Signs (And Odds) Point To These NFL Rookie Wideouts Breaking Out

These game-changing wideouts should make immediate impacts


August 12

Football is finally here. Yes, preseason counts! Preseason action is not for everyone, but even just watching the games can be beneficial to your betting or fantasy approach throughout the season, specifically with rookies.

Wide receiver is the next most glorified position after quarterback because people love fancy routes, big-play touchdowns and celebrations. For the same reasons, betting on wide receivers or drafting them in your fantasy lineup makes the games even more fun to watch and can result in big payouts or fantasy bragging rights. Keep in mind: Fantasy and betting use different strategies, but we can get into that another day.

Let’s break down a few of the rookie wideout studs and where I see value. Bookmakers at DraftKings have set odds for which rookie receivers are most likely to lead their class in receiving yards.  

Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (+500 to lead rookies in receiving yards)
I get why bookmakers at DraftKings made the Ohio State product the favorite here. His speed metrics jump off the board (his 40-yard dash time ranked in the 94th percentile) and he topped out at a near 26% target share in his junior year. However, he’s competing for targets with Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas, in addition to Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. I believe Olave can provide value later in the season (like with game-to-game props) once roles are figured out. I see other receivers having more of an immediate impact, which is what I look for when drafting my fantasy team or when betting player futures.

Drake London, Atlanta Falcons (+550)
Unfortunately, injuries kept London sidelined for much of his college career but what he did when healthy was crazy impressive and gave scouts and general managers a glimpse of his upside. London only played eight games due to an ankle injury in his final season at USC but in that time, he not only led the entire nation in contested catches (19) and receptions per game (11), but he also averaged 15 targets and 135 receiving yards per game. He commanded a 38% target share, which should make any fantasy general manager excited. His only true target competition in Atlanta is Kyle Pitts, who led the team in targets, catches and yards last season. Russell Gage was not far behind, but Gage is in Tampa now and with Calvin Ridley suspended for the season, it’s the Pitts and London show. The Falcons have one of the tougher schedules too, which means they’re expected to play from behind often, which should yield more passing plays and allow London to even potentially break out.

Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans (+750)
Filling the role of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones is no small task, but the opportunity screams upside in the fantasy world. The former Arkansas standout is expected to fill that role alongside Robert Woods. Woods could miss the start of the season as he recovers from an ACL injury, which means more targets for Burks early on. Burks’ situation is a bit different than London’s in Atlanta because he plays for a run-first team with Derrick Henry as the centerpiece. However, he should be a main threat in the passing game like he was in Arkansas, where he led the team in receptions and yards. He can get open at all three levels, but he made a name for himself as the Razorbacks’ deep threat, ranking top five in the nation in long receptions. He also ranked just outside the top five in touchdowns. Whether it’s fantasy or betting, it’s simple: Yards and touchdowns are what you want.

It’s important to remember not every rookie is NFL ready – no matter how dominant they were in college. Some players take longer than others to learn the playbook or feel comfortable in a new system. However, if you can get ahead of the market or fantasy community on a potential breakout star like London or Burks, the risk is worth the reward.

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