2013 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 30 Rookie Wide Receivers (Re-Draft Leagues)
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For the 2013 season only, here are my early rankings of rookie wide receivers in fantasy football:
1. Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
While he is a nice replacement in the slot for Danny Amendola, who signed with the Patriots this offseason, Austin is a much more explosive and versatile player than Amendola. He has the ability to make huge plays any time he touches the ball whether he is lined up in the slot or backfield and as a returner.
Not only is Austin explosive (4.34 forty at the combine), Austin is strong (14 reps of 225 pounds) despite his size (5-foot-9, 174 pounds) and durable (never missed a practice at West Virginia).
Last year, Austin had six 100-yard receiving games including 215 yards against Baylor. In addition, he had a 344-yard rushing game (on 21 carries) against Oklahoma on 11/17.
2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
As a JUCO transfer, Patterson (6-2, 205) finished with 46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns and was a first-team All-SEC selection in his first year at Tennessee. In addition, he set a school record with 1,858 all-purpose yards.
Extremely dangerous with the ball in the open field, Patterson is a boom-or-bust prospect as a receiver. His route-running is less than polished and there were numerous reports that he interviewed poorly throughout the draft process.
3. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
Lacking a viable weapon opposite Andre Johnson, the Texans used a first-round pick on a receiver for the first time since drafting Johnson in 2003. In fact, nine of their past ten first-round picks have been a defensive player. (The exception was left tackle Duane Brown in 2008.)
Not the fastest receiver in this draft class, Hopkins excels as a route-runner and has great hands. He had a monster season with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns. In fact, Nuke scored in all but one game this season.
4. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
A player that could have been a first-round choice, Allen slipped to the third round due to concerns about his knee injury that prevented him from working out at the combine and his school's pro day. When he worked out in April at his own personal pro day, he disappointed some by failing to run a sub-4.7 forty.
One of the players to whom Allen is most often compared is Anquan Boldin and Allen is a physical receiver with excellent hands. As a sophomore in 2011, Allen ranked ninth in the country with 1,343 yards on 98 receptions despite less-than-spectacular quarterback play.
5. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
With the addition of Hunter, one would have to imagine that this will be Kenny Britt's last season with the Titans unless a team acquires him via trade before the final year of his rookie deal is up. Although he has plenty of talent, Britt has had a disproportionate share of off-the-field issues and has been more trouble than he's worth.
Before tearing his ACL in 2011, Hunter had back-to-back games with more than 140 yards and a touchdown. One year removed from the injury, he wasn't as productive in 2012 as he had four 100-yard games and most of those came against inferior competition.
One of the most physically-gifted receivers in the draft, Hunter has a great combination of size (6-4, 196) and athleticism (4.44 40-yard dash and 39.5-inch vertical jump).
6. Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
Going into the season, Woods was projected by many as a potential top-five pick, but he had a relatively disappointing season and was overshadowed on his own team by sophomore Marqise Lee, who won the Biletnikoff award.
Woods finished the year with 76 receptions for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns after putting up a line of 111-1,292-15 as a sophomore.
The Bills have added a number of receivers either through the draft or as undrafted free agents this weekend.
7. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Considering the free-agent loss of Mike Wallace to the Dolphins, Wheaton makes a ton of sense for the Steelers. Although he is not a big receiver, he has the speed and athleticism to take the top off of opposing defenses.
Wheaton had a productive career at Oregon State becoming the team's all-time leader in receptions (227) and he posted career highs across the board as a senior: 91 receptions for 1,244 yards and 11 touchdowns.
8. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots
Dobson possesses good size (6-3, 204) and has excellent hands. As this chart shows, Dobson had zero drops last season on 92 targets.
Although he won't have the same problem at the NFL level, Marshall's quarterback play helped limit Dobson's production. He never finished with more than 57 receptions or 689 yards in any season.
9. Da'Rick Rogers, Buffalo Bills
Although he is physically gifted, the former five-star recruit was kicked off the Tennessee roster for failing multiple drug tests and spent the past year with Tennessee Tech. Undrafted due to his character concerns, he has the talent to be a top-five guy on this list provided he can stay out of trouble.
With a nice blend of size (6-2 1/2, 217 pounds) and athleticism (4.52 forty and 39.5-inch vertical), Rogers was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2011. That year, he finished with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
10. Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams
Not only did the Rams move up to draft Tavon Austin, but they drafted his teammate in the third round. While Austin deserves the attention he has received, Bailey deserves more than he has received.
Bailey had a huge season in 2012 with 114 receptions for 1,622 yards and 25 touchdowns. He had seven 100-yard games, which included three games with more than 200 yards. Against Baylor, he finished with 303 yards and five touchdowns.
Based on this chart, no receiver had more "clutch receptions" (touchdowns or first downs) than Bailey.
11. Quinton Patton, San Francisco 49ers
Patton (6-2 and 195 pounds) finished the season with 104 receptions for 1,392 yards, which ranked fifth in the country, and 13 touchdowns. He has back-to-back seasons with 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns.
At a minimum, I would expect Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham to get more targets than Patton in 2013. In addition, they used their first-round pick last year on receiver A.J. Jenkins, who should see much more action in his second season.
12. Terrence Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Williams gives the Cowboys another guy with a good combination of size and speed. At Baylor last season, Williams led the nation with 1,832 yards and scored 12 touchdowns.
13. Aaron Mellette, Baltimore Ravens
Mellette is a big-bodied receiver (6-3, 217 pounds) with good hands that was highly productive at Elon. Over the past three seasons, Mellette has 296 receptions for 4,147 yards and 42 touchdowns.
Without question, Torrey Smith will get more targets than Mellette. After him, however, Mellette could emerge as the team's No. 2 receiver.
14. Chris Harper, Seattle Seahawks
Harper is a wide-bodied receiver (6-foot-1, 229 pounds) but faster (4.55 forty) than his body type would suggest. Like Keenan Allen, Harper has often been compared to Anquan Boldin.
15. Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills
One of two rookie receivers drafted by the Bills on Day 2, Goodwin is a world-class athlete. In fact, he is a former Olympian (long jump) and he ran the fastest forty time among wide receivers at the combine this year. His hand times at the combine were sub-4.2.
His production at Texas did match his elite athleticism. Goodwin set career highs at Texas as a junior in 2011 with 33 receptions for 421 yards.
Here are the next 15:
16. Ryan Swope, Arizona Cardinals
17. Charles Johnson, Green Bay Packers
18. Josh Boyce, New England Patriots
19. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints
20. Ace Sanders, Jacksonville Jaguars
21. Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
22. Corey Fuller, Detroit Lions
23. Cobi Hamilton, Cincinnati Bengals
24. Tavarres King, Denver Broncos
25. Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears
26. Brandon Kaufman, Buffalo Bills
27. Jasper Collins, Miami Dolphins
28. Connor Vernon, Oakland Raiders
29. Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots
30. Justin Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
Note: I will be updating the re-draft rankings post-draft by Tuesday and will release my initial dynasty rankings by next weekend.