Rookie wide receivers can be all the rage in fantasy football. Last year alone we saw Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, Brandon Aiyuk, and Tee Higgins make their marks. This year, there are a handful of wideouts who can provide value to your team. I’m specifically looking at players who are commonly being drafted in the 10th round or later, per their Underdog ADP. Let’s dive into some promising rookies and what league formats they may be best suited for, starting with the fifth first-round receiver taken.
Underdog ADP: WR56
Projected Round in 12-Team League: 11th
Bateman isn’t being drafted as high as fellow first-rounders Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith, so he’s eligible for this exercise. The main concern with Bateman is he got slotted into an offense that doesn’t value the passing game as much, and it’s not hard to see why. No team ran the ball more than Baltimore last season. Consequently, only two Ravens saw more than 50 targets: Marquise Brown (100) and Mark Andrews (88). So why is Bateman such a good value? He may be just what Baltimore needs to jumpstart their passing game. As Kyle Crabbs said in Bateman’s scouting report, he was utilized “on a lot of in-breaking patterns and finding first and second throwing windows via run/pass option concepts at Minnesota, but he shouldn't be pegged as only a zone beater or ‘slot’ target.” Bateman’s skill\set can give the Ravens a reliable option in the short-to-intermediate levels of the field and a viable option downfield if needed. With a clear path to being the team’s WR2, Bateman has more fantasy upside than it seems. He should be drafted in all league formats, especially redrafts.
Terrace Marshall Jr.
Underdog ADP: WR66
Projected Round in 12-Team League: 12th
When the Panthers drafted Marshall in the second round, casual fans may have wondered why Carolina needed another wide receiver. After all, they have D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. And while the Panthers run out of 11-personnel at about the league average, Joe Brady‘s offense is sustainable for three wide receivers. Last season, Moore, Anderson, and Curtis Samuel—who signed with Washington this offseason—each played major roles in the offense.
- Moore: 118 targets, 86% of snaps, 1,193 receiving yards
- Anderson: 138 targets, 78% of snaps, 1,096 receiving yards
- Samuel: 97 targets, 68% of snaps, 851 receiving yards
Those stat-lines were good enough to bolster each wideout into top-25 finishes in PPR leagues. While Marshall is a bit bigger than Samuel, the rookie can essentially replace Samuel in the Panthers’ lineup. He’s a sneaky good addition in all league formats.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
Underdog ADP: WR72
Projected Round in 12-Team League: 14th
Before we glance at St. Brown’s projected role in Detroit, let’s browse through the Lions’ current wide receiver depth chart: Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams, Quintez Cephus, Kalif Raymond, Victor Bolden Jr., Damion Ratley, Tom Kennedy, and Jonathan Adams Jr. Outside of Perriman and the oft-injured Williams, the rest of the group has combined for just two receiving touchdowns in the NFL. With this receiving corps, why not take a shot on St. Brown? It seems like the Lions are high enough on him, anyway.
The biggest asset St. Brown brings is his versatility. He has experience lining up on the outside and in the slot. That can be huge for a team that may need help all over the field. Outside of tight end T.J. Hockenson, Detroit doesn’t have any established pass-catchers. St. Brown can step in and become Jared Goff’s favorite target, and hence, a reliable fantasy asset. He’s an intriguing selection in redrafts and worth a pick in best ball.
Underdog ADP: WR81
Projected Round in 12-Team League: Undrafted
It may be a while until we see a Rodgers-Rodgers connection in Green Bay, but that’s not Amari Rodgers’ problem. While he wasn’t a first-round pick, Rodgers was snagged in the second round by the Packers after they traded up for him. The roster was already littered with wide receivers in Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Devin Funchess, and Equanimeous St. Brown. That leaves Rodgers with a wide-open lane to be the Packers’ primary slot receiver. After all, none of those wide receivers played more than 40% of their snaps from the slot in 2020, unlike Rodgers, who mostly worked from the slot at Clemson. The same can be said for Davante Adams. Catch my drift? Rodgers won’t be the go-to target for Green Bay’s quarterback, nor will he be the No. 2 option. But unlike most wideouts getting selected in this range, Rodgers has a clear-cut path to playing time. For now, though, you should probably just target him in best-ball leagues.
Underdog ADP: WR93
Projected Round in 12-Team League: Undrafted
The Texans need all the help they can get. Perhaps that’s why they spent boatloads of cash on almost every free agent. All kidding aside, Houston did bring in Andre Roberts, Donte Moncrief, and Chris Conley to a wide receiver room that features Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. But outside of Cooks, none of the other wide receivers instill much fear. Enter Collins, who was the team’s second choice in the draft. As Jordan Reid said in his breakdown of the Texans’ draft class, Collins is a “go-ball specialist that has flashes of dominance at the catch point.” Sound familiar? Okay, in no way am I insinuating Collins is the reincarnation of the long-lost DeAndre Hopkins. However, Collins may get an early chance to make Houston fans forget about the team’s recent woes. Not to mention the Texans will likely be throwing the ball a ton. That bodes well for Collins, who has the highest upside of any wideout on the roster other than Cooks. Collins is worth a flier in best-ball leagues.