Now two NFL seasons removed from the lofty expectations and, at times, hyperbole surrounding any given season's rookie crop of wide receivers, Fantasy Football Trader's Robb Perkins checks in on the career advancement (or lack thereof) of the NFL's 25 third year wide-outs.
Donnie Avery-St. Louis Rams
Did not missing any time last season but was rarely 100 percent healthy. Still lead the Rams in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns last season. He was the number one receiver taken in this class so talent is not an issue. The Rams will continue to struggle this season but I look for Avery to take a stride forward.
(10’ proj: 65 receptions, 850 yards, 6 touchdowns)
Earl Bennett-Chicago Bears
The jury is still out on Bennett, at least in my mind, so it is difficult to predict what 2010 has in store for the former Vanderbilt star. He had the third most targets and the second most yards for the Bears last season but was fourth in receptions and tied for sixth in touchdowns. The Bears have no clear-cut number one or two receiver at this point so Bennett is as good of a fantasy option as receiver for the Bears right now.
(10’ proj: 65 receptions, 780 yards, 3 touchdowns)
Davone Bess-Miami Dolphins
Bess came out after his junior year at Hawaii in 2008 only to go undrafted but impressed the Dolphins enough to make their roster and proved he belonged among the big boys. Led the Dolphins in targets, receptions, and yardage last season by a hefty margin; he had 35 more targets than any other player, 26 more receptions, and 206 more yards. I am not sure that Bess will be the Dolphins best fantasy receiving option this season but I would not be surprised to see him again lead the team in targets, receptions, and yards.
(10’ proj: 83 receptions, 850 yards, 3 touchdowns)
Keenan Burton-St. Louis Rams
Burton has the size, speed, and strength to be a helluva fantasy receiver but his injury history continues to haunt him. He has now missed 10 games in two seasons. The Rams have a lot of unknown’s at receiver so it is anybody’s guess who will be their top weapons but I will say that I see Burton as a very cheap sleeper to keep an eye on.
(10’ proj: 40 receptions, 450 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Andre Caldwell-Cincinnati Bengals
I am a Caldwell fan, there I said it, whew that felt good to get off my chest. Last season Caldwell gave good reason to like him as he was second on the Bengals in targets and receptions and third in touchdown receptions. This is still Chad Ochocinco’s team but there is no reason to believe that Caldwell cannot put up some solid numbers this season. Laveranues Coles is in the mix but he was a major disappointment in his first season as a Bengal. The tragic death of Chris Henry means that Ochocinco, Coles, and Caldwell will be the one, two, three punch for the Bengals this season.
(10’ proj: 60 receptions, 550 yards, 4 touchdowns)
David Clowney-New York Jets
At this point Clowney has showed little reason for fantasy owners to pay any attention to him, in fact if it were not for his unique name many fantasy players would not even know who this guy his. Five Jets players were targeted more than Clowney including Chansi Stuckey who was traded away after week four. Clowney was actually drafted in 2007 but the NFL considers this his third season. Unless we see a totally new player this season there is no reason for you to care whether it his is third season or not.
(10’ proj: 15 receptions, 250 yards, 0 touchdowns)
Early Doucet-Arizona Cardinals
Doucet is a quality receiver but he has had health issues and has been buried behind Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston on the depth chart. He showed flashes last season when Boldin was injured and all of his statistics were from game nine through 16. As long as the three receivers above are still around it will be difficult for Doucet to breakout but should one of them be injured or sign elsewhere then E.D. could be a very nice sleeper in 2010.
(10’ proj: 30 receptions, 380 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Harry Douglas-Atlanta Falcons
Douglas showed flashes that he could be a very good receiver during his rookie season but missed the entire 2009 season on injured reserve. At this point the Falcons still need a receiver to compliment Roddy White but it is expecting a lot to think Douglas will be that guy this season. I like his potential much more in 2011.
(10’ proj: 32 receptions, 400 yards, 1 touchdown)
Pierre Garcon-Indianapolis Colts
I really liked Garcon’s potential as a rookie and while he only had four receptions that season, he became a sleeper darling last season thanks in part to the injury to Anthony Gonzalez. His play during the season and in to the playoffs was nice but I just cannot see a repeat of his 2009 success as long as Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, and Anthony Gonzalez are healthy. On any given play Garcon may be the fifth option.
(10’ proj: 25 receptions, 320 yards, 1 touchdown)
James Hardy-Buffalo Bills
Hardy had a very disappointing rookie campaign and missed all but two games last season due to injury. With Terrell Owens likely leaving town the Bills will need the 6’5” Hardy to step up and be the super star that he was projected to be coming out of the University of Indiana. I have seen nothing that shows Hardy has any chance of being that guy but I am not ready to write him off just yet. He is worth a late filer in my opinion as he has the potential to be a major value this season.
(10’ proj: 40 receptions, 400 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Lavelle Hawkins-Tennessee Titans
I like Hawkins as a super deep sleeper this season, especially if the Titans part ways with either Justin Gage or Nate Washington. Since the Titans only had two wide receivers with more than 42 receptions, it is not likely that he will have any real fantasy potential even if he gets a shot
(10’ proj: 20 receptions, 270 yards, 1 touchdown)
DeSean Jackson-Philadelphia Eagles
What’s not to like about Jackson after two years?! He is lightening in a bottle, led the Eagles to the playoffs, and dominated the Pro Bowl last season. My only concern is the fact that he put up 244 more yards and seven more touchdowns last year on the same number of receptions that he had during his rookie season. Look for teams to take away the big play this season which could result in Jackson’s numbers being down this season but I am not betting against him taking another step towards elite status either.
