The 2016 draft class will not go down in history as one of the best ever, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have a few impact rookie wide receivers. We’ll take a look at the consensus Top 6 rookie WRs and give an overview as to why they should be on your Fantasy Football roster.
Average draft position (ADP) is a great tool to use when preparing for your upcoming Fantasy Football drafts, so we’ll take a look at where each of these players is going in drafts thus far.
The six WRs listed most likely have the best chance to be impact rookie wide receivers but there are also a few others to keep an eye on this preseason. Tyler Boyd, Leonte Carroo, Pharoh Cooper, Braxton Miller and Tajae Sharpe are all names to keep on your radar.
Boyd finds himself in a relatively good situation in Cincinnati as Tyler Eifert most likely misses the first few games of the season and both Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones signed elsewhere this offseason. Carroo is better than people think but in Miami he’s most likely stuck behind DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry. The Rams have absolutely no one I’m interested in at the WR position, yes this includes Tavon Austin, so Pharoh Cooper may end up being their No. 1 by season’s end. College football fans will tell you everything you need to know about Miller’s athleticism but he’ll need more than that in a Bill O’Brien offense. Lastly, there has been plenty of buzz about Sharpe this offseason and plenty of shade thrown at Dorial Green-Beckham. If that continues, Sharpe could emerge with a role in three WR sets.
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Fantasy Impact Rookies: Wide Receivers
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings
Treadwell is widely considered the most complete receiver in the 2016 draft class. He doesn’t have elite speed, but is a large target at 6’2″ and is fundamentally sound. Not only is he the most complete WR in his class, but he’s also the one who instantly becomes his team’s top option in the passing game. Teddy Bridgewater may actually transform into a usable QB in Fantasy this season due to the addition of Treadwell along with the progression of second year WR Stephon Diggs.
Treadwell has the ability to make plays downfield due to his size and ability to high point the ball in addition to a willingness to gain yardage via the short passing game. Treadwell has enough “make you miss” to his game to be an option for a big game each week. Expect Treadwell to be the first rookie WR drafted in Fantasy leagues with the production to consider him an option for a WR3-4/Flex, especially in PPR leagues.
Treadwell is currently being taken at the end of the 10th round in Fantasy drafts as the 49th overall WR. Too many folks are thinking because Bridgewater doesn’t have a huge arm that he can’t get Treadwell the ball. Consider this current draft position good value.
Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins
Doctson, like Treadwell, landed in a somewhat ideal spot for Fantasy owners. The Washington offense ranked 11th in passing yards and 13th in passing TDs in 2015. We’re likely to see more of the same this season due to some question marks in the running game. Matt Jones looks like he will be the feature back after a serviceable rookie campaign. Pierre Garcon’s roster spot is in jeopardy, Jordan Reed is a concussion away from retirement and DeSean Jackson is … well … DeSean Jackson.
Doctson’s biggest assets are his size, athleticism and body control. While Doctson may have some work to do as a technician, his downfield and redzone ability should provide him with enough opportunity to be a WR4 on your Fantasy team.
Doctson is currently being drafted in the 11th round as the 52nd WR off the board. If Doctson is available that late after he makes a few big plays during the preseason, I’d be extremely surprised.
Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns
Throughout the offseason, my instinct has been to stay away from Coleman this season. He has a lot working against him if he’s going to be a Fantasy success as a rookie. His head coach is obsessed with the run game. His team isn’t very good. In order for him to make plays downfield, the offensive line needs to keep the QB upright to allow the play to develop. He will have to compete for targets with Gary Barnidge, Duke Johnson and Josh Gordon, who will face a four game suspension to start the season. Lastly, his QBs are Josh McCown and Robert Griffin III, with RGIII getting the starting nod.
Offseason reports suggest Coleman is doing everything right thus far and he and Griffin have clearly begun to build chemistry. Prior to the draft, many considered Coleman to be the most explosive and talented WR in the class. The likelihood is the Browns will be behind in a majority of their games this season. My suggestion would be to keep an eye on reports from Browns beat writer Mary Cay Cabot. She’s one of the best in the business at predicting how what you see in practice translates to the field on gameday.
Coleman is currently being drafted in the eighth round in 12-team leagues as the 41st WR off the board. That’s probably about where he should be going given his upside. If his ADP rises throughout the preseason and gets bumped to somewhere in the seventh round, that’s a bit too high for my taste.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 3, 2016
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
With an ADP of 95, Shepard is being taken as the first rookie WR off the board. The belief is Shepard is a quicker, faster, and healthier version of Victor Cruz out of the slot. Offseason reports on Shepard have been nothing short of spectacular as he draws praise from just about everyone.
Shepard has speed and quickness that give him an advantage both off the line and down the field. He possesses elite body control. His lack of size is most likely the only reason he wasn’t the first or second WR taken in the NFL draft.
Personally, I like Treadwell over Shepard this season because with Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Shane Vereen and Will Tye, there is enough competition for targets for sheer volume to be a difference maker. That said, I have nothing negative to say about Shepard and if you feel so inclined to take him as the first rookie WR off the board, I don’t blame you.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Last season the Saints finished second in passing attempts and first in yardage. While I’m sure they’ll be more committed to the run this year, they will most likely finish in the Top 10 in both categories once again. Gone is Marques Colston and Ben Watson from last year’s squad. At first glance, that might not appear to be a massive opportunity that has emerged but between the two, they saw 177 targets in 2015.
Thomas is a physical presence at 6’3” 212 lbs. His best attributes are his good hands and ability to use his size to his advantage; something we often saw Marques Colston do in this offense over the years. ProFootballFocus compares Thomas to Michael Floyd, for those who aren’t familiar with him.
Thomas is currently being drafted in the middle of the 12th round as the 54th overall WR. Players such as Tavon Austin, Dorial Green-Beckham, Steve Smith and Vincent Jackson are being taken ahead of Thomas. If you can wait and draft him that late, give yourself a pat on the back.
Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Fuller seems to be the crowd favorite for this year’s rookie bust award. I’m not so sure. The Texans drafted Fuller 21st overall in the NFL draft and according to reports, did so due to his ability to add to their offensive scheme. If you haven’t seen Fuller play, think DeSean Jackson. He’s a burner with big play ability who also occasionally looks as if he’s not 100-percent focused.
Critics have concerns about Fuller’s hands and consistency due to a number of drops throughout his college career. Over his final two seasons at Notre Dame, Fuller caught 138 passes for 2,352 yards and 29 touchdowns. He may have the occasional drop, but the talent is there to make an immediate impact. Unfortunately, the deep ball isn’t Brock Osweiler’s jam. Someone should tell him chicks dig the long ball.
Fuller is currently being drafted as the 62nd WR overall in the middle of the 14th round. At this point in your draft, you’re looking at players such James Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Victor Cruz and Anquan Boldin. If you’re drafting someone to see if you can hit a home run with a late pick, Fuller fits the mold.
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