The NFL continues to evolve as younger, smaller, faster players are becoming more common across the league. It’s commonplace in fantasy football to write off rookies in their season as they adjust to the NFL. However, every year there are players like Justin Jefferson who break out and surpass their ADP.
These three rookie wide receivers have all found themselves out west in high-powered passing offenses. Although the depth charts are somewhat crowded, opportunity awaits if these newcomers can put it together in training camp. Keep an eye on these rookies, especially in deep PPR fantasy football leagues. They could end up as league winners down the stretch.
D’Wayne Eskridge – Seattle Seahawks
D’Wayne Eskridge’s speed and explosiveness gave him a consistent role as a gadget player in college. However, unlike most “burners”, Eskridge is a solid route runner. He has nuance to his game and a diverse route tree, who can play inside and out.
If he is able to continue develop his route running, Eskridge will pair very nicely with Russell Wilson. Eskridge also showed off impressive ability to beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage with impressive footwork.
As a former defensive back, Eskridge’s style of play is much more physical than you would expect. Eskridge’s willingness to be a hard-nosed run blocker may allow him to get on the field in his rookie season.
Eskridge was selected in the second round with the 24th pick, and as the eighth wide receiver off the board. This gives him the draft capital you want to see for a player who sports a 90th percentile college dominator rating.
If Russ is allowed to cook, Eskridge has plenty of upside working with one of the best deep-ball passers in the game. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has already mentioned Eskridge as being a deep threat for the team based on his track background and ability to stretch the field.
Although Carroll tends to speak highly of all Seahawks players, the Seahawks head coach has gushed over Eskridge’s showing in offseason camp workouts. If the rookie WR can continue to put in the work, he’ll benefit tremendously from playing alongside D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett who will take the defensive pressure off Eskridge.
Josh Palmer – Los Angeles Chargers
Josh Palmer did not put up elite production numbers at Tennessee but he was also competing for targets with two wide receivers who ended up in the NFL. Regardless, Palmer was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers which gives him decent draft capital.
The beauty of Palmer’s situation is that he is paired with one of the top young quarterbacks in Justin Herbert with little in terms of competition for the third WR role on the team. Most of the targets will be funneled to Keenan Allen and, to an extent, Mike Williams. However, Palmer’s main competition is Tyron Johnson and Jalen Guyton.
Looking beyond 2020, there is a chance that Williams isn’t re-signed by the team which could catapult Palmer into an even bigger role in his sophomore season.
The former Tennessee Vol’s playing style and polished skill set fits extremely well with the Chargers’ offensive scheme. Palmer’s strength is in his speed running vertical routes and Herbert isn’t afraid to let it rip downfield. The rookie wide receiver plays physically. He showed off his ability to make contested catches when the ball is on point.
Herbert was one of the league’s most accurate quarterbacks in terms of completion percentage, which should provide Palmer with a fair share of catchable balls. Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi is known to rotate through a number of different personnel packages. This is an indication that Palmer will see the field in his rookie season. Iif he can flash, he’ll have the opportunity to expand his role early in his NFL career.
Anytime you can add a young wide receiver with a 6’1, 210-lb. frame who is tied to a high-powered offense and young stud playcaller, you need to take a strong look at the player. Josh Palmer fits the bill and also boasts day two draft capital. These are big reasons to stash him in fantasy football.
Cornell Powell – Kansas City Chiefs
The high-powered Chiefs offense has Kelce and Hill at the top but the No. 3 wide receiver role in Kansas City is wide open. Cornell Powell may be an older prospect. However, he has a knack for making big plays as shown by his 16.6 yards per reception in his final college season.
The propensity for splash plays would pair nicely with an elite quarterback like Patrick Mahomes. With Kelce and Hill commanding the attention of opposing defenses, Powell could be left open to make plays underneath. Mahomes has even said that Powell has made some big plays in tough situations during spring practices.
It may not mean much this early in the offseason, but any attention he’s getting from the star signal-caller is a good sign. This fits with Powell’s 2020 season where he secured seven contested catches on passes that were 10 yards or longer.
Mahomes isn’t the only veteran teammate that Powell is receiving attention from. Tyreek Hill has worked with Powell during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Hill added that Powell is a smart young player who has silky smooth routes.
The Chiefs have been adding wide receivers over the past few seasons to add to their high-powered offense. However, players like Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle haven’t cut it.
Powell isn’t elite in any areas of his game but he’s a well-rounded talent and dynamic playmaker with a shallow depth chart ahead of him at wide receiver. If Powell is able to develop over the summer and into the preseason, he may find himself seeing time as the second or third wide receiver in the potent Chiefs passing attack. That’s not a bad piece to stash on your fantasy football roster.