Despite the uncertainty as to when the NFL and the world for that matter will return to some semblance of normalcy dynasty football serves as a welcomed distraction for fantasy football enthusiasts. The 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone, signaling the start of Dynasty start-up and rookie draft season. Naturally there is a corresponding “draft fallout” and substantial changes to the Dynasty Stock Market. All of which preciptiating this “Dynasty Stock Market Watch” 2020 NFL Draft Fallout Wide Receiver edition PART 2.
Burrow and Higgins fit to a TEE!
- Round 2 – Pick 33 — Tee Higgins Clemson — WR
- UDFA — Scotty Washington Wake Forest — WR
What does it mean for A.J. Green,Tyler Boyd and John Ross?
Despite an injury shortened 2018 and missing the entirety of 2019 the Cincinnati Bengals opted to franchise tag A.J. Green. While it would not have come as a surprise had Cincy opted to move on from Green; the franchise tag under the circumstances suggests that the Bengals still have designs on Green being a focal point of the offense. Reportedly, Green has been in contact with Joe Burrow and is planning on gathering the Bengals’ receivers to meet the 2020 1st overall pick to workout this offseason. A healthy A.J. Green figures to play the “Robert Woods” role in Zac Taylor’s offense; an offense that was Top 10 in plays (ran) despite averaging just 4.93 yards per play (28th in NFL). Woods finished as the WR14 in PPR leagues last season just outside WR1 status.
Freshly minted with a new 4-year deal, Tyler Boyd has flourished in A.J. Green’s absence. Boyd has posted back-to-back 1000 yard seasons (2018, 2019) and set a single season career mark in receptions and yards last year. Boyd’s solid if not spectacular all-around game was good for WR18 in PPR leagues last season despite inconsistent quarterback play. Just 25-years-old, Boyd should continue to thrive in Zac Taylor’s offense despite the addition of Tee Higgins and a healthy A.J. Green. Expect Boyd to continue his “Cooper Kupp” (WR4 overall) role as Cincy spreads the ball around in its 3-receiver sets. In fact, the Bengals led the NFL in 11 personnel snaps (75.3%) last season.
Injuries and a rookie season lost to coaching incompetence has marred the career of John Ross thus far. While his 35 receptions in 24 career games are underwhelming, Ross’ 10 touchdowns is outstanding; better than draft mate Corey Davis (6) and only two fewer than Mike Williams. The pair having played a combined 83 games over the last three seasons. The current coaching staff has an actual role for Ross and has demonstrated their confidence in him. Whether he is merely an insurance policy for A.J. Green or the designated field-stretcher in 2020, Ross’ “Will Fuller-like” upside is worth adding to your dynasty roster.
A.J. Green has intimated that he will sit out of whatever offseason program acutally takes place without a new, long-term deal. This doesn’t bode well for his dynasty prospects considering he’s been out for more than a year and has yet to play a snap in Zac Taylor’s offense. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that A.J. Green will get an opportunity to play alongside 1st overall pick Joe Burrow. With Tee Higgins in the fold and Green’s recent injury history the Bengals may go in a different direction entirely. The juice may not be worth the squeeze for the decorated wide receiver.
Tyler’ Boyd’s career high 148 targets in 2019 were 40 more than his previous career high in 2018. Of course, A.J. Green missed 23 out of 32 games over that span. With the addition of Tee Higgins the Bengals’ WR room is crowded and Boyd’s monopoly on targets is in jeopardy. Volume is KING in fantasy and while Boyd’s dynasty floor (WR3) is fairly secure it’s unlikely that he will return WR2 value if the Bengals have their full complement of receiving threats.
A declined 5th-year option doesn’t always foreshadow a player’s demise but it certainly isn’t a ringing endorsement either. The simple fact of the matter is that John Ross has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency. Whether it be a multitide of physical ailments or dropped passes, Ross has not remotely approached living up to being a Top 10 draft selection. Even in A.J. Green’s absence Ross has seemingly lost ground in the target pecking order; bypassed by the likes of Auden Tate. Now enter Tee Higgins and potentially A.J. Green. Ross did get a vote of confidence from Zac Taylor last season but he has a steep uphill climb to carve out a consistent role among Cincinnati’s group of receivers.
