While 2014 was a huge year for rookie wide receivers; history has not been as kind. As TJ Hernandez discussed last year, rookie wide receivers are typically overdrafted. The top rookie wide receiver this year is Amari Cooper. He’s currently being drafted as WR23 in early MFL10 drafts. Let’s take a look at his comparables to see if that’s a fair price.
I compiled a list of wide receivers who I find comparable to Amari Cooper. Each wide receiver was selected as a top ten pick from 2001-2014 and had at least 700 receiving yards as a rookie. I made the criteria 700 receiving yards because it’s unlikely that Cooper finishes below that number if he’s healthy for the entire season.
Mike Evans had the best rookie year out of this cohort, topping 1,000 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns. A.J. Green was the only other wide receiver on this list to 1,000 yards and 200 fantasy points. Julio Jones was the only receiver to top 10 yards per target as a rookie.
The averages of these nine receivers are posted on the table below:
As rookies, this group averaged 60 receptions for 915.9 yards and 6.89 touchdowns. Last year these statistics would have finished as WR29 in PPR leagues.
The concerning part for Amari Cooper is he’s smaller than most of the players on this list and the touchdown total could be difficult for to reach.
The good news is 115.2 targets seem like a low projection for Cooper. The rotoViz composite projections estimate 132.7 targets for Cooper. If we plug that number in and use the same catch rate and yards per target, we can create a reasonable projection for Cooper based on his comparables. I included rotoViz’s composite projection of 6.75 touchdowns instead of the 6.89 from the comparables.
I believe this is a reasonable projection based on Cooper’s expected volume and comparables. This projection would have been good for WR20 last year, three spots ahead of where he is being drafted.
Although there are plenty of failures of who were selected as a top 10 pick (Troy Williamson, Charles Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, etc.), Cooper’s comparables put him in a favorable position to succeed. He seems fairly priced at his ADP and could end up being a value pick.