Pre-Combine Top 12 Dynasty Rookie Wide Receivers
Here are my Top 12 Dynasty Rookie Wide Receivers in the upcoming 2020 draft from a fantasy perspective. These are my Pre-Combine rankings. The combine usually doesn’t alter my judgment unless someone runs a 4.7 forty-yard dash. Or the medicals comes back negatively. Or a player bombs the interview part of the process. The draft will be the main determining factor as to where these players ultimately rank; scheme, coaching, and opportunity can catapult any of these players to greatness. That being said, this is one of the most talented wide receiver classes in recent memory.
1. CeeDee Lamb – Oklahoma
Watching tape on Hollywood Brown last year, it was hard to keep my eyes off CeeDee Lamb on the other side of the field. What stands out about CeeDee Lamb’s game includes a few things. (1) His route pace, Lamb’s ability to change speeds to keep defenders off-balance. (2) CeeDee’s body control and DeAndre Hopkins like ability to track the football down the field. (3) Lamb’s feet, particularly his ability to set up defenders in and out of his breaks. Lamb also improved his yards after the catch ability in 2019, which bodes well for his fantasy prospects among the 2020 dynasty rookie wide receivers.
2. Jerry Jeudy – Alabama
Could’ve easily been number 1 in any other draft class. Jeudy is my type of receiver with his ability to get open at will with his route running acumen. The most exciting part of his game is his ability to rack up yardage after the catch with his start-stop ability. Many receivers benefit from offensive schemes designed to get them open. Jeudy can get open sans scheme as he beats man or zone coverage with his route stems. Think of Jeudy as “suped-up” Calvin Ridley with elite run after the catch ability.
3. Henry Ruggs – Alabama
You can’t teach speed! I call Ruggs’ speed – “Different Speed”. It’s not just his ability to explode from the snap to beat defenders deep. It’s Ruggs’ penchant for stopping on a dime and then accelerating back to top speed after the catch. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruggs ends up being the top receiver in this deep class as his ceiling is through the roof. However, if a team can activate the “Different Speed” that Ruggs possesses he could be a Tyreek Hill type of difference maker.
4. Tee Higgins – Clemson
Not unlike former Clemson Tiger Mike Williams, Higgins will be questioned on his ability to consistently separate. Tee Higgins’ body control and concentration (basketball background) stands out as 50/50 balls look more like 80/20 for him. Just get the ball in his general direction and Higgins is likely to come down with the reception even when contested. Higgins is not a top-notch route runner but he can separate using his long strides. After the catch he runs with power and is hard to bring down in the open field.
5. Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State
After the top 4 receivers in the class, it gets a bit jumbled with tons of great talents. You kind of have to pick to your taste and Aiyuk is my preferred flavor. Aiyuk has his Ph.D in route running as he is a shifty, effortless route runner that does subtle things to get open easily. His in-out and out-in move is beastial. Aiyuk’s ability to get inside defensive backs with an outside release and vice versa speaks volumes on how he uses his feet effectively to win one-on-one match-ups. Aiyuk gives me Ocho Cinco vibes as he can win early in the route, catch passes, and rack up huge yardage after the catch. Give me Aiyuk over his former college teammate N’Keal Harry.
6. Tyler Johnson – Minnesota
Another one of my “type” of receiver makes the list at number 6. Johnson may not have the athleticism and physical tools like some of his classmates. However, what he does with his route pace and footwork to win in the middle of the field is superb. Johnson will be ahead of most rookie receivers in terms of understanding defenses and knowing how to win with his route running. I call Johnson the “double move beast” as his footwork in and out of his breaks reminds me of Keenan Allen. Johnson played in and outside the numbers at Minnesota but the slot is where he will eat at the next level.
7. Jalen Reagor – TCU
The SPARQ, draft, and fantasy community probably will kill me for ranking Reagor this low as his ceiling can be a top 3 fantasy rookie receiver. Reagor is a big play weapon. He can use his 4.2 speed to blow past defensive backs or take a jet sweep or reverse the distance from anywhere on the field. Likewise, Reagor can take a short drag route the distance for SIX. I get the infatuation with Reagor’s talent as he can be the next DeSean Jackson. However, my hang-ups at the moment include: his limited route tree, his hands through contact, and his lack of physicality. It will take a creative play-caller to unlock Reagor’s intriguing talent. His landing spot will ultimately determine his final dynasty fantasy football ranking.
8. Laviska Shenault – Colorado
Here’s another player that should have a great Combine. I’ve seen a number of Shenault comparisons to Julio Jones and Deebo Samuel. He actually reminds me of Sammy Watkins out of college with his prowess as a runner utilizing strength and physicality is apparent. Shenault was a difficult wide receiver evaluation as he was used in a myriad of ways. Time after time his quarterback was running for his life and unable to get the ball to him in rhythm. If he gets drafted by a team that can get him the ball in space he can thrive in that offense. Shenault is not a nuanced route runner nor a player that tracks the football well down the field. But he can win underneath and is tough to bring down after the catch.
9. K.J. Hamler – Penn State
I actually have Hamler ranked higher than Reagor and Shenault in my draft rankings (non-fantasy) as I believe he is a better receiver, but for fantasy purposes the big play ability of Reagor and Shenault trumps Hamler. It’s not that Hamler doesn’t make big plays himself, but at the next level he will probably be pigeon-holed in the slot as a target in the short to intermediate parts of the field. Hamler explodes out of his stance, gets open quickly, and is a quick twitch route runner who doesn’t lose any speed on his breaks. If you give him a cushion, it usually means trouble for defenders as he accelerates quickly through his route stems. He can either stop on a dime or blow past you in the middle of the field. He gives me Anthony Miller vibes with more juice.
10. Bryan Edwards – South Carolina
Speaking of college teammates, Edwards has many of the same traits as Deebo Samuel who entered the draft last season. Deebo, my second ranked dynasty rookie last year displayed his ball carrying ability as I dubbed him a Pit bull” with the ball in his hands. If Deebo is a Pit bull, then Edwards is a “Rottweiler” as he is a physical runner after the catch that fights for additional yardage. Edwards is not a nuanced route runner like Deebo. However, if he ends up in a system that can get him the ball in space Edwards can be a fantasy steal in 2020.
11. Van Jefferson – Florida
After blowing up the Senior Bowl utilizing his route running expertise to beat defensive backs continuously in one-on-one match-ups, Jefferson’s stock is pointing up. His tape at Florida confirms his senior bowl dominance, as he is a top-notch route runner that sets up defenders with excellent feet in and out of his breaks. The timing of his back shoulder receptions coupled with his body control and route running intelligence reminds me of Michael Thomas. The knock on Jefferson will be his athletic testing numbers and his age (24 year-old rookie). However, his intelligence as an older player and ability to stack defenders despite his speed will benefit him at the next level
12. Justin Jefferson – LSU
Despite his low ranking, Jefferson is a receiver that you shouldn’t count out as he is gamer. Furthermore, this is a very deep dynasty rookie wide receivers class. The issue I see on tape is his lethargic route running. However, he is tough across the middle catching slants as he snags the football with his strong hands and brings physicality after the catch. A bully in the slot, Jefferson makes defenders miss utilizing his agility to gain huge chunks of yardage. He’s definitely another player in which the right scheme can benefit him tremendously.