January 14 2011 Last updated at 09:00 AM ET
Fantasy Football Rookie Report Card: WRs
In 2009, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks and Mike Wallace made immediate fantasy waves as starters. In 2008, Eddie Royal caught 91 balls as a rookie while DeSean Jackson also put together a top-30 fantasy season. This season, many expected Dez Bryant to take his place in the line of successful first-year receivers. Did he?
Dez Bryant, WR, DAL
Bryant, the Cowboys' first round pick in 2010, showed shades of his game-breaking ability early, returning a punt for a touchdown in Week 2. Much like Nicks, he then hit a scoring run, picking up six receiving TDs and another punt return TD in the span of six games. Unfortunately, he fractured his ankle before the fantasy playoffs could start, leaving owners to wonder what could have been. We could give him an incomplete on his season, but he showed plenty while healthy.
Final Grade: A-
Mike Williams, WR, TB
The true star at the receiver position turned out to be Williams, a third-day prospect out of Syracuse. He got out to a quick start, scoring TDs in his first two games while posting mediocre yardage totals. It would be a forecast of his rookie season: the first-year player scored in 10 of his 16 games while topping 100 yards only once. While he didn't reach the 1,000-yard marker, no rookie can complain about 65 catches and 11 TDs in his freshman year while finishing as a top-12 fantasy receiver. The Buccaneers surely have a good offensive thing going.
Final Grade: A+
Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
Thomas was the other first-round pick of the 2010 draft at the receiver position, but the similarities to Bryant end there. While the Cowboy rookie was creating a buzz nearly every week, Thomas managed a breakout game in Week 2 (eight catches, 97 yards and a TD) before limping to the finish line. He would have just 14 catches and 186 yards in eight more games before missing extended time with an injury.
Final Grade: D
Jacoby Ford, WR, OAK
It seemed impossible for receivers to succeed in Oakland; I mean, if the highly rated Darrius Heyward-Bey couldn't come in and make an immediate impact, who could? How about the 5' 10", 185-pound Jacoby Ford? After not receiving a lot of work in the first half of the season, Ford peppered the highlight reel with wondrous plays, topping 100 receiving yards twice in the second half while adding four TDs, one on a 71-yard run. Picked just nine slots after Mike Williams, it's safe to say the fourth round was teeming with receiving prospects this year, if you count two guys as "teeming."
Final Grade: B
Jordan Shipley, WR, CIN
When you're on a team with two attention hogs at your position, it's safe to say you're going to have a difficult time making an impact as a rookie. Yet Shipley was able to snag 52 balls on just 74 targets while working out of the slot, racking up 600 yards and three TDs in his first year. His breakout came in Week 7 against the Falcons, when he had 131 yards and a TD on six receptions. If guys like Austin Collie and Wes Welker can make an impact out of the slot, why not Shipley?
Final Grade: C+
Danario Alexander, WR, STL
Alexander was the definition of a fantasy tease -- well, a fantasy football tease -- this season. He posted 72 yards and a TD on four catches in his debut in Week 6 before following it up with one catch and six yards the next week and then missing the next three games with injury. Upon his return, he had 95 yards on four more catches in Week 12. After recording two receptions the next week, Alexander failed to even catch a pass in his next two games. In Week 16, he was back on top, with 99 yards on six catches. Week 17? Three receptions and 14 yards. Tantalizing but inconsistent, this Rams receiver has a world of potential if he can remain healthy.
Final Grade: C
Golden Tate, WR, SEA
A touchdown machine in college, Tate looked like a player that could combine talent with opportunity and have a great first year. Unfortunately, he was never able to earn the trust of the coaching staff, and the other Mike Williams emerged as the team's go to guy. As a second round pick, Tate has to be labeled a disappointment in his rookie year.
Final Grade: D-
Dexter McCluster, WR, KC
Some fantasy owners were giddy about McCluster's dual eligibility on certain platforms, but the 36th overall pick really didn't deliver much aside from a 69-yard, one-TD game back in Week 3. Still, the opportunity is there to become a big part of the Kansas City offense.
Final Grade: D
Arrelious Benn, WR, TB
As a top-40 pick, Benn drew a little buzz as a potential fantasy sleeper in Tampa Bay before the season. After all, Josh Freeman had to throw the ball somewhere, right? Unfortunately for those that gambled on Benn, Freeman struck up an instant rapport with Mike Williams, leaving Benn to struggle through his first year.
Final Grade: D+
Damian Williams, WR, TEN
There really wasn't much to be said about Williams' first year, though there is speculation about him moving into the starting lineup across from Kenny Britt next season. With defenses sure to focus on stopping Britt and Chris Johnson, Williams may have the opportunity to post a solid fantasy season in his second year.
Final Grade: F
Blair White, WR, IND
Austin Collie was excellent for the Colts, but multiple concussions conspired against him to limit his playing time. In stepped White, who earned Peyton Manning's confidence immediately, catching a touchdown in Week 3. White would have marginal yardage totals when he played, but he did manage to reach the end zone five times, including twice against the Patriots back in Week 11.
Final Grade: C-
Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, WRs, CAR
LaFell was the higher pick, pegged with the opportunity to be an immediate starter for the Panthers. Gettis was a sixth-round flier with potential. Neither would make a huge impact, save for 125 yards and two TDs from Gettis in Week 7, but the two did combine for 976 yards and four TDs in 2010. It's not a bad line coming from one rookie receiver, and even more impressive when you consider Jimmy Clausen was the main guy under center. If one of these two emerge, there could be a solid fantasy play here. As it is now ...
Final Grade: D+ and D+
David Nelson, WR, BUF
The undrafted Nelson flashed a little potential early in the season, catching four passes on four targets for 75 yards back in Week 4, but he proved an afterthought in the fantasy world. He did string together three straight games with a TD late in the season, production that bodes well for his 2011 outlook. He could have flier potential in your 2011 drafts.
Final Grade: D
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, PIT
A third-round pick out of SMU, Sanders earned more playing time as the season progressed. He started seeing playing time with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, and caught a touchdown for two games straight in Weeks 10 and 11. He would post one more solid performance, hauling in seven passes on 13 targets to gain 78 yards against the Jets in Week 15. Hines Ward is no spring chicken, so Sanders could grow into a prominent long-term role in his offense.
Final Grade: D
Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, SD
We pegged Ajirotutu as an excellent fantasy sleeper when the Chargers took a decimated receiving corps to Houston, and he came through with 111 yards and two TDs. Outside of that day, he had no fantasy impact. He'll need a lot of playing-time cards to fall right in order to re-emerge.
Final Grade: C, for making me look smart for at least one week
Andre Roberts, WR, ARI
Roberts had exactly one good fantasy week, but in came in Week 16, the fantasy championship for most leagues. Of course, he wasn't in any lineups that week, so what does it matter?
Final Grade: D-
Read More: NFL New Studs NFL Value Machine andre+roberts, arrelious+benn, blair+white, brandon+lafell, damian+williams, danario+alexander, david+gettis, david+nelson, demaryius+thomas, dexter+mccluster, dez+bryant, emmanuel+sanders, golden+tate, jacoby+ford, jordan+shipley, mike+williams, seyi+ajirotutu
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