Rookies that will have the biggest fantasy football impact: Pass catchers

5/31/13 in NFL   |   droth   |   127 respect

Earlier I highlighted the rookie running backs to watch going into the 2013 fantasy football season, and now here's a look at the pass catchers in this year's incoming class.

Wide Receivers

DeAndre HopkinsMay 20, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) during organized team activities at the Methodist Training Center at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports - Houston Texans

Hopkins is used to serving in the complimentary receiver role after playing with Sammy Watkins at Clemson where he was overlooked at times.  Now he will be lining up opposite Andre Johnson, assuming he gets the second WR job.  Like the Falcons did a couple of years ago when they took Julio Jones, the Texans are hoping that adding a second legitimate receiving threat next to a proven #1 receiver will open things up for both guys and add a whole new level of explosiveness to the offense.

The Texans have been a run first team and will remain that way with Arian Foster, but I expect them  to follow the rest of the league and take more chances down field.  This pick indicates that's exactly what the Texans are thinking. 

Markus Wheaton - Pittsburgh Steelers

After Mike Wallace left town, the Steelers drafted Oregon State's all-time leading receiver in the third round.  Wheaton isn't huge, but he is athletic and reliable.  The Steelers don't have a clear cut #1 receiver anymore without Wallace, but Wheaton will face competition from Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Jerricho Cotchery, and Plaxico Burress for looks.  

Wheaton has as good a chance as any of those guys of emerging as a go-to target for Big Ben.  Sanders is already set as the team's main deep threat and Brown has been solid for a while, but Ben likes to throw the ball so there should be enough looks for Wheaton to establish himself within the offense.

Aaron Dobson - New England Patriots

Two words for Dobson owners: TOM. BRADY.  Brady and the Patriots lost Wes Welker this offseason, are dealing with injury issues to other pass catchers, and Amendola is always an injury risk, so Dobson could very well emerge as a viable fantasy option.  And the Pats have a good track record with receivers from Marshall (see Randy Moss).  Dobson is a big receiver that can stretch the field vertically, which should complement the underneath game where the Patriots dominate with Edelman, Woodhead and the tight ends.  

Now, even without Welker, the Patriots have a nice combination of skills at the receiver position.  Dobson could definitely play the role that Brandon Lloyd did last year: lifting the safeties to allow all of that underneath stuff.  And hopefully for Patriots fans and Dobson owners, he will catch more of his targets than Lloyd did last season.

BUYER BEWARE:

Tavon Austin - St. Louis Rams

Tavon Austin is an explosive and incredibly talented player and he could very easily prove me wrong this season.  But he's just too risky for my taste.  First off, his talent level and potential alone will require that you use a relatively high draft pick on him and I don't want to use a valuable pick on any rookie receiver, regardless of potential.  Second, his team is full of question marks.  The Rams lack other weapons so opposing defenses can focus on Austin.  I also don't have a great deal of faith in Sam Bradford.  At this point, we can't really be sure he's even the right guy to get Austin the ball.
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6/2/13   |   Scott   |   52629 respect

Tavon Austin may not be a valuable pick early in a fantasy football draft but IMO, he is a fantastic value pickup in the middle or late rounds, especially if he is going to be returning kicks and punts.