More than one item set to expire in Indy!
- Round 2 – Pick 34 — Michael Pittman USC — WR
- Ruond 6 – Pick 212 Dezmon Patmon Washington State — WR
- UDFA – Demichael Harris Southern Miss — WR
What does it mean for T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell?
T.Y. Hilton is perpetually underrated. A model of consistency despite coaching changes and flux at the quarterback position. His five 1000+ yard campaigns in eight seasons doesn’t really do him justice. A calf injury robbed him of his typical explosiveness in 2019 and cost him 6 games. He played hurt as evidenced by his career low 11.1 yards per reception; way off his career mark (16.1) entering the 2019 season. Not to mention, Andrew Luck’s decision to retire a few short weeks before the season began. And then of course, there was the injury to Luck’s replacement, Jacoby Brissett.
When the Colts opted to sign Philip Rivers this offseason they affirmed that they are in win now mode. Expect the veteran Hilton, to get on the same page with Rivers much more quickly than his inexperienced teammates. Michael Pittman “may” be the heir apparent but until Hilton actually loses a step Pittman can only hope to be Robin to T.Y.’s Batman.
Zach Pascal wasn’t a heralded prospect out of Old Dominion like Michael Pittman or Paris Campbell. First, signing with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Then bouncing around on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad; until finally being claimed off waivers by the Colts. However, Pascal led an anemic passing game in receiving yards and tied for team lead in touchdowns (5) last season. His dawg mentality and drive has allowed him to carve out a significant roll in Indy and he won’t simply bow out to his younger counterparts. With good size 6’2 215 lbs. and speed (4.55) Pascal offers the athleticism and toughness (both mental and physical) to keep at least one of Parris Campbell or Michael Pittman at bay; if not solely with his play then with his availability considering that both Campbell and Pittman have an injury history.
As gifted an athlete as Michael Pittman is Parris Campbell has even more juice. Last year’s 2nd round pick dealt with injuries and the rookie learning curve; but his speed to stress defenses down the seams and run after catch ability is top notch. Whether jet sweeps, bubbles, or crossing routes simply get the ball into this explosive playmaker’s hands and watch him go. It’s Campbell’s versatility and varied means of deployment that dynasty owners should hang there hat on as he becomes a more polished wide receiver. The Indianapolis Colts lined up in 11 personnel just over 60% of the time in 2019 and without a traditional offseason, expect Hilton, Pascal and Campbell to get the majority of the wide receiver snaps in Indy this fall.
Coming off of an injury, 30-years-old and entering the last year of his deal it stands to reason that the Colts will just let things play out in the case of T.Y. Hilton. Granted spotty QB play and injuries torpedoed Hilton’s 2019 season. However, as one grows older it becomes more difficult to recover from the cumulative effects of nicks and bruises; and by the look of things his trademark explosiveness could be waning.
Can you really count on vintage T.Y. Hilton resurfacing? Particularly when we have no idea what kind of Philip Rivers we’re actually going to get. The Colts have invested 2nd round selections in back-to-back drafts at the wide receiver position. Not to mention they will have copious amounts of cap space to play with moving forward. Philip Rivers, Marlon Mack and Hilton are all essentially playing on 1-year deals. If this offense underachieves with talented youngsters waiting in the wings, expect a hard reset on the offensive side of the ball in Indy.
Zach who? Believe it or not draft capital comes into play when it comes to playing time. Injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess resulted in Zach Pascal becoming a waiver wire darling last season; but the euphoria didn’t last long as he managed just one touchdown grab in the final eight weeks of the season. Pascal’s inside track to a starting wideout position is tenuous at best. His immediate competition offers substantial upside even in what is shaping up to be a truncated offseason program. Pascal will need an injury or two to maintain moderate weekly fantasy value. As for his dynasty value, hard pass.
One could argue that Parris Campbell is more flash than substance. A bit of a one-year wonder at Ohio State, Campbell relies heavily on scheme for his production. Despite tantalizing measurables its hard to imagine Campbell garnering the trust of veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. His inexperience with a full route-tree and lack of route-running polish effectively limits his physical gifts. The learning curve is a steep one for Campbell, his injury history is a concern and the lack of a legitimate offseason (it would seem) heading into the 2020 season only exacerbates the issue.
