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Re-Ranking the 2021 Rookie Wide Receiver Class (2022 Fantasy Football)

Re-Ranking the 2021 Rookie Wide Receiver Class (2022 Fantasy Football)

It’s a passing league. We hear it all the time. And if you need proof, the past 12 seasons have all produced a top 12 finish in team passing yards per game. It’s no surprise then that the golden age of wide receivers is well upon us.

Historically, rookie wide receivers have faced a steep learning curve to making their mark in the NFL, as teams rarely featured their rookie pass catchers. It would often take time for a first-year player to perfect the nuances of route running and catch up to the game’s speed. There just wasn’t enough volume to go around for players like that.

In today’s pass-happy league, however, quarterbacks are airing it out nearly 35 times per game. On top of that, teams ran 11 personnel (3 WRs) 61% of the time last season, according to Sharp Football Stats. Add in the other three and four-wide receiver sets, and we are looking at 65%. The Super Bowl champion Rams had three or more wide receivers on the field nearly 89% of the time.

All this to say, there are more opportunities for rookie pass catchers to make an impact than ever before. And they’re taking advantage. 12 of the 25 rookie pass catchers to clear 1,000 yards have come in the last decade, according to statmuse.

In 2020, Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN) set the record for most rookie receiving yards in the Super Bowl era with 1,400, even with Adam Thielen (WR – MIN) in the fold. As we entered the 2021 season, there was more concern than hype surrounding Ja’Marr Chase (WR – CIN) due to his preseason habit of dropping passes. Chase snapped Jefferson’s record five months later while posting 1,455 yards, albeit with an extra game on the schedule. And he did it with Tee Higgins (WR – CIN) and Tyler Boyd (WR – CIN) in the huddle with him.

Rookie wide receivers impact the game earlier and more often than we’ve ever seen. Last year’s impressive rookie class doesn’t end with Chase. Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA) broke 1,000 yards with the Miami Dolphins, and plenty of other rookies flashed during the 2021 campaign. But how do they stack up now? Keep reading and find out.

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1. Ja’Marr Chase – Round 1, Pick 5

What did you expect? As mentioned above, Chase broke the record for most rookie receiving yards in a season with 1,455, but the remarkable feats don’t stop there. He had reservations for six a whopping 13 times, which is second-most for a rookie wide receiver of all-time behind only Randy Moss. This ridiculous amount of production saw Chase finish the season as WR5 in PPR scoring and WR3 in standard, which came after he opted out of the 2020 season at LSU due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He had nothing left to prove at the collegiate level, but questions started to stack up after struggling in the preseason.

JChase Screenshot

Skepticism mounted as his struggles validated those who thought the Bengals should add to the offensive line instead of selecting Chase fifth overall. Although the masses shared that train of thought, there was no denying that Chase was an elite prospect. He checked all the boxes that an analytics nerd could look for while also pleasing the film buffs with his smooth acceleration and ability to win contested catches. And if there were any doubters before the combine, his workout metrics made their job more challenging.

It didn’t take Chase long to make an impact as he caught five of seven targets in week one, leading to 101 yards and a touchdown. In the first three games, he scored four touchdowns and topped 100 yards in five different contests, coming close to a sixth with 97 yards in week six. He tallied 391 yards in weeks 16 and 17 combined, including a 266-yard explosion against the Chiefs, which featured an endzone dance from the rookie on three separate occasions.

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Dynasty Outlook

The former LSU (or Wide Receiver U, if you will) Tiger has cemented himself as one of the best dynasty assets. I still slightly prefer his former Wide Receiver U teammate Justin Jefferson, but Chase is closer to WR1 than he is to WR3.

While regression is possible, there’s no reason to believe Chase can’t replicate his numbers next season or improve upon them. Jefferson added over 200 yards and three touchdowns to his record-breaking rookie season. Chase’s benefit is that he’s catching passes from his college QB, and the two figure to play together for many years to come. He’s also sharing the WR room with Higgins and Boyd for now but won’t be taking a back seat to either one of them. And with Burrow airing it out 33 times per game, there are plenty of stripes for all the Bengals pass catchers.

