Courtland Sutton and the rookie receivers on the rise in fantasy football

by Matthew M. Stevens ·

Rookie wide receivers again made noise in Week 8, and several standouts with star potential based on their advanced stats and metrics profiles led the latest charge to fantasy relevance. Veteran DeVante Parker’s return saw him lead Miami with 134 receiving yards, and he looked the part of a No. 1 receiver. While on the surface Parker appears the obvious choice, it’s the rookie receivers who rule this week’s Underworld waiver wire.

Enter D.J. Moore, Anthony Miller and Courtland Sutton, whose roles have gradually increased to the point of popping the breakout bubble. Factor in a returning Keke Coutee, who gets a potential bump in opportunity share, and the time to bolster your fantasy receiving squad is now.

Courtland Sutton: Free Square Wide Receiver

Demaryius Thomas gave himself a 50-50 chance of being traded before Tuesday’s deadline, but that moved to 100-percent when he was dealt to the Houston Texans. Into the starting lineup steps Courtland Sutton brings promise but inconsistency in his first NFL season. He’s caught 16-of-34 targets for 296 yards and two TDs while playing 73.2-percent of the snaps. His 18.5 yards per reception in Denver ranks No. 7 among qualified wide receivers. Beyond raw efficiency, Sutton posted 250 completed air yards and three separate 40-yard splash plays so far this season. Zooming out, Sutton offers excellent size-adjusted athleticism, evidenced by upper percentile Agility Score and Catch Radius. On the production side, his College Dominator Rating, College Yards Per Reception, and Breakout Age checked in above the 65th percentile.

Sutton needs to prove he’s more reliable but his three drops are four fewer than Thomas’ seven. Sutton has also seen more end zone targets than Thomas and trumps him in YPR (18.5 to 11.2) and yards per target (8.7 tp 7.2). A more efficient player, Sutton nears his eventual leap-frogging of Thomas.

D.J. Moore: When Metrics Matter

D.J. Moore’s 129 total yards in Week 8 prove he’s been the Panthers best kept secret. His six targets, five receptions and 90 receiving yards all set personal season highs. The six targets tied for the team lead with Christian McCaffrey, while Devin Funchess saw three targets. Moore’s two carries for 39 yards signal that the Panthers plan to involve him heavily in the offense going forward.

Metrically speaking, Moore’s profile screams elite talent. His 53.3-percent College Dominator Rating ranks in the 97th-percentile while his Breakout Age of 18.4 scores a 98th-percentile rating. Moore ranks higher than Funchess in every single Workout Metrics category, and boasts a SPARQ-x score of 123.8 (92nd-percentile). The Panthers have been dialing up his snap count and routes in advance of a plus Week 9 matchup against Tampa Bay, and the rookie from Maryland will respond by feasting on the Bucs secondary.

Anthony Miller: Target Monster Rising

Anthony Miller’s piece of the offensive pie keeps growing. Week 7 saw him hit season highs in routes (37), snap share (68-percent) and targets (seven). He again saw seven targets in Week 8, a team high, and converted three catches into 37 yards and his third TD of the season. The 13.4 fantasy points were also a season high for Miller. His three receiving touchdowns tie for second on the Bears with Tarik Cohen, one behind Trey Burton. He averages 11.5 yards per reception, better than Allen Robinson (11.4) and Taylor Gabriel (11.2).

Miller’s minimal target share (12.2-percent) and lack of efficiency hold him back, however, as evidenced by his 50-percent catch rate and -12.7 Premium Production. But that will change with a growing role in the Bears No. 10-ranked offense. With a 26.2-percent End Zone Target Share through Week 7, Miller carries immense upside plus the talent to capitalize on it. He earns a 121.1 SPARQ-x Score (89th-precentile) and ranks in the 85th-percentile for Burst Score.

Keke Coutee: Plug-And-Play Speed

Post-Thomas trade, Keke Coutee still finds himself in a favorable rest-of-season position for fantasy production for a Texans team that runs 3-wide receivers sets on 54.5-percent of snaps. While Vyncint Smith has one NFL reception to his name in limited action, Coutee commanded an astounding 15 targets in his first NFL game, and his field stretching skill set most closely resembles Fuller’s abilities. Both pass-catchers benefit from the loss of Will Fuller. Houston’s No. 2 WR tore his ACL, leaving his 19.2-percent target share (45 targets) up for grabs.

Keke Coutee Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Coutee should man the slot inside Demaryius Thomas. Before injuring his hamstring, Coutee flashed onto the fantasy radar by catching 19 passes for 193 yards and a TD during Weeks 4-6. Those numbers came with Fuller in the lineup. The rookie speedster runs a 4.43 40-yard dash and boasts a 2.37 Target Separation, which ranked No. 2 in the NFL through Week 7.