On Thursday's episode of the Treatment podcast, Reception Perception creator Matt Harmon stops by to talk about rookie wide receivers and which rookie wideouts in particular have the best potential for 2015. He also talks about certain qualities he looks for in good receivers, how mentality plays a role and how he feels about some of the younger wideouts in the league such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Allen Robinson. We wrap things up with Harmon's lukewarm feelings on the mexican food chain known as Chipotle.
No limit Texas Hold em' is the Cadillac of poker. In fantasy football, the hand a player is dealt can play a big role in his value — at least in the short term. After all the individual analysis of the rookies throughout the offseason. After all yelling and throwing popcorn at the TV during draft day, both the teams and most sought after rookies were finally dealt their hands after Day 1. Several players were dealt better hands than others, including two receivers who you'll likely want to throw your chips into the center of the table on for 2015. One wideout is a sure-fire draftee in redraft and dynasty leagues, the other is stepping into a good situation where he will likely be making an impact a little further down the road as a rookie.
Breshad Perriman , WR (Baltimore Ravens)
Quality of Fantasy hand dealt: Pocket Aces
Why he's fantasy worthy in Year 1: No wide receiver is stepping into a better fantasy situation in Year 1 than the speedy WR out of UCF. The Ravens are in dire need of his services and the franchise has a long history of stability which should help Perriman develop without unnecessary drama getting in the way. Perriman will play on a Baltimore team that emphasizes balance which should keep him and also a canon-armed quarterback in Joe Flacco that can take advantage of his 4.2 speed.
This past offseason, the Ravens lost deep threat Torrey Smith to San Francisco. Smith accrued 93 targets last season, so it's not out of the question that Perriman sees at least 80 looks from quarterback Joe Flacco. Smith saw 95 targets and wound up with 841 yards and 7 touchdowns in his first season with Baltimore, and he was only competing with Anquan Boldin for targets. Perriman, like Smith, will also be competing with veteran Steve Smith Sr. for targets, but he's still an instant WR2/3 candidate in 2015 due to the amount of the targets that will be available to him.
Now, you can have all the targets in the world but if you can't catch a cold than your fantasy value will be rendered useless. Also, it's funny how a team can end up drafting a clones of the player they let go of in the offseason. Perriman, like Smith, is a speedster who also struggles to catch easy passes from time to time. We'll ere on the side of optimism and say he'll make up for it because of his speed.
Fantasy advice: Perriman is a no brainer draft selection if you're drafting in redraft and dynasty leagues. He's got the best possible starting hand of anybody.
Nelson Agholor , WR (Philadelphia Eagles)
Quality of Fantasy hand dealt: Ace-Queen
Why he's fantasy worthy in Year 1: The Eagles now have a job opening that reads '143 targets available' and the resume of rookie Nelson Agholor out of USC is as good a bet as any to fill the team's No. 2 void at wide receiver. At 6'0, 198 lbs, Agholor has drawn comparisons to former Eagle Jeremy Maclin and rightfully so considering Maclin was also 6'0, 198 lbs. Both possess 4.4 speed with Agholor being a bit more explosive out of his breaks than Maclin.
The one thing I've noticed as a difference between the two is their demeanor. Agholor is a much more cerebral player than Maclin, even Chip Kelly has used the term 'growth minset' to describe Agholor's approach to the game. if you watch some of his interviews, Agholor often stresses constantly improving and getting better, but he goes further than that and actually gives concrete examples on how he has improved his game every step of the way. It's impressive to see somebody at his age who can articulate what he's doing on the field to that of a technician, and that's what Agholor brings to the table that we didn't quite see from Maclin.
Jordan Matthews also brought a similar 'get better' mentality throughout his rookie season that really generated buzz during the team's training camp in July and August. reports out of camp were glowing so bright you'd think Matthews would be the best rookie wide receiver of 2014. It didn't quite turn out that way, but Matthews caught at least one pass in 15 out of 16 games as a rookie and finished with a more than respectable 872 yards and 8 touchdowns.
The two downsides to Agholor's potential as a instant fantasy player is the quarterback situation in Philadelphia and his undersized frame. As of right now, it appears Sam Bradford will be their No. 1 quarterback heading into camp. Bradford didn't play a single regular season snap in 2014 and will be learning a new system under Chip Kelly. His reputation for injury (seven games played over last two seasons) has resulted in a 'wait and see' attitude for most and it'll be tough to invest in a guy like Agholor if there's nobody around to throw him the ball. Yes, I know, Tim Tebow is there. Stymie yourselves!
Also at just 6'0, 198, Agholor will likely struggle against bigger corners. We saw how Jeremy Maclin could get shut down at times by Richard Sherman-type corners and Agholor might have a similar problem.
Fantasy advice: You'll need to monitor the quarterback situation in camp and Agholor is more undersized than Perriman which will likely result in some bad games against bigger, more physical cornerbacks. Still, Agholor has big-play ability and is stepping into a situation with plenty of targets available. He's worth a very late-round flier as a bench guy in redraft leagues.
Although Agholor did not have the heralded college career like Alabama's Amari Cooper or Eastern Carolina's Justin Hardy, Agholor quietly established himself as one of the most pro-ready wide receivers during his final season as a Trojan. Through his first two seasons Agholor posted a total of 74 catches for 1,259 yards and 8 touchdown receptions in mostly a reserve role for the Trojan offense.
During his sophomore season Agholor earned a starting spot opposite eventual Jaguars draft pick Marquise Lee. While Lee was battling lingering lower-body injuries, Agholor made the most of his opportunities, posting a team-high 918 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns.
