Fantasy Players - Rookie Watch 2015
Rookie Watch - Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears
Fantasy owners will want to look at White’s measurables (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) and statistics to justify the question: Brandon who? Not so fast.
It’s true, White – the seventh player selected in the 2015 NFL Draft – is a matchup problem for smaller defensive backs, same as the veteran Marshall has been for many years, but the true comparisons are few. White’s body of work at West Virginia is limited – 2014 was a banner year, but 2013 was a small splash.
White’s collegiate career began at Pennsylvania’s Lackawanna College, where he caught 36 passes for 545 yards in nine games in 2012.
Some draft analysts rated White equally with Alabama’s Amari Cooper. Even though Cooper got the better draft slot (No. 4 to Oakland), it’s likely White landed in a better town to develop his career quickly.
Dissecting the depth chart: With Marshall gone (Jets) it leaves the door open for White to partner with Alshon Jeffery in the Windy City. Eddie Royal will assume the quick and underneath, and the team has been trying to sell 6-foot-4 Marquess Wilson as an emerging weapon. Clearly the Bears have size on this depth chart, which will keep Jay Cutler happy near the goal line (assuming, of course, Cutler is capable of replacing his usual smug expression). It’s worth noting, however, that last season the Bears’ top two pass catchers were running back Matt Forte (102 catches) and tight end Martellus Bennett (90).
Just the stats: White caught 109 balls for 1,447 yards last season, 10 of them for touchdowns. Those are big numbers for a school that doesn’t exactly have a Texas Tech-like reputation for chucking the football. And White is of the post-Geno Smith era, so chances are fantasy owners have no clue who was throwing those passes. In short, the statline demands respect. But again, it was only one year. In 2013 he caught 35 passes (five touchdowns) but registered just one 100-yard game, as compared to nine last season. One game highlight from 2014: In a 40-37 win over Maryland White caught 13 passes for 216 yards.
2015 Projection: 69 receptions, 940 yards, 7 TDs
2014 rookie comparison: Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
The year began with a bang (three touchdown catches in September) and finished strong, too, for Benjamin (10 or more targets in five of his last eight games). Benjamin was a big-play option for fantasy owners, but inconsistent. Still, he finished in the top 25 in both receiving yards and touchdowns. White could do the same.
Interesting fact that won’t help you: Lackawanna College has a hall named for another player who began his collegiate career on the 1,500-student campus: former Vikings offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie.
What he’s worth: He’s a No. 3 wide receiver for fantasy owners, although most will reach for him as a fringe No. 2. It’s true – Marshall’s departure leaves a big hole in the Bears passing attack, but Marshall had chemistry with Cutler and that takes time to build.
Follow Mike Beacom on Twitter @mikebeacom