2019 Fantasy Football: Rookie wide receiver breakdown with Parris Campbell and N'keal Harry out front

Rookie Breakdowns: RB | WR | TE | QB

What's the best way to describe the 2019 draft class? Hmm, that's a tough one. It's a deep group, but there appear to be more contributors and role players than superstars. 

Take the running backs for example. You'll learn everything there is to know about Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery and Miles Sanders, but beyond those three are plenty of backs with lots of potential to help a run game, not lead it. Maybe that changes in time in the cases of Darrell Henderson, Damien Harris and Devin Singletary, but even they're not cinches to be good. 

The receiver class is equally challenging to handicap. All three of CBS Sports' analysts have different receivers atop their dynasty positional rankings -- none of them being the first receiver taken in the actual NFL Draft! The good news is that several receivers landed in places where they can make a modest impact right away. 

If there's a position where there's a consensus on long-term optimism, it's tight end. T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant both have appeal as difference-making tight ends, even if it's not happening in 2019. Same goes for Jace Sternberger and Irv Smith, Jr. This fab four could make appearances in Fantasy drafts for the next five years.

But the most polarizing rookie is the one taken at the top of the NFL Draft -- Kyler Murray. While the rest of the rookie quarterbacks figure to struggle in limited playing time this season, Murray found a comfortable spot where he'll start in Week 1. If his game is anything like it was in college, Fantasy managers will be excited to draft him now and into the future.

Whether you're drafting in dynasty leagues, or just window-shopping for some sleepers, our rookie class preview is designed to give you an idea of what to expect in 2019 and beyond.

Here are the top wide receivers:

PARRIS CAMPBELL, WR, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

5-11 7/8, 205, 22 years old

Campbell is a good talent who landed in an amazing situation: Catching passes from Andrew Luck in the Colts' exciting and creative offense. Not bad for a receiver with very good speed and an 82 percent catch rate in college. A smooth and diverse route runner, Campbell specialized in the slot at Ohio State and worked in the short-area as a chain mover. If used similarly with the Colts, he'll be an instant hit as a middle-of-the-field target for Luck, particularly one who will never have to worry about coverage zoned in on him thanks to T.Y. Hilton. But there's also room for him to develop into a better all-around receiver, including a deep-ball threat. That kind of potential is sweet for Fantasy fans to think about, making Campbell a reliable high-volume wideout for years to come. 


2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Around 80th overall in PPR leagues; between 90th and 100th overall in non-PPR leagues.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: The safest rookie receiver out there — good enough for a top-five pick, but likely to go in the back half of Round 1.

N'KEAL HARRY, WR, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

6-2 3/8, 228, 21 years old

Harry's a solid, well-refined receiver who can line up anywhere, run great routes and use his wide body and large catch radius to snare anything thrown at him. If there's a weakness, it's that he doesn't possess very good speed and typically separates with his strength, not his feet. This doesn't mean he can't play, but it does suggest he'll need a lot of targets to be good for Fantasy. One might argue such targets are available after the team lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement, Chris Hogan to free agency and Josh Gordon to suspension (assuming he stays suspended). But hoping for a rookie to step up in an offense that doesn't have a great track record for perimeter receivers seems awfully risky. Expect people to overvalue him based on his new team.

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Round 10.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: Harry is safe but doesn't have spectacular upside. He'll go in the first round for sure. 

DEEBO SAMUEL, WR, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

5-11 1/4, 214, 23 years old

Here's a rookie whose opportunity is too good to pass up. After three modest seasons with South Carolina, including an injury-shortened 2017 (broken ankle), Samuel erupted for 882 yards on 62 grabs with 11 touchdowns last year. He's deceptively quick and definitely powerful catch-and-run specialist who might fit best in the slot thanks to his excellent route-running. Samuel doesn't have many guys to beat out for playing time in San Francisco, and the offensive system matches up well with his strengths.

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: Samuel is a sneaky good top-15 choice in dynasty. 