2. Jaylen Waddle – Round 1, Pick 6

After being drafted one pick behind Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle became one of 25 rookies to record over 1,000 receiving yards, along with Chase and fellow rookie Kyle Pitts (TE – ATL). Although the Bengals rookie stole the spotlight, Waddle was far from an extra in this scene, finishing as WR13 in PPR scoring and WR21 in standard.

Waddle’s 140 targets allowed him to set a new rookie record of 104 receptions, leading to 1,015 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games. He notched two carries on the season, resulting in 3 yards and another score. Waddle’s massive target share came from Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA) and Jacoby Brissett (QB – CLE), but he fared much better with Tua, averaging 17.7 PPR points in 10 games as opposed to 10.4 PPR points in five games with Brissett.

That’s not a knock against Waddle. Better QB play translates to better WR play; that’s no surprise. What is a surprise is the 7.1 average depth of target, which is remarkably low for a 4.37 (40-yard dash) player. Many will point to Tua’s lack of arm strength, but the offensive scheme running through two offensive coordinators likely played a role.

Dynasty Outlook

“I would start him in fantasy,” coach Mike McDaniel said, referring to Waddle on The Dan LeBatard Show. This statement came after McDaniel emphatically responded, “WADDLE,” when asked which player most excites him on the Dolphins roster.

I sure would like to ask him this question a second time and see if the team’s acquisition of Tyreek Hill (WR – MIA) changes his answer. The reality is that Hill’s arrival in South Beach might ding Waddle’s value a bit, especially in PPR formats, as his target total is likely to dip. But McDaniel is considered one of the most creative offensive minds in the league, and he has a strong track record in getting the most out of his players.

Waddle suffered from the low ADOT mentioned above, but he also placed 95th in the NFL and 54th amongst WRs with 4.38 yards after catch/reception, per PFF. McDaniel’s former co-worker, Deebo Samuel (WR – SF), led the league in this category by a wide margin with 10.18.

Waddle is not the same player as Samuel by any stretch, but Hill can pop the lid off defenses while McDaniel can create additional room for Waddle to increase his yards after catch totals. He might slide down a few spots in the WR2 range, but don’t panic; Waddle remains a significant time Dolphin capable of swimming with sharks.

3. Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ) – Round 2, Pick 34

Things start to get interesting after a consensus top two. I was a big fan of Elijah Moore’s game as he prepared to enter the NFL Draft, so I wouldn’t consider this ranking a knee-jerk reaction after the second-round picks mid-season surge. The analytics and metrics show a high-level prospect, but it would have been tough to justify Moore as the WR3 of this class after the first seven weeks of the season.

EMoore SS

Moore’s early-season struggles can largely be attributed to shaky QB play, as fellow rookie Zach Wilson (QB – NYJ) was still settling in. After missing week 4 with a concussion and the team’s Week 6 bye, Moore tallied just 79 yards on nine receptions through his first five appearances. Whether you want to believe it’s a coincidence, Wilson missed weeks 8-11, which coincided with Moore’s hot streak. From Weeks 8-13, the rookie WR brought in 34 passes for 459 yards and five scores, good enough for the WR4 in PPR scoring during that stretch.

Unfortunately, the rookie wide receiver’s season ended early, missing the last five games due to a quad strain and COVID protocols. Sustaining success over the entirety of the season is a tricky proposition, but extrapolating those six weeks over 17 games would result in a line of 96 catches, 1,300 yards, and 14 touchdowns. While that’s an unfair exercise, it gives you a glimpse into Moore’s potential.

Dynasty Outlook

The biggest concern moving forward is that Moore averaged just 7.8 PPR points per game with Wilson compared to 20.9 with a combination of Mike White and Joe Flacco at QB. It is important to note, however, that the rookies displayed strong chemistry in weeks 12 and 13 before Moore exited for the remainder of the season. In those two games combined, Moore brought in 10 of 20 targets for 123 yards, one touchdown, and 29.9 PPR points.

If those two games are any indication, we could see the QB and WR’s connection grow stronger heading into next season, but there are additional reasons for optimism. He primarily played out of the slot at Ole Miss and was stereotyped as a slot guy going into the NFL Draft. In fact, the fantasy football community was reluctant to project Moore for success while the Jets employed Jamison Crowder (WR – BUF), a slot wide receiver.

