What to Make of the 2018 Rookie Wide Receiver Class This Season

Looking at the Fantasy stats, it would appear the 2018 rookie wide receiver class has been disappointing in Fantasy compared to some of the previous classes.

From the 2017 rookie class last year, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cooper Kupp finished in the top 25 in scoring for receivers in PPR leagues. From the 2016 class, Michael Thomas was the most impressive, posting a 92-1,137-9 stat line his first year in the league. Tyreek Hill was also a rookie in 2016, and he scored 12 touchdowns.

However, at least in my drafts, a lot of the rookies were being drafted in Round 10 or later. Expectations weren’t set that high for what these receivers would do in their first year in the league.

That should change in 2019, which I’ll get into in just a bit.

But first, let’s take a look at each rookie receiver and see how they have performed thus far in the 2018 Fantasy Football season.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

With injuries to Greg Olsen and Torrey Smith this season, Cam Newton has spread the ball around. As of Week 8, six different receivers had at least one touchdown reception on the Carolina Panthers.

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Unfortunately, that has limited Moore’s upside. From Weeks 1-8, the rookie receiver has averaged just 40 receiving yards per game and caught just one touchdown pass for the year.

Devin Funchess is a free agent in 2019, which could open up some targets for Moore if the Panthers let him walk.

But because the Panthers like to keep tall targets around Newton, they could look to extend his contract.

I’d add him in Round 10 or later in a MFL10 next year.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley got off to a hot start in Weeks 2-4, averaging 88 receiving yards per game. He also hauled in six touchdowns during that time.

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During the summer, I said Ridley would give Matt Ryan more options and make Ryan better, but I was worried about the week-to-week consistency the rookie receiver could offer.

He cooled off from Weeks 5-7, averaging 42 receiving yards per game. He didn’t find the end zone during that time.

Ridley is currently a top-25 receiver in PPR leagues.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

Demaryius Thomas could be on the trading block, which would give Sutton a huge boost in Fantasy value. Thomas is second in targets (56) on the team, and he’s tied Emmanuel Sanders for the most touchdown receptions (3) on the Broncos.

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If Thomas is still on the team today (Oct. 30), expect Sutton’s Fantasy production to be sporadic.

As of right now, I like him more for 2019.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers

Pettis was compared to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in his draft profile, and he can do a little bit of everything.

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At Washington in 2017, he posted a 63-761-7 stat line as a receiver, scored four touchdowns on punt returns, and rushed the ball three times for 50 yards.

However, because of injuries at the quarterback position and Pettis missing multiple games because of a knee injury, the rookie only has three catches for 96 yards in his first NFL season.

Next year, he’s the type of player I love drafting after Round 10.

He could give you a handful of relevant Fantasy performances that help you out when your studs underperform.

For example, he posted a 2-61-1 stat line in Week 1 and gave his owners 14.1 Fantasy points.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Christin Kirk, Arizona Cardinals

The situation is bleak in Arizona, and I hope it stays that way because Kirk isn’t on too many Fantasy radars. Even though this year may be a wash for Arizona, it still gives Kirk a chance to develop a rapport with Josh Rosen, who should once again be the starter in 2019.

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The rookie receiver got off to a slow start this year, totaling just 31 receiving yards from Weeks 1-2.

But since Week 3, he’s averaged 63 receiving yards per game and caught two touchdown passes.

Larry Fitzgerald is a free agent next year, so this will be Kirk’s team in 2019.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears 

You could draft Miller in Round 13 or later in drafts this year, so there wasn’t much of a risk in adding him to your roster.

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I liked the rookie because the Bears raved about his route-running ability. With that skill set, he had a better chance to get and stay on the field.

Of course, the Bears are still looking for an identity.

They haven’t seemed to figure out how to utilize all of their weapons on a consistent basis.

Still, the 24-year old rookie caught three touchdowns in six games, and his Fantasy stats should improve as he builds a better rapport with Mitchell Trubisky.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: James Washington, Pittsburg Steelers

With Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the roster, it was always going to be hard for Washington to make a Fantasy impact.

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I drafted him in a few leagues as a hedge to if Brown or Smith-Schuster got hurt.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars

I told Fantasy players before the season that Chark was not a player I wanted to own in any format.

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There was too much competition at the receiver positon and the Jaguars have become a run-first team. So far, the rookie has caught 12 passes for 159 yards in eight games.

He won’t be on my radar in 2019 if Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole, and Donte Moncrief are still on the Jaguars.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

I started drafting Anthony Miller and Gallup more towards the end of the summer.

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I knew Dak Prescott had never averaged more than 229 passing yards per game in a season, and I knew he wasn’t going to throw the ball that often.

But when he did, he still had to have someone to target.

The offense has been a mess for Dallas this year, and things haven’t worked out for Gallup owners. Prescott is only averaging 202 passing yards per game, and he’s only thrown eight touchdown passes. Gallup has 10 receptions in seven games for 190 yards thus far.

He’s also scored a touchdown.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints 

The Saints are stacked with talent, so it was always going to be hard for Smith to make a Fantasy impact in 2018.

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He’s been fighting against Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cameron Meredith, Ben Watson, and Ted Ginn for the attention of Drew Brees.

He had a chance to stand out in Week 5 with a 3-111-2 stat line, so we know he can put up big numbers. He’s just going to have a hard time separating from the pack with so many other weapons out on the field at the same time.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Keke Coutee, Houston Texans 

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Coutee. He was a fourth-round draft pick for the Texans and played his college ball at Texas Tech.

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Thanks to injuries, he was able to earn some more playing time, and he exploded onto the scene in Week 4. He hauled in 11 catches for 109 yards.

Following his impressive Week 4 performance, he posted a 6-51-1 stat line.

Unfortunately, a hamstring injury has derailed his successful rookie campaign.

If he can get over it, he has a chance to have a big year with Will Fuller lost to an ACL injury.

2018 Rookie Wide Receiver: Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns  

I said at the start of the season I’d like Callaway better if Baker Mayfield was the starting quarterback.

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Things have unfolded that have thrust both of them into starting roles, but it looks like they still need more time to build a rapport.

An injury to Tyrod Taylor opened the door for Mayfield, and Josh Gordon being let go by the Browns gave Callaway a better chance to make a Fantasy impact.

He’s only averaging 29 receiving yards per game, but he will have the rest of the season to work with Mayfield and a have a new coaching staff.

That should improve his Fantasy outlook heading into 2019.

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