by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This rookie wide receiver class isn’t drawing much attention, as they all appear primed to open the season more as WR4/5 as opposed to can’t miss starters. That’s not to say that none of them can make an impact, so the question is who brings the most potential and is worth targeting on draft day and who should we simply ignore? Let’s take a look:
1) D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers
Selected in the first round, it’s easy to argue that Moore lands in the best spot to produce big numbers immediately. Greg Olsen has recently battled injuries and clearly is on the downside of his career. There’s often been hype surrounding Devin Funchess, and he did show improvement last season setting career highs in receptions (63), yards (840) and TD (8). That said, he continues to struggle with efficiency (55.8% completion percentage last season) and it’s possible he’s better suited as a #2 as opposed to a lead receiver.
Enter Moore, who Walter Football compared to Jarvis Landry prior to the draft saying:
Moore reminds me of Landry with his gritty style of play. Both Landry and Moore have good hands, quickness, suddenness, and intense competitive drive. Landry (5-11, 208) is almost identical in size to Moore.
We all know the type of numbers Landry has produced in the NFL and with Cam Newton under center Moore could step in and immediately post big numbers if given the opportunity.
2) Courtland Sutton – Denver Broncos
Sutton is going to play behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, so you have to wonder just how many opportunities he’ll get. That said Case Keenum is now under center, and that should bring stability and opportunity across the board. That becomes especially true with a questionable running back situation, as this could become a pass heavy attack (with an eye towards shorter passes). Given his size and the lack of a top tight end Sutton could be a red zone monster from Week 1 and simply grow into a bigger role from there.
3) Michael Gallup – Dallas Cowboys
We took an in-depth look at the Cowboys’ wide receiving corps, in the wake of the release of Dez Bryant, which you can read by clicking here. Considering the alternatives the team has, would it really be a surprise if he stepped up as the go to receiver from Week 1? He may not be as highly regarded as some others on this list, but he has the potential to make an immediate impact.
4) Christian Kirk – Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald continues to produce, but it’s clear that the team needs to start transitioning to the future. Fantasy owners have continually looked at players like J.J. Nelson or John Brown as the potential heir apparent, but neither have stepped up into the role. Could Kirk? Perhaps, though he profiles more as a slot receiver at 5’11”. As described by NFL.com:
Kirk is a well-built, mentally tough slot target whose game is built around pace more than explosiveness. His lack of speed and length make him less likely to impact games down the field, but his footwork, route tempo and hands should give him an opportunity to find catches underneath. Kirk’s ability to help in the return game is a plus, but the difference between average and good as a receiver could depend on finding the right fit.
5) Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons
At the end of the day Ridley may be a boom or bust option in his rookie season, and he’s never going to be the lead option. Keep in mind the number of targets the secondary receiver has gotten for Atlanta the past few years:
- 2015 – Roddy White – 70
- 2016 – Mohamed Sanu – 81
- 2017 – Mohamed Sanu – 97
Those aren’t encouraging marks, and while there is potential he’s likely not going to make a significant immediate impact.
6) Anthony Miller – Chicago Bears
The Bears have brought in Allen Robinson to give Mitchell Trubisky a top wide receiver, but are there any guarantees after that? Miller was selected in the second round out of Memphis where he posted gaudy numbers (191 receptions, 2,896 yards and 32 TD over his final two seasons) and drew comparisons to Doug Baldwin from Walter Football. There are concerns regarding ball security, but there also is potential and opportunity that shouldn’t be ignored.
7) James Washington – Pittsburgh Steelers
Obviously Antonio Brown is going to be the lead receiver (and JuJu Smith-Schuster will look to follow up a strong rookie campaign), and Le’Veon Bell is going to be a focus of the offense. That said there’s a role to be had, with Martavis Bryant jettisoned to Oakland in the offseason. You can argue that the third receiver role isn’t going to bring monster numbers, though Bryant did have 84 targets last season and Washington proved to have a nose for the end zone in college (10+ TD in each of his final three seasons).
8) Dante Pettis – San Francisco 49ers
He’ll have Jimmy Garoppolo under center and has the potential to win the #3 receiving job. That should put him on maps, though the opportunities could be limited.
9) Equanimeus St. Brown – Green Bay Packers
He’s going to have a long road to earning significantly playing time, and barring injuries at best he’d operate as the third receiver (Davante Adams and Randall Cobb) and fourth option (Jimmy Graham). How excited are you going to get considering those odds?
10) D.J. Chark – Jacksonville Jaguars
He’s going to have to battle for playing time, but the team did add Donte Moncrief in the offseason and brings back Marqise Lee and Dede Westbrook. Considering his QB, it’s going to be hard to get too excited.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Walter Football
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: