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Rookie Wide Receivers on the Rise in Fantasy Football

Okay, I watch preseason games. Don’t judge me. Everyone has their things. Some people like to sit by the railroad tracks and throw rocks at passing trains. Some people leave their shopping carts in parking spaces when they are done with them. I watch preseason football in the NFL. I do it for you so that I can provide you with rookie wide receivers who should be on your radar. 

Week 2 of the preseason saw some more big plays and brought opportunity to rookie wide receivers. I have stated before that just as last season provided a few rookie RB1’s, 2018 will be the year of the RB2s. While the running backs are getting most of the love, this rookie wide receiver class has a combination of talent and opportunity to make them Fantasy relevant.

Let’s check in on some ADP for rookie wide receivers in this week’s Fantasy Stock Watch.

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Rookie Wide Receivers on the Rise

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears

Current ADP: 14.01

Projected ADP: 13.04

The Bears lined up in a bunch formation a few times this past weekend against the Broncos. On the left of Mitch Trubisky -who was in the shotgun- was Allen Robinson, Kevin White (yes, that Kevin White) and Miller. Lined up wide right was Trey Burton. In traditional three wide receiver sets, Miller was in the slot.

This is going to be the role of Miller on a Bears team that wants to pass the ball. Yes, Jordan Howard will get around to 250 carries but Matt Nagy (a descendant of Andy Reid) will find ways to utilize all of his weapons. That includes Anthony Miller who, in my opinion, should have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.  

In two straight season’s at Memphis, Miller had over 95 receptions and 1,400 yards. He is an alpha, especially among this WR core. People may be hard-pressed to project Robinson for a big season but we have not seen that since 2015. In 2016, in a full season, Robinson was the WR27.

At 5’11, 201 pounds, Miller is stout enough to be more physical than any of the other rookie wide receivers after the catch. But, what really stands out is his burst score which is in the 85th percentile. This incorporates both his vertical and broad jumps along with his height and weight and simply means that the rookie is ultra-explosive and can win 50/50 jump balls.

Miller is going late in drafts. He may not put up the numbers that Robinson will have but he won’t be far off. I am okay with fading A-Rob and grabbing Miller late who will be used often in this pass-heavy Bears offense.

James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers

Current ADP: Undrafted

Projected ADP: 14.04

James Washington is the truth. Going into the NFL Draft, the rookie wide receivers class was ambiguously ranked by many scouts. Some had Calvin Ridley as the No.1 guy, others had D.J. Moore or Courtland Sutton – but many had James Washington as the number one overall rookie prospect.

Washington is not just a one-trick pony, but he certainly has a pretty neat trick. At Oklahoma State, Washington averaged over 20 yards per reception in two seasons. He is a deep-ball threat and will be lined up on the outside often in the Steelers offense.

Fantrax Football CommissionerWe saw Martavis Bryant very successful in this role opposite Antonio Brown. In his rookie season, he scored eight touchdowns while averaging 21.1 yards per reception. Washington now will be the primary receiver to fill in that outside receiver slot in three-wideout sets with Juju Smith-Schuster in the slot.

In Week 2 of the preseason, albeit garbage time, Washington caught two highly-contested balls for touchdowns. One was over two players in the back of the end zone on a Randy Moss-like play. The other touchdown pass met both the defender and Washington at the two-yard line simultaneously which saw Washington joust the ball away from the defensive back for the score.

I love the opportunity that Washington presents this season. He is a late-round flier that will have big games in 2018.

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

Current ADP: 13.04

Projected ADP: 12.06

Let me preface this blurb by saying that I think the previous two rookie wide receivers are more talented than Gallup. I will not be surprised if they outperform Gallup, even though he just may be the most targeted wideout on this Cowboy’s team.

Just because he will be the most targeted does not mean he will get 130 passes thrown his way. The Cowboys are going to get everyone involved and let Dak Prescott do his thing. Between Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Tavon Austin, and Geoff Swaim, the Cowboys are not going to have anyone demanding 10 targets a game.

That being said, Prescott and the Cowboys are going to use Michael Gallup in different formations on the outside. He will provide deep-ball opportunities for the Cowboys and fantasy owners but can be used across the middle and underneath as well.

His ADP is higher than Anthony Miller and James Washington but I believe they will outperform Gallup in Fantasy. The Cowboys do not look to be very Fantasy friendly as an offense even though Gallup looks like he will be heavily involved.

There are just too many mediocre mouths to feed when they should focus more on feeding Ezekiel Elliott, which has been rumored will happen in the passing game in 2018.  Fade Gallup and buy on Washington and Miller.

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