Instead, per PFF, Moore lined up out 70.8% of the time and in the slot just 28.3% of the time. Not only was he adjusting to the NFL, but he was also adapting to a new position. Many of Moore’s best games came with his highest rate playing out wide, including 84 yards, two scores against the Colts, and 141 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins. Gang Green treated him as its WR1 as the season went along, no matter who else was on the field.

The Jets also found other ways to get Moore involved, including five rushing attempts, which he turned into 54 yards and a touchdown. His 4.4 40-yard dash speed placed him in the 91st percentile in the NFL, while his 10.67 agility score put him in the 97th percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. He has the tools to carry the rock from time to time, while his quickness, sure hands, and improved route running make him an explosive outside receiver.

Fantasy managers should treat Moore as a dynasty WR2 with WR1 upside. He’s a player I do not want to miss out on.

4. DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI) – Round 1, Pick 10

As a prospect, DeVonta Smith presented more questions than you’d expect for the third wide receiver ever to win the Heisman Trophy. The tape and production spoke for themselves, but his rail-thin frame raised questions. Could he stand up to the physicality of the NFL? Smith measured in at just over 6 feet tall, but his 170-pound weight left him in the second percentile of all NFL wide receivers, according to MockDraftable.

DSmith Screenshot

To Smith’s credit, he embraced the nickname “Slim Reaper” after being selected 10th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles, which he parlayed into 64 receptions, 916 yards, and five touchdowns. The Slim Reaper sported strong advanced stats as well, producing 9.07 yards per target, 14.32 yards per reception, and a catch percentage of 63.4. His ADOT of 15.19 was the fifth-highest among wide receivers with 50 or more targets and second most with 100 or more targets, per PFF. According to Sharp Football Stats, his air yards share was sixth-best amongst wide receivers at 38.9%, which is notable considering the Eagles had the lowest pass rate at 50%.

Overall, Smith was as advertised in his rookie season. His main weaknesses revolve around his strength, as he struggled to beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage when he could not win with his feet. His 32% contested catch rate proves his limitations when fighting for positioning. However, when he has room to operate, he creates even more of it with smooth route running, quick feet, and an ability to find the defender’s blind spot. His separation skills should translate to more than 3.25 yards after the catch per reception, which is something that will need improvement next season.

Dynasty Outlook

It’s unlikely that Smith will ever be able to win with strength, which only slightly limits his upside. Ideally, the Eagles will add a wide receiver who can do such via free agency or the draft. Either way, Smith needs more than 104 targets to find himself in the WR1 mix. More targets would likely require the Eagles to increase their 50% pass rate. It wouldn’t be challenging to follow the narrative that Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI) needs to improve as a pocket passer. Still, last season’s 73.7 adjusted completion percentage didn’t impede Smith’s success. The reality is that Hurts’ 432 pass attempts were the fewest of any QB who played in 15 or more games. Hurts was far from perfect, and an improvement in his accuracy and ability to see the field would be beneficial, but a spike in passing volume is essential for Smith to make a significant leap in fantasy production.

I have a hard time seeing Smith with five games of four targets or less repeat itself in 2022. While I expect a collective focus to get Smith more involved, I’m not sure it will be enough to launch him into a WR1. Although the cries for more pass attempts are valid, Hurts is at his best when his ground game rolls. That will remain a focal point of the Eagles’ attack.

I’m optimistic that the Slim Reaper improves upon his WR30 finish last season, but it would be wishful thinking to expect WR1 production. He’s a mid to low-end WR2, where I anticipate his production to live, but fantasy managers should still prioritize him over the older options in that range.

5. Kadarius Toney – Round 1, Pick 20

This ranking could be considered an ambitious one by some, but Kadarius Toney was impressive in year one when he was on the field. That, unfortunately, is the key for Toney. He could not consistently stay on the field, appearing in just 10 games and often missing plays with his latest injury. He may fall victim to the fate of being injury-prone, but we are often too quick to hand that label out. The NFL is a different beast than college football. It’s a big adjustment for rookies on the field, but maybe even more so off the field. Taking care of one’s body and maintaining a healthy diet is far more critical as a professional when dealing with bigger, faster, and stronger players. But it is something that players can improve upon, especially for somebody like Toney, who battled COVID-19 during training camp, setting him behind in all facets of the game, including physical shape.

