Fantasy Football: Top 6 Rookie Receivers for 2014-15
The NFL's 2014 wide receiver class is expected to make a huge impact on the fantasy football landscape. As many as six members of this group could be selected in the NFL draft's first round. Any serious fantasy owner needs to know these six receivers. While players' fantasy values will fluctuate depending on their landing spots, the top of this class will find success anywhere.
It's never too early for fantasy football.
Here are the top six rookie receivers for 2014-15.
6. Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson is a big receiver (6'3", 210 lbs) without the blazing vertical speed (4.54 40-yard dash). Robinson's strength is that he is a physical and polished wideout who made 97 receptions for 1,432 yards and six touchdowns in 2013.
Because he is so NFL-ready, Robinson is in the discussion to be drafted late in the NFL draft's first round. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares the Penn State product to Jordy Nelson, while Dane Brugler of CBS Sports compares Robinson to Anquan Boldin.
If Robinson goes late in the first round, he could have a star quarterback looking his way, making him fantasy-relevant.
5. Kelvin Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin is a huge receiver (6'5", 235 lbs) with subpar speed (4.54 40-yard dash), by NFL standards. Benjamin's size and wingspan will likely have him selected in the first round of the NFL draft, but Rob Rang of CBS Sports described him as a raw route-runner who "drops too many passes."
There is no doubt that Benjamin was a playmaker at the collegiate level, scoring 15 touchdowns as a sophomore and averaging 18.7 yards per reception. The Florida State standout will be a red-zone nightmare even for NFL defenses.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Benjamin to Alshon Jeffery, but Rang's comparison to Plaxico Burress is more accurate.
4. Odell Beckham
Odell Beckham is an average-sized receiver (5'11", 193 lbs) who moves fluidly and can accelerate to his top speed quickly. Because of his acceleration, Beckham was a productive return man for LSU and will likely be expected to do the same in the NFL. As a sophomore, Beckham returned two punts for touchdowns. In 2013, Beckham made 57 receptions for 1,117 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 19.6 yards per reception.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Beckham to DeSean Jackson, but Beckham's 40-yard dash time (4.49) is nowhere close to that of the Eagles' burner. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports compares Beckham to Jacksonville's Cecil Shorts.
Beckham could be selected late in the NFL draft's first round, and New Orleans (No. 27) and New England (No. 29) are destinations that would make him a fantasy darling.
3. Mike Evans
Mike Evans is a big receiver (6'5", 225 lbs) who dominated cornerbacks at the collegiate level with his physical play. In 2013, Evans made 69 receptions for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns. The downside for the Texas A&M star is his speed (4.58 40-yard dash).
In the video introduction, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Evans to Vincent Jackson. Rob Rang of CBS Sports also believes this is a fair comparison. The truth is Vincent Jackson is much faster, running a 4.46 40-yard dash. A good comparison for Evans is Plaxico Burress.
In the right situation, Evans can be a red-zone champion, and while his speed is concerning, a player with similar speed, Keenan Allen, found huge success last year as a rookie.
2. Marqise Lee
USC's Marqise Lee has exceptional quickness and acceleration and is expected to be an instant fantasy threat. After winning the Biletnikof Award as a sophomore in a season where he made 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns, a left knee sprain slowed Lee down in 2013.
Lee is an average-sized receiver (6'0", 195 lbs), but his ability to elude defenders will grant him success at the professional level. Rob Rang of CBS Sports compares Lee to Victor Cruz because of his registered 40-yard dash time (4.49).
I suspect that Lee will run much better at the combine with a completely healed knee and draw comparisons to DeSean Jackson, another star from the same state. Like Jackson, Lee also excels in the return game. In his first two seasons with the Trojans, Lee returned 30 kickoffs and averaged 28.5 yards per return, scoring two touchdowns.
1. Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins is the best receiver in the 2014 class and a likely top-10 selection. As seen in the video, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Watkins to A.J. Green. Dane Brugler of CBS Sports believes the Clemson standout is a mix of Torrey Smith and Percy Harvin.
Watkins has decent size (6'1", 205 lbs) and speed (4.47 40-yard dash), but what separates him from the pack is his acceleration and awareness. In 2013, Watkins made 101 receptions for 1,464 yards and 12 scores.
Right now, the two best destinations for Watkins in the NFL draft's top 10 are Atlanta (No. 6) and Detroit (No. 10). Detroit's offense would be unbelievable with Calvin Johnson and the rookie Tiger. No matter where Watkins is drafted, expect instant fantasy production from the dynamic playmaker.
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