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Rookie receivers

First-year receivers moving into larger roles

I think we should all be drafting rookie receivers a little earlier. There’s risk involved, and I see plenty of slow starters, but I also see a bunch of them outperforming where there were chosen.

Christian Watson and Garrett Wilson, most recently. They were low-cost options in drafts in August, and neither did much in the first two months of the season. But they’re looking like solid every-week starters nowadays.

Chris Olave, he’s been doing it all year. And George Pickens, I think, leads the highlight catches. Kenny Pickett has thrown 3 TDs in his last five games, and Pickens has caught all of them. Treylon Burks, meanwhile, has 3 receptions over 40 yards in his last two games.

If we look at the last four games for each team, I see 51 wide receivers with at least 150 receiving yards. I see three rookies in the top 20, along with Burks at 34th and Pickens at 42nd.

Of the rookie receivers, only one – Olave – has been a starter-quality player all along. So I’m not suggesting we all start relying primarily on rookie receivers. But I think there’s merit in carrying two or three with reserve slots on fantasy rosters. The odds are good, I think, that some of those receiver prospects will play some dividends at some point.

Davante Adams, L.V.553348714.85
Justin Jefferson, Min.452948016.63
Tyreek Hill, Mia.373046015.32
CeeDee Lamb, Dall.382737814.03
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Det.383037212.41
Tee Higgins, Cin.362637114.32
Amari Cooper, Cle.342337016.13
Stefon Diggs, Buff.462934611.92
Jaylen Waddle, Mia.312234215.53
Garrett Wilson, NYJ272131415.02
Joshua Palmer, LAC352431213.02
DeAndre Hopkins, Ari.372731211.62
Darius Slayton, NYG261631019.41
Chris Godwin, T.B.42312929.42
Christian Watson, G.B.221428920.66
Terry McLaurin, Was.332128713.70
Zay Jones, Jac.322728110.40
Chris Olave, N.O.291927514.51
Christian Kirk, Jac.372426711.13
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cle.231625716.11
Rondale Moore, Ari.312425510.61
DK Metcalf, Sea.40282539.02
Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.251925013.23
Mike Evans, T.B.371824813.80
Tyler Lockett, Sea.251624015.04
Brandin Cooks, Hou.241623914.90
Courtland Sutton, Den.301823413.00
Gabe Davis, Buff.271723213.61
DeAndre Carter, LAC231922311.72
Demarcus Robinson, Balt.251722113.00
Jakobi Meyers, N.E.292121610.31
Allen Lazard, G.B.281421315.21
Michael Pittman, Ind.33232119.21
Treylon Burks, Ten.201420514.60
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Ten.171120518.62
Cooper Kupp, LAR261920510.82
Adam Thielen, Min.271920210.61
DeVonta Smith, Phil.281818910.51
Michael Gallup, Dall.251618811.80
Terrace Marshall, Car.17818022.51
DJ Moore, Car.231318013.81
George Pickens, Pitt.191017217.21
Parris Campbell, Ind.231617210.81
A.J. Brown, Phil.231417212.32
Quez Watkins, Phil.131117115.52
Allen Robinson, LAR231616910.61
Diontae Johnson, Pitt.27181689.30
JuJu Smith-Schuster, K.C.191515910.60
Kendall Hinton, Den.171215412.80
Olamide Zaccheaus, Atl.161015315.30
Mack Hollins, L.V.241415010.71

Statistics compiled using search tools at

In the chart above, statistics pulled from Weeks 9-12 for most teams. For teams with byes in that window, the stats for Week 8 are also included (giving each team four games).

—Ian Allan

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