On the field, Toney displayed the quick-twitch that made him a first-round selection. After four receptions and 14 yards through his first three games, Toney exploded for 16 grabs and 267 yards. The scouting report on Toney out of Florida was that of a speedy slot receiver that was electric with the ball in his hands. The information proved to be accurate, but it also sold him short. In Week 5 against Dallas, Toney had Trevon Diggs (CB – DAL) in a blender, running 64% of his routes from out wide and cooking the Cowboys secondary to the tune of 10 catches and 189 yards. The NFL rewarded his efforts with the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award despite his ejection for throwing a punch.

Although 60% of Toney’s routes on the season came from the slot, he lined up there just 45% of the time. The major blemish on Toney’s rookie season, outside of the injuries, was his failure to cross the goal line. He tallied just 420 yards on 39 receptions, but his 2.13 yards per route run stood out as the 17th best mark amongst wide receivers, and he was targeted on 27% of his routes, the fifth-best in the league.

Dynasty Outlook

Admittedly, I was skeptical of Toney’s skillset translating to a consistent fantasy producer. The lightning he created at Florida with the ball in his hands, while special, reflected a player who would need manufactured touches while developing as a route runner. The dreaded term gadget player was thrown around without a second thought.

Turning his perceived route running weakness into a relative strength is a massive boon for a rookie receiver, especially one that battled COVID-19 and several injuries during his rookie campaign. That’s what turns a gadget player into a threat that strikes fear into the defense. It’s an ambitious comparison, but Toney reminds me of the former New York Giants WR1, Odell Beckham Jr. (WR – LAR).

Realistically, Toney hasn’t earned much more than a fringe WR3/4 valuation, but he’s one of the rare players in such a range presenting WR1 upside. If and when Toney fires off a hot start to the 2022 season, it will be too late to buy his stock.

6. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Round 4 Pick 112

It’s tough to value a player who produced a top 24 WR rookie season as number six in the class, but here we are. ARSB finished the season as WR21 in PPR scoring and WR23 in standard after torching opposing defenses through the last six weeks. His 51 catches, 560 yards, and five touchdowns across the last six weeks led him to WR2 during that stretch and a likely fantasy playoff MVP award, if one existed.

Make no mistake, having him as the WR6 of this class is more about a potential historic class than it is a knock against St. Brown, although it may be a little of both. His top 24 finish indicates future success, but context is required. His splits are alarming with and without T.J. Hockenson (TE – DET) and D’Andre Swift (RB – DET).

Six games with one or both of Hockenson/Swift out: 51 catches, 560 yards, 5 TDs.
Eleven games with both Hockenson/Swift active: 39 catches, 352 yards, 0 TDs.

Chances are, if you were a fan of St. Brown’s game coming into the season, you feel validated, and if you were critical, you would point to the absence of Swift and Hockenson during his hot streak. There’s an argument that the USC star was settling into life in Detroit and getting up to speed in the NFL, but we cannot ignore those splits.

Dynasty Outlook

The Lions added to the wide receiver room in free agency, inking DJ Chark (WR – DET) to a one-year deal. On the surface, a one-year contract for a new receiver at $10 million shouldn’t wholly alter our outlook on St. Brown, especially with Chark being a bigger-bodied, outside receiver. St. Brown lined up in the slot on 77% of his snaps last season, soaking up the benefits of Jared Goff’s (QB – DET) underwhelming 27.4 average depth of target.

It’s unlikely Goff will suddenly push the ball downfield, even with Chark in the lineup. While that is good news for St. Brown, his target share is still more likely to tilt towards the 13% he saw last season with Hockenson and Swift in the lineup than to reach the 22% he saw with one or both out of the lineup. With the tight end and running back duo providing Goff the safety blankets he so desperately needs, we can’t expect St. Brown’s target share to come close to 22% with an added weapon on the outside.

