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Fantasy Football Rookie Report: Wide receivers

Amara Darboh, Michigan
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 214
40 time: 4.45
2016 college stats: 57 rec, 862 yds, 7 TDs

Analysis: Darboh offers plenty to like from an NFL and fantasy football standpoint. While he'll need to refine his comeback and hook routes (he too often tips CBs on these), he's a solid slant technician and has the long speed to be a deep threat on go routes and posts. He'll likely need to ascend to a role that affords him a sizeable enough target share to be fantasy relevant, but that will also give him time to refine other parts of his game. Darboh is a good stash candidate in Rounds 2-3 of dynasty rookie drafts.

Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 209
40 time: n/a
2016 college stats: 97 rec, 1,500 yds, 19 TDs

Analysis: Davis compiled a sensational highlight reel over his time in Western Michigan including 52 touchdowns in his four-year career. Davis uses quick hands to snare passes and has excellent acceleration after the catch. He's savvy in contested situations and can high-point the ball with the best of them in this class. An ankle injury prevented him from working out at the scouting combine and his school's pro day, so we don't have any athletic measurables yet. Odds are they'll be good and cement Davis as both a first-round NFL draft pick, and first-round dynasty rookie pick as well. He should have an instant impact in both the NFL and fantasy football.

Travin Dural, LSU
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 202
40 time: 4.57
2016 college stats: 28 rec, 280 yds, 1 TDs

Analysis: Dural is a difficult study, as injuries and a subpar passing game combined to derail what could have otherwise been a productive collegiate career after a solid sophomore season way back in 2014. Dural posted decent numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine, but didn't "wow" in any categories. Dural has decent size and solid hands, but with such a limited sample of college tape to disect and the myriad injury concerns (knee, shoulder, hamstring) surrounding him, Dural might be best left as a waiver-wire option even in rookie drafts until we see him stay on an NFL field and deliver statistically.

Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 194
40 time: 4.61
2016 college stats: 79 rec, 1,094 yds, 7 TDs

Analysis: Ford is an excellent technician capable of creating separation on a variety of routes, despite his pedestrian 40-yard dash time from the combine. Ford did improve his time to a 4.52 at his pro day, but the lack of speed and overall measurables does help explain his weakness after the catch and in the open field. Nevertheless, Ford has pretty good hands and excels in contested situations in the end zone and near the boundary. He's a fine young player (21 years old), who will need a good fit offensively to be fantasy relevant out of the gate. And if he lands with a lesser offensive team, he'll at least still be a name to keep an eye on.

Shelton Gibson, West Virginia
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 191 pounds
40 time: 4.50
2016 college stats: 951 rec yds, 8 TDs, 29 rush yds, 0 TDs

Analysis: Gibson offers a disconnect from the field to the workouts. On tape, he runs past defenders like they were standing still. But at the combine, Gibson ran a disappointing 4.50-second 40. Nonetheless, he made his living in Morgantown running nine routes. There was obvious route development as the season progressed with many of the early-season bubble screens becoming mid-season curls. But for all of his athleticism, Gibson is far from a polished receiver. His abilities as a kick returner will give him a chance to get on the field, but he would appear to have an uphill climb to being a fantasy relevant prospect.

Chris Godwin, Penn State
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 209 pounds
40 time: 4.42
2016 college stats: 982 rec yds, 11 TDs, 13 rush yds, 0 TDs

Analysis: Godwin's breakout game against USC in the Rose Bowl opened plenty of eyes, but his tape showed that maybe we should have been paying attention sooner. His play speed on tape doesn't look impressive, until you note the 4.42 he ran at the combine (to go along with an all-around strong workout). What's undeniable is that he has consistently reliable hands and is crisp in his routes. While he's not likely to hear his name called until the second day of the draft, Godwin has the makings of a deep sleeper in fantasy circles for 2017.

Chad Hansen, Cal
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 202 pounds
40 time: 4.53
2016 college stats: 1,249 rush yds, 11 TDs

Analysis: Playing in Cal's Air Raid offense, most of Hansen's routes were verticals and comebacks, which leads to questions about his knowledge of the full route tree. That would be an easily dismissed criticism. What Hansen lacks in short-area quickness he makes up for with long speed though he's not great on contested catches and not great after the catch. Hansen does have legitimate pro prospects, but he's likely to be relegated to a very specific role at the next level. The question remains whether he has the long speed to be a deep threat in the NFL since he hasn't shown the type of quickness and agility that would make him a slot WR candidate. It also seems unlikely that he'll make much of a fantasy impact in anything beyond best-ball formats.

Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 199
40 time: 4.46
2016 college stats: 82 rec, 1,535 yds, 19 TDs

Analysis: After a monstrous junior campaign, Henderson decided to declare early for the NFL draft and is building up a long list of fans (including Matt Harmon and Reception Perception). Henderson isn't a master technician at the moment, but excels at using his long speed to win deep routes and build separation on comeback, dig, and slant routes. Even though he didn't post eye-popping agility scores at the combine, Henderson is dangerous after the catch and could find work early in the NFL as a return man as well. He might need a year to earn a trustworthy target share, but he'll be a name worth considering in DFS as a rookie, and looks like a fine middle-round dyansty rookie pick.

Mack Hollins, North Carolina
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 199
40 time: 4.53
2016 college stats: 16 rec, 309 yds, 4 TDs

Analysis: One of the classic "traits" prospects in this class, Hollins' size/speed combination will no doubt draw the attention of plenty of NFL teams. What they (and fantasy players) will have to weight against that, however, is average tape and a litany of injuries that have caused Hollins to never play more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps in any of his collegiate seasons. Hollins can fly down the field and use his frame to his advantage, but needs to improve his footwork and timing on intermediate routes to gain real separation. Hollins looks like a developmental prospect at the NFL level, and is best left to develop on waiver wires in fantasy as well.

Zay Jones, East Carolina
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 201 pounds
40 time: 4.45
2016 college stats: 1,746 rec yds, 8 TDs, 24 rush yds, 0 TDs

Analysis: The hype around Jones has been growing steadily since he made a handful of circus catches at the Senior Bowl. But to watch him on tape, you have to scratch your head. He has a solid NFL pedigree (his father is former Cowboys LB Robert Jones and his uncle is former Bengals QB Jeff Blake), but the tape won't excite many people. Jones is a good hands catcher who wins contested catches. He'll need to -- he's not running away from anyone and isn't particularly elusive in his routes. Much of his eye-popping production came from short throws and screen passes. Jones will certainly be on an NFL roster, but he'll need a lot of work (and maybe some good luck) to be in a fantasy-relevant role in 2017.

Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Height: 6-foot-2 | Weight: 204 pounds
40 time: N/A
2016 college stats: 1,700 rec yds, 17 TDs, 33 rush yds, 1 TDs

Analysis: Kupp's post-Senior Bowl hype train slowed quite a bit after his lackluster combine outing. But his domination of opponents (albeit in the FCS' Big Sky Conference) is hard to completely ignore. Kupp has decent long speed and plus hands to help him win in contested situations. But his work at the combine drills belies a player who might only grade out as a big slot receiver in the vein of Jordan Matthews. If Kupp can find his way onto a roster that has talent at the outside receiver spot, he could have some fantasy sleeper appeal.

Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 194 pounds
40 time: 4.52
2016 college stats: 1,039 rec yds, 12 TDs

Analysis: Reynolds was the big play guy in the Aggies offense in 2016, even if he wasn't the go-to guy (Christian Kirk lead the team with 83 receptions). His long, lean frame helped him win deep balls and get good position on smaller defensive backs. Beyond that, there's little about Reynolds that pops on tape. At the next level, it would be a surprise to see him rise above the level of a No. 2 receiver on nearly any roster. His fortunes in the fantasy game might not even rise that far without a lot of help.

John Ross, Washington
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 188 pounds
40 time: 4.22
2016 college stats: 1,150 rec yds, 17 TDs, 102 rush yds, 1 TD

Overview: If there's one thing you know about John Ross, it's that he's fast. His combine-record 4.22-second 40-yard dash should be all the proof you need. Ross is in the upper echelon of WRs in this draft class and you don't have to watch much tape on him to see why. Every snap has the potential to go to the house -- something he also did occasionally as a kick returner. The two concerns he'll face entering the league will be his ability to win versus press coverage and a lengthy injury history. His best fit could be with a team needing a field-stretcher on the outside but regardless of where he lands, he'll be an intriguing fantasy prospect.

Travis Rudolph, Florida State
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 189
40 time: 4.53
2016 college stats: 56 rec, 840 yds, 7 TDs

Analysis: Rudolph flashes ability on tape, with quick feet on short-range routes and speed to push the field deep, but his combine performance could put a damper on his NFL draft standing. He has strong hands and showed good strength and vision when fighting after the catch or for the ball. His size will most likely force him into a career in the slot in the NFL, which is probably his best fit anyway. Rudolph's upside in 2017 from a fantasy perspective is limited, so he's likely best left as a waiver-wire option come dynasty draft time.