- Round 2 – Pick 42 — Laviska Shenault Colorado — WR
- Round 5 – Pick 160 — Collin Johnson Texas — WR
- UDFA – Josh Hammond Florida — WR
- UDFA – Marvelle Ross Notre Dame — WR/KR
What does it mean for D.J. Chark, Chris Conley, and Dede Westbrook?
D.J. Chark broke out in 2019 posting a 118/73/1008/8 line despite uncertainty at the quarterback position. This after registering just 32/14/174/0 during his rookie season (11 games; zero starts). Not only did Chark make a substantial leap from year 1 to year 2 in his development but he also claimed the title of undisputed WR1 in the Jaguars’ offense. By demonstrating his trademark deep threat/vertical aiblity and showing improvement in the short to intermmediate areas of the field, Chark thrived in a less than ideal situation in Jacksonville. His big play ability coupled with an apparent chemistry with Gardner Minshew fuels his ascending dynasty value. Chark’s dynasty stock is not threatened by the additions of Laviska Shenault nor Collin Johnson. Expect Chark to be the (vintage) A.J. Green/Terry McLaurin in new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s offense.
Chris Conley had his 2nd-year option picked up by the Jaguars after quietly posting an eye-opening 16.5 yards per reception. His explosiveness was on display when given the opportunity and his five touchdown grabs were good for 2nd most on the team. Conley, rather the Jaguars passing attack, wasn’t efficient given his 52.2% catch rate. Still, his 90 targets, good for third behind Chark and Dede Westbrook is a solid number. Conley can get vertical and make plays after the catch so a slight uptick in quarterback play likely pushes Conley into the WR3 conversation (finished just outside the Top 36 in 2019). Given that Laviska Shenault is more athlete than wide receiver right now Conley should continue to be a fixure in 3-wide sets; particularly in a regular season proceeded by offseason upheaval.
With back-to-back seasons of exactly 101 targets (20 starts) Dede Westbrook should remain a mainstay in Jaguars three-receiver sets. Jay Gruden’s offense in Washington fielded at least three receivers on over 77% of their snaps in 2019. Westbrook’s elite production at the college level hasn’t translated to the NFL as of yet but he’s improving. Evidenced by his consistency over last two seasons (66 receptions in 2018 and 2019). Furthermore, Westbrook has every incentive to make the upcoming season his best thus far entering the final year of his rookie deal. If Jay Gruden can get even a modicum of improved play from Garnder Minshew it could result in solidifying Westbrook’s long term dynasty value.
D.J. Chark isn’t sneaking up on anyone next season after bursting on the scene in 2019. Expect Chark to garner the opposition’s top cover man most weeks as the young receiver will have a target on his chest. While Jay Gruden has a quality track record as an offensive coordinator it remains to be seen how well Chark and Gardner Minshew mesh given that they must learn a new offense without a proper offseason program. The fact remains, these aren’t grizzled veterans, but rather, young, developing players amidst a rebuild. To make matters worse the Washington Redskins (under Jay Gruden) ranked dead last in offensive snaps last season; suggesting that the pass happy offense and corresponding volume that buoyed Chark’s counting stats may not be as robust.
Chris Conley is a tease and he will continue to be a tease. The measurables are nice and all but it hasn’t transalated to consistent fantasy production. The volume (90 targets) was nice easily exceeding his previous career high (69) but he also posted the lowest catch rate of his career (52.2%) well off his average entering the 2019 seasodn (62.2%).
The opportunity was there in 2019 but Conley didn’t take full advantage of it. Now he faces additional competition in the form of Laviska Shenault and Collin Johnson. To compound the situation Conley doesn’t bring a unique skill-set to the table as his speed and run-after-catch ability can be replicated wihtin the WR room. Lastly, it could be debated as to whether Conley is more athlete than receiver despite having 5-years under his belt. His 4.35 40, 45-inch vertical and 11 foot 7 inch broad jump rarely show up on the field.
