Last season, standouts like Michael Thomas, Sterling Shepard and Will Fuller were just a few of the rookie wideouts to put up solid numbers for fantasy owners. As we head towards the NFL Draft, let’s take a look at the incoming class of receivers and tight ends. These are a few of the rookies that are poised to have the most immediate fantasy impact. After the draft, we’ll re-evaluate rookie fantasy value based on the teams that select these players.
Mike Williams (Clemson): Williams had 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016. He was an explosive playmaker at Clemson, creating separation and beating defenders for contested catches. His size, speed and playmaking abilities set him apart. He is a physical receiver with the ability to contribute from day one on any team.
John Ross (Washington): Ross boasts the quickest 40 time in NFL Combine history at 4.22 seconds. His speed gives him an immense advantage in creating separation, allowing him to be elusive and dangerous in open space. In 2016, Ross totaled 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. His speed and athleticism should help him become an immediate threat in the NFL.
Corey Davis (Western Michigan): Davis had 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns (tied for first in the NCAA) in 2016. He has great hands and explosive speed, as well as good size and excellent route-running abilities. Davis has shown the ability to nab contested passes. He creates plays and fights for extra yards. He should be an immediate help to his new quarterback, whoever that may be.
Zay Jones (East Carolina): The Austin High graduate racked up 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns on 158 receptions at East Carolina in 2016, following a strong junior campaign in which he nearly eclipsed 1,100 yards. He holds the NCAA record for career receptions with 399. He has good size, decent speed, and reliable hands. While he will be a later draft pick than most of the other receivers on this list, Jones has the potential to earn a starting role relatively quickly.
O.J. Howard (Alabama): Howard’s 595 yards and three touchdowns in 2016 fail to do justice to his natural athletic abilities. He has exceptional hands, size, and quick feet for an NFL tight end. He needs to prove his playmaking abilities at the next level, but the right offensive scheme should help him thrive. On the right team, Howard could contribute immediately to a tight end position that has been thin for fantasy owners.
Evan Engram (Ole Miss): Engram hauled in 65 catches for 926 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was the quickest tight end at this year’s Combine; his speed and athleticism should allow him to step in and contribute as an offensive weapon in his rookie season.
What are your thought, fantasy owners? Are there receivers or tight ends that didn’t make this list that you’re keeping an eye on? Are you especially excited for the fantasy impact of any of the players above? You can discuss in the comments section below.