St. Brown is a fine player who had some likable qualities entering the NFL, but at a certain point, the shine of an early breakout age wears off, especially after factoring in his 4th round draft capital. His 11.7 college yards per reception put him in the 12th percentile in that category, and his speed scores were hardly any better, leaving him in the 14th percentile. His physicality in the slot will continue its effectiveness, but that’s not enough to generate consistent fantasy production as the third or fourth option in a limited offense.

Don’t get me wrong, St. Brown isn’t just going away, and there is value with his role in the Lions’ offense, but it would be a win if he produces WR3 numbers next season. I’d feel more comfortable having him as my WR4 or WR5. If fantasy managers in your league are still swayed by his late-season surge, I’d recommend getting them on Line 1 to make a deal.

7. Rashod Bateman – Round 1, Pick 27

Suffering at the hands of an inconsistent rookie season and a deep class, Rashod Bateman slides further down this list than anybody had him one year ago. Thanks to groin surgery, the former Gopher could not make his debut until week 6 of the NFL season. Still, he put together a solid rookie campaign with 515 yards and a touchdown on 46 grabs. In addition to his five-game absence, Bateman was tasked with catching passes from backup QB Tyler Huntley (QB – BAL) while Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL) was on the mend for five games.

As a prospect, Bateman checked many boxes the fantasy football community looks for, with many analysts having him at or near the top of the class. We love to see the 98th percentile college target share and a 93rd percentile breakout age, while the 81st percentile college dominator and 76th percentile college yards per reception are nothing to sneeze at. His workout metrics are solid if unspectacular, and his first-round draft capital solidified that NFL evaluators agreed.

It was odd to see Bateman’s snap share drop into the 40s in Weeks 12 and 13 after living in the 60-70 range for such a solid prospect that the Ravens spent a first-round pick. It was concerning, considering we never got an explanation from the team, but if you bought the dip while fantasy managers hit the panic button, congratulations, and well played. The snap share jumped to 68% in Week 14 while Bateman delivered a 103-yard game before skyrocketing to 94% in week 15. It never dropped below 84% through the last three weeks, though the production was spotty down the stretch. Bateman recorded a 0 and 5-yard performance in his final six games, two games in the 20s, one in the 50s, and one over 100.

Dynasty Outlook

A rookie experiencing ups and downs in the NFL is nothing new, and we see it all the time. And Bateman still produced and looked like a quality player in the process. There are question marks, however. A PFF receiving grade of just 65.2 left him at 19th best in the 2021 class overall, finishing behind five running backs and two tight ends. These grades are not the end all be all, but they consider the overall impact on the game, outside of just catching the ball. For example, his grades improve for making big plays in big games, moving the sticks, creating extra yardage, etc. Put simply, he didn’t impact the game as much as many thought he would.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Bateman as he enters year two is what the offense will look and what his role will be. The team was without its young, game-breaking running back, J.K. Dobbins (RB – BAL), and his backup, Gus Edwards (RB – BAL), missed the season. Will the team shift back towards a run-heavy approach next year?

Lamar Jackson finished with an ADOT of 10, the highest of his career and third-best among all QBs last season. Part of that was due to his progression as a passer, part of it was less reliance on the running game, and part of it was a matter of keeping up with Marquise Brown’s (WR – BAL) breakout season. No matter the reason, it didn’t help Bateman’s quest to take over the team’s WR1 role, as his ADOT of 8 left him at 89th in the league. His hog rate of 11.7% and target rate of 20.2% both stood as 65th best in the league, while his 7.7 yards per target (63rd) and 1.55 yards per route run (71st) were pedestrian at best.

The reality is that none of the advanced metrics give us confidence that Bateman was a good player last season, and he didn’t pop on film either. With Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) and Marquise Brown breaking out last year, Jackson’s increasing ADOT, and a greater emphasis on the running game going forward, it’s tough to see a big step forward for Bateman in 2022. And don’t forget, Marquise’s cousin Antonio is still a free agent.

