With the NFL Draft having come and gone, it's now time to see which rookie receiver will have the greatest fantasy impact in 2009.
To quickly recap the receivers taken, at the top we had the reach of the decade, WR Darrius Hayward-Bey, to Oakland, followed by who many considered to be the best receiver prospect in the Draft, WR Michael Crabtree to San Francisco.
After that went WR Jeremy Maclin to Philadelphia, then WR Percy Harvin to Minnesota, WR Hakeem Nicks to the New York (Giants) and WR Kenny Britt to the Tennessee.
Heyward-Bey and Crabtree can already be disqualified based on their current offensive situations; Britt's not going to a pass oriented offense and while Nicks will have a chance to be productive, the 2009 Giants will place a heavy emphasis on running the football.
So that leaves us with two: Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin.
While Maclin will certainly be in the more ideal situation—Philly passes the ball over 60% of the time and McNabb's an established, Pro Bowl QB—he'll start out as the third receiver at best (fourth passing option after Westbrook) and that's why in the end, I see Harvin being the top fantasy producer.
Coach Childress will utilize his versatility and game breaking ability similar to how Urban Meyer did at Florida, by lining him up all over the field.
And since, unlike in Florida, where he was the number one focus of opposing defenses, he'll be number two in Minnesota after the great RB Adrian Peterson. There will be many one-on-one match-ups that even Sage Rosenfels will be able to capitalize on.
While I expect Harvin to run his fair share of deep routes, that'll mostly be Bernard Berrian's job.
Instead, I think his real impact will come from short passes and slant patterns which will allow him to use his open field running ability—and blazing speed—to compile a lot of yards plus a few TDs.
He'll also have additional opportunities to make things happen out of the backfield and on end-arounds. And don't be surprised to see a pitch to Peterson who runs lateral and tosses it down field to a streaking Harvin, who got behind the defense after they were fooled into thinking it was a run.
The learning curve for rookie wide receivers is usually steep, outside of Randy Moss, who was a player that comes along once in a generation anyway, and for that reason, relying on one to impact your fantasy team is usually not wise.
But Harvin's versatility should provide him ample opportunities from both the running back and receiver position, and that type of double threat makes him always worthy of consideration at your flex position.
Now we all know the reason he dropped in the NFL Draft—the failed drug test at the combine and concerns over his ability to stay out of trouble—and from all reports coming out from his high school and college days, that's a big concern. But should he be able to remain focused on football and keep clean, he will be your top fantasy producer of all the round one receivers taken in the 2009 NFL Draft.
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