Final Rookie Report Card: Wide Receivers (Part One)

Dan Meylor

Throughout the season, the Rookie Report Card has covered some of the biggest rookies and not only looked at their performance to date – but also their long term upside.  Now that the season has wrapped up and fantasy owners are looking towards the future, we have an opportunity to take one last look at the 2016 season and assess the rookies – A final report card if you will.

We covered 33 rookies throughout the season, including 13 receivers.  Let’s put a bow on the season by taking one more look at those pass catchers’ first shot at make plays on Sundays, as well as a quick glimpse into their futures.

Geronimo Allison, WR GB
Season Stats: 12 receptions, 202 yards, two touchdowns

When I covered Allison a few weeks ago in the week 17 edition of the rookie report card, I concluded by writing that he isn’t a special player but he plays with one and anybody with a consistent role catching passes from Aaron Rodgers has the potential to be a dynasty asset.  He’s not going to play in front of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams or Randall Cobb but the Packers didn’t hesitate to make Allison a big part of their offense when there were injuries at the position.  If anybody goes down in 2017, he’ll be the next man up.  And that makes Allison worth a roster spot in most dynasty leagues. 

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Robby Anderson, WR NYJ
Season Stats: 42 receptions, 587 yards, two touchdowns

Anderson had a nice rookie season, particularly in the second half of the year where he hit 60 or more receiving yards four times and caught two touchdown.  Many naysayers will point to the chemistry he had with Bryce Petty as the only reason he saw success but his route running was strong and he showed good athleticism at the point of the catch so the potential exists for him to take a step forward in 2017.

Although Anderson had some maddening drops and the quarterback situation is a mess in New York, he’s worth a roster spot in almost all dynasty leagues heading into the off-season.

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Tyler Boyd, WR CIN
Season Stats: 54 receptions, 603 yards, one touchdown

Boyd had a relatively nice rookie year, posting similar stats to Sterling Shepard – just without the touchdowns.  Unfortunately however, he only reached 50 receiving yards five times and struggled to take advantage of injuries to Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green.

With his rookie season which appeared like a young receiver learning the ropes and getting his feet wet now in the rearview mirror, Boyd will look to improve as a sophomore.  Brandon LaFell will be a free agent and its unknown if the Cincinnati brass wants him back.  Boyd entered the league as smooth route runner with great hands.  Despite his lack of elite deep speed or leaping ability, he profiles as the perfect complement opposite Green. 

Dynasty owners shouldn’t be counting on Boyd just yet but his WR2 potential is sure to show up sooner rather than later.

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Leonte Carroo, WR MIA
Season Stats: three receptions, 29 yards, one touchdown

Carroo didn’t get off to the start that many of us thought he would, but I’m optimistic that his size, power and sharp route running can help him make an impact as a sophomore in Miami – particularly if Kenny Stills signs elsewhere as a free agent.

When I wrote about Carroo back in week 12, I compared his physical play to that of Anquan Boldin.  While he didn’t make an immediate impact like Boldin did back in 2003, I feel like he has similar WR2 upside.

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Corey Coleman, WR CLE
Season Stats: 33 receptions, 413 yards, three touchdowns

I wrote about Coleman way back in week two, when he was coming off a huge game (5/104/2) and dynasty owners everywhere were going gaga over him.  While I wasn’t convinced he’d continue to be a playmaker as a rookie, I concluded that report by saying Coleman has a chance to develop into a consistent high end WR2.

Despite his ho-hum rookie numbers, I still feel that way.

Coleman’s injury along with the dismal play of the Cleveland quarterbacks severely limited his upside as a rookie but his incredible acceleration off the line of scrimmage, blazing deep speed and impressive ball skills make him a threat to develop as a big time playmaker. 

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Pharoh Cooper, WR LA
Season Stats: 14 receptions, 106 yards

I own Cooper on a lot of my dynasty teams.  Despite his lack of metrics, I saw him coming out of South Carolina as an ideal slot man.  Shifty with the knowhow to use his moves to get open on short to intermediate routes and with a fierce demeanor on the field, he appeared to be a PPR value in the second round or rookie drafts.

Although he didn’t make a splash as a rookie, all those things are still true.  While I’m concerned about Jared Goff going through a coaching and offense change, I feel Cooper could be his security blanket as soon as 2017.  He should still be owned in most PPR dynasty leagues.

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Josh Doctson, WR WAS
Season Stats: two receptions, 66 yards

Like many dynasty owners, I was very intrigued with Doctson’s upside coming out of TCU.  Quick off the line of scrimmage, incredibly smooth as a deep threat and dynamic at the point of the catch with an eye popping 41-inch vertical, he entered the 2016 NFL draft as a big play waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, his rookie season – as well as that impressive vertical – never really got off the ground. 

Doctson was limited to a pair of games and just two catches as a rookie.  If there was a silver lining however, it’s that in those two games the Redskins’ coaching staff showed they wanted their rookie wide out to be a playmaker, peppering him with deep shots and red zone targets.

While I’m concerned about his wasted rookie year as well as the lingering injury issues, I still see nothing but upside with Doctson.  He’s got WR1 potential and with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon scheduled to hit free agency, his potential could collide with a dynamite opportunity starting this September.

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Will Fuller, WR HOU
Season Stats: 47 receptions, 635 yards, two touchdowns

I wrote about Fuller way back in week one.  In that write up (as well as every time I’ve written or spoken about the former Golden Domer), I’ve pointed to the drops he’s committed throughout his career in college and now as a rookie in Houston as the reason dynasty owners should be very leery of relying on him.

There’s no doubt that Fuller has upside but to me, he’s the ultimate boom or bust proposition.  Due to the disgusting drops he can’t stop committing (like the one in New England in the playoffs) as well as his limited route running, I don’t want him on my dynasty roster – despite his WR2 upside.

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Rashard Higgins, WR CLE
Season Stats: six receptions, 77 yards

I was relatively high on Higgins coming out of Colorado State, even after he was taken by the Browns.  I thought his strong route running, his ability to attack the football in the air and his strong hands – as well as the big numbers he posted with the Rams – would translate into early success. 

Needless to say, I was wrong.

While I still think he has upside as a possession receiver, Higgins appears to have struggled to get his feet under him as a rookie which is a red flag considering the lack of depth at receiver in Cleveland during his rookie season.

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Tyreek Hill, WR KC
Season Stats: 61 receptions, 593 yards, six touchdowns, 24 carries, 267 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and three return touchdowns

I wrote about Hill back in Week seven and concluded his report card by saying Hill’s below average route running and hands would limit his upside early in his career but that I thought he could continue to develop as an all-around weapon and deep threat, and potentially elevate himself flex play consideration if he could somehow get away from playing with captain check down, Alex Smith.

I guess he developed a bit faster than I expected.

Although Hill had a really nice second half of the season and the latest news out of Kansas City says he could be in line for a lot more playing time in 2017, I question if he can be any more than what he was down the stretch of his rookie season for fantasy players due to the limitations his quarterback puts on him.

The Tyreek Hill hype train might get out of control this off-season.  Although I like his skill set and feel like he can be a playmaker much like DeSean Jackson has been throughout his career, I won’t be climbing aboard.

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Check back tomorrow to see my thoughts on the rest of the rookie wide outs.


dan meylor