8. Rondale Moore (WR – ARI) – Round 2, Pick 49

The 5’7″ speedster out of Purdue represents the ups and downs of a rookie season as much as anybody on this list. After sparking excitement amongst fantasy owners with a combined 35.2 PPR points across his first two games, Rondale Moore took six games to tally that many points again. His 68 receiving yards in week 1 and 114 receiving yards in week 2 were the two highest totals of his season, while he crossed the 30-yard mark in just three other games.

However, the boom or mostly bust production can be chalked up to an erratic snap share. Moore’s snap share peaked in Week 9 at 82.4%, but he topped 50% just four other times, with 63.6% representing his second-highest total. It’s disconcerting that in Weeks 6 through 9, his snap share never dipped below 50%, yet he only mustered up 20.3 PPR points. Following that stretch, his snap share didn’t touch 50% in any game the rest of the season.

The positive news for Moore is that some of his peripherals are strong if you look beyond the box scores and snap shares. His 26.2% target rate ranked 22nd in the league, while his 14.9% hog rate stood at 32nd, which tells us that despite his spotty snap shares, the team got him involved when he was on the field. An optimist might point out that his actual catch rate of 98.2% points to his efficiency, but PFF measured his ADOT at 1.22, which was easily the lowest among wide receivers, making those targets much easier to bring in. In perspective, 1.22 is the lowest all-time for a wide receiver and would be extremely low even for a tight end. Drew Sample’s 2.14 was the lowest among all tight ends, while the second-lowest mark for a wide receiver was 3.

Dynasty Outlook

Moore lined up in the slot 76.1% of the time last season, good for 21st in the league but slightly less often than teammate Christian Kirk (WR – JAC) (77.8%). Now a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kirk’s absence should open the door for Moore to take over the slot.

Kirk registered a solid ADOT of 12.1 last season, which would suggest that Moore should see an uptick there, but I’m skeptical that it will come close to 12.1. After all, his ADOT as a Boilermaker was just 2.6. His limited route tree makes him reliant on manufactured touches near the line of scrimmage, and this is not what I want out of a fantasy wide receiver.

With 4.37 40-yard dash speed, I’d love to see Moore expand his route tree and get loose downfield more often, but I’m not counting on that becoming a consistent part of his game until we see it. As such, Moore is best left on the end of benches as a WR4/5 with upside if he can develop his route running.

9. Nico Collins (WR – HOU) – Round 3, Pick 89

Although Nico Collins is not even close to catching Rondale Moore in a foot race, he’s very close to catching him in value. Collins, who operates in an almost exact opposite manner to Moore, stands 6’4″ with a 10.32 catch radius, leaving him in the 95th percentile. With a healthy breakout age of 19.5, his 19.7 college yards per reception landed him in the 93rd percentile. Unfortunately, that stat did not translate over to his rookie season in the NFL, when he finished with 1.3.

Collins boasted a strong profile coming out of Michigan and saw plenty of opportunities in Houston, converting his 59 targets into 33 receptions, 446 yards, and one score. At the same time, his 33 catches and 446 receiving yards ranked second among the Texans, that likely qualifies as the most unremarkable achievement of all time.

The Texans’ offense was dreadful, which might help explain Collins’ lackluster metrics. He posted just 1.3 yards per route run and 7.3 yards per target, leaving him at 91st and 73rd. But his yards per route reception of 13.5 is solid enough for 39th place, meaning he was creating yardage when he caught the ball. Why didn’t he catch the ball more, you ask? Well, his 89.2% true catch rate is 37th best, another solid mark. Keep scrolling, and we find that his actual catch rate was just 54% (107th), his target quality rating was 3.76 (105th), and his catchable target rate was 60.7% (108th). Throw in an abysmal 6.6 target accuracy (99th), and it’s clear that the opportunities given to him were subpar.

Dynasty Outlook

The unfortunate news is that the Texans still appear to be circling the drain on offense if they haven’t already funneled down. The good news is that they can’t afford to spend premium picks on wide receivers, so we should see Collins improve on his 62% snap share, and Davis Mills (QB – HOU) showed as much improvement down the stretch as any rookie QB.