What you see is what you get with Dede Westbrook and that isn’t the 2016 Heisman Trophy Finalist. He’s a slight of frame, outside the numbers receiver but has been regulated to a slot roll in the league. Still, the slot alginment hasn’t exactly unlocked his potential with a drop rate pushing 6% (no bueno). Simply put he doesn’t do anything great, or good for that matter. Westbrook, by NFL standards is pretty average. Dynasty owners have been anticipating the breakout, waiting for the virtually uncoverable Oklahoma Sooner version of Dede to appear… but it’s not happening.
Air P.A. is back!
- Round 2 – Pick 49 — Chase Claypool Notre Dame — WR
What does it mean for Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and James Washington?
The Pittsburgh Steelers offense never found its footing after losing Ben Roethlisberger to injury last September. Frankly, no one’s game suffered more than Juju Smith-Schuster’s as a result. What was expected to be his coronation as the undisputed WR1 in Pittsburgh following Antonio Brown’s trade and subsequent professional meltdown, devolved into an injury marred flop of a season for Smith-Schuster. Awful quarterback play and a myriad of lower body injuries dropped Smith-Schuster’s target total to a paltry 70. His 42/552/3 line reflects career lows across the board. However, Roethlisberger is back, Smith-Schuster is healthy, they have a great rapport. Juju is in a contract year so all systems should be go. Let’s not forget that at this time last year Smith-Schuster’s dynasty stock was in the Michael Thomas vicinity. Prepare for the Juju “revenge tour.”
Diontae Johnson was a revelation last season. Despite Pittsburgh’s offensive futility, the then rookie Johnson paced the Steelers in targets (92), receptions (59) and touchdowns (5). Johnson looked like the best wide receiver on the Steelers roster last year. He exhibited poise and playmaking ability on a fairly consistent basis all things considered. There were question marks in terms of who would step up outside of Juju Smith-Schuster and Johnson answered the call. What’s more is that he did considerable damage outside the numbers playing fewer snaps in the slot (156) than both Juju (401) and James Washington (251). If his college tape at Toledo wasn’t good enough for you Johnson proved he belonged last season despite considerable adversity, including playing with a sport hernia. The advent of Chase Claypool is of no concern to Johnson and his budding dynasty prospects.
Not to be outdone James Washignton took a considerable step in 2019 as well. Like the aforementioned Smith-Schuster and Johnson, Washington had to endure wildly inconsistent and at time unwatchable quarterback play for the majority of the season. On top of that, Washington’s role as the primary field stretcher naturally lends itself to lower percentage throws. Still, his 80/44/735/3 line and very health 16.7 yards per catch practically screams upside with the return of Ben Roethlisberger to the lineup. It’s hard to imagine Chase Claypool infringing on any of these three receivers. For Claypool to have an immediate impact it will likely come in the redzone, an area of the field the aforementioned trio isn’t really involved in.
I’ll grant you the Roethlisberger injury and one must acknowledge the fact that Juju Smith-Schuster wasn’t 100% last season, but he too is at least in part culpable for his poor 2019 performance. Exhibit A is his drop rate exceeding 8%. Anyway you slice it that drop rate is unacceptable especially for someone considered among the “WR1” tier. It still remains to be seen whether Smith-Schuster can fill the shoes left behind by Antonio Brown. Defenses rolled coverage to him, challenged him, frustrated him and he could not break through. Even out of the slot, Smith-Schuster couldn’t create consistent separation and failed to come down with contested catches. Now entering a contract year, the Pittsburgh Steelers used their top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on a… wide receiver. It appears the Steelers are hedging, perhaps you should too.
Diontae Johnson was good in 2019, but context matters. Let’s face it, Johnson was playing with house money. There were no expectations for the Steelers offense after the Roethlisberger injury. Moreover, with Smith-Schuster’s disappearing act someone had to amass some counting stats. The beneficiary of “warm body syndrome” Johnson did most of his work underneath in a dink & dunk fashion. A wait and see approach seems most appropriate when evaluating Johnson’s dyansty value prior to investing heavily.
