NFL 2008’s Best Rookie WR

Over the course of the new few months during the long NFL offseason, and during the even longer fantasy football offseason, I am going to search for the best rookie WR to draft in fantasy leagues. But before anything, we have to judge whether or not it’s even worthwhile.

Thanks to an intrepid blogger at FootballDocs for the stats on players through 2004, my job has been easier. I have followed his patterns and listed rookie WR’s with over 700 yards receiving, starting from 1998. No rookie wide receiver went over 700 yards in 2005.

There are a lot of stats here, so I’ve put them after the jump.

All wideouts from the last 10 years with at least marginal fantasy relevance, including the position they were drafted.

Rookie WRs with over 700 yards (1998-2007)
Player Year Round Pick Receptions Rec. Yards Rec. TDs
Randy Moss 1998 1 21 69 1313 17
Torry Holt 1999 1 6 52 788 6
Troy Edwards 1999 1 13 61 714 5
Kevin Johnson 1999 2 32 66 986 8
Darrell Jackson 2000 3 80 53 713 6
Rod Gardner 2001 1 15 46 741 4
Chris Chambers 2001 2 52 48 883 7
Antonio Bryant 2002 2 63 44 733 6
Andre Johnson 2003 1 3 66 976 4
Anquan Boldin 2003 2 54 101 1377 8
Larry Fitzgerald 2004 1 3 58 780 8
Roy Williams 2004 1 7 54 817 8
Lee Evans 2004 1 13 48 843 9
Michael Clayton 2004 1 15 80 1193 7
Keary Colbert 2004 2 62 47 754 5
Marques Colston 2006 7 252 70 1038 8
Santonio Holmes 2006 1 25 49 824 2
Dwayne Bowe 2007 1 23 70 995 5
Calvin Johnson 2007 1 2 48 756 4

So what can we tell from this half-impressive, half-disappointing list? The answer is not much, at first. But let’s start with some observations.

11 out of 18 went in the first round. 17 of them went by pick #80. Colston apparently was a total anomaly.

Lesson #1: We’re probably looking in the first round, but possibly as deep as pick #80.

Only 4 went over 1,000 yards. Only Moss went over 10 TDs. That means when it comes to rookie WR’s, you’re dealing with slim pickin’s if you’re looking for a guy to carry your fantasy ballclub.

Lesson #2: Never draft a rookie to be your 1st or 2nd WR. Don’t pick a rookie wide receiver 50th overall.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a guy to contribute as a 3rd or 4th. Here are guys I’d want for a 3rd slot from that list for a points-per-reception format: Randy Moss, Kevin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Michael Clayton, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe.

The first thing that stands out to me is how many of those are possession receivers. In fact aside from the guys pre-2000, all of them have been possession receivers.
Lesson #3: We’re probably looking for a possession receiver. Speed isn’t a drawback, after all Andre Johnson ran a 4.3, but it isn’t going to make a rookie into a star. The Troy Williamson’s of the draft will have to wait.

So is it worthwhile to draft a rookie WR in your fantasy draft? I think so, but I’ll have more later. I’m going to keep updating throughout the offseason until most fantasy football drafts start.

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