Drafting wide receivers and inserting them into the starting lineups of NFL teams immediately has long been considered a risky proposition. The prevailing belief in many circles is that it takes a wide receiver at least three solid years in an offensive scheme to develop and "break out" in his third year. Recent history suggests this is generally true. Over the last three NFL Drafts 8 wide receivers have been drafted in the first round and on average had a rookie season stat line that looked similar to this: 34 receptions, 487 yards and 3 TD.
There may not be a rookie wide receiver walking into a better situation in recent memory than Julio Jones. With an established player at every major skill position, and a young stud QB, Jones could put up numbers immediately. During the preseason, no WR has had more passes thrown his way than Jones, a sign that the Falcons are trying to speed up his development thanks to shortened camp schedule. Through three games, Jones’ 10 catches led the team and his 157 yards were second. “Everything has slowed down for me now,” said Jones. “It’s a learning experience every time I get out there.
If Jones has the ideal setup for a rookie WR, Bengals rookie AJ Green is in a decidedly different position, but he could still excel because of it. With the Bengals retooling their entire offense Green becomes the centerpiece in a passing game led by another rookie, Andy Dalton. As the number one pass catching option, Green was second on the Bengals in catches (nine) and yards (98) this preseason, and caught the teams only passing TD.
Fantasy wise, Jones could produce immediately as the #2 WR on one of the league’s best offenses. His situation reminds me a lot of DeSean Jackson’s first year with the Eagles when he put up 1,000 yards right out of the gate. You may have to over pay to get him (think round five at the earliest, six at the latest) but I think it proves to be pretty smart.
AJ Green may not even get drafted in a lot of fantasy leagues, but for a #1 WR with the speed he has who will be the Bengals top redzone target, he is worth a risk in the latter rounds.