2018 Fantasy Football Rankings: Rookie wide receivers
Ranking the rookie wide receivers
With the NFL Draft in the rearview and teams ramping up their offseason work, seems like a good time to begin our 2018 fantasy football projections. Next up, D.J. Moore and the rookie wide receivers.
This class offers depths, but no wows. No receiver was selected in the 2018 NFL Draft until Maryland’s D.J. Moore went 24. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley came off the board two picks later. That doesn’t mean those two and others can’t shine as rookies – or if the NFL teams were right in their assessment that no receiver was worthy of an earlier selection. It just means there is no Julio Jones level target entering the league.
While the first round didn’t have many receivers, the second and third rounds were loaded. That so many options existed probably kept one or two others from being called in round one. Teams were patient. Fantasy owners can be as well with this class. There will be plenty of flyer receiver options in the later rounds.
Names to know, but not draft
Dante Pettis, San Francisco; Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans; Antonio Callaway, Cleveland; Kek Coutee, Houston; Jordan Lasley, Baltimore; DaeSean Hamilton, Denver; Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay; Daurice Fountain, Indianapolis; Trey Quinn, Washington…
Someone from this group likely emerges during the fantasy season either for a week or longer. Pettis initially should help the 49ers as a punt returner, but teams don’t draft punt returners in the second round. Callaway had first-round talent but slipped to Day 3 because off the field issues in college. Depth chart opportunities with the Ravens, Packers, and Colts exist. Quinn’s current battle involves making the final 53, but the slot target proved quite relevant in spring practices.
8. DJ Chark, Jacksonville
Chark blistered the field at the NFL Combine with a staggering 4.34 40-yard time. That locked the 6-foot-3 target into the second round, though he landed a bit lower than expected. Maybe that’s a good thing considering the only proven targets in his way with the Jaguars are Marqise Lee and Donte Moncrief.
If Blake Bortles shows his second-half surge last season was no fluke, Chark could turn into a sneaky source of big-play touchdowns though with limited targets.
7. Anthony Miller, Chicago
The Bears went aggressively for receivers in free agency with the additions of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. They wanted more in the NFL Draft, which is where they landed Miller in the second round. He caught at least 95 passes in each of his final two seasons with Memphis.
Miller’s route running could provide an easy transition into the NFL. If true, he could turn into a final round flier in 12-team leagues.
6. Michael Gallup, Dallas
The Cowboys cut ties with Dez Bryant, but that’s not the only reason why this overlooked talent should be on your fantasy radar. First off, the 6-foot-1 Gallup offers an impressive size/speed combo. Next, look at the opportunity, or specifically, the Dallas depth chart.
All that stands in front of Gallup for ample snaps – beyond a smooth transition from college to the NFL – is Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin and Deonte Thompson.
5. James Washington, Pittsburgh
If one of these receivers stuns early, put some money on the former Oklahoma State standout. Washington received first-round projections early in the NFL Draft process before ultimately sliding to the end of round two. Then he landed with Pittsburgh, a team known for finding receiver gems outside of the first.
The Steelers created playing time opportunity by trading Martavius Bryant. Washington’s quickness contributed to him averaging 20.9 yards per catch last season.
4. Courtland Sutton, Denver
The Broncos’ passing game hit the skids in recent seasons. Don’t blame the veteran receiving pair of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. The quarterback performances became unsightly and the offense lacked options beyond those two targets.
Adding Case Keenum at quarterback promises to boost the situation. Same goes with adding Sutton. No, the rookie wideout won’t impact the offense like a new QB, but the 6-foot-3 Sutton offers potency with his size and 4.5 40-yard speed. Consider Sutton in the final round or two of 16-round leagues.
3. Christian Kirk, Arizona
It seemed like the 5-foot-11 Kirk would land with a team needing a slot option. He landed with a team that starts one whose next step is Canton.
While the presence of Larry Fitzgerald could have Kirk playing outside a bit, the key is he should be playing. Arizona overhauled its receiving corps after 2017 and ended up with Chad Williams and Brice Butler as the non-Fitzgerald targets.
Kirk had 10 touchdowns on 71 receptions during his final season at Texas A&M. Assuming a smooth training camp, target Kirk in the 11-12 round range.
2. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta
Arguably the most polished receiver in the 2018 draft class joins a pass-happy Falcons offense with two clear Week 1 starters. Julio Jones is one of the NFL’s best while Mohamed Sanu had his second consecutive solid season with Atlanta. What the Falcons lack is a third target for Matt Ryan.
That changes with Ridley. What becomes interesting is whether the Alabama product pushes Sanu for No.2 status. Redraft leagues can probably wait until the tenth round while dynasty owners should push a bit harder.
1. D.J. Moore, Carolina
The wholly impressive Combine shot Moore up the draft rankings. It also showed the NFL community slept on the Terps’ top target before that point.
Moore put up impressive stats in his final season at Maryland despite a carousel of quarterbacks. The receiver package includes dynamite route-running, impressive hands, and dynamite athletic traits.
Tight end Greg Olsen remains Cam Newton’s top target with Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey involved. At some point during the season, Moore could take over the second slot. Consider him in the 8-9 round range.