Tre’Quan Smith is next up as we continue the countdown of the best historical comparables for the top-11 rookie wide receivers of 2018.
The Saints 91st-overall pick last year tantalized us as a rookie, going over 110 yards in two of his games and under 45 yards in his other 15 appearances.
His 13-target, 10-catch, 157-yard shredding of the Eagles in Week 11 gave a glimpse of what was possible, but he would only amass 11 targets over his remaining five games combined, adding just four targets across two playoff appearances.
But Smith did finish with triple-digit fantasy points, good for ninth in the class.
Among all rookie WRs, Smith ranked:
- Third in efficiency with an reFPOE of 26.5
- Fourth in yards per target (among rookie WRs with at least 10 targets)
- Among all first-year WRs with at least 40 targets, his catch rate of 64 percent was third best
Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft stock, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons.
Smith is keeping some interesting company — his cohort of comparables represent a wide range of outcomes.
Right off the bat, the closest comparable appears to be Chris Henry, the former Bengals wideout who averaged 33.2 yards per game on 2.2 receptions in over the course of his five-year career. Henry and Smith were nearly identical in targets, receptions, and efficiency as rookies, while falling within five pounds and eight draft spots of one another.
Much the same could be said of former Bronco Ashlie Lelie, except for the key distinction of being a first-round draft pick.
Among the rest, I think Justin Hunter looks the most like our man in terms of draft stock, size, target share, and efficiency.
What Did They Do in Year 2?
Though younger, smaller and drafted a round earlier, Randall Cobb is also a decent comp for Smith, or at least… we should hope so.
Cobb was the best of the bunch as a sophomore, riding Aaron Rodgers’ right arm to a ton of targets and top-rate efficiency.
DeVante Parker’s bottom line wasn’t bad, but I don’t like his comp as much due to the huge expectations (and probably targets) bestowed on him as a result of his 14th-overall draft status.
Hunter took a step forward in Year 2; although he’d flame out after that.
Henry improved too. In fact, every single one of Smith’s comps put up more yards in their sophomore seasons, with the group improving by an average rate of 50 percent.
There’s also plenty to like about Smith’s college profile, including a 32 percent market share of receiving yards as a freshman.
History suggests a step forward from Smith is likely. With an elite quarterback and play caller in his corner, he is a full-time role away from pushing 1,000 yards, much like Cobb in his second year did with Rodgers.
With a depth chart that includes Ted Ginn, Keith Kirkwood, Cameron Meredith and, Tommylee Lewis, the opportunity is there for Smith to become Drew Brees’ second option behind Michael Thomas.
All that said, these comparables don’t point to an elite ceiling. Whether you’re buying or selling in dynasty depends entirely on price, but I believe expectations on Smith should be tempered.
Check out the top comparables for the rest of this rookie WR class:
11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster