Fantasy Football 2014: Outlook for Draft's Top 10 Wide Receivers
Although the wide receiver position is not held in the same regard as the running back position in fantasy football (especially when it comes to rookies), this year’s crop of rookie wideout prospects is both too deep and talented to be ignored.
The 2014 class of rookie wide receivers may not take long to make their presence felt, as players such as Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans have the big-play ability to shine right off the bat. It’s not just Watkins and Evans, as the position is deep enough where many will make a long-lasting impact.
With talent up and down the board, expect to see a lot of receivers have their name called early and often.
What follows in this slideshow are the top 10 wide receivers (ranked in order of long-term fantasy success) you should target in your fantasy drafts this summer.
- Cody Latimer, Indiana
- Donte Moncrief, Ole Miss
- Dri Archer, Kent State
- Martavis Bryant, Clemson
- Paul Richardson, Colorado
- Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
- Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
- Robert Herron, Wyoming
- Devin Street, Pittsburgh
- Kevin Norwood, Alabama
10. Jarvis Landry, LSU
Teams looking for a smart, sure-handed route-runner with better-than-average athleticism will have Jarvis Landry near the top of their wish lists.
Landry, who recorded 1,200 receiving yards in his last year with LSU, has the pedigree and know-how to make a name for himself in the NFL. He will only get better in time and should have his name called no later than the second day of the draft.
Landry’s fantasy value will depend heavily on which team drafts him and how he fits in on the depth chart. But he should be at least a late-round flier to gamble on, as sooner or later he'll become part of the offense for the team that selects him.
9. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
With the NFL boasting many big-bodied receivers these days, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews may be next in line to burst upon the scene.
At 6’3”, 212 pounds, Matthews can get separation from defenders and uses his sculpted body to out-muscle everybody. Matthews has great size, speed and hand-eye coordination, and that should result in him going early in the NFL draft.
With his propensity to get open, especially in the red zone, Matthews is certainly worthy of a flier late in drafts.
8. Davante Adams, Fresno State
Although he doesn’t have blazing speed nor is he that big, Davante Adams makes plays, plain and simple.
Adams had a whopping 24 touchdown passes at Fresno State last season, and he upped his draft stock tremendously in the process. Like most of the receivers on this slideshow, Adams should be drafted within the first two rounds.
It may take Adams some time to adapt to the speed of the NFL, but in due time, he has the promise to make a mark in this league. He is more of a keeper/dynasty-league selection, but you could do worse by drafting Adams late.
7. Allen Robinson, Penn State
Allen Robinson is as steady as they come.
Robinson led the Big Ten in receiving in back-to-back seasons and has tickled the fancy of scouts and general managers in the process.
There is a very good chance that Robinson will have his name called during the first round. As it is, he has the size (6’2”, 220 pounds) and athletic ability to have a relatively smooth transition to the NFL.
Robinson, for sure, is a late-round fantasy-draft investment you should monitor.
6. Odell Beckham Jr., LSU
Odell Beckham Jr. is another in a long line of fantastic SEC receivers about to enter the NFL.
Like many receivers on this list, Beckham Jr. is slated to go in the first round or early in the second round. Scouts and general managers are absolutely in love with his speed. Whoever drafts him, will likely use Beckham Jr. in a variety of packages.
Like a few listed here, Beckham Jr.’s transition to the league may not be smooth, and there is a chance he can a have a similar season that Tavon Austin had last year with the Rams—that being a little rough around the edges.
That said, Beckham Jr. will only get better in time. He’s worth a late-round pickup, but he is best-suited for keeper and dynasty leagues.
5. Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
If you want a receiver with game-breaking speed, Brandin Cooks may be at the top of the list.
Cooks, the reigning Biletnikoff winner as the nation's top receiver, will be a wanted man come May’s draft. As such, you should have him on your fantasy radar as well.
Cooks has more value in keeper/dynasty leagues, as he may have a tough time initially adjusting to the physicality and speed of the game. But make no mistake, Cooks has all the skills and talent to be a great receiver in the NFL. He’s worth a mid- to late-round pickup in all drafts to be a No. 4 or No. 5 wide receiver.
4. Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State
As one of the bigger (6’5” and 230 pounds) receivers on the board, some team will eventually fall in love with Kelvin Benjamin’s big-play ability.
You won’t have to look far to see how Benjamin’s big-play ability can translate to the NFL, as he was the one who hauled in the game-winning touchdown in the BCS title game.
With the size and playmaking abilities he has, Benjamin may be used a lot in the red zone for the team that eventually drafts him. You should view him as a low-end No. 3/high-end No. 4 WR on draft day.
3. Marqise Lee, USC
When you’re looking for a receiver with great open-field speed and vision, then Marqise Lee is your man.
Lee can make a similar type of impact that Keenan Allen (who he is compared too) had last year, as he is equally as good a deep threat as he is a possession receiver. While he may not have the type of season Allen had last year—at least statistically—he might come close.
You should view Lee as a high-upside receiver to target as a No. 3/No. 4 receiver on fantasy draft day.
2. Mike Evans, Texas A&M
If there is a receiver who is moving up draft boards rapidly, it is Texas A&M‘s Mike Evans.
This Vincent Jackson clone is a big-bodied receiver with above-average speed and great route-running abilities. Like most of the receivers available for the draft, Evans should carve out a role for himself right off the bat.
While he won’t be playing like Jackson right away, the potential with him is still limitless. You should view Evans as at least a No. 3 receiver with upside for much more.
1. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Although Evans is a close second, Watkins is in a class by himself when it comes to receivers with the complete package.
Watkins has the size, speed and football acumen to make himself an immediate-impact contributor. By all accounts, Watkins should have his name called within the first five to 10 picks (NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks and Charles Davis all have him going within the first five picks).
Whoever drafts Watkins will put him to use right away, and considering the athletic tools he has, he is one receiver you might feel comfortable drafting as a No. 2 receiver for your fantasy squad. Watkins could be good for 60-plus receptions and eight to 10 touchdowns.
Draft him with supreme confidence.
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