In the week leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, I published my contrarian WR rankings. Based on the Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score concepts, those rankings were an attempt to evaluate the reality value of the prospects. With the draft concluded and dynasty rookie drafts in full swing, these are my fantasy rankings that incorporate NFL Draft results. While I believe draft position has a big impact on fantasy viability, opportunity alone isn’t enough at the wide receiver position. As a result, I still strongly emphasize reality skill and athleticism in guesstimating future fantasy value.
RotoViz exhaustively studied many of these prospects leading up to the draft. I’ve embedded a link to that information in many of the player names.
1. DeAndre Hopkins – DR .40, HaSS 98
As I detailed in my breakdown of the PFF Dynasty rookie draft, Hopkins went to the perfect team to have short term value as the No. 2 behind Andre Johnson and to have long term value as he eventually swaps roles with the aging monster. Some are concerned about the Texans’ recent penchant for the running game, but I’m a believer in Matt Schaub and don’t think teams can remain run-based for any length of time in the contemporary NFL.
2. Tavon Austin – DR .30, HaSS 89
I’ve been very down on Austin, but he goes to the perfect team to take advantage of his skills. I also recently finished an article for the upcoming PFF Draft Guide that is more optimistic about possession receivers than the one I penned a year ago. Part of succeeding at fantasy sports – or anything for that matter – is a willingness to incorporate new information and upgrade your projections accordingly. Call it waffling if you must, but I’m coming around on Tavon. One small caveat to keep in mind, Chris Givens, Daryl Richardson, and Isaiah Pead are all small, in-space players, so there may be significant competition for these types of touches.
3. Corey Fuller – DR .38, HaSS 107
It may seem strange to dramatically upgrade a 6th round receiver, but Fuller has a lot going for him. As RotoViz recently pointed out, he’s the only guy in this entire draft who’s over 200 pounds, ran a sub-4.45 forty, and didn’t suck last year. That on its own is pretty significant. He’s also a guy that I figured the Dominator Rating incorrectly for originally because I missed that he played in only 12 games. Finally, the Lions make an incredible landing spot. With Megatron seeing his usual coverage, Ryan Broyles operating underneath, and Reggie Bush catching dump-offs out of the backfield, Fuller should see plenty of daylight.
4. Charles Johnson – DR .50, HaSS 113
Johnson’s story doesn’t change much, but it’s disconcerting that basically no one was interested in a guy with this type of athleticism and production. His age is a red flag for his Dominator Rating, but that was being discounted anyway due to issues with competition. On the other hand, his advanced age doesn’t diminish an athleticism that was tops in the draft. Green Bay is an interesting place to ply his trade. If a 6th round receiver is going to turn into a monster anywhere, then catching balls from Aaron Rodgers is probably the place. Johnson could be a much faster version of Marques Colston.
5. Keenan Allen – DR .44, HaSS 86
The Chargers stopped Allen’s massive slide, but fantasy owners didn’t blink. Drafted with pick No. 11 in the recent PFF rookie draft, Allen fits in perfectly in San Diego where he should be the possession threat opposite Danario Alexander. For all the enthusiasm about DeAndre Hopkins, Allen was the better collegiate receiver and brings good height to the table along with an instinctive ability to get open.
6. Cordarrelle Patterson – DR .17, HaSS 115
Like Austin, Patterson gets a boost from his landing spot, although probably only a short term boost. Over the first three years or so of his career, Patterson should benefit from playing in a horizontal offense with a weak-armed quarterback. If he somewhat surprisingly develops into an all-around star – as opposed to a larger version of Percy Harvin – then remaining in Minnesota will hold him back.
7. Aaron Dobson – DR .39*, HaSS 109
Dobson saw his market share, yards per target, and red zone touchdown rate all plummet last season. I’m using his 2011 DR in order to give him the benefit of the doubt. Enough red flags exist to make Dobson a major reality reach and a big fantasy question mark. You’ll still probably take this caliber of athlete on your dynasty team when he gets to catch passes from Tom Brady.