(10’ proj: 70 receptions, 1000 yards, 6 touchdowns)
Steve Johnson-Buffalo Bills
After showing some promise as a rookie Johnson only saw action in five games last season. With Terrell Owens likely on his way out of town the Bills will be desperate for receiver help which means the 6’2” Johnson could be a super sleeper this season.
(10’ proj: 35 receptions, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns)
Malcolm Kelly-Washington Redskins
Malcolm Kelly has been a major disappointments through his first two years but the 6’4” former Sooner star will have a chance to show his worth this season as the Redskins are desperate for a playmaker with only aging Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El as the only proven wide receivers on the roster at this time.
(10’ proj: 40 receptions, 500 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Jordan Kent-St. Louis Rams
I have always liked Kent’s potential but one reception for five yards in two years doesn’t exactly scream sleeper. At 6’4” he has red zone potential but the odds are against him, making a roster might be the goal at this point.
(10’ proj: 5 receptions, 40 yards, 0 touchdowns)
Mario Manningham-New York Giants
Not many players took such a big leap from their rookie campaign to their sophomore season as Manningham did last year. I think it will be difficult for him to take another step up with Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks likely being the Giants top two receivers. The “Man” could still have some fantasy value but I see a lot of people potentially over paying for him.
(10’ proj: 50 receptions, 670 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Kenneth Moore-Carolina Panthers
Moore has shown minimal potential in two years but he will get plenty of chances to take a step forward this season as the Panthers need big time help at the receiver position. Clearly Steve Smith owns the number one spot but after that you have over-the-hill Mushin Muhammed and Dwayne “Bust” Jarrett as the only other two respectable receivers on the roster at this time. Until the Panthers find a real quarterback I don’t expect much but Moore does have some potential.
(10’ proj: 25 receptions, 250 yards, 1 touchdown)
Josh Morgan-San Francisco 49ers
We were not alone in touting Morgan as a monster sleeper last season and while he did double his previous years statistics, he did not exactly blow up. It is clear that Michael Crabtree is going to be the go to receiver sooner than later and with Vernon Davis stepping up Morgan will be at best the 9ers third option. The potential for him to be a solid fantasy receiver is still there.
(10’ proj: 65 receptions, 700 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Jordy Nelson-Green Bay Packers
As long as Donald Driver continues to extend his career Jordy Nelson will likely never be anything more than a contributor putting up similar numbers to what he posted in his first two years in Green Bay. With Greg Jennings and James Jones around Nelson is generally nothing better than the Packs fourth or fifth option.
(10’ proj: 35 receptions, 450 yards, 3 touchdowns)
Darius Reynaud-Minnesota Vikings
Darius Reynaud has talent, he proved that while at West Virginia but the speedster is buried on the depth chart and has yet to catch a pass in a regular season NFL game. On the right team he could make a few plays but his true value looks to be on special teams and thus his fantasy value is nil.
(10’ proj: 5 receptions, 80 yards, 0 touchdowns)
Eddie Royal-Denver Broncos
After shocking the world with his amazing rookie campaign, Royal followed it up with an even more amazing disappearing act. Which season was the fluke that is the question? Is he the next coming of Michael Clayton?
(10’ proj: 50 receptions, 500 yards, 3 touchdowns)
Chaz Schilens-Oakland Raiders
I have seen enough of the Raiders over the past two seasons to know JaMarcus Russell is not the answer at quarterback and Chaz Schilens is by far their best receiver. Others get more hype but for my money, I am taking Schilens late and reaping the rewards of a potential super sleeper. The Raiders finding a real quarterback would help!
(10’ proj: 60 receptions, 800 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Jerome Simpson-Cincinnati Bengals
Three years ago the question in Cincinnati is which rookie receiver is going to be better, Simpson or Andre Caldwell. After two years it is obvious it is not Simpson. He is a long shot to see any action, let alone have fantasy value.
(10’ proj: 5 receptions, 40 yards, 0 touchdowns)
Limas Sweed-Pittsburgh Steelers
The 6’4” former Texas Longhorn came into the league with much hype but after two years he has clearly not lived up to it. At this point it will take a couple of injuries for Sweed to have any type of fantasy value.
(10’ proj: 10 receptions, 100 yards, 0 touchdowns)
Devin Thomas-Washington Redskins
When Devin Thomas and fellow teammate Malcolm Kelly came to Washington three years ago people thought they could quickly become one of the better receiver tandems in the league but thus far neither has lived up to billing. Thomas showed potential last season against the Super Bowl Champion Saints when he posted 100 yards and two touchdowns. I see good value from Thomas in 2010.
(10’ proj: 40 receptions, 500 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Sign up to receive our FREE Fantasy Trader Newsletter, or come check out our updated 2010 Rankings, Dynasty League rankings, 2009 targets reports, or any of our daily content dedicated to fantasy football at FANTASY FOOTBALL TRADER