2018 Rookie Landing Spots: WR Part 1

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Finally! Every March and April, fantasy owners count down the days until the NFL Draft. We’ve done our research on these rookies – watched film, broke down their strengths and weaknesses, read Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception articles, and analyzed our favorite landing spots. Well, the wait is over, and these rookies have a new home. Below, I highlight the top wide receiver landing spots and what it means for their fantasy value in 2018.

Editor’s Note: Check back for allĀ Rookie Landing Spot articles as they become available.

D.J. Moore to Carolina Panthers

Round 1, Pick 24 (24th overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Devin Funchess
2) Torrey Smith
3) Curtis Samuel

Analysis:
Carolina continues to add weapons for Cam Newton. After taking Christian McCaffrey in the first round and Curtis Samuel in the second round last year, they selected D.J. Moore out of Maryland with the 24th overall pick. Moore exploded onto the scene after a strong junior year in College Park and an impressive showing at the combine. He is versatile in that he can play both outside and in the slot, and he is a very reliable option as evident by his 1.5% drop rate. The Panthers’ don’t typically have a high volume offense in the passing game, which may limit Moore’s fantasy relevance in 2018. However, he should find the field early and often, especially with Curtis Samuel still recovering from his ankle injury last season.

Calvin Ridley to Atlanta Falcons

Round 1, Pick 26 (26th overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Julio Jones
2) Mohamed Sanu

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Analysis:
This is an excellent landing spot for Calvin Ridley, who gets to play opposite of one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones. Ridley is expected to play as the Falcons’ number two while Mohamed Sanu slides back into the slot. He is excellent against zone coverage and is a very smart route runner, but is a smaller wide receiver, limiting his TD upside. If he can make an impact early, he could easily leapfrog Sanu as Matt Ryan‘s second favorite target behind Julio as a reliable possession receiver in Atlanta’s offense. He’s worth a late-round draft pick in 2018.

Courtland Sutton to Denver Broncos

Round 2, Pick 8 (40th overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Demaryius Thomas
2) Emmanuel Sanders

Analysis:
With veterans, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, both in their 30s, it was time for the Broncos to start planning for the future at the wide receiver position. They did just that by selecting Courtland Sutton out of SMU in the second round. Sutton has typical WR1 size and figures to be a strong possession receiver in the NFL with the ability to run after the catch. Sutton likely won’t be fantasy relevant in 2018 behind Denver’s two veterans, but he will be an exciting option in 2019.

Dante Pettis to San Francisco 49ers

Round 2, Pick 12 (44th overall)
College Production:

2018 Competition:
1) Pierre Garcon
2) Marquise Goodwin

Analysis:
Wow, the Niners must really like Pettis, who went earlier than expected after San Francisco traded up to take him with the 44th overall pick. Pettis is electric with the ball in his hands as proven by his FBS-best 9 career punt return TDs. As a receiver, he is a good route runner with the ability to separate from defenders. In 2018, expect Pettis to do more in the return game than the passing game as he begins his career behind Garcon and Goodwin. One thing is for sure though, Kyle Shanahan knows how to get his playmakers involved. Pettis should make a splash in a few games, but he won’t be a reliable option on a consistent basis this year.

Christian Kirk to Arizona Cardinals

Round 2, Pick 15 (47th overall)
College Production:

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2018 Competition:
1) Larry Fitzgerald
2) J.J. Nelson
3) Brice Butler

Analysis:
After losing John Brown and Jaron Brown in the off-season, the Cardinals had a big void to fill at the wide receiver position. They add Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M in the second round to give fellow rookie, Josh Rosen, and current starter, Sam Bradford, another playmaker. Kirk projects as a slot receiver in the NFL after lining up in the slot more than 90% of the time while in college. Moving forward, Kirk should provide a spark in the return game and become a solid option in the short to intermediate passing game. Arizona is short of playmakers this season, so he could find relevance in 2018. However, I’ll be very excited to draft Kirk in 2019 if and when Larry Fitzgerald retires, giving up his position in the slot.

Editor’s Note: Check back for allĀ Rookie Landing Spot articles as they become available.