Curtis Samuel, Ohio State
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 196 pounds
40 time: 4.31
2016 college stats: 97 att, 771 yds, 8 TDs, 74 rec, 865 yds, 7 TDs

Analysis: A true dual-threat, the Buckeyes lined up Samuel all around the field and got him the ball in a variety of ways. Samuel is a natural pass-catcher and shows solid ability as a route-runner which would explain why he switched from RB to WR prior to the draft. However, he does posess the lateral agility and burst to run between the tackles, if his NFL team so desired. Teams looking for a utility player in the Tyreek Hill mold could turn Samuel into a fantasy-relevent player early into his career, giving him appeal in the middle rounds of dynasty rookie drafts. PPR players should keep an eye on Samuel, as he hauled in an impressive 74 receptions in 2016 as a running back.

Juju Smith-Schuster, USC
Height: 6-foot-0 | Weight: 215 pounds
40 time: 4.60
2016 college stats: 1,133 rush yds, 17 TDs, 152 rec yds, 0 TD

Overview: Smith-Schuster was a star in his sophomore season, but didn't quite live up to that standard as a junior. Still his NFL prospects will be determined by his role at the next level. He's a big body receiver who doesn't break a ton of tackles, but isn't easy to bring down, either. He's not winning any long foot races, but does well at getting open in short spaces and finding holes in zones. Smith-Schuster won't be a field stretcher, but he can be a potential chain-moving possession receiver in the right offense. His fantasy value is likely to be fairly limited until we have a better idea of his role in an NFL attack.

ArDarius Stewart, Alabama
Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 204 pounds
40 time: 4.49
2016 college stats: 864 rec yds, 8 TDs, 62 rush yds, 0 TDs

Analysis: Stewart isn't getting the same level of hype as the perceived elite receivers in the class, but he has the makings of a sleeper draft pick later in April's proceedings. Stewart plays bigger than his listed 5-foot-11 and is a demon with the ball in his hands. He shows solid stop/start ability in his routes and has the speed (4.49 40) to be a downfield threat. There's not much chance Stewart will see any run in fantasy re-drafts, though he has the potential to be a sleeper waiver wire pick in the right offensive scheme. It's likely that his greatest value will be as a late-round option in dynasty rookie drafts.

DeDe Westbrook, Oklahoma
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 178
40 time: 4.51-4.53 (unofficial times at pro day)
2016 college stats: 98 rec, 1,361 yds, 11 TDs

Analysis: A dynamic playmaker in space, NFL teams will find plenty of ways to use Westbrook at the next level. His best fit may be as a slot receiver early who can also take snaps out of the backfield. Westbrook's quick feet and route-running would serve him best on option routes where he can be a mismatch against nickel corners, linebackers and safeties and set him up for additional yards after the catch. Westbrook might have an adjustment getting used to the size/physicality of the NFL, especially when it comes to contested catches. Overall, he has the look of a second or third-round dynasty rookie pick, but will likely be a super late-round sleeper or waiver-wire fodder in redraft leagues.

Mike Williams, Clemson
Height: 6-foot-4 | Weight: 218
40 time: 4.51-4.53 (unofficial times at pro day)
2016 college stats: 98 rec, 1,361 yds, 11 TDs

Analysis: Williams fits the bill of a No. 1 wide receiver in terms of look and size, and his play for Clemson backs that up as well. He's adept at back-shoulder and boundary throws, possessing good body control for a big guy. He fights for the ball with a mentality that every throw is his and he's going to win it, and more often than not, he does. He'll be a beast in the red zone at the next level, and should be at worst a consistent chain mover as well. He could stand to improve precision of his route-running if he wants to continue his ascent. Williams should be an early-round dynasty pick and if he lands with a solid offense could be the next rookie wide receiver to turn in a WR2 or better performance in his first pro season.

Ishmael Zamora, Baylor
Height: 6-foot-3 | Weight: 220
40 time: n/a
2016 college stats: 63 rec, 809 yds, 8 TDs

Analysis: Zamora opened the year serving a three-game suspension for abusing his dog, and could struggle to hear his name called on draft day. If he is given a second chance, he has some skills that could help him find early-ish NFL success. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounts he has the size to overpower cornerbacks, but also shows the speed and footwork to gain separation through his route-running. Cornerbacks respected Zamora's deep speed, allowing him to consistently get open on comeback routes. Zamora is facing a long road to the NFL now after offfield issues and limited college tape/production, but if he gets back on track he is worth a look in fantasy. We'll know more about his prospects after Baylor holds it's pro day on April 5.

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