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This season, rookie wideouts are in a class by themselves

There are already six, including the Eagles' Jordan Matthews, with at least 50 receptions.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has 57 catches.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has 57 catches.Read moreAssociated Press

FOR A SEASON at least, this is the best rookie class of wide receivers the NFL has seen. Ever.

Long-term? Well, that's obviously another matter.

But the Class of 2014 has six wideouts with at least 50 receptions, something that's never happened. It's going to be seven when Odell Beckham, currently sitting on 48, catches two more. And it would have been eight if Allen Robinson (also with 48) hadn't broken his foot in Week 10.

Earning gold stars as the brightest youngsters are Kelvin Benjamin and Jarvis Landry with 57 catches each. The Eagles Jordan Matthews has 54. Mike Evans has 53, and is tied with Benjamin with eight touchdowns. Sammy Watkins has 51. Brandin Cooks made 53 catches before an injured thumb ended his season.

Before this, the Class of 2011 had five guys with at least 50 grabs - A.J. Green (65), Greg Little (61), Julio Jones (54), Doug Baldwin (51) and Torrey Smith (50). Green and Jones are stars, Smith is pretty good, Baldwin is OK and Little is irrelevant.

Last year, Keenan Allen (71), DeAndre Hopkins (52) and Ace Sanders (51) had at least 50. Sanders, the Class of 2014 should note, has become an afterthought in Jacksonville after missing the first four games for failing a PED test.

Admittedly, 50 is an arbitrary number. Jerry Rice destroyed most of the career records for wide receivers, but had just 49 catches in his 1985 rookie season. Anquan Boldin, a solid player, but hardly a superstar, had 101 receptions for 1,377 yards and eight scores as a rook in 2003.

The game has changed. More offenses are running more up-tempo, which means more plays, which means more receptions. Fifty catches in a season still is impressive for a rookie, but it's the staying power that will determine the Class of 2014's merit. Beckham's awesome one-handed grab will be the image, but how many of these guys will end up with those hideously wonderful yellow coats the Hall of Fame people give out?

Only a couple of modern-day classes have produced multiple Hall of Famers. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth were rookies in 1974 (when they caught a combined 27 passes). In addition to Rice, 1985 also saw Andre Reed's debut. In 1996, it was Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens - each of whom should get in. Terry Glenn, also a rookie in '96, had 90 catches for 1,132 yards and six TDs. That group also had Keyshawn Johnson and Muhsin Muhammad.

The Class of 1988 is similarly intriguing. Michael Irvin already is in Canton. Tim Brown oughta be and Sterling Sharpe was on his way before a neck injury short-circuited his career in 1994. At the time, Sharpe had been all-Pro five times in seven seasons.

As his brother, Shannon Sharpe, said in his 2011 Hall of Fame induction speech, "I'm the only pro football player that's in the Hall of Fame [who is] the second-best player in my own family."

There is a quarter of the season still to go for the class of 2014 to add to its stats. But there are careers to be played to determine its legacy.

Next week

The annual fantasy football season awards ballot. Fill one out for a chance to win a Daily News T-shirt valued at several dollars.

Sea change

Answer: Preston Parker, New York Giants.

Question: Who is the only wide receiver to catch a touchdown pass against the Seahawks since Week 5?

Among the receivers the Seahawks have kept out of the end zone are Dez Bryant (4 catches, 63 yards), Kelvin Benjamin (4-94), Odell Beckham (7-108), Michael Floyd (0-0) and Michael Crabtree (3-10).

Zach Ertz/Brent Celek alert: The Seahawks have given up 10 TDs to opposing tight ends, though none in the last 4 weeks.

Position watch


Matthew Stafford  has lost all four of his career games that immediately follow Thanksgiving. He has a total of four TDs and four interceptions and has thrown for less than 200 yards in two of them. Detroit has lost its last nine such games. The last Lions quarterback to win the game after Thanksgiving was (gulp)  Joey Harrington.  Stafford oughta reverse these trends Sunday when the Buccaneers visit ... Andrew Luck is ranked second among quarterbacks this week despite the fact that the Cleveland defense has been pretty stingy against opposing QBs (17 TDs, 17 Ints.). Getting back tight end  Dwyane Allen  from an ankle injury is key. He's not  Rob Gronkowski,  but Allen is a weapon in the red zone.


Arizona's  Andre Ellington  is dealing with injury to both hips and is being called a game-time decision for Sunday's contest against Kansas City (32nd against the run). It seems as if Ellington's 247 touches, fifth in the league, are catching up with him.  Marion Grice,  a rookie out of Arizona State, with only 29 yards on 11 carries, is in line for more work. It's worth noting that the Cardinals play Kansas City on Sunday and at St. Louis on Thursday in Week 15 ... Fun fact: Grice played high school football in Houston. His quarterback was current Eagles kick returner Josh Huff ... Carolina's  Jonathan Stewart would be a flex option against the Saints, who've been getting roasted by opposing RBs the last month. Amazingly, Stewart hasn't had more than 20 carries in a game – or 100 yards rushing – since 2010.


Percy Harvin  hasn't caught a touchdown pass since 2012. And, playing with the gang that can't throw straight up in New York, he's not catching one anytime soon ... Miami's  Jarvis Landry  has become a nice WR3 in PPR leagues. He's on a nice five-game run with at least five catches and has been targeted 10+ times in three of the last four.


Denver's  Julius Thomas  got in a limited practice again on Thursday and can be penciled into lineups.

For Week 14 player rankings, visit (all lowercase).

Ed Barkowitz, who will be guest bartending at the Shamrock Pub in South Philly next Thursday night (Dec. 11) as part of a holiday toy drive, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.