If he is going to take a second-year leap, however, Collins must improve on his 36.8% contested catch rate. For somebody with his size who hasn’t seen a ton of accurate targets, he’ll need to win more 50/50 balls to be a difference-maker. He can do it, and the film supports him being a quality player in the NFL, making him an intriguing dynasty target. Despite having Rondale Moore one spot ahead, mainly based on his upside, he’s the type of more prominent name I’d be looking to flip for Collins +.

Other Notable Names

10. Terrace Marshall Jr. (WR – CAR) – Round 2, Pick 59

The Panthers made Marshall a second-round selection after displaying a solid combination of college production, metrics, and early breakout age. In addition, Marshall has good size at 6’2″ with the versatility to move around the field like he did at LSU. In theory, that should have led to his progress getting on the field, but Marshall struggled to maintain a consistent snap share or post any actual production. He finished the season with 17 catches on 30 targets for 138 yards and zero touchdowns. Flipping him for a late second or early third in Superflex would be a win; otherwise, I’d hold and hope he develops.

11. Josh Palmer (WR – LAC) – Round 3, Pick 77

A surprise third-round selection of the Chargers, Josh Palmer showed flashes in his rookie season, finishing with 33 catches on 49 targets for 353 yards and four touchdowns. He would have moved up rankings and value charts had Mike Williams (WR – LAC), and Jalen Guyton (WR – LAC) bolted, but both will be back in the fold, along with Gerald Everett (TE – LAC). Palmer could find his way into a starting role in three-wide sets, but it’s unlikely to be enough to carve out real fantasy value. He remains a solid stash, however, in this explosive offense.

12. Anthony Schwartz (WR – CLE) – Round 3, Pick 91

You’d be forgiven if you mistook Schwartz for a track and field star because he was one. He was named the Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2018 and led the USA to a gold medal in the 4×100 meter relay at the U20 World Championships in 2018. Known for his speed, Schwartz is still developing into a football player, starting with 135 receiving yards and a touchdown on 10 catches in his rookie season. The Browns have been rumored to be looking at wide receiver in the draft and have been linked to Will Fuller V (WR – FA). If they don’t sign Fuller, Schwartz could offer a similar skillset to pair with Deshaun Watson (QB – CLE).

13. Amari Rodgers (WR – GB) – Round 3, Pick 85

The addition of Randall Cobb (WR – GB) before the 2021 season put a dent in Amari Rodgers’ potential value as a rookie. Cobb will presumably be back in Green Bay once again, but as you may have heard, there are many targets up for grabs. The team will most certainly add to the position, with some avenues still open in free agency and the upcoming NFL Draft, but Rodgers should have an opportunity to at least carve out a role if A. Rodgers has a role in an A. Rodgers-led offense, there could be value to be had.

14. Dyami Brown (WR – WAS) – Round 3, Pick 82

As an early-season starter for Washington, Brown posted 92% and 87% snap shares in the first two weeks. He would lose his starting role and struggle to find his way back into a relevant role the rest of the way. I liked Dyami Brown as a prospect, but he always seemed a bit redundant to Terry McLaurin (WR – WAS). I’m not saying they can’t play together, but the team needs big bodies at the position, and I suspect they’ll add that through the draft. Depending on who the Commanders bring in, he’s a name to monitor through training camp and preseason, but he’s likely no more than a candidate for a taxi squad.

15. D’Wayne Eskridge (WR – SEA) – Round 2, Pick 56

The Western Michigan product came into the NFL with an elite 23.3 college yards per reception, placing him in the 99th percentile. His 33.1% college target share was good for the 96th percentile, while his college dominator of 44.6% left him in the 90th percentile. However, none of that transferred into his rookie season in the NFL, as he saw limited action with 64 receiving yards and a touchdown catch with 59 rushing yards. He’s a versatile weapon but not somebody I’m counting on in fantasy football.

16. Tutu Atwell (WR – LAR) – Round 2, Pick 57

The second-round selection of Tutu Atwell was a bit head-scratching at the time and now feels that way even more. He appeared in eight games and returned 15 combined punts and kickoffs while being limited to just 10 offensive snaps. The Rams have a long list of wide receivers ahead of Atwell, leaving this once trendy name with nowhere to land but the waiver wire.

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Chad Workman is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from him, check out his Twitter at @tweetsbychad.

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