Air yards, average yards per target, air yards per snap and % of team air yards are all supposed to be indicators or in James Washignton’s case precursors for fantasy/dynasty success. Who says? You still have to catch the ball. Washington’s 7.7% drop rate coupled with the pervasive nature of low percentage throws/targets in his direction stifles his scoring upside. You typically don’t get fantasy points for drawing defenisve pass interference. Washington’s value exists between the 20s and as such Washington is most likely to lose snaps (and scoring opportunities) to Chase Claypool once the Steelers are in scoring range.
New day, new look in Los Angeles!
- Round 2 – Pick 57 — Van Jefferson Florida — WR
- UDFA – Earnest Edwards Maine — WR
- UDFA – Trishton Jackson Syracuse — WR
- UDFA – JJ Koski Cal Poly — WR
- UDFA – Brandon Polk James Madison — WR
- UDFA – Easop Winston Washington State — WR
What does it mean for Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds?
Once exiled to “Siberia for receivers” Robert Woods has flourished in his familiar California stomping grounds. Seemingly a perfect fit in Sean McVay’s offense, Woods has finished as WR11 and WR14 overall in PPR leagues in back-to-back seasons. Desipte inconsistent play from Jared Goff compounded by poor play from the offensive line, Woods still managed a 139/90/1134/2 line in 2019. His targets and receptions were career highs though his 2019 touchdown total was disappointing. Fear not positive regression in that category is on the horizon. Considering what he does with or without the ball and his ability to play any of the receiver positions, Woods is the most indispensable wideout in the Rams organization. And with several more prime years ahead of him Robert Woods may still reach a new plateau.
Speaking of perfect fits, Cooper Kupp too has been marvelous in Los Angeles. Kupp only trailed Michael Thomas, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones in PPR scoring in 2019. If not for a season ending injury costing him eight games in 2018 Kupp would have back-to-back, double-digit touchdown seasons. Through the final five games of 2019 Cooper Kupp caught 27 of 30 targets (all 3 incompletions coming in Week 17) and scored a touchdown in each contest. What’s more is that during that stretch the Rams moved away from their traditional 11 personnel and deployed more two tight ends sets (12 personnel); an increase from Weeks 1 thru 12 (14%) to 34% during the final month of the season. No matter what the formation or personnel grouping, Cooper Kupp will get his.
After a pseudo-breakout (53/29/402/5) in eight starts filling in for Cooper Kupp in 2018; Josh Reynolds was once again called upon in 2019 to fill the void left this time by Brandin Cooks. His 43/21/326/1 in just two starts was solid all things considered. More importantly, the Rams have been developing Reynolds over the past three seasons and he has delievered when given the opportunity more often than not.
Now entering the final year of his rookie deal with a much clearer path to consistent playing time (Cooks traded to the Texans) the stage has been set for Reynolds to have a career year. A truncated offseason actually bolsters Reynold’s prospects considering that the host of newbie WRs aren’t expected to get a full offseason program. Any improvement from the offensive line allowing plays to develop downfield should translate into a solid fantasy floor for Reynolds. Dynasty owners, the window is closing. Get in now while the risk is minimal and the upside is substantial.
Robert Woods may have another year or two of WR2/WR3 production IF he reamins in L.A. beyond 2020; but it’s time to sell high folks. He’s peaked and we’ve begun to see the cracks in the Rams’ offensive foundation. Defenses having seemingly caught up to Sean McVay and understand how to rattle Jared Goff. Massive spikes in target volume appear to be a result of availability, as much as, if not more so than natural ability. Furthermore, Woods’ lack of touchdowns (3.6 per season) puts a firm cap on his fantasy upside. With pending contract extensions for Copper Kupp and Jalen Ramsey looming, Woods may end up a cap casualty in 2021. L.A. is prepared for life after Robert Woods considering the selection of Van Jefferson. Dynasty owners prepare accordingly.
