Immediate Impact Rookies: Wide Receiver
Unencumbered by a lack of talent, these guys have built in roles in their respective offenses, so the only thing standing in the way of fantasy stardom is themselves:
Zay Jones, Bills: Jones scared us with a knee injury early on this preseason, but he’s back at OTAs and in prime situation to take the no.2 role opposite injury prone Sammy Watkins – neither Charles Clay or Andre Holmes are serious threats on any regular basis to Jones’ targets. My personal favorite from this year’s Senior Bowl, Jones could flirt with 1,000 yards in his first season as a pro.
Corey Davis, Titans: He had ankle surgery early this year, but no.5 pick Davis is now healthy and the defacto 1B WR to Eric Decker‘s 1A role.Davis could easily surpass that designation if he plays up to his reputation as one of the most prolific receivers in college football history. Yes, Rishard Matthews is still around, but I see him as more of a threat to Decker, who’s best years are likely behind him.
Kenny Golladay, Lions: One of the pleasant surprises at Lions OTAs, except to the guys who drafted him, Golladay was a mystery to most outside of RosterWatch Nation aside from his Megatron-ish measurables. His red-zone appeal is self evident, and with Marvin Jones being the model of inconsistency, Golladay has upside for a major breakout as a rookie. There is not a receiver in Detroit with his physical profile. The biggest threat to his fantasy production may be TE Eric Ebron who looks set to finally get his share of end-zone looks if he can stay healthy in a contract year.
John Ross, Bengals: Ross has missed all of OTAs due to his alma mater’s late graduation, but when you’re arguably the fastest guy on the field, you often get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to playing time. Ross has terrific hands and a good head on his shoulders, so catching up shouldn’t be to difficult. Likely the third option in the Bengals offense behind Green and Eifert, Ross has the play-breaking ability to make his targets count with regularity.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers: Christian McCaffrey is the talk of the town in Carolina, but Samuel stands just as much chance of getting on the field early and often for the Panthers as their primary slot-receiver. Samuel can actually line up anywhere on the field, so don’t be surprised to seem him move around a lot. He’s got 4.31 speed and has drawn comparisons to Percy Harvin, another productive utility player, who made a splash early on in his career.
Cooper Kupp, Rams: Kupp is quickly gaining a reputation as QB Jared Goff‘s safety blanket. Pro-ready and situated behind the unintimidating combo of Robert Woods and Tavon Austin, Kupp has the hands and the head to work himself into a role as the go-to possession receiver for the Rams. He doesn’t have blazing speed, so I don’t expect him to take the top off any plays, but he’s going to be a considerable asset in PPR leagues sooner than later.
Chad Williams, Cardinals: The only question mark of this group, Williams is currently the 5th WR in Arizona, but if this season goes anything like the last three for the Cardinals, there will be plenty of action for Williams to get when one or more of their current starters goes down to injury – which is inevitable. The Cardinals also don’t involve their TEs at all under Bruce Arians, so he won’t get much pressure there. Williams has been compared to Anquan Boldin by Larry Fitzgerald, and we all know how he fared in Arizona, so don’t sleep on this kid.