The Hall of Fame game means it’s getting close to the most important night of your fantasy football year. It’s almost draft night! Fantasy CPR has a full draft kit of rankings, profiles, and team previews which is constantly growing and has all the info you need to plan your perfect draft and secure your championship. (At least that’s the plan).
Today in this post, I wanted to focus on three rookie receivers that I think are set up for a very successful rookie season. Rookie QB’s historically are a little dicey outside of the Cam Newton’s of the world and rookie RB’s are almost always in a time-share. On the other hand, Rookie receivers can make an instant impact if they have a solid QB in place and get the opportunity to shine.
Here’s three I think will do better than their current ADP would indicate.
Kendall Wright – Tennessee Titans
Wright is being drafted deep in the 50s in WR taken in most drafts meaning in some shallower leagues you can grab him in the last couple rounds. He could have a huge season depending on what else happens with the Titans. There’s plenty of uncertainty in Tennessee so don’t go crazy and draft him extremely early, but he’s a nice sleeper pick to wait on and see how things play out.
The first factor that will drastically impact Wright is what happens with Kenny Britt. The volatile and oft-injured Titans #1 wideout has impressed when on the field but shown a shocking lack of ability to stay on it. If Britt misses time do to legal or physical problems, Wright could get a lot of playing time right away.
Another all-important factor for Wright is who is throwing the passes he’ll be trying to haul in. Jake Locker is much more adept at the vertical passing game which could open things up for Wright, especially out of the slot, to make big plays. If Matt Hasselbeck wins and keeps the starting job passes down-field will be more limited but it may allow Wright to develop screens and slants if he can earn the veteran’s trust.
Wright will definitely make an impact on special teams, so if your league throws you some bonus points for those yards or scored bump Wright up a few slots on your draft board.
I think Wright’s ceiling may be the highest of any rookie receiver if he can establish a rapport with his QB and earn playing time. There are a number of factors though that could easily derail his season so don’t go overly crazy, just watch for him in the late rounds.
Rueben Randle – New York Giants
Randle’s biggest challenge will come from getting enough looks to make him valuable in the Giants offense. With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks already in the fold, Eli’s got weapons besides Randle.
However, Mario Manningham is gone and so is Jake Ballard who was the leading pass-catching TE for the Giants. The Giants throw the ball around a lot especially when they’re successful and I think Randle will get the chance to make some plays.
With defenses keying in on Nicks and Cruz, Randle will be in single-coverage which he should be able to dominate. He has the size to be a good red zone target as well and could grow very quickly into the G-men offense.
Randle right now is going in the mid-40′s of WR taken behind fellow-rookie Justin Blackmon and players like Titus Young, Sidney Rice, and the aforementioned Manningham. I think he’ll finish as a top 40 WR easily this year if he stays healthy and could be a great WR4 pick or work well as part of a platoon in your WR3 spot as well as a bye week fill-in.
He has the upside to be a huge value if Nicks injury lingers or Cruz misses games and he becomes one of Eli’s top targets for any length of time.
Mohamed Sanu – Cincinnati Bengals
Admittedly, Sanu is the deepest sleeper on this list. Many rankings have him outside the top 70 behind the likes of Steve Breaston, Davone Bess, Stephen Hill, and Braylon Edwards. Sanu is not a deep-ball target and doesn’t have burning speed, but he’s someone I’ll be looking for at the end of my drafts.
Why? Well, here’s one reason–Quick, name a WR not named A.J. Green on the Bengals. If you said Jerome Simpson (he of flipping into the end zone fame), I’m sorry we have a great goody bag for you on the way out but he plays for the Vikings now. If you said Jordan Shipley, good call but remember he’s coming off of major reconstructive knee surgery. Other WR on the Benglas depth chart are guys like Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, and Kashif Moore. All that to say, Sanu doesn’t have tons of competition for the passes not headed A.J. Green’s way this year.
Sanu could also have some value in some of the wildcat offenses or more exotic schemes dreamed up by Bengals O-coordinator Jay Gruden. Sanu showed incredible versatility at Rutgers and I think at some point this year Gruden will utilize that as he gameplans for a division with some tough defenses.
Sanu isn’t someone to target early. I hate it when guys pull out a “sleeper” pick in the second round. The point of effective sleepers is everybody else passes on them and you grab them late. Sanu has the potential if he can seize the #2 or even the #3 spot to be fantasy relevant and round out your receiving corps in the last few rounds.
Next week: We’ll look at some other underrated WR– Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Greg Little, and Randall Cobb.