Fantasy Football Rookie Landing Spots by Utter-Fantasy writer & illustrator Doug “feet on the ground” Bowles
Sometime before the 2015 NFL Draft, I wrote an article about where I would like to see Rookie WR Amari Cooper get drafted, regardless of the draft order. Here were my top 3 favorite landing spots for him…#1- Atlanta…what a 3 receiver set this would be…Julio, Roddy White and Amari Cooper! (and all 3 Alabama alums)…#2- Baltimore…WR Torrey Smith left for the 49ers, so they were in need of a top wide receiver, WR Steve Smith is a year older and QB Flacco can throw a ball 80 yards…#3- Carolina…The Panthers only have rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin, who had a monster rookie season with QB Cam Newton and they desperately needed a top receiver opposite Benjamin.
I also gave an example of a wide receiver whose career was slow to take off because he did not land on a rookie friendly team, and it was WR Cody Latimer. A 2nd round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2014. While other rookie wide receivers last season were getting great opportunities to shine and show off their abilities, WR Latimer was buried on the Denver depth chart. If the Broncos didn’t have Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, who’s to say that WR Latimer wouldn’t have been the 2014 Rookie of the Year? Pittsburgh’s Rookie WR Martavius Bryant ended the 2014 season with 26 receptions/549 yards and 9 TDs, despite being drafted 2 rounds after Latimer. Bryant landed on a team that had a weak wide receiver corps, and therefore jumped immediately into the starting line up.
So here is a list of some of rookie stars drafted this year, the teams where they landed on, and if I believe it’s a good place or bad place for them.
WR Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders (Bad Place) – Before I dwell on the negatives, I’ll preface by saying that WR Cooper is an exceptional talent and will make the most of the situation (just as WR Sammy Watkins did, going to QB-less Buffalo). Cooper will be the clear #1 and will get many opportunities. Oakland is still Oakland however, and QB Derek Carr won’t have the success that he did in his rookie season, because very intelligent defense coordinators now have a year to have studied Carr’s strengths and weaknesses. RG3 had a strong rookie season, and has never looked the same since. QBs Kaepernick, Sanchez, and Locker are some other examples.
QB Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Bucs (Good Place) – This is an interesting one…just because I think that Winston landed in a good place, it doesn’t mean that I think he will succeed. I doubt he does. I think QB Marcus Mariota was the best QB in this draft, but the Florida connection with Winston was too hard for the Glazer family (owners of the Bucs) to pass up. They’ll sell tons of jerseys, but won’t win tons of games.
QB Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans (Good Place) – One of the best things going for Mariota, is the division that he’s in, having been drafted by the Titans. They are in the AFC South, and 4 of their games will be against Houston and Jacksonville. Indianapolis will be 2 tough games, but Indy’s defense is atrocious…at least it was in 2014. Another good thing going for Mariota going to Tennessee is that his only competition is 6 rounder QB Zach Mettenberger. Lastly, except for Sankey being the #1 RB, the Titans have some decent talent surrounding Mariota. (The Titans drafted WR Dorail-Green-Beckham for Mariota in Round Two.)
WR Kevin White – Chicago Bears (Bad Place) – It’s a funny thing, but some players in the NFL can be bad for the team they play on, but great for owners of fantasy teams. QB Jay Cutler is the perfect example. He’ll put up fantastic fantasy numbers each week, but drive Bear fans crazy by losing tons of games. We have to believe that new HC John Fox will employ a balanced game plan, but ultimately will have Cutler throwing the ball 35-40 times a game. White will benefit greatly from Cutler’s arm, and the departure of WR Brandon Marshall.
RB Todd Gurley – St Louis Rams (Bad Place) – When HC Jeff Fisher was in Tennessee, he had RB Eddie George and he ran George a ton. Fisher has gotten way from the one running back workhorse, and runs more by committee (something we fantasy owners HATE!) The Rams also play in the NFC West division. You are crazy if you think RB Gurley is going to rack up a ton of yards and TDs, while fighting RB Tre Mason for carries and facing Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona each twice.
