Fantasy Football: 2012 Rookie Wide Receiver Preview

by Nicholas Minnix on July 24, 2012 @ 16:09:49 PDT


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A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers

This Illinois product is a burner, a real deep threat who's capable of expanding his repertoire because of his ability to get in and out of breaks very quickly. He has excellent body control as well as soft hands. He seems to lose concentration on occasion, however, and he can be bullied. It may take quite some time for him to learn to gain a clean release in the NFL.

His weaknesses made reports of his struggles in minicamps unsurprising. The Illini were a heavy spread offense, and Jenkins didn't appear to be advanced enough to make anything close to a smooth transition. The 49ers have the bodies - Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and Kyle Williams, at least - to allow Jenkins time to develop. He must add muscle.

San Fran's first-rounder won't make an impact this year. He has the talent to become a dangerous playmaker in a year or two, but that'll depend on his work ethic.

Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams

Quick is a bit of a project because he has yet to learn how to get the most from his athleticism. The Rams believe that he can pick up things quickly and expect him to contribute in his rookie season. Sam Bradford is a gifted passer who'll welcome this kind of weapon, and St. Louis' lack of standouts at the position makes that a good possibility.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder may not be worth a draft pick to impatient owners in standard redrafters this season because of how often those owners recycle players. By the second half, and certainly beyond, all fantasy owners should be keeping an eye on him.

Quick played one season of football in high school. Transitions have been a little more difficult for him than more experienced players. Once he's up to speed mentally, his great hands will be on display. He's eager and aggressive and has game-changing ability. Don't lose sight of him.

Stephen Hill, New York Jets

Hill, like Quick - actually, like Demaryius Thomas was in 2010 - is a project. In many ways, he's actually a better prospect than Thomas was. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder has top-end speed and was a huge hit at the Combine. Before you write him off as an overrated workout warrior, keep in mind that he was an unknown because, like Thomas, he played for Georgia Tech, where the offense runs on triple-option octane.

Hill doesn't accelerate quickly, but, despite his lean build, he's strong and physical and will have little trouble gaining a clean release in the league. He has good football instincts and receiving skills, with great hands, leaping ability, timing and ability to adjust. He has a long way to go to master the nuances of NFL-caliber routes, though, and he must get to know the playbook.

The Jets want him to start right away opposite Santonio Holmes, but that's probably asking too much. Hill's blocking prowess should get him on the field a lot with New York, however. The conservative offense is the only limitation to his fantasy potential, but it's a big one, at least initially.

Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears

This 6-foot-3, 216-pounder uses his size incredibly well at the line of scrimmage, down the field and in the air. He has huge hands and a big wingspan, too. Detractors knock his speed, but he's put up sub-4.5 40 times. The few legit knocks on his physical ability aren't enough to prevent him from being a dangerous receiver. Before last season, many considered him a lock for the first round.

South Carolina's play under center (and his response to it) in 2011 had a negative effect on evaluations of Jeffery, for certain. Reports about his dedication are exaggerated, but he's immature and may lose interest if he's not involved. In his final season for the Gamecocks, his playing weight was 230 pounds. He dropped to 216 in a short period of time for the Scouting Combine in order to increase his speed, which led to questions about how much strength he'd sacrificed and whether he could maintain the new weight.

Jeffery needs to improve his footwork, and his technique still has room to be better. But tangibly, what he lacks most is burst; he has the ability to make up for it. In Chicago, he'll work with a very talented passer, so the rookie will have to accept responsibility for his failures. He's already the Bears' second-best wideout, but it may take him awhile to establish that standing, making him a more intriguing dynasty pick than a 2012 one.

Ryan Broyles, Reuben Randle, more

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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