Overvalued 2019 NFL Draft Targets: WR (Fantasy Football)

by Jeremy Browand | @DFF_Madman | Featured Writer
Apr 19, 2019

Marquise Brown doesn’t possess the size of a prototypical NFL wide receiver.

Many offensive players come to the NFL Draft with a lot of hype. Some have speed, some are capable of big plays. Some have size, and some are equipped with a blend of speed and size that almost makes us forget about production. The players below have all generated rightfully deserved buzz. However, they will be selected too early in dynasty rookie drafts, so it’s likely I will not have any of them on my dynasty rosters.

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Marquise Brown (Oklahoma) – 5’9″ & 166 lbs
Both Bucky Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com have Marquise Brown rated as the best WR in this class and a first-round talent. I can’t buy that, not even in fantasy football. That is serious draft capital, so let’s temper our expectations. Remember, John Ross was a first-round draft pick too! I’ve seen the comparisons drawn, and I don’t think Brown is the next Tyreek Hill or even DeSean Jackson. That’s wishful thinking. Maybe Brown is the next Tavon Austin; I’d actually be happy if he was even that successful. My point is, Hollywood is a huge risk. He has speed and he made big plays at Oklahoma. His numbers were actually very good. But he’s also only 5’9″ and weighs 166 pounds. That is not the average size of a successful NFL WR, let alone a prototypical NFL receiver.

Since 2000, per The Ringer’s Robert Mays, only four receivers weighing less than 170 pounds have ever finished with more than 300 receiving yards in a season: J.J. Nelson, Taylor Gabriel, Dexter McCluster, and Roscoe Parrish. That list is not confidence-boosting.

Then, there’s the Lisfranc injury that kept Brown from competing at the NFL Scouting Combine. It should not hold him back in the future, but the injury affects explosiveness, which fast guys need to maintain in their repertoire.

Every year, we are enamored by speedy players. The record-breaking 40-yard dash times. The shoes. The focus on this aspect draws collective attention to one of the least telling facets of the NFL Combine for WRs. I also look at the size of wideouts when taking their speed into account. Short receivers who run fast are quite common. Bigger WRs, 6’0″ and above who run notable times, are the players to focus your sights on. Particularly if those players produced in college. The fast guys who can also block, get release off the line against tight coverage, create cushions for themselves to catch, and then make contested catches. Those are the players to target in fantasy rookie drafts. The tiny and fast guys? Nope.

Hollywood Brown likely can stretch the field for an NFL team. But as I said about John Ross a couple of seasons ago, Brown will be a trap in your rookie drafts this year. As tempted as you may be … don’t do it. Let another owner burn their lottery ticket for the hype of Brown’s speed. Spend less capital on a similar player in a better situation who is as likely to succeed. If you must draft a fast rookie WR, go with Andy Isabella, Parris Campbell, or Terry McLaurin with a lower draft pick instead.

Riley Ridley (Georgia) – 6’1″ & 200 lbs
Metrics gurus are not as fond of Riley Ridley as the scouting community. Many tape guys seem to love how he plays football and view his on-field traits as NFL-desirable. As with so many things, I think the truth is somewhere in between. Is he a top-10 WR in the 2019 class? No. First, Ridley ran a limited route tree. Second, he had low production at Georgia. I know, I know. It’s Georgia. They are a run-first team, and they often run on most of the downs after that as well. I get it; the Bulldogs rely on the running game.

Even if we remain conservative and project Ridley as a fourth-round NFL draft pick, below are his uninspiring player comps from @ChristipherBean:

My buddy @DynoEconomist also pointed out that Ridley’s career-best per-game stats, market share stats, and breakout age are all individually at levels with <5.0% hit rates. Additionally, among the outside receivers who were production outliers, none of them had athleticism numbers nearly as bad as Ridley’s. His profile has simply never hit in the modern era.

I’m not suggesting you completely avoid drafting Ridley. I’m saying there are better bets in the first round. There are WRs who produced in school and also did pretty well at the Scouting Combine. Ridley ran like a much taller and heavier WR. Plus, his agility scores and vertical jump were bad.

I won’t own Ridley in dynasty because competitors will likely draft him higher than I ever would. He could become a backup possession receiver or even a low-end starter, but I’m not trying to draft that kind of player in the first round of my dynasty rookie drafts.

D.K. Metcalf (Ole Miss) – 6’3″ & 228 lbs
Many have D.K. Metcalf as the highest-rated WR in this class, or at 1.01 overall. Even Pro Football Focus has him as the best wideout available.

Metcalf is jacked. When I first saw him, I swore he was a defensive end for Ole Miss. But that designed-in-a-laboratory appearance did not always transfer to the football field on game days. He reeled in just 67 receptions during his three-year collegiate career. He seems ordinary at most WR skills other than using his size and strength to get off the line, running straight ahead, and jumping for balls. Metcalf is fast for his size, flashing 4.33 speed in the 40-yard dash. He’s tall and he’s as strong as he looks. However, his agility scores at the Scouting Combine were awful. You may have seen many of the tweets making fun of Metcalf because Tom Brady posted better numbers in the Three-Cone and 20-Yard Shuttle drills. That’s bad for a player trying to become an NFL WR.

The size and speed are nevertheless going to get Metcalf selected high in the NFL Draft. That capital will also get him picked early in dynasty rookie drafts. The hype alone shoots him up boards.

My question is, why was Metcalf not a more dominant collegiate WR? He looked like a man among boys at the WR position, yet he did not always display it. His physical disparity will not be as drastic in the pros either. NFL defensive backs can deal with big and strong receivers who are not dynamic or savvy at running routes. And running fast and straight ahead is not going to get you to the Pro Bowl either. Just ask Kevin White. The last time I focused too much on someone’s upside, I drafted Breshad Perriman. That didn’t end well for me.

I won’t bet against Metcalf being a pro WR; his size and speed are freakish. He also has the NFL pedigree from his father, Terrence. While I like Metcalf much more than Brown and Ridley, I’m just not willing to take him within the first three dynasty rookie picks, which is where he is likely to land. I barely have him in my top-five WRs right now. N’Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside are all big WRs whom I prefer to bank on over Metcalf. So, unfortunately, I won’t own Metcalf on my teams. If I want to take a risk, I’ll do it at a lower cost and draft Miles Boykin or Jalen Hurd in later rounds.

Final Words
Listen, I like all of the above players to varying degrees. Chances are, just not as much as you do. Two are overrated, and one leaves me uncertain. I will likely end up owning no stock in these players because I’m not willing to draft them as highly as they will go in dynasty drafts. They do not present rookie draft values to me. A guy at NFL.com, for whom I have a ton of respect, has all three of these overvalued rookie WRs ranked inside his top 10. Here is Gil Brandt’s list. Metcalf and Brown are first and second on his WR board! Ugh. Good luck in your rookie drafts.

Overvalued 2019 NFL Draft Targets: QB
Overvalued 2019 NFL Draft Targets: RB

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Under the Radar 2019 NFL Draft Targets: QB
Under the Radar 2019 NFL Draft Targets: RB
Under the Radar 2019 NFL Draft Targets: WR
Under the Radar 2019 NFL Draft Targets: TE

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Jeremy Browand is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jeremy, check out his archive and follow him @DFF_Madman.

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