the starting lineup and I think free agent Lance Moore should lock down the slot receiver position. That leaves the #2 WR spot which will come down to Markus Wheaton or Martavis Bryant. They are both burners and dangerous deep threats, but Wheaton is 5’11, 189 and Bryant is 6’4, 211. I think he can take the job by mid-season and become a sneaky fantasy play late in 2014.

Fantasy outlook – Similar to my breakdown of Paul Richardson in that I think Bryant will have some big plays this year, but won’t be consistent enough to be roster worthy. Long-term he had more potential as an all-around receiver than Richardson. Bryant has great size, speed and everything you look for in a starting receiver. Good keeper stash.

Auction value – $1, Keeper $3

2013 Statistical comparison – Kenny Stills

14.) Josh Huff, Eagles:

Playing time – After Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles depth chart is wide open at the receiver position. Huff played for Eagles HC Chip Kelly at Oregon so should be familiar with the offense and slide right into the slot position. I think Huff will end up as the 4th receiver behind fellow rookie Jordan Matthews, but will see plenty of snaps this year due to his comfort level with the offense and explosiveness than none of the other Eagles receivers can match.

Fantasy outlook – Huff is a dangerous deep threat, but can also tough enough to catch the ball over the middle and break a long run. He should be able to contribute from week 1 on and while I don’t expect many huge games I do think his numbers will be respectable by the end of the year. Huff should be a solid end of the bench fantasy option who will give you a few double-digit fantasy games this year.

* From this point on every player has $1 value and is an end-of-your bench lottery ticket. 

15.) John Brown, Cardinals:

Playing time – Brown will be taking over Andre Roberts’ slot receiver responsibilities. There isn’t much talent to threaten Brown’s playing time as a rookie and the Cards drafted him about 3 rounds early so they are clearly high on his talent. I expect Brown to be on the field over 50% of the time when the Cards go to an 11 personnel set (3-WR).

Fantasy outlook – Brown is very small so expecting him to stay healthy all year is a stretch (he’s already banged up), but if he does he could match Andre Roberts production last year (43, 471, 2). Brown should handle kick and punt return duties as well, so if your league counts return stats, give Brown a little boost in your rankings.

16.) Donte Moncrief, Colts:

Playing time – With the signing of Hakeem Nicks, the top 3 spots are locked up with Reggie Wayne, Nicks, and T.Y. Hilton, so Moncrief should find himself on the bench to start the 2014 season. Moncrief has an intriguing mix of size, speed, and agility but he is a little raw, so spending most of this season on the bench isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Moncrief’s overall development. As things are now, I don’t expect Moncrief to play much, but Wayne is old (35) and Nicks is injury prone, so Moncrief could find himself playing sooner than expected.

Fantasy outlook – Based on a lack of playing time I don’t expect Moncrief to be a fantasy asset this year, but long-term he has #1 receiver potential so keep him in mind for keeper leagues or if Wayne or Nicks go down.

Twitter: @MikeFlannery_