Fantasy Football Observations from the NFL Preseason: Rookie Wide Receivers
The third week of the preseason typically sees teams play their starters more as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the regular season. But this year many teams opted to hold their stars out choosing not to risk injury instead. So, Week Three’s preseason slate was not as entertaining as fans might have hoped it would be.
But all was not lost because we did get to see some rookie wide receivers make a good case for making the roster.
Wide receivers tend to be more inter-changeable during games than other positions giving rookies more of a chance to get on the field. If they can do something in what time they get—they get more. There have been a handful that have made a good name for themselves in the preseason.
While it isn’t guaranteed, chances are some of these guys will get a chance on Sunday sooner rather than later:
- Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos: He hasn’t had a lot of work in the preseason but did have three catches for 45 yards last week against the Redskins. But when you are 6’4”, 216 lbs., and were selected in the second round, it is safe to say the team plans on using you. But Denver has a number of veteran receivers. So, it remains to be seen if he’ll get enough work to become fantasy relevant.
- Riley McCarron, New England Patriots: He looked the part of a capable receiver against a tough Carolina Panthers defense (four catches for 49 yards). With Edelman out the first four weeks and the Patriots thin at wide receiver, he could play himself into a roster spot with a good performance in Week Four. Fantasy relevance? Probably not, but you can never tell with the Patriots.
- Chad Beebe, Minnesota Vikings: The former Northern Illinois receiver had another solid game last week (five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown). He is not going to supplant Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen anytime soon. But if one of those guys goes down, he could become fantasy worthy.
- Brandon Powell, Detroit Lions: Powell hasn’t been producing crat stats in the preseason, but he has been catching whatever has been thrown his way. He certainly did last week (six receptions for 45 yards). In a pass-heavy offense, as the Lions have, every receiver has the potential to be fantasy-worthy. But he is going to be too low on the totem pole to matter unless someone gets hurt.
- Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He had another good outing last week against the Lions (three receptions for 35 yards). But Tampa Bay has a pretty crowded receiver’s room. If he makes the final roster, he’ll be hard-pressed to get playing time.
- J’Mon Moore, Green Bay Packers: Moore is in a great position to get some early opportunities on Sunday. But the coaches may want him to catch more than 50 percent of the passes thrown his way (four receptions, targeted eight times, for 62 yards).
- Javon Wims, Chicago Bears: Not having to share the field with Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller had to help, but Wims has had a great preseason—like last week when he made four receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
- Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns: While he didn’t play last week, he has shown the kind of game already that has to be as intriguing to coaches as it is to fans. If he can get healthy and stay out of trouble, it is not hard to imagine him becoming a steady contributor sometime in the near future.
- James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers: While he didn’t do anything last week, he has had an impressive preseason and stands to be the Steelers No. 3 man when the regular season starts.
- Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons: He’ll be behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, but he’ll get a chance to see the field as the team’s probable No. 3 WR.
- Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys: While he didn’t make a catch last week, the Cowboys have high hopes for their prized rookie this season.
As good as some of these guys have looked in the preseason, the most any of them stands to see the field early in the season is as the No. 3 receiver. So, until they prove otherwise, the wise move would be to leave them on the bench when filling out your daily fantasy roster.
But keep an eye on these guys. Because as the season goes on and guys get hurt
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