Temper your expectations for Cooper Kupp. He’s a an injury waiting to happen. Pulls, sprains, tears and a concussion throughout his short career can shorten said career; particularly when you enter the league 24-years-old. His average depth per target last season was 7.0 yards, a figure non-conducive to sustainable yardage totals. Kupp’s impressive TD total in 2019 may be difficult to sustain as the Rams effort to mitigate turnovers. They will do so by reducing the number of tight window throws as the field shrinks (redzone). To that point, 15 of Kupp’s 21 career TD grabs have come in the redzone including 7 of 10 in 2019. With the addition of Cam Akers, expect the Rams to lean on their running game and tight ends more inside the 20 making a return to the Top 5 among wide receivers in PPR leagues untenable.
Got news for the Josh Reynolds truthers out there. He’s facing stiff competition as the WR3 heading into the 2020 season and it’s not just from Van Jefferson. The Rams signed five, yes FIVE undrafted rookies at the receiver posiiton on top of the second round selection of Jefferson. For additional perspective, the Rams didn’t address their overmatched offensive line until the 7th round AND signed just one offensive lineman among 20 rookie free agents. The writing is on the wall. Jefferson has the goods to leap frog Reynolds on the depth chart. But if for some reason he doesn’t, Reynolds still may not be in the clear. Furhtermore, both Reynolds and Kupp are entering the final year of their rookie deals and outside of a monster campaign Reynolds will be looking for a new gig in 2021. That sub 50% catch rate simply isn’t going to cut it.
J.E.T.S. bombs away!
- Round 2 – Pick 59 — Denzel Mims Baylor — WR
- UDFA – Lawrence Cager Georgia — WR
- UDFA – George Campbell West Virginia — WR
What does it mean for Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman?
Jamison Crowder was one of maybe two bright spots on the Jets’ offense last season. He turned a career high 122 targets into consistent fantasy production each week finishing just outside of WR2 status (WR26) in PPR leagues. Crowder won’t face any competition for snaps in the slot. Great news considering the slot accounts for more fantasy production than ever. Crowder’s route-running acumen and feel for the soft spots in zone coverage are evident. A more competent offensive attack and the additions of Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims should in fact make it easier for Crowder to operate underneath. Having now entered his prime Crowder’s dynasty value stands to grow. At the very least his floor should be that of a WR3 for the next several seasons.
If Denzel Mims was solely a deep threat there would be reason for concern. Fortunately, that isn’t the case. The Jets had at least three receivers on the field on over 70% of their snaps in 2019. There should be plenty of opportunities for Perriman to carve out his niche in this offense. Perriman flashed in limited snaps including a respectable 69/36/645/6 line in just 4 starts over 14 contests with the Bucs. That is impresssive productivity despite a target share of just 11.6%; that number is expected to be in the 16 – 18% range in New York.
What’s more, Perriman didn’t drop a single pass last season and his strong air yardage averages suggest considerable upside. The cupboard is bare in New York and he could get a completely reasonable 30 – 35% bump in targets as a full-time starter. At a minimum he should be able replicate Robby Anderson’s production even if Crowder and Mims lead Perriman in targets. Dynasty owners should consider parting with a late round pick to acquire Perriman.
While Jamison Crowder’s role won’t change he offers little upside. Last season was the perfect storm for Crowder. The Jets had no running game to speak of and they often found themselves trailing. Their 4.57 yards per play were dead last in the NFL last season; and unfortunately Adam Gase is still running the offense. With a dearth of viable options outside of Crowder he enjoyed inflated fantasy numbers. Still, his yardage totals and limited touchdown production (four per season) doesn’t move the needle. Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman figure to siphon quite a few opporutnities, particularly in the redzone. Dynasty owners, buyer beware.
Breshad Perriman was a very intriguing name in dynasty circles prior to the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the addition of Denzel Mims poured cold water on Perriman’s prospects. Though Perriman should have a clear role as the Jets primary field-stretcher his role tends to be accompanied by fantasy volatility. He’s the type of player best suited as a late round, best ball flier.
Perriman’s targets will more often than not be of the low percentage variety and Sam Darnold is a streaky (inconsistent) as it gets; that’s not an ideal situation. To make matters worse, Mims could very well be the “Z” in the offense. If that’s the case, then you begin to ask Perriman to do things he hasn’t demonstrated he can do on a consistent basis. For example, running the full route-tree; understanding how to manipulate the defense or when to throttle it down and settle into a vacant zone. Sorry dynasty owners you may be grasping at straws.
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