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Which Rookie Wide Receivers Are Worth Our Attention?


With the NFL Draft now come and gone, we go from scouting incoming players for the draft to now determining their values in fantasy football. The crop of receivers in the 2019 class was an intriguing one. With many experts having varying opinions on how to rank this group. If you follow me on Twitter @RotoSuperstar or listen to my podcast, I was touting how deep this class was would, in turn, affect the draft stock of the players.

That is exactly what we saw last week during the draft. While many were expecting the likes of D.K. Metcalf to be the first off the board, it was Marquise Brown the first to be taken. Only two were selected in the first round, while days two and three were littered with selections. Some of the landing spots were questionable, while some others may lead to players becoming fantasy relevant rather quickly.

Over the course of the last few years, it's become a rare instance to see rookie wideouts come into the league and achieve success early on. The seasons put together by Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore just last year are prime examples of players overachieving. In fantasy circles, we have the "three-year rule". Which typically means that a receiver isn't fully prepared to contribute in the league until his third season. I expect to see that hold true with most of this class, but there may be some players based on where they landed that can come in and help your fantasy team in 2019.

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Potential Top Tier

These players are expected to see immediate action and should be among the first selected in rookie drafts. There is potential for redraft value as well.

 

Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens

We start with the first receiver off the board in this year's draft. Brown's landing spot with the Ravens is indicative of the dire need they had entering the draft. He was fourth in the nation last year in yards per route run at 3.56 and fifth in deep-pass yardage with 592. That is exactly what Baltimore hopes to get out of him - a vertical threat that can take the top off the defense that is focused on stopping the team's strong running game.

2019 Fantasy Value - Potential low-end WR3 in standard scoring (WR4 in PPR)
Dynasty Value - WR2 is his ceiling based on the offense in which the Ravens employ.

 

N'Keal Harry, New England Patriots

The next receiver off the board was somewhat of a surprising move with Harry going to the Patriots. Fantasy circles are already ablaze talking about the potential of Harry in a Brady offense. But we have to pump the brakes here. Brady turned in his worst fantasy season in years last season and this team may focus more on the run game moving forward as we near Brady's retirement. Harry steadily improved in college and has the makings of being a WR1 on this team. Can they utilize him in that way with veteran pass catchers in front of him (Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, James White)?

2019 Fantasy Value - WR4 in any format with a potential to rise to a WR3
Dynasty Value - All the makings of a low-end WR1, but destined to be a high-end WR2

 

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

Hardman wasn't an outstanding prospect coming out of college, but the Chiefs surprisingly made him a second-round pick. The speedster (4.33 40-yard) will look to fill the shoes of Tyreek Hill who could be potentially out as he faces legal issues. If thrust into the role, he obviously will not match Hill's numbers, but the targets must go somewhere. Look for him to become the big-play threat that this offense needs with Mahomes at QB.

2019 Fantasy Value - Could see WR3 value, but inconsistent production. A great best ball draft pick.
Dynasty Value - May develop into a steady producer as a low-end WR2 depending on Hill's status.

 

Parris Campbell, Indianapolis Colts

Campbell falls into a favorable fantasy position in the Andrew Luck's Colts offense. He was fifth in yards per route run in 2018 (3.47) and third in slot receptions (79), meaning he should be the starting slot option for this team. Playing in a fast-paced and high-powered offense should lead to plenty of targets for Campbell even in the first year. You should see him develop into a useful asset in PPR formats as the 2019 season progresses.

2019 Fantasy Value - Flex/WR4 in PPR but has the upside to become a WR3 by season's end.
Dynasty Value - He should be looked at as the T.Y. Hilton replacement and may hold low-end WR1 in just a few seasons.

 

Sleepers to Watch

These players aren't guaranteed to make an impact in the league but should be on fantasy owners' radars, especially in dynasty formats.

 

Hakeem Butler, Arizona Cardinals

He slipped in the draft and falls to an exciting new offense led by Kyler Murray. He led the nation in deep pass receptions and yardage last season (19 catches, 721 yards) and should be playing with a chip on his shoulder. A dangerous combination for a receiver in a fast-paced offense and a QB that can extend plays.

2019 Fantasy Value - WR5 with the upside that may see him as a Flex play by the end of the year. A great pickup in best ball drafts and may be a nice DFS play in certain weeks.
Dynasty Value - May only see value as high as a WR4 in a now-crowded receiving room (Christian Kirk and Andy Isabella)

 

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

A receiver that rose up the draft board late, Johnson bears an odd resemblance to Antonio Brown. He had a very productive college career (24 touchdowns in three years) and could plug in right away as the third option in the Steelers passing game. The Steelers have a history of developing secondary receivers and if James Washington shows inconsistencies, Johnson could be ready to surprise.

2019 Fantasy Value - Late-round flier that could develop into a solid matchup play later in the season.
Dynasty Value - An interesting player. Draft and hold in 2019 as he could become as high as a WR2 in a number of years, but once Roethlisberger is gone his value immediately drops to a WR4.

 

Jalen Hurd, San Francisco 49ers

A one-year player at the position, Hurd improved by leaps and bounds in 2018. Primarily used out of the slot (10th in the nation in slot receptions with 67), he may be used in a multitude of ways by Kyle Shanahan. He'll be fighting for playing time early on in his career but he could develop into a weapon that is used similar to Cordarrelle Patterson.

2019 Fantasy Value - Little value to be had in 2019 unless injuries lead to more playing time.
Dynasty Value - Will become a player that has Flex value. May even develop running back eligibility as well. Certainly a player you can use in the right matchups.

 

DeMarkus Lodge, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Signed as an undrafted free agent, Lodge will have the chance to prove that he should have been drafted. With the receiving options behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin thin, Lodge could make an impression in camp and earn playing time. He would line up as an outside receiver opposite of Evans and would see lots of single coverage. If he controls the drops (137th in drop rate in 2018 at 11%), he can become a solid target option in this offense.

2019 Fantasy Value - Waiver wire option only but could become a matchup play WR6 by season's end.
Dynasty Value - If he sticks with this team and Arian's offense, Lodge could prove to be a solid bench player in fantasy. Never a weekly starter, but a first off the bench type in case of injuries.


Check out all of RotoBaller's fantasy football rankings. Staff rankings are updated regularly for all positions and include standard formats, PPR scoring, tiered rankings and dynasty leagues.