D.K. METCALF, WR, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

6-3 3/8, 228, 21 years old

While Metcalf may look like a Calvin Johnson clone, he doesn't play like Megatron. He has undisputable straight-line speed in a towering, beastly body that will be tough for defenses to match up with. But he doesn't have loose hips or quickness to shake defenders and is simply very raw, making him a liability as a route-runner. At Ole Miss, he never had more than seven scores or 646 yards in any campaign thanks to some significant injuries and his limited skill set. The Seahawks raved about Metcalf after minicamp, but he's got much to learn about the position before emerging as a polished product. Even with Pete Carroll adamant about adding speed to his passing game, it's hard to count on any wideout as a one- or two-trick pony. Metcalf must prove he's not that.

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: Metcalf has immense potential but has serious role-player downside (think Ted Ginn or Torrey Smith). He's worth a cautious back-of-the-first-round pick. 

MARQUISE BROWN, WR, BALTIMORE RAVENS

5-9 3/8, 166, 22 years old

There isn't a receiver with as much potential as Brown thanks to his rare speed and instant acceleration. A two-year starter at Oklahoma, Brown used an incredible mix of footwork and body moves to get wide open and make big play after big play. He's uncoverable, but he's also diminutive. Even smaller than DeSean Jackson and T.Y. Hilton, there are some real concerns about how he will hold up in the NFL, especially after fracturing his foot late last year. Brown wasn't even able to participate in Ravens offseason practices and might be limited in the preseason. He's not physical, isn't a good run blocker, gets tackled easily and didn't play special teams. Furthermore, his landing spot with the Ravens isn't so hot because they're constructed as a run-first offense with a low-percentage deep-ball passer. How much of these problems can Brown's speed overcome? 

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Potential late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: He's going to be a volatile Fantasy receiver, but that doesn't mean he can't be a top-10 pick.

MECOLE HARDMAN, WR, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

5-10 1/4, 187, 21 years old

Is Hardman the heir apparent to Tyreek Hill? That might have been the plan when the Chiefs took him with a second-round pick in April. However, Hill's status in Kansas City is no longer in doubt. That could push Hardman into a backup role in any game Hill is available. Hardman's break-neck speed can stretch defenses -- at Georgia, Hardman was not only a consistent deep threat but also did well on screens, slants and other short-area routes. He also contributed as a return man. Giving Andy Reid a slightly less refined version of Marquise Brown could have some dangerous results, but he may be a high-risk Fantasy starter until Hill comes back into the fold. 

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Potential late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: So long as Hill's future in Kansas City isn't ugly, Hardman is at best a second-round pick in dynasty drafts.

DIONTAE JOHNSON, WR, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

5-10 1/4, 183, 23 years old
Johnson gives the Steelers an instant bolt of speed and quickness that they need after trading Antonio Brown. Used in and out of the slot, Johnson can change gears to either vault past defenders or slow down to create space and make a play after the catch. That was all he needed to land over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns in his last 27 games at Toledo. He also is an accomplished return man. Where Johnson needs help is in mastering his route-running, which the Steelers have succeeded doing with many of their draftees. Once that happens, there's an opportunity for Johnson to emerge as a quick-twitch catch-and-run receiver in Pittsburgh's volatile offense. It's possible he puts it together this year -- his competition for playing time is limited to Donte Moncrief and James Washington. 

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Potential late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: Somewhere between 13th and 20th overall.

A.J. BROWN, WR, TENNESSEE TITANS

6-0 1/2, 226, 22 years old
Brown is a terrific slot receiver who landed in a lousy situation. The thick-built, quick, route-savvy Brown had back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons at Ole Miss, playing alongside D.K. Metcalf. That was in an offense that was multiple and asked its receivers to run to open space. In Tennessee, the Titans' plan is to have Derrick Henry run to open space as they've pledged to be run-friendly. That doesn't help Brown, nor does it help that he'll compete with free-agent signee Adam Humphries for slot time. The rotten cherry on top? Marcus Mariota has failed to produce even one 1,000-yard wideout in his four-year career. Brown would have been better off on another team. 

2019 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Potential late-round pick.

ROOKIE-ONLY DRAFT OUTLOOK: Brown has first-round talent but a second-round landing spot. Patient Fantasy managers will check him out before Round 2. 

So which Fantasy Football busts should you avoid in your draft? And which superstar QB isn't a trustworthy QB1 option? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Allen Robinson's disappointing season, and find out.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

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