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Why Buy Mecole Hardman or Deebo Samuel When This Rookie WR is Cheaper?

“You pay for this, but they give you that.”

That classic Neil Young lyric came to mind as I was researching this year’s “Why Buy?” series. We’re often so confident of what we’re going to get when we spend that sixth-round pick on the next big thing, but in reality, we rarely know what we’re buying.

The solution? Pay less.

That’s the concept behind our “Why Buy?” series, which is inspired by the Fantasy Douche’s Getting Something for Nothing article penned back in 2013.

Whatever you want to call it — arbitrage, discount shopping, or simply fading overpriced players — there’s no shortage of opportunities to buy knock-off versions of more expensive players this season.

We already explored discount plays on Dante Pettis and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mark Ingram, Tarik Cohen, and Corey Davis.

Fade Rookie WRs Unless They’re Free

Drafting rookie wide receivers in fantasy is generally a good way to burn money. Fewer than a third of WRs selected in the first round of the NFL Draft have topped 160 points in their rookie year, and the numbers drop off a cliff once we look at those who’ve gone in the second round or later.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside could be an exception this year, mainly because of price, and the same goes for Ravens rookie Myles Boykin.

However, once they’re priced out of flier territory, it’s a risk that rarely pays off, especially if they aren’t first-rounders.

While Samuel and Hardman aren’t exactly expensive, they could cost you the opportunity to draft a Zero RB target like Jalen Richard.

I’m taking a much cheaper rookie WR who would appear to have the clearer path to targets instead.

Scary Terry

I identified Washington rookie Terry McLaurin as a deep sleeper before training camp opened, and since then he’s won a starting gig, if not the No. 1 job outright.

But his price has barely budged, while Samuel and Hardman – both on much more crowded depth charts – are on the rise.

As prospects, McLaurin lags a little behind. His market share numbers, in particular, made him a surprising pick in the third round.

 SchoolGamesRecRecYdsRecYPRRecTDRecMSRecYdsMSRecTDMS
Terry McLaurinOhio State3375125116.68190.090.120.18
Deebo SamuelSouth Carolina29148207614.03160.260.290.29
Mecole HardmanGeorgia265995016.1110.150.170.2

Physically, none of them is anything special, although Hardman’s 4.33 40-yard dash scored in the 97th percentile, albeit at 187 pounds. McLaurin stands out with by far the best Freak Score of the trio (a combination of speed, size, and weight), and he also looks like the most explosive player.

 HtWt40Freak ScoreShuttle3 ConeBroadVertBench
Terry McLaurin722084.35704.157.0112537.518
Deebo Samuel712144.48584.147.031223915
Mecole Hardman701874.3355--11936.517

Many draftniks assumed that McLaurin was headed for a special teams role in the pros, but despite the limited targets, his prospect profile suggests he shares some similarities with many productive NFL WRs.

Having said all that, when it comes to redraft, I’m less concerned about the quality of a rookie prospect than I am about his opportunity.

Samuel is buried on a depth chart with Dante Pettis, Marqise Goodwin, Kendrick Bourne, Jordan Matthews, and fellow rookie Jalen Hurd.

Hardman is likely to flash as a rookie, especially in an Andy Reid offense, but he’s going to struggle for consistent targets behind Tyreek HillSammy Watkins, and both of them are playing behind two of the best tight ends in football.

Meanwhile, McLaurin is likely to open Week 1 as a starter in two-WR sets and shares the field with Jordan Reed, a player who is a little too familiar with the Washington training staff.

Conclusion

As prospects, I’d take both Samuel and Hardman over McLaurin in dynasty leagues. But opportunity is everything, and with so few pass-catching options in Washington, he’s likely to have more of it this season.

I still don’t expect much from him on an offense that will struggle to score, but I’d rather take a free flier on McLaurin than pay up for the two other rookies who won’t be full-time players in Year 1.

Image Credit: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire Pictured: Mecole Hardman

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