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Receiving options tend to be the slowest to adjust to the NFL. Wide receivers and tight ends do not walk in as Fantasy Studs usually. There were still some Rookie Wide Receivers that were winners.

In a draft in which there did not appear to be a game-changing wide receiver, three were still taken in the first nine picks. There are some future Fantasy Studs and some current Fantasy Duds.

I am not seeing any of these rookie wide receivers having a big year right off the bat. It just does not happen that often. Toss in that the most talented rookie wide receivers are entering situations that need to develop or are toxic, there just isn’t any perfect fits this season.

However for dynasty folks, there are definitely some gems. Here are your rookie wide receivers who were winners and losers. I also threw in a few veterans that had their situations change by whom their teams drafted.

Rookie Wide Receivers; Winners & Losers

Rookie Winners

John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals

The best way to exploit a defensive backfield that has to double-team a single wide receiver is speed. John Ross brings more speed than anyone in the history of the NFL Combine.

Brandon LaFell received 106 targets last season for the Bengals, and I think a good amount of those will be going Ross’ way. As teams focus on A.J. Green, the Washington speedster will be able to take advantage of 1-on-1 coverage.

I was as high as anyone on Tyler Boyd last pre-season. However, John Ross just brings more explosive plays into the offense. I think he is the best bet to lead rookie receivers in standard scoring leagues.

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

Davis ends up in a perfect situation for his skill set. The Titans’ offense is not as pass-happy as many around the league. However, Marcus Mariota has improved on his counting stats (yards and touchdowns) while keeping his efficiency at an elite level.

Rishard Matthews put up a career year last season, but Davis brings a bigger body and a more refined route tree to the table. The only other receivers of note are the ever disappointing Kendall Wright, and the former hot prospect Tajae Sharpe. While he may not bring immediate Fantasy returns, Davis is an intriguing top prospect in Dynasty leagues. Time will tell if Davis and Mariota can develop a strong connection.

If that connection grows, then Davis is the biggest winner of all of the Rookie Wide Receivers.

Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Playing opposite of Antonio Brown is about as good of a spot that a rookie wide-out can start. Whether it be Markus Wheaton, Eli Rogers or Martavis Bryant, we have seen time and again that the second Steelers’ receiver can be Fantasy relevant.

Smith-Schuster has more natural talent than any of these previous options. If he could have come out after a monster sophomore season, he would have been a Top-15 pick. His production fell off a bit last year, but the talent is still there.

Obviously Smith-Schuster’s stock depends on Martavis Bryant’s availability. I would bet against Bryant playing a full season for the Steelers again.

Ryan Switzer, Dallas Cowboys


Late 4th-Round Picks are barely supposed to make the team, let alone have a Fantasy impact. As someone who has watched every second of Cowboys’ football for the past couple of decades, I can promise you that Switzer will find a spot in their offense.

Cole Beasley was a WR3 last season in PPR leagues. To put it plain and simple, he is not a good receiver. He is a great athlete, but he drops too many passes and fumbles too often. His route tree is limited, but hidden since he runs patterns between Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Switzer brings a much more sharp route-running ability along with the same kind of explosiveness. His return ability will get him on the field, but his receiving chops will have him overtaking Beasley sooner rather than later.

Veteran Winners

Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller, Houston Texans

I know they have been talked about already, but getting Deshaun Watson is a major boost for these two young receivers. We might not see the Fantasy numbers this season, but I think Watson will develop a solid chemistry with these two. I see Watson having a floor of Andy Dalton (who has maintained multiple top Fantasy receiving options) and a ceiling of Andrew Luck.

Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Hill burst on to the scene last season in a variety of scoring plays. However, I think his ceiling is being pushed down by Alex Smith. Once Patrick Mahomes takes over, Hill will have someone that can sling it as far as Hill can run. It may not be this season, but Hill’s value definitely increased in dynasty formats.

 

Rookie Losers

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

To be honest, I was on the opposite side of this argument right after the draft. I was curious as to why Williams wasn’t considered for the top pick in Dynasty leagues. My colleagues brought some concerns to me then I went further with some research.

In Philip Rivers’ 11 seasons as a starting quarterback, he has never produced a Top-12 Wide Receiver in Fantasy Points (PPR). In that timeframe the Chargers have not had two Top-36 Wide Receivers. The average rank for their WR1 was 33rd at the position and their WR2 average ranking was 59th. If you take the average of their top two receivers each season, that number is 46th.

A big factor is Rivers’ ability to spread the ball around. An even bigger factor is having both an elite tight end and running back. Hunter Henry looks like he is on his way to that level and Melvin Gordon reached that status last season.

Furthermore, the receiving room is crowded already in Los Angeles. Keenan Allen is back from injury and Tyrell Williams is not going anywhere. Williams has the most physical, receiving talent of any rookie receiver. I just do not think he will have the chance to truly shine with the Chargers.

Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills

Jones enters into a bad situation for a Fantasy Receiver. The Bills were the third worst passing offense in the league last season. They are also the only team in the bottom six that is not changing their starting quarterback from last year’s opener.

With Sammy Watkins still around, and Tyrod Taylor running as much as he throws, there just will not be enough volume for Jones. I am not sold on his ability anyway. He dominated weaker competition on sheer volume of targets. I would stay away from him in all formats.

Ardarius Stewart, New York Jets

If Stewart had gone to a Big XII or Pac-12 school, he would have ended up as a First Round Pick. At Alabama, there just was not a need for big numbers. Do you know where else a receiver won’t put up big numbers? With the Jets.

With God-knows-who starting at quarterback, Stewart enters a volatile situation. Eric Decker will be back as well, so the range of outcomes for Stewart are just too wide.

Veteran Loser

Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys

See Switzer, Ryan.


 

So there are my winner and loser rookie wide receivers. Be sure to check out our other positional winners/losers as well as our pre-season content that is about to start rolling out! Next up for myself: the early SCFE mock draft!

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Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.
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