Fantasy Football: Proceed to swoon over the rookie WRs, starting with the Packers’ Davante Adams

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Three more rookie wideouts officially burst onto the fantasy scene Sunday, joining Davante Adams as superb dynasty options.  I’ll open with my draft day takes on all of the impact guys to this point, from my May rankings:

2. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo – Explosive with great acceleration skills and good hands. Dynamic with the ball, but not to the elite degree touted. A screen and sideline guy who does show nice feet and catch-point ability.

4. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans – A definitively small slot prospect, but offers blazing speed, sudden quickness, and extraordinarily productive hands. Has drawn comparisons to Steve Smith and Victor Cruz.

6. Davante Adams, Green Bay – Extremely productive in a pass-first system due to his polish, hands, and Boldin-esque ability to pluck difficult throws. Lacks great speed and quickness; an ideal go-to WR2.

8. Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis – Metric superstar with great combination of size/speed/explosiveness. Creates big plays downfield after the catch. Not a hands catcher and somewhat drop-prone, but has massive upside.

10. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina – Lack of speed and true athleticism caps his overstated upside and may force him into a hybrid/TE role. A huge jump ball threat, but unpolished and lackadaisical; a non-factor when not being sent into the air.

12. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville – A Big Ten threat on quick hitters, but struggles to separate downfield. Goes up for the ball, but size is often wasted with poor technique. Catches with his body and too often doesn’t play smart.

13. Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia – As productive as SEC receivers get, but much of that came on screens in an offense lacking other threats. Tall and quick but lacks true deep speed. Surprisingly prone to drops for such an accomplished receiver.

Fast-Forward

Four months later, here are my takes on their dynasty forecasts, rapid-fire:

I always felt Watkins was a soft guy who needed the sidelines. I think I may be right, but he won’t bust.  He’ll be an easy WR2 option with better quarterbacking, hell, maybe even with Manuel and a less crowded WR corps (why is Mike Williams on this roster?)

Cooks isn’t just a slot-man; he’s a Swiss Army knife.  Amazing athleticism + a brilliant offensive staff to tap every bit of it = a WR2 dynamo next year.

Moncrief has dusted Da’Rick Rogers and may be doing the same to the ineffective Hakeem Nicks as we speak.  Remember that Nicks is in town on a cheap one-year deal; the Colts aren’t expecting much, and Moncrief is already drawing targets.  He’s indeed a freak and will be no worse than Andrew Luck’s third option next year.

Benjamin has made some plays and left plenty more on the field; he’s dropping passes like hand grenades.  I know Cam Newton loves him, and maybe I’m just in love with myself (likely), but I see a very inconsistent fantasy play here.  You’ll see him as a WR2 entering 2015, but he won’t return on it weekly, and you won’t trust the guy that often.  I’d see if you can arrange a massive package in return for him now.

I wrote about Robinson and Matthews here.  They are very similar prospects, and neither blow my socks off as dynasty prospects.  I don’t own either anywhere, and while they’re certainly not garbage, I wouldn’t steer you to break an ankle chasing them.  I think Matthews has a WR3 ceiling and will cost more than that (he’s a draftnik man-crush through and through). Robinson has plenty of rookie competition.

I didn’t rate John Brown in my draft preview which was an egregious mistake.  He’s blazing fast and has absolutely locked down the #3 job in a deep-oriented offense.  Larry Fitzgerald looks 50/50 to return to Arizona and certainly won’t at his bloated $23.6M cap hit, so Brown and Michael Floyd look like the future of Bruce Arians’ passing game.

 

Buckle Your Seat Belts for Davante Adams

Adams is a prospect so tantalizingly awesome he gets his own section.  I’ve written a couple of Adams blurbs already (here and here), focusing on his collegiate dominance and ready-made NFL skill-set.  I’ve also touched on the apparent talent gap between him and Jarrett Boykin and the likelihood of Adams winning that battle down the 2014 stretch.  But there’s even further reason to absolutely Love the guy as a dynasty prospect.  Let’s examine the state of the Packers’ prominent receivers beyond 2014 (all numbers courtesy of Spotrac.com):

 2014 Base Pay2015 Base Pay2016 Base Pay
Jordy Nelson$2.0M$1.3M$5.5M
Randall Cobb$812UFA
Jarrett Boykin$570KRFA
Davante Adams$420K$599K$778K
Jeff Janis$420K$510K$600K
Jared Abbrederis$330K$510K$600K

At this point, I can’t imagine the team making Boykin a priority for a new contract given the talent waiting in the wings for a collective $1.6MM.  If they’re interested in keeping him around cheaply, they’ll likely tender him at the original-round level – and Boykin was undrafted, meaning he could be poached from another team cheaply without having to compensate the Packers.  Even if he’s kept, however, it’s hard to imagine him beating out Adams for a prominent role considering the talent gap and the team’s investment in Adams.

The real question mark here is what the team wants to invest in Randall Cobb.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and likely won’t come cheaply; using Jordy Nelson and similar talents like Percy Harvin and Victor Cruz as a base, Cobb could command $10MM yearly on the open market.  The Packers might not be willing to match an offer that high considering Cobb’s injury history and the team’s overflow of cheap, recently drafted talent at the position.  Cobb is strictly a slot-man who doesn’t go downfield often and no longer contributes on returns — hardly a profile calling for a massive investment.  After all, check out the ultra-affordable deal they just used to lock up the superior Nelson.

The Packers are in the enviable position of being able to field a talented young WR corps and only pay one of the three rookies more than $1M per year.  As a result, Adams may be in the driver seat to serve as Green Bay’s #2 wideout in 2015 and beyond.  That’s a role that’s recently housed major fantasy producers like Nelson, Cobb, Donald Driver, and James Jones. In other words, grab and stash Davante Adams while there’s still time.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2, when I look into the rookie quarterbacks and running backs.

 

Lead photo: “Davante Adams, Kevin Dorsey” by Kyle Engman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

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