Fantasy football: Rookie wide receiver analysis

by Cory J. Bonini on June 10, 2009 @ 01:00:01 PDT


Rookie players often force fantasy football owners to make risky decisions on draft day, but that is all part of the game. offers you a snapshot of what to expect from notable rookies at their respective positions.

Wide receivers

WR Michael CrabtreeMichael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers

Blessed with excellent hands and an unbelievable knack for gobbling up yards after the catch, Crabtree offers the Niners a dynamic pass-catching threat for years to come. Fantasy owners should view Crabtree as a No. 5 fantasy option, but someone will buy into the hype and select him as a No. 3 or No. 4 in your league. We can endorse him as a weak No. 4 in deep leagues if you are a gambling owner.

Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles

The team was lucky last year with the play of wideout DeSean Jackson as a rook; now they may be getting greedy if they think Maclin can also do it. Fantasy owners shouldn't consider him in single-year leagues as anything more than a No. 5 or No. 6 flier due to the learning curve of receivers in a West Coast system.

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings

Harvin is dynamic and explosive. He is best suited in the slot and should be a contributor from Day 1. Don't expect too much from him given the Vikings' run-first mentality and their uncertain quarterback situation. Minnesota has implemented plays specifically for Harvin, which is intriguing. Harvin is a late-round draft pick in single-year leagues, and he should be a coveted player in full-retention keeper leagues.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants

Nicks should start from the onset of the season and provides quarterback Eli Manning a big-play threat that replaces wideout Plaxico Burress. Fantasy owners should be aware of the learning curve involved with rookie receivers, though, and draft Nicks as a late-round gamble as a No. 5 option.

Brian Robiskie, Cleveland Browns

The son of long-time NFL wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, Brian brings the best route-running skills in the draft to the Browns. The younger Robiskie has excellent hands, too, and is a team leader. Fantasy owners in point-per-reception leagues should look his way as a No. 5 receiver, especially if quarterback Brady Quinn wins the starting job. That would cement the short-passing game as the offensive style of the Browns and lead to more catches for Robiskie.

Darius Heyward-BeyDarrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders

Heyward-Bey blazed as the fastest receiver at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine (4.30-second 40-yard dash). We have serious doubts when you consider a rookie from a ball-control collegiate system entering another run-first situation with the Raiders and quarterback JaMarcus Russell's ineffectiveness. Fantasy owners shouldn't consider DHB as anything more than a No. 6 fantasy receiver.

Juaquin Iglesias, Chicago Bears

The Bears desperately needed to add a receiver to their stable of the who's who of mediocre players, and Iglesias should give them a capable chain-moving possession receiver for quarterback Jay Cutler. Fantasy owners should watch his progress throughout training camp and the preseason before making a fantasy judgment. If you can't wait that long, view him as a flier pick as a No. 6 receiver in point-per-reception formats. In all likelihood, he is the No. 4 wideout on the team and has no value.

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans

Britt should be worked into the mess of receivers the Titans boast. He offers above-average vertical capabilities in stretching the field and has quality size. The Titans still don't pass enough to make a rookie receiver a respectable fantasy contributor, so you can look elsewhere on draft day. If you must, draft Britt as a No. 6 for your team.

Derrick D. Williams, Detroit Lions

Don't expect Williams to have much fantasy value this year. He was a blue chip prospect coming out of high school but never lived up to his billing at Penn State. Williams is a dangerous return man and a capable possession receiver. He reminds us of Kansas City Chiefs wideout Bobby Engram, a former Penn Stater. Go fig. Don't draft Williams in single-year leagues, and he should also be largely ignored in full-retention keeper leagues due to the time it likely will take to develop at this level.

Mohamed Massaquoi, Cleveland Browns

The University of Georgia product is a possession receiver with less upside than Brian Robiskie, another second-round wide receiver selection of the Browns. Massaquoi is likely to be buried on the depth chart, so you shouldn't consider him in fantasy leagues for the 2009 season.

Brandon Tate, New England Patriots

Tate was busted at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine on a failed marijuana test, per published reports, but we have no long-term fear with Bill Belichick kicking him in the tail. Tate is a playmaker but is undersized at 5-foot-11 7/8, 183 pounds. He is best working out of the slot. Avoid him for this year in fantasy leagues.

Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers

Wallace blazed his way to the second-fastest 40 time amongst his pass-catching peers at the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. He can fly. The Steelers needed a deep threat to replace Nate Washington (Tennessee Titans), and Wallace could be their man. He is a little raw, though, and the Steelers probably reached a tad for his services. Fantasy owners can shy away from him in 2009.

Ramses Barden, New York Giants

Drafted as the fourth receiver in a row in this round, Barden comes from small Cal-Poly but is a big package. At 6-foot-6, 229 pounds, Barden gives quarterback Eli Manning the only receiver on roster closely resembling Plaxico Burress, but it will take time before Barden is a contributor. His height allows him to snatch Manning's often overthrown passes. Fantasy owners shouldn't consider Barden in his first year, nevertheless.

Patrick Turner, Miami Dolphins

The big-bodied (6-foot-5 1/8, 223 pounds) Turner comes from the University of Southern California and was a favorite of Mark Sanchez last year. He doesn't have tangible fantasy value in 2009, but Turner could be a capable possession receiver down the line.

Deon Butler, Seattle Seahawks

Butler, 5-foot-10 3/8, 182 pounds, is a prototypical slot receiver and could be the eventual replacement for Deion Branch. Fantasy owners need not pay attention to Butler in 2009.

QB | RB | TE

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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