WR DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins (Bad Place) – With WRs Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline both on new teams in 2015, the Dolphins needed a #2 WR opposite WR Jarvis Landry (a rookie in 2014) and they got one in Parker. However, Miami loaded up with WRs Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and got a fabulous weapon in TE Jordan Cameron. TOO many mouths to feed. Also, I am not a big fan QB Tannehill. He struggles to make reads and struggles badly on deep balls, which is why WR Mike Wallace’s seasons there was lack luster. Tannehill throws short passes accurately however, so Parker could see 8-10 receptions a game. Parker is also 6’3″…where as WR Landry is only 5’11″…so count on Parker as the strong red zone target.
RB Melvin Gordon – San Diego Charger- (Great Place) – Love, Love, Love this selection by San Diego, and love where Gordon landed (only Dallas would have been a better landing spot for him). There is no competition for Gordon in San Diego…the #1 RB is his on a golden platter. Although the Chargers will mix in some other running backs on 3rd downs, Gordon will have the opportunity to be the workhorse there, and will get the goal line runs. Only an unfortunate injury will prevent Gordon from having a monster 2015 season.
WR Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles (Great Place) – This is almost a carbon copy of the write up on WR Devante Parker, who went to Miami. With WR Jeremy Maclin now in Kansas City, the Eagles needed a #2 WR opposite WR Jordan Matthews (a rookie in 2014) and they got one in Agholor. As in the case of WR Sammy Watkins, WR Kelvin Benjamin and rookie WR Amari Cooper…opportunity is a big key for early success. Time will tell whether new Eagle QB Sam Bradford can stay healthy, and be the QB that he has shown potential for.
WR Breshad Perriman – Baltimore Ravens (Great Place) – Love, Love, Love this selection by Baltimore, and love where Perriman landed. With WR Torrey Smith now playing for the 49ers, the Ravens have their next deep threat receiver in Perriman. This is where, as mentioned at the beginning, a place I thought WR Amari Cooper would thrive. Instead, it’s Perriman’s place.
WR Philip Dorsett – Indianapolis Colts (Bad Place) – This landing spot for WR Dorsett is “WR Cody Latimore Deja’ Vu”. This selection by the Colts was an odd one, to say the least. The Indianapolis defense was awful in 2014, QB Luck has plenty of weapons and their first pick was a wide receiver??? WR Dorsett will move into the #3 WR position, and might…MIGHT establish himself enough to bump WR Donte Moncrief for playing time, but I doubt it.
RB TJ Yeldon – Jacksonville Jaguars (Bad Place) – Regardless of the landing spot, I am not a fan of Yeldon’s and not a fan of the Jaguars offense. An Alabama Alum, so TJ Yeldon is either going to be an “Eddie Lacy” or a “Trent Richardson”, and I am leaning toward the latter. Pick this guy if he is available in later rounds in your fantasy drafts, but NOT EARLY. It will be a wasted pick if you take him too early.
WR Devin Smith – New York Jets (Bad Place) – Here is the Jets QB Depth Chart…Ryan Fitzpatrick– Geno Smith- Bryce Petty- Matt Sims (sorry if I hit you with that right after you ate something). The Jets already have WR Brandon Marshall and WR Eric Decker, so it couldn’t be much worse.
Dorial Green-Beckham – Tennessee Titans (Bad Place) – The worst place a wide receiver can go is on a bad team or with a rookie quarterback. Green-Beckham got both. It’s also a crowded WR depth chart, so I am not expecting much from this rookie in 2015. WR Devin Funchess was drafted only ONE spot later, to the Carolina Panthers, where I am sure Green-Beckham would have rather have gone. He must be sick about it.
WR Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers (Great Place) – As written earlier, The Panthers only have rookie WR Kelvin Benjamin, who had a monster rookie season with QB Cam Newton and they desperately needed a top receiver opposite Benjamin…and now they have one in Funchess. Like WR Benjamin (6’5″)…WR Funchess (6’4″) is a huge receiver and he will get plenty of targets in the red zone. This wide receiver corps will look a lot like the Tampa Bay receiving corps with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, except with a better quarterback.
RB Ameer Abdullah – Detroit Lions (Bad Place) – I HATE, HATE, HATE this selection by Detroit, and hate where Abdullah landed. I understand the pick and know that the Lions needed depth at the RB position, but strictly fantasy wise, this stinks. RB Abdullah’s addition not only sinks his own fantasy value, but RB Joique Bell’s as well. There is no longer a #1 RB in Detroit, and a bigger RBBC situation than we had with Reggie in 2014.