2012 Fantasy Rookie Rankings: Wide Receivers
It’s not often that a rookie wide receiver busts out and does major damage. In fact, some of the guys we call the current greats didn’t make noise until their second season. Seriously, go look at how Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Andre Johnson did in their first year. Solid, but not elite. None of them topped 1,000 yards or scored 10 touchdowns.
Then again, for all the misses, you’ll still stumble on your insane guys like Randy Moss. Or you’ll run into very solid first-year contributors like Eddie Royal, A.J. Green, or Julio Jones – in recent memory, anyways.
And then you have the guys who don’t even show up, like Darrius Heyward-Bey. So, what do we make of this year’s crop? Which guys could blow up, be solid WR3′s, or shouldn’t be touched with a 10-foot fantasy football-themed pole?
Find out by reading on in our 2012 Fantasy Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings:
1. Justin Blackmon (Jacksonville Jaguars)
I hear the Michael Floyd noise, and maybe I’ll come around eventually. However, the same buzz was around Julio Jones, and A.J. Green still ended up being the best fantasy rookie receiver in 2011. I think Blackmon helps Blaine Gabbert mature, and in turn Gabbert will look his way often. He’ll have a solid season.
2. Michael Floyd (Arizona Cardinals)
Floyd is going to benefit from having Larry Fitzgerald across from him. Call him a 1A as far as rookie receiver rankings go. I just think he’ll be competing with the best receiver in the game for targets, and it’s a losing battle. He’ll have very solid numbers, but I think he’s slightly below Blackmon in terms of fantasy production in 2012.
3. Kendall Wright (Tennessee Titans)
Wright has solid size and speed and can work some magic with the ball in his hands, which makes him a perfect addition to a Titans offense that wants to go after bigger plays in the passing game. The potential absence of Kenny Britt for any length of time (knee, suspension) gives Wright some awesome potential as a rookie.
4. Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears)
I really like Jeffery if he can keep his conditioning in check and nail down the starting job across from Brandon Marshall. He’s big and physical, and Jay Cutler loves big targets. I think he surprises some people early.
5. Brian Quick (St. Louis Rams)
The Rams don’t have a single reliable wide receiver. Until now. Quick hails from a small school, but he has good size and is just such a natural runner and play-maker with the ball in his hands. I like his athletic ability and his tendency to make the difficult catch. Sam Bradford will fall in love with him early.
6. Stephen Hill (New York Jets)
Hill is raw as heck, but the Jets don’t have much beyond Santonio Holmes. If they sign Braylon Edwards or another big-play (or big name) receiver, I might come down off him a bit. But if not, Hill will at least be good for some deep balls and scores in his first season.
7. Mohamed Sanu (Cincinnati Bengals)
A lot of people are hyping up Marvin Jones, who was actually drafted after Sanu, but I’m not buying it. Sanu is the more well rounded option, while he has the size and speed to be a better version of T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I think he wins the number two job and starts right away.
8. Rueben Randle (New York Giants)
Out goes Mario Manningham, in comes Rueben Randle. Randle has good size and speed, and should be able to step into the number three spot right away. Who else will, Ramses Barden? Randle isn’t completely polished, but he has good skills and the role should be there for him to produce decent numbers.
9. Devier Posey (Houston Texans)
I’m not sold on Posey being a consistent option, even if he beats out Kevin Walter for the number two gig across from Andre Johnson. However, he’s an athletic option who can make plays. Add in that Jacoby Jones is out of the picture (Ravens), and I’m warming up to him.
10. A.J. Jenkins (San Francisco 49ers)
I don’t think Randy Moss is finished, and I think Mario Manningham is a good addition for the 49ers’ offense. In a balanced offense, those two guys showing up (along with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis), could equate to few opportunities for Jenkins, even though I like his deep speed.
11. Marvin Jones (Cincinnati Bengals)
I have to at least acknowledge that Jones is a very talented receiver, and that he has a chance at winning one of the top two spots after A.J. Green. I just don’t think he will. Still, he’ll compete all off-season and he’s a guy to watch.
12. Nick Toon (New Orleans Saints)
Toon is an athletic receiver with good size, which is good on it’s own – but he’s also in an explosive Saints offense. There is a role up for grabs with Robert Meachem gone to San Diego, too, so he could make an impact early.
13. Danny Coale (Dallas Cowboys)
Laurent Robinson’s departure leaves a huge hole at the third receiver spot in Dallas. I can’t imagine Jesse Holley or Kevin Ogletree winning that job, while Coale is a polished product with underrated athleticism. Tony Romo would prefer his main slot guy can be relied upon, so Coale has a chance to start and do some damage as a rookie.
14. Chris Givens (St. Louis Rams)
Givens is a speedy receiver who will benefit immensely from playing on turf indoors. It remains to be seen exactly what his role will be, but he absolutely has the ability to carve out a good role early with all the average talent at receiver in St. Louis.
15. Joe Adams (Carolina Panthers)
Adams is still raw, but he has good speed and explosiveness. He could end up seeing action in the slot if David Gettis can’t get back to 100%, but his role is far from clear at this point.
16. Travis Benjamin (Cleveland Browns)
The Browns don’t have a single reliable receiver. Greg Little drops way too many balls, Mohamed Massaquoi can’t stay healthy, and Josh Cribbs is a return man. Benjamin is quick and could be useful in the slot. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up being their best receiver in 2012. He has to prove he can do it first, though, and his role starting out won’t be great.
17. T.J. Graham (Buffalo Bills)
Graham was a reach in the draft, but he’s a speedy receiver who can make big plays. Considering just Donald Jones and David Nelson are ahead of them (and they’re marginal talents), he’s a guy to keep an eye on.
18. T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts)
I don’t think the explosive Hilton does much unless Austin Collie goes down. Andrew Luck will spend most of his time throwing to Collie, Reggie Wayne, and his tight ends. Hilton will be used in sprinkles, and will only break out if an injury gives him more playing time. He should be fun to watch, though.
19. B.J. Cunningham (Miami Dolphins)
Cunningham is a pretty balanced receiver who catches the ball well. With just Brian Hartline and Davone Bess ahead of him, he could be a guy to monitor.
20. Tommy Streeter (Baltimore Ravens)
I don’t have much faith in Streeter for 2012, as he basically is just a one trick pony, but he does have a great combination of size and speed – two things the Ravens have been looking for. They will look for the deep ball more often, so he could be deployed for that exact purpose. I just don’t see him having a big impact, though, as he’s still quite raw.