2015 Fantasy Football: Rookie Wide Receivers
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Dorial Green-Beckham, Titans – Has the size, speed, and natural athleticism to be a dominant receiver, but hasn’t played football in over a year, has serious off-field red flags, and the Titans will be starting a rookie at QB (Mariota). He has the potential to be a Pro Bowl receiver, but could also be out of the league in three years. Risky pick, who is a tempting late round flyer.
Phillip Dorsett, Colts – The Colts already have T.Y. Hilton, but drafted a potential clone in Dorsett. Like Hilton, Dorsett is under-sized but has world class speed and could connect on a few deep balls with Andrew Luck in 2015. Dorsett’s route running needs a lot of work and he is at best the WR4 right now on the Colts depth chart, but has enough talent to warrant an end of the draft dice roll.
Devin Funchess, Panthers – The Panthers had success with a giant rookie WR with suspect speed last year in Kelvin Benjamin, so they went back to the well and drafted a Benjamin clone in Funchess. Drafting two WRs with inhuman wingspans and catch radii is a pretty smart strategy with Cam Netwon’s sub-par accuracy. Funchess lacks the speed and quickness to get separation against NFL DBs, but with his size (6’5 | 236) he is pretty much always open. He should be in the starting lineup, but as the 2nd WR on a run first team his fantasy value is limited.
Jaelen Strong, Texans – Was drafted in the 3rd round to replace veteran Andre Johnson, but got off to rough start showing up to OTAs out of shape and then pulling a hamstring on the first day of practice. Strong is a little behind schedule, but has looked good the first week of training camp. The Texans have some QB issues, but the #2 WR spot is within reach for Strong which could result in solid fantasy backup value with some red-zone upside.
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Vince Mayle, Browns – This is the start of the sleeper section, none of these guys are likely to produce in fantasy this year, but the talent is there for any of the next few guys to blow up. The Browns probably have the least talented group of receivers in the NFL which means 4th round pick Mayle could earn himself some snaps as a rookie. He’s got excellent size (6’3 | 225) and is a beast after the catch. His poor performance at the combine dropped him a round or two, but Mayle was very productive in college last year (106 catches | 1,483 yards | 9 TDs) and could be one of the biggest rookie surprises in 2015.
Titus Davis, Chargers – After Keenan Allen, there isn’t much talent on the Chargers depth chart at WR. Davis has been under-appreciated at every level, from a 2-star recruit out of high school to going undrafted this year. All Davis has done is produce with a state championship in high school, then 204 receptions, 3,700 yards, and 37 TDs at Central Michigan. Davis is a precise route runner who has been able to get open consistently in college and may be able to at the next level as well. If so, there is little standing in the way of the WR2 or at least WR3 job with the Chargers. He’s a deep sleeper, but I could see Davis earning a significant job with the Chargers this season.
Kenny Bell, Bucs – There isn’t much behind starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans on the Bucs WR depth chart. Bell has good size (6’1 | 199), ran better than expected at the combine (4.42), finished in the top 5 in three combine events, and may be the best run blocker among the rookie WRs. Bell was underused at Nebraska due to a run-first scheme and I’ve always thought he had the talent to be much better. He has all the physical traits necessary to excel and his elite run blocking should earn him some snaps as a rookie.
Devin Smith, Jets – A prolific deep threat on a team with a QB who can’t hit the broad side of a barn on deep throws. Plus Smith is out for at least the next month with lung and rub injuries. I love Smith’s talent, but he landed in a rough situation with the Jets. He’s buried on the depth chart behind three established WRs and stuck with a bad QB.
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