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Pink Zone: Looking At The 2014 Rookie Wide Receivers

We look at the rookie wide receivers from the 2014 season and discuss their outlook for the 2015 season.

When we look back on the Fantasy Football season, plenty of data can be analyzed. In the offseason, it’s always fun to look at different positions, draft strategies and superstars and busts. Now that the season is over, let’s take a look at the rookies that made their debut in 2014. To start, let’s look at the 2014 rookie wide receivers.

This rookie wide receiver class is arguably the best wide receiver class as a whole that the NFL has ever seen. Typically, wide receivers take a year or two to really make an impact in the league. However, in 2014, six rookie wide receivers put together promising seasons.

2014 Rookie Wide Receivers: Studs

These guys are the future of the NFL – and Fantasy Football teams. Let’s look back at their 2014 season:

Odell Beckham, Jr., N.Y. Giants12911,30512
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina16731,0089
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans10535503
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay16681,05112
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia16678728
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo16659826

Odell Beckham, Jr., N.Y. Giants: The best wide receiver out of this class, in only 12 games, OBJ put up the most yards and touchdowns of all rookie WRs. Not just that, but he had the 10th-most receiving yards out of all wide receivers for the entire season. He was tied for the third-most touchdowns, too. Beckham will likely be a first-round draft pick next year with the hopes that over a full 16 games, he can exceed the numbers he put up during his rookie season. Our Joe Bond discussed why we were wrong on Beckham, among other wide receivers, entering this season.

Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina: Limited by drops and Cam Newton, Benjamin still put up an impressive rookie season. He tied for sixth in terms of total touchdowns. He finished 20th in terms of total yards among wide receivers, with just 69 fewer yards than Calvin Johnson. For a team that desperately needed a wide receiver, Benjamin certainly stepped up. If the Panthers can acquire another option to free Benjamin even more, he’ll have more value in 2015. The red-zone targets alone make him a solid WR2.

Brandin Cooks, New Orleans: Cooks had an up-and-down season, which ended when he needed thumb surgery. He had three games with three or less receptions and four games with six or more receptions. (For the remaining three games he had five receptions). He had two games with over 90 yards, but he also had four games with under 40 yards. He does show promise and he can run the ball. If the Saints choose to use him as a gadget-type player, he can have even more Fantasy value. Because of the unknown, he will be a boom-or-bust receiver on Draft Day.

Mike Evans, Tampa Bay: For a majority of the season, it did seem that Evans was very touchdown-dependent. It was hard to tell which receiver — Evans or Vincent Jackson — was going to be the one to get the yards and the touchdowns. He had three games where he had over 100 yards and seven touchdowns. In all other games, he didn’t have more than five receptions (twice) or 78 yards. He ended up with, like Beckham, the third-most touchdown receptions in the league. As a rookie, those numbers are promising for next year, regardless of who is throwing him the ball.

Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia: Despite having two different quarterbacks throughout the season, Matthews showed the potential he can have. He actually performed better with Mark Sanchez than Nick Foles under center, scoring six of his eight touchdowns when Sanchez was throwing him the ball. Unfortunately, Sanchez will likely not be the starting quarterback for the Eagles in the future. In addition, Matthews was inconsistent. For each 100-yard game, he also had a game with 40 receiving yards or less (including one where he gave Fantasy owners a donut for the week). He is promising and will likely be the No. 2 option in Philadelphia behind Jeremy Maclin in 2015.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills: What’s going to hold Watkins back is the quarterback option in Buffalo. Currently, E.J. Manuel is the quarterback, and it isn’t clear if that will change in the offseason. There is a new head coach and offensive coordinator, and it appears the new regime does like and want to feature Watkins. However, just how much they’ll feature him remains to be seen. It’s hard to trust a guy in an offense that will likely prefer running the ball and has Manuel throwing to him.

The 2014 rookie wide receivers will definitely fill out the early to middle rounds of most 2015 Fantasy Football drafts — and it will likely have us — rightly or wrongly — thinking highly of the 2015 WR rookie class.

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