Unlike with rookie running backs, it typically takes longer for a first-year wide receiver to make an impact in fantasy football.
Since 2000, there have been only four 1,000-yard receivers as a rookie: A.J. Green (2011), Marques Colston (2006), Michael Clayton (2004) and Anquan Boldin (2003). By comparison, there have been 19 1,000-yard rookie rushers during that span.
With that said, here are my top 12 rookie wide receivers for fantasy in 2013 (standard scoring):
1. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
While he is a nice replacement in the slot for Danny Amendola, who signed with the Patriots this offseason, Austin is a much more explosive and versatile player than Amendola. He has the ability to make huge plays any time he touches the ball, whether he is lined up in the slot or backfield and as a returner.
Not only is Austin explosive (4.34 forty at the combine), he is strong (14 reps of 225 pounds) despite his size (5'9", 174 pounds) and durable (never missed a practice at West Virginia).
Last year, Austin had six 100-yard receiving games, including 215 yards against Baylor. In addition, he had a 344-yard rushing game (on 21 carries) against Oklahoma on Nov. 17.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
As a JUCO transfer, Patterson (6'2", 205) finished with 46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns and was a first-team All-SEC selection in his first year at Tennessee. In addition, he set a school record with 1,858 all-purpose yards.Extremely dangerous with the ball in the open field, Patterson is a boom-or-bust prospect as a receiver. His route-running is less than polished and Russ Lande of National Football Post reported that he interviewed poorly throughout the draft process.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Lacking a viable weapon opposite Andre Johnson, the Texans used a first-round pick on a receiver for the first time since drafting Johnson in 2003. In fact, nine of their past 10 first-round picks have been a defensive player. (The exception was left tackle Duane Brown in 2008.)
Not the fastest receiver in this draft class, Hopkins excels as a route-runner and has great hands. He had a monster season with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. In fact, Nuke scored in all but one game last season.
4. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
A player that could have been a first-round choice, Allen slipped to the third round due to concerns about his knee injury that prevented him from working out at the combine and his school's pro day. When he worked out in April at his own personal pro day, he disappointed some by failing to run a sub-4.7 forty.
One of the players to whom Allen is most often compared is Anquan Boldin, and Allen is a physical receiver with excellent hands. As a sophomore in 2011, Allen ranked ninth in the country with 1,343 yards on 98 receptions despite less-than-spectacular quarterback play.
5. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
With the addition of Hunter, one would have to imagine that this will be Kenny Britt's last season with the Titans unless a team acquires him via trade before the final year of his rookie deal is up.
Although he has plenty of talent, Britt has had a disproportionate share of off-the-field issues and has been more trouble than he's worth.
That said, Hunter will have to (potentially) compete with Britt, last year's first-round pick Kendall Wright and Nate Washington for snaps and targets.
Before tearing his ACL in 2011, Hunter had back-to-back games with more than 140 yards and a touchdown. One year removed from the injury, he wasn't as productive in 2012, as he had four 100-yard games and most of those came against inferior competition.
One of the most physically gifted receivers in the draft, Hunter has a great combination of size (6'4", 196) and athleticism (4.44 40-yard dash and 39.5-inch vertical jump).
6. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
Going into the season, Woods was projected by many as a potential top-five pick, but he had a relatively disappointing season and was overshadowed on his own team by sophomore Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikoff award.
Woods finished the year with 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns after putting up a line of 111-1,292-15 as a sophomore.
The Bills have added a number of receivers either through the draft or as undrafted free agents this weekend.
7. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Considering the free-agent loss of Mike Wallace to the Dolphins, Wheaton makes a ton of sense for the Steelers. Although he is not a big receiver, he has the speed and athleticism to take the top off of opposing defenses.
Wheaton had a productive career at Oregon State becoming the team's all-time leader in receptions (227) and he posted career highs across the board as a senior: 91 receptions for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns.
8. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
Dobson possesses good size (6'3", 204) and has excellent hands. As this chart shows, Dobson had zero drops last season on 92 targets.
Although he won't have the same problem at the NFL level, Marshall's quarterback play helped limit Dobson's production. He never finished with more than 57 receptions or 689 yards in any season.
9. Da'Rick Rogers, Buffalo Bills
Although he is physically gifted, the former five-star recruit was kicked off the Tennessee roster for failing multiple drug tests and spent the past year with Tennessee Tech. Undrafted due to his character concerns, he has the talent to be a top-five guy on this list provided he can stay out of trouble.
With a nice blend of size (6'2 1/2", 217 pounds) and athleticism (4.52 forty and 39.5-inch vertical), Rogers was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2011. That year, he finished with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
10. Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams
Not only did the Rams move up to draft Tavon Austin, but they drafted his teammate in the third round. While Austin deserves the attention he has received, Bailey deserves more than he has received.
Bailey had a huge season in 2012 with 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. He had seven 100-yard games, which included three games with more than 200 yards. Against Baylor, he finished with 303 yards and five touchdowns.
Based on this chart, no receiver had more "clutch receptions" (touchdowns or first downs) than Bailey.
11. Quinton Patton, San Francisco 49ers
Patton (6'2" and 195 pounds) finished the season with 104 receptions for 1,392 yards, which ranked fifth in the country, and 13 touchdowns. He has back-to-back seasons with 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns.
At a minimum, I would expect Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham to get more targets than Patton in 2013. In addition, they used their first-round pick last year on receiver A.J. Jenkins, who should see much more action in his second season.
12. Terrence Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Williams gives the Cowboys another guy with a good combination of size and speed. At Baylor last season, Williams led the nation with 1,832 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.
With Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten all likely to get more targets than Williams, his upside as a rookie will be limited.
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