Around Fantasyland: WR up-and-comers, rookies

Posted May 25, 2012 @ 3:22 a.m.
Posted By William Del Pilar

In the era of high-octane, pass-first offenses, young players and rookies are now expected to contribute sooner than later. The 2012 NFL draft was one of the deepest in receivers in recent memory. Add the maturing, young wideouts already in the league, and I feel this will be one of the most high-scoring fantasy seasons ever. Staying up to date is imperative if any fantasy owner wants a legitimate opportunity to dominate his league.

Up-and-comers

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
Heyward-Bey was a “bad boy” and was arrested and charged with DUI. He’ll plead not guilty, and if he gets probation from the courts, he's looking at a potential one-game suspension. Heyward-Bey proved himself the team’s best wideout last year and, entering his fourth season, is primed to break out after showing dramatic improvement in 2011. He raises questions, playing in a new offense this year, and will fight for targets with unproven yet talented receivers, but he’s the team’s most complete receiver right now. He makes a quality lower-middle-round pick.

Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, Broncos
Both Thomas and Decker are on the fantasy radar for 2012 as players ready to take their production to the next level. Decker was the first wideout to work with QB Peyton Manning this offseason and has developed some early chemistry with the veteran. The team plans on using Decker on 35-40 pass routes per game while moving him around. Thomas showed in 2011 that, when healthy, he’s the team’s most talented wideout. He plans on playing this season lighter than before — approximately 10 pounds lighter is his goal. If Manning is on his game, without any neck issues, both wide receivers are legitimate weekly fantasy starters.

Titus Young, Lions
Young is currently barred from practicing with the club or being at the team facilities by Lions head coach Jim Schwartz after sucker-punching Louis Delmas. With skirmishes commonplace, it would appear even Schwartz agrees a cheap shot is not how you treat a teammate. Young is the team's future at wide receiver but needs to mature and learn the nuances of how to play in the NFL. He’ll return well before training camp but will remain the No. 3 option at receiver, making him a bye-week and injury fill-in. Nate Burleson will remain the starter, at least going into the season.

Greg Little, Browns
Last season reports began circulating the team did not believe Little was a true No. 1 receiver as much as a No. 2, and perhaps that affected Little. He showed up at OTAs much leaner and in shape, showing an obvious dedication to his body during the offseason. Little did not have quality quarterback play but also showed the typical problems young receivers have. Dropped passes, not working the middle of the field well and not showing the playmaking talent the team believes he has. Little is not playing in a proficient offense, and this West Coast offense will be built around RB Trent Richardson. Look toward Little in the later rounds of your draft if you want him.

Jerome Simpson, Vikings
With only a three-game suspension Simpson will have a chance to show the Vikings he can be the No. 2 wideout they’re looking for. Working on a one-year deal worth $2 million, Simpson is playing for a long-term contract. He’s someone you can pick up after the middle rounds, and he is already familiar with the West Coast offense. Let’s hope after receiving 2½ pounds of marijuana in the mail, the munchies don’t make him fat and lazy!

Quick hits

Rookie quick hits

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