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Fantasy Football Today

Beware of high-profile rookie wideouts

By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

Will an exciting group of rookie receivers produce in Fantasy Football? (USATSI)
Will an exciting group of rookie receivers produce in Fantasy Football? (USATSI)

The 2014 NFL Draft features the best crop of receivers in years. A dozen wideouts could be selected in the first two rounds, something that's never happened. (Eleven receivers have been drafted that early a few times, most recently in 2005.)

With the seemingly endless buildup to the draft, we're very familiar with names like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Marqise Lee, Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin. All could go in Round 1.

If history is any indication the biggest names -- the first-rounders -- will be overdrafted in Fantasy Football. It happened last year with Tavon Austin. The eighth overall pick in the NFL Draft was, on average, the 28th receiver taken in Fantasy.

Austin played in 13 games. Ten times he produced 5 or fewer Fantasy points. He had one monster game and two very good outings. Austin finished as the No. 55 Fantasy receiver.

Austin drew a mere 65 targets, an issue that plagues lots of hyped-up rookies. It takes time for rookie wideouts to master NFL offenses, to adjust to getting jammed at the line, and to earn their quarterbacks' trust. Coaches sometimes are slow to maximize the rookies' talent.

Cordarrelle Patterson should have gotten way more than 72 targets. The Vikings kept their first-rounder on the bench too often, and he finished as the No. 39 Fantasy wideout. The other first-rounder, DeAndre Hopkins, came in 56th.

Meanwhile, third-rounder Keenan Allen went from undrafted in many leagues to the No. 17 wideout. Allen became only the second rookie wideout since 2005 to go over 1,000 yards, joining A.J. Green.

Of the 18 wideouts taken in the first round since 2009, four produced top-30 Fantasy seasons. And over the past 15 years, more than half the first-rounders posted fewer than 700 receiving yards.

Now in primetime, the NFL Draft gets bigger each year, inflating the hype around first-rounders. Don't get caught overdrafting one this August.

"People get all hyped up over these guys, but they tend to be awful," says Jamey Eisenberg.

 
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