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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 19: Avoid Rookie Wide Receivers

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From Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know:

It isn’t as if rookie receivers are drastically underperforming. Over the last half-decade, the average fantasy draft position of the top five rookie receivers (in terms of where they were selected in the NFL Draft) is 61st at the position. Together, those 25 players have combined to finish 68th in their rookie years among all receivers. On average, you basically get what you pay for with a rookie receiver.

The problem is that rookie wide receivers get selected late in drafts. Actually, the ADP of the top rookie receivers in each of the last five fantasy drafts has been only 34th at the position. As I discussed ad nauseam in my last book, your goal in the late rounds of fantasy drafts is no longer risk minimization; instead, it should be maximizing upside.

Rookie receivers seem like the natural choice, but they surprisingly don’t possess the upside you covet. To show that 2011 (and Mike Williams in 2010) were outliers, take a look at the top (other) rookie wide receiver from previous seasons:

2010: Dez Bryant (49th)
2009: Percy Harvin (25th)
2008: Eddie Royal (20th)
2007: Dwayne Bowe (24th)
2006: Santonio Holmes (41st)

And these are the best of the best. For every Eddie Royal, there are three Devin Thomas-type players.

You can buy What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know for Kindle, as a PDF, or in paperback.

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