Not only did Agholor become the focal point of the Trojans passing offense with Lee sidelined but also displayed electric playmaking ability as a punt returner, averaging over 19 yards per return and bringing two back for scores.
Agholor used the momentum gained from a strong sophomore season to become the clear-cut no. 1 receiving option for the Trojans passing attack his junior year posting a 104/1,313/12 line. Despite posting his lowest YPC average during his junior season Agholor showed more versatility to his game than being a situational deep-threat, showing the ability to use his quickness in the slot against safeties and linebackers.
Player Comarison: Jeremy Maclin
As far as Agholor's physical skill-set goes, I think that he will be better off as a high-end no. 2 wide receiver as opposed to being the focal point of a team's passing attack. Equipped with quick feet and an explosive burst off the line Agholor has the ability to not only beat defenders down the field, but make an impact on crossing routes and other routes designed to take advantage of players skills after the catch.
The instant I turned on the tape of USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor I was immediately reminded of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Like Maclin, Agholor does not possess any elite traits that scouts look for in a no. 1 wide receiver at the next level, but does possess a well-rounded game that I believe translates to a high-end no. 2 receiver with the ability to make an impact in the slot.
Due to a dislocated finger suffered during on-field drills at the NFL Scouting Combine Agholor did not participate in any of the speed and agility drills, but like many expected showed above average speed (4.42/1.53) for a player with his his size.
Although Agholor was the main target of the Trojans passing game his Junior season (104 receptions) I do not see his skill-set translating to that of a bon-a-fide no. 1 wide receiver at the NFL level. That is not to say that Agholor can not become a valuable asset for an NFL offense as he possesses quick feet and the ability to run a full NFL route tree right out of college.
One of the main reasons I see Agholor having early success in his career is because oh his refinement in the finer point of being a wide receiver, i.e. using leverage, route-running, and knowledge of the soft spots in zone-coverage.
The benefit of playing at the University of Southern California is that it gives offensive players experience playing in a pro-style offensive system. Due to this experience Agholor has experience running a complete NFL route tree. Not only does Agholor have experience running NFL route concepts, but he is very polished as well, as Agholor runs each route with the same intensity and ferocity.
Like the majority of rookie receivers immediate fantasy success is largely dependent on the situation they are drafted into. However there are a few teams that I am going to out line that I believe Agholor could provide instant on-field production.
- Chicago Bears
Going into the 2014-15 season the Chicago Bears were a popular sleeper Super Bowl pick out of the NFC. However, "Smoking" Jay Cutler once again proved unable to take the reigns as a franchise signal caller, and the Marc Trestman experiment proved to be a disaster leading to a complete face lift for one of the leagues storied franchises.
Going into the 2014-15 season the Bears wide receivers were considered to be one of the top units in the league. With Brandon Marshall and second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery catching passes in the Bears offense there was no reason to believe that they would be in a position to draft a wide receiver, unless it was for depth purposes. However, with Marshall now in New York playing for the Jets and Jeffery taking over as the team's no. 1 wide receiver the Bears could be in position to draft some young playmakers in the draft.
New offensive coordinator Adam Gase has some experience with players of Agholor's skill-set. Last season Emmanuel Sanders posted 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and 9 touchdowns with Gase calling plays, all new career highs. While it would be foolish to expect the same kind of production from Agholor in his rookie season that Sanders did in his 6th season, I do feel there is room for Agholor to see extended playing time during his rookie season.
- Philadelphia Eagles
There is no better replacement in my mind for Jeremy Maclin than to replace him with a player that I feel nearly mirrors his playing style in Nelson Agholor.
Head Coach Chip Kelly has made his fair share of head scratching moves this offseason. First Kelly shipped the franchise's leading rusher in LeSean McCoy to the Bills for Kiko Alonso, a talented linebacker who missed the 2014-15 season with an ACL injury. It was thought with the extra cap space the Eagles front office would lock up wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. However Maclin decided to re-unite with former Eagles head coach Andy Reid to the tune of $11 million per season.
With Maclin now gone the only two receivers that the Eagles have on the roster that saw significant playing time are second-year wide receiver Jordan Matthews and veteran Riley Cooper. Matthews showed some promise during his rookie season posting 67 receptions for 876 yards and 8 touchdowns, but he will need some help around him if he wants to take the next step in his development.
In my opinion Agholor would be the perfect fit for Chip Kelly's up-tempo offensive scheme. Not only does he posses the ability to beat defenses vertically, but possesses a well-rounded game that has the ability to make plays at all three levels of the field. Due to his on-field awareness and ability to process things quickly I feel playing in a system that has multiple reads built in to each play like Kelly's does would do wonders for Agholor's progression in pro game.
I currently have Agholor rated as my number 6 wide receiver for the 2015 NFL Draft, and feel he possesses the ability to provide an instant impact to which ever team is lucky enough to land his services. Regardless of where Agholor ends up in the draft I feel he has the skill-set to be a day one contributor to an NFL offense due to his crisp routes and experience playing in a pro-style offensive system.
For the most success I would like to see Agholor land in a system that emphasizes his versatility, lining him up at several different positions within their offense. While Agholor may never be the no. 1 wide receiver that teams look for, there is no doubt that Agholor has a skill-set that makes him valuable commodity around the league.
I expect Agholor to hear his name called anywhere on day 2 of the draft. Due to the concerns I have about his inability to be the bon-a-fide no.1 wide receiver for an offense, and his struggles making catches with defenders around him, I do not feel I can list Agholor in the same tier as guys like White, Cooper, Parker, and DGB. While Agholor may not possess the elite measruables that scouts and fans fall in love with, he does possess a very polished game for a college receiver and should provide instant production for whichever team draft him.
Grade: 2nd Round
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