8. Stedman Bailey – DR .49, HaSS 86
It’s interesting that the Rams double-dipped with West Virginia receivers. Sam Bradford excelled in an offense with some similarities in college and could possibly use Bailey even more than Austin. While everyone is focusing on the potential for Austin to become a Randall Cobb-like dynamo, my research suggests Bailey might be better equipped to become a hyper-Welker. If Bailey’s college resume tells us anything, it’s that he profiles as an intermediate receiver, who also scores touchdowns. That’s a pretty rare and potentially hugely lucrative combination. He could push Brian Quick and Chris Givens into niche receiver roles very quickly.
9. Aaron Mellette – DR .54, HaSS 106
Mellete is another weird draft faller in that he’s essentially a version of Aaron Dobson who wasn’t horrible last year. Mellette played at Elon, but the successes of players like Marques Colton, Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon, and Cecil Shorts illustrate the ability of small school stars to succeed in the NFL if they possess the requisite athleticism and actually know how to play the position. Mellette’s resume attests to those abilities. Finding himself in Baltimore, he could quickly make an impact with guys like Jacoby Jones and Tommy Streeter as the only thing standing in his way.
10. Markus Wheaton – DR .38, HaSS 92
Wheaton isn’t a Mike Wallace clone as so many are suggesting, but he is Emmanuel Sanders’ long lost twin. You can look at this as an example of the Steelers knowing exactly what works in their offense or their brain trust missing another opportunity to at least take a swing at landing a true No. 1 receiver. Wheaton shouldn’t be a priority in rookie drafts, but he’ll eventually settle in as a solid WR3 in the Antonio Brown mold.
11. Terrance Williams – DR .40, HaSS 101
Williams goes to Dallas where he shouldn’t have much redraft value for a couple of seasons, but over the long term his fit may be ideal. When the Cowboys move on from Miles Austin, Williams could settle into the No. 2 role and see very favorable coverage opposite Dez Bryant. Tony Romo is one of the best and most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, and one who consistently generates fantasy value for his receivers. Williams may not project as a true star, but both his Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score suggest a very capable NFL starter.
12. Justin Hunter – DR .27, HaSS 106
You don’t want to spend a high rookie pick on anybody with a DR below .35, and Hunter’s athleticism doesn’t wow the way scouting reports suggest. He’s basically a version of Corey Fuller who was less productive despite possessing more experience. Getting picked by Tennessee is almost the kiss of death. You don’t really want to go to a place where they already have two young receivers who are way better than you. Kenny Britt may not be long for the Titans’ roster but banking on such a development incurs another level of unnecessary risk.
13. Josh Boyce – DR .28, HaSS 106
Boyce could easily be the guy who wins here. Adding the former Horned Frog to your roster instead of Dobson is probably the arbitrage play.
14. Kenny Stills – DR .29, HaSS 104
All that stands between Stills and inconsistent WR3 value are Nick Toon and Joseph Morgan.
15. Da’Rick Rodgers – DR .43*, HaSS 108
Rodgers value was crushed by going undrafted . . . until he signed with a Bills team that desperately needs a No. 2 receiver and wasted picks on two non-prospects in Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.
16. Quinton Patton – DR .38, HaSS 96
Patton fell in the draft and ultimately made a solid reality pick for the 49ers. It’s hard to like him in fantasy. Anquan Boldin will block his path next season, and A.J. Jenkins also waits in the wings. Despite his disastrous rookie season, Jenkins possesses significantly better athleticism and final season numbers than Patton.
17. Ryan Swope – DR .26 (.35), HaSS 114
Swope becomes something of a sleeper in a Cardinals offense that should push the ball vertical, but it’s tough to tell where he fits on the depth chart. Andre Roberts is a better athlete and reality player than most realize.
18. Chris Harper DR .25, HaSS 106
Very little value in a crowded Seattle receiving corps.
19. Robert Woods DR .28, HaSS 96
Woods will get plenty of opportunities after being drafted No. 41 overall, but it’s hard to see how that will make him a better athlete or better player.
20. Marquess Wilson – DR .38*, HaSS 97
Wilson could be an interesting sleeper in the Bears new high-powered attack if he doesn’t pull a Dwight Jones.