Fantasy football season is year-round entertainment for a number of Dynasty Leagues and many 2010 Fantasy Rookie Drafts have already started. I am in one such league where we set up the draft to start in the beginning of May with only rookies available for the picks. Sifting through all those rookies can be a daunting experience for your fantasy football league. These picks can make or break your dynasty team for years to come. I’m going to look at a position many experts takes at least three years to become relevant to a fantasy football team, the wide receiver, and pick out the Top 5 2010 rookie wide receivers to set your sights on.
1. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant dropped in the draft in what had to be a case of déjà-vu for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Bryant was suspended for the final ten games of his junior season for lying to NCAA investigators about his relationship with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Bryant started out his junior year in style, logging 17 receptions for 323 yards and four touchdowns in only three games. When it came time for the 2010 NFL Draft, Jerry Jones might have looked back to 1998 NFL Draft when his Dallas Cowboys passed up on Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss because of off-the-field issues. He didn’t take a flyer here and grabbed Bryant in the first round. You should target him in your 2010 fantasy football rookie drafts as well. He will start the season as the punt returner but it is only a matter of time before he supplants Roy Williams on the Cowboys depth chart and might surpass Miles Austin’s performance as well.
2. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
While Notre Dame’s 2009 season was enough to get Charlie Weiss booted as head coach, quarterback Jimmy Clausen and his number one target Golden Tate helped give Fighting Irish fans something to cheer about. Tate had 15 100-yard receiving games in his career, nine of those in his junior year. Those were both Notre Dame records, which he held along with career receiving yards (2,707) and single season receiving yards (1,496). He joins a Seattle roster whose top receiving threats are T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Deon Butler. Tate will compete for playing time with Branch, a player whose best days are behind him. With Houshmandzadeh a great supporting player and Burleson only adequate, Tate might find himself on the field more than other rookie receivers and have the chance to make an impact immediately.
3. Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I remember the last time a wide receiver named Mike Williams came into the NFL. That man, drafted by the Detroit Lions and recently dropped by both the Redskins and Titans, has done nothing in his short career. The Mike Williams that was drafted in the fourth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a former Syracuse standout and one of two top flight receivers the Bucs drafted to help their young team develop. While Williams is the player drafted later in the 2010 NFL draft, he is the one considered to be the more talented wide-out. His downside is that he was suspended in 2008 for academic reasons and quit the team in 2009 following off-field problems. If he can keep his head screwed on during his rookie year, he will get every chance to be a starter for the team. In his best season at Syracuse, Williams caught 60 passes for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns and, in his final year as an Orangeman, had 49 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns in only seven games.
4. Jordan Shipley, Cincinnati
It is a name not a lot of people may be looking at, but Jordan Shipley is a very talented wide receiver who is set to make a big splash in the NFL. Drafted by Cincinnati, Shipley joins Chad Ochocinco and a mishmash of journeymen including Antonio Bryant and Andre Caldwell. Shipley is the leading receiver in Texas Longhorn history, with 248 receptions. He also ranks second with 3,191 yards receiving and 33 touchdown catches. Even if he loses out on reps to Bryant, the veteran receiver’s longtime injury problems make Shipley a good receiver to target for the future. He might be the perfect complement to Ochocinco’s big play ability.
5. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
When Brandon Marshall was shipped out of town in the off-season, Denver knew they needed to find a replacement and chose to look at the 2010 NFL Draft for his heir-apparent. The biggest surprise of the draft was when Denver made two abnormal picks that turned heads of fans and analysts everywhere. The first surprise was when they chose Georgia Tech receiver Demaryius Thomas over Dez Bryant. Looking past the talent, it is not that big of a shock to see Josh McDaniels wanting someone a little more low-key after hot-shotting the arrogant Marshall out of town. Luckily for Thomas, most people forgot that decision when Denver grabbed Tim Tebow in the first round, a good three rounds earlier than any team needed to jump for him. Thomas is the man that will need to step up in 2010 and has a great chance to start thanks to the lack of receiving talent in Denver.