Browns wide receiver Antonio Callaway is next up as we take a look at the most comparable players for the 11 best rookie WRs from the 2018 class.
As a fourth-round draft pick playing on a poor team embroiled in coaching and QB turmoil, Callaway’s emergence into fantasy relevance may be the most intriguing narrative among all rookie WRs.
He burst onto the scene in just his second game, posting 81 yards and a TD on four targets against the Saints. The wild thing about Callaway is that while his fourth-place finish in rookie WR points is impressive, it could have been so much more.
- His 1,100 air yards were second among all rookies behind Courtland Sutton and ranked 30th among all WRs
- His 20 percent market share of air yards was second among rookies
- His 136.2 expected receiving points (reEP) were also second among rookie WRs, behind Calvin Ridley
The Browns looked to the rookie early, often, and deep. If it weren’t for his sub-par efficiency, he could have challenged Ridley for the top rookie in raw points.
Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft position, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons to Callaway’s since 2000.
I was expecting to see a decent list of comparables for Callaway, but this is heady company indeed. His tender age combined with elite opportunity as a rookie lands him among a group that, at worst, doesn’t feature a single bust, and at best, is borderline elite.
Allen Robinson is the most exciting name on the list, and the two had similar rookie seasons, although the former Jaguar has 20 pounds on Callaway, and they don’t quite have the same style of games.
I love the Chris Godwin comp. Both men slid too far in the NFL Draft, then made everyone look silly by making an immediate impact on the field and fantasy rosters.
What Did They Do in Year 2?
Every one of these WRs either took a step forward as a sophomore or went on to much bigger things in their careers.
Robinson is the gold standard — he was the overall WR6 as a sophomore with an incredible 1,408 yards.
Godwin is currently one of the hottest blue-chip prospects in dynasty football. In games without DeSean Jackson, he was on pace to be the overall WR19, and Jackson is now officially gone.
Antonio Bryant didn’t flash in year two, but he went on to an excellent career, twice hitting 1,000 yards and averaging 812 yards over his seven seasons.
Robert Woods needed to escape Buffalo to find his form. He took a while to reach his potential, but he’s coming off a 1,219-yard, WR11 season.
Tyler Boyd similarly struggled as a sophomore before exploding in year three with 1,029 yards and seven TDs.
In a vacuum, Callaway’s projects to be a fantasy difference maker in the NFL, and it’s more likely than not that he hits the 1,000-yard mark at some point.
The worry is that the Browns add a WR in the draft or free agency, cutting into his opportunity. He also comes with some off-field concerns, but if all that that allows you to acquire him at a discount, all the better.
As we see from his comps, Callaway may require some patience, but there is nothing but upside here.
Check out the top comparables for the rest of the 2018 rookie WR class:
11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster
9. Tre’Quan Smith
8. Dante Pettis
7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
6. Anthony Miller
5. Christian Kirk