Which rookie wide receivers are in the best opportunity to excel? Who should you be targeting and who should you be ignoring? Let’s take a look at the five best for the upcoming season:
1. Justin Blackmon – Jacksonville Jaguars
You can argue that he doesn’t belong in the top spot due to a weaker quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) and that the offense is going to run through Maurice Jones-Drew. That said, no Jaguars player had more than 44 receptions (Mike Thomas), 460 yards (Marcedes Lewis) or 3 TD (Maurice Jones-Drew & Jason Hill). If the Jaguars want to have any success, they are going to need to get something out of the passing game in a hurry. They didn’t use the #5 pick in the draft on Blackmon to not make him a major part of the offense immediately. The offseason additions of Lee Evans and Laurent Robinson will also help, as defenses will not be able to focus squarely on Blackmon early on. Look for him to have a big season.
2. Michael Floyd – Arizona Cardinals
He’ll get to be the “new” Anquan Boldin, playing across from Larry Fitzgerald. We all know that role has its benefits. The fact that he likely won’t be a red zone target, however, is what keeps him a step behind Blackmon for me. Also, while Kevin Kolb is likely to post better numbers than Gabbert, is he a lock to produce a big season?
3. Kendall Wright – Tennessee Titans
The talent level may not quite be that of the top two options, but he’ll likely get better QB play then both of them (regardless of if it is Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker throwing him the ball). Throw in Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt (as well as the emerging Jared Cook) keeping defenses honest and away from focusing on Wright and there is going to be opportunities for him to make plays.
4. Brian Quick – St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson has publicly challenged Quick, as he was quoted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (click here for the article) as saying, “But over the next six weeks, he’s going to have to work real hard to be prepared for a long season, because we’re going to lean on him, lean heavily on him. He’s a high draft pick and we’re going to need someone on the outside to make plays and I’m challenging him right now because we’re going to need him to prepare himself over the next six weeks to be a standout on this team.”
The Rams receiving corps is questionable and, if Sam Bradford can return to his rookie form, Quick could easily emerge as a WR3/WR4 in all formats. At the tail end of your draft, he’s well worth targeting.
5. Alshon Jeffrey – Chicago Bears
He’ll have an opportunity to earn a starting spot across from Brandon Marshall with Jay Cutler throwing him the ball. That’s a great situation for success, isn’t it? Of course, the Bears will at times turn to a ground and pound type attack, with Matt Forte and Michael Bush, so when the weather turns in Chicago his production is going to suffer. Just keep that in mind as you may not want to depend on him late in the season.
Other names to watch:
- Reuben Randle – New York Giants – The injury to Hakeem Nicks will likely allow the Giants’ second round pick significantly more reps with the first team this summer. That’s going to give him a great opportunity to create a rapport with Eli Manning and step in for the departed Mario Manningham as the Giants third receiver.
- Stephen Hill – New York Jets – Who knows with the Jets, right? Are they a passing team? Are they a running team? Will Santonio Holmes be banished or excel? Hill should get an opportunity, but this situation is unstable to say the least.
- Mohamed Sanu – Cincinnati Bengals – We all saw A.J. Green was able to do coming in. Could Sanu have a similar impact?
Make sure to check out our 2012 fantasy football rankings: