Expectations high for second-year receivers

Posted Aug. 02, 2010 @ 12:44 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Updated Aug. 3, 2010 @ 12:14 p.m. ET

This is the 27th in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.

Last season’s rookie receiver class was a pool of talent we rarely see.

To differing degrees, Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Hakeem Nicks, Austin Collie, Kenny Britt and a handful of others were very strong peformers for their given teams and made up one of the best rookie WR classes in the past decade.

Now, the bar is raised for Year Two. For all of them, fairly or not.

It’s easy to project, for instance, that Crabtree will be far better playing a full season and with a full offseason under his belt, or that Nicks should take a major leap forward now that he has beaten out Mario Manningham for a starting spot after opening last season slowly.

But will the others also make a big leap? How much better will Collie be, for instance? Can Maclin do more even though he was a 13-game starter as a rookie and must work with a new starting QB? And will Britt build off a few strong games and become a more complete receiver?

Collie has the look of a solid player, a great safety net, and we’ve seen how good players like that — think a healthy Wes Welker — can be. But it’s best to temper excitement for a player who is third at best in the pecking order in Indy and never might be special.

Maclin has a chance to make a big leap, showing just how good he can be as a rookie. Kevin Kolb clearly looked more to DeSean Jackson in Kolb’s two starts, but it’s not a big enough sample size to make a full-fledged judgment on that. Expect Maclin to approach 1,000 yards, making a similar jump from what Jackson did between his rookie and second seasons.

Britt is not a lock to get better in Year Two. He had 46 or fewer yards receiving in 10 of his 16 games and scored only three times. Britt was better with Vince Young at QB than with Kerry Collins but in which he caught two passes or fewerstill had seven games with Young. Don’t be shocked if Britt’s Year Two numbers are a bit disappointing with a number of some questions in Tennessee.

Another curiosity: How good can Harvin be?

Harvin is a tough nut to crack, given the strange concerns about his migraine headaches. But it’s impossible not to notice how good he was in such limited time. He had 790 yards receiving, another 135 rushing and six TDs despite playing only about half the Vikings’ offensive snaps.

There are some who believe that he has surpassed Bernard Berrian on the depth chart and will take some of the catches that Sidney Rice received last season with more defensive attention shifting Rice’s way. And for those leagues that reward special-teams scores, Harvin should be good for one or two more TDs.

The latest reports indicate that Brett Favre will not be back this season, and, if that's true, Harvin is certain to be affected negatively. With Favre out of the picture, either Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels will win the QB job. But even with that change, Harvin has to be considered a threat to hit 1,000 yards receiving and score more than six times this season.

The easy assumption is that most standout rookie receivers will take a big jump in Year Two. It’s not so, and history has seen plenty of this. Michael Clayton looked like a No. 1 his first year; he never reached his rookie heights again. Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Darius Watts once were considered rising stars entering their second seasons; all three are distant memories (well, Williams continues to remain on NFL life support with the Seahawks). And even recently, Donnie Avery and Eddie Royal followed up blessed rookie seasons with disappointing sophomore efforts.

Not all of last season’s rookie receiver standouts will follow up with better results. Consider that when you face the idea of drafting some of them this time around.


For authoritative coverage and analysis of NFL news, free agency and fantasy football, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.