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Dynasty Rookie Draft Sleepers: Javon Baker, Malik Washington, Johnny Wilson (2024)

Dynasty Rookie Draft Sleepers: Javon Baker, Malik Washington, Johnny Wilson (2024)

Identifying fantasy football sleepers and under-the-radar players is one of the most fun parts of our fake game, but the process has changed over the last few years with so much information now at our disposal.

With a fresh new crop of rookies comes the opportunity to find draft-day bargains. When it comes to dynasty drafts and rookie sleepers for redraft/early best ball leagues, we have to dig pretty deep. That’s why I’ve embarked on a search for what I like to call “true sleepers” – small school and late third-round or Day 3 draft picks who could surprise early in the NFL.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

After researching and writing up my 2024 rookie dynasty rankings, I’ve identified a handful of wide receivers who could generate fantasy value like Puka Nacua, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Darnell Mooney, Gabriel Davis, Romeo Doubs, Khalil Shakir or Rashid Shaheed did as rookies.

Remember that those Day 3 wide receivers seldom do what Nacua or St. Brown did in their rookie seasons, as I addressed in my pre-draft approach on how to value rookies in 2024 fantasy football.

I include some wide receivers with late-second-round or third-round draft capital for additional names. This class is extremely deep, meaning we could see up to 20 WRs drafted in the first three rounds.

Dynasty Rookie Wide Receiver Sleepers

Finding the Next Sleeper

Like my approach with running backs, I wanted to dive back into the prospect profiles of the Day 3 rookie wide receivers who popped in recent years. What, if anything, stood out?

Darnell Mooney not only posted a 33% career dominator rating at Tulane, but he broke out during his freshman year at age 19. Gabriel Davis’ 24% career dominator rating was less impressive, but he also posted an early breakout at the same age.

Mooney and Davis also showed we want to chase big-play upside with late-round picks. We can find that upside in players who create chunk gains. For example, Mooney averaged over 20 yards per reception in a collegiate season. Davis finished fifth in deep-ball receptions in his final year at UCF.

And although St. Brown doesn’t fit the big-play threat archetype, he still has a top-tier breakout age at 19 to go along with overall middling production and athletics.

However, guys who flashed and accrued dynasty value as their rookie seasons progressed, like Joshua Palmer and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, entered the NFL with vertical-threat prowess on their resumes.

Khalil Shakir and Romeo Doubs both broke out at age 19. Shakir was highlighted as one of my favorite Day 3 rookie WR sleepers in 2022 after he posted an extremely high dominator rating (46%) in his final year at Boise State. Doubs wasn’t quite as productive at Nevada but he still posted a top-10 dominator rating in the 2022 WR class. He also thrived as a downfield threat, with 55 targets of 20+ air yards in his last two college seasons.

Shakir and Doubs have seen their values increase compared to starting as Day 3 rookies.

Rashid Shaheed was an undrafted free agent in 2022 signed by the New Orleans Saints and didn’t make the active roster until October. But the team knew they had something in him based on his electric kick-returning profile from college. He broke out at 20 years old and averaged nearly 18 yards per catch in his final year at Weber State. Shaheed was also targeted on throws of 20+ air yards on 33% of his targets. His ascendance continued last season with him emerging as the Saints’ No.2 WR.

As for the 2023 rookie class, should we have seen the Nacua breakout coming? I know I was extremely high on Jayden Reed last season given his early breakout age, special teams ability and sheer production at 18 years old. Although the NFL wasn’t sleeping on Reed, given he was drafted in the second round.

Nacua also had an early breakout (19) and produced immediately in his first season at BYU. He commanded a bonkers target share (38%) and was heavily used downfield. Nobody could have projected Nacua for a record-breaking rookie campaign, but there were clear signs of sleeper appeal with his prospect profile.

Rashee Rice also had a 19-year-old breakout season. Tank Dell didn’t have an early breakout age but entered with one of the highest career dominator ratings in the 2023 WR Class.

And even though Marvin Mims Jr. didn’t quite fire as some had hoped in Year 1 — although he did make the Pro Bowl — his value has stayed at least stagnant into Year 2. He entered the NFL super young with a strong special teams background. But his career college dominator rating was a bit lackluster.

A.T. Perry had some glimpses in the 2023 season and was somebody I highlighted in last year’s sleeper article. He ranked highly in TDs of 20+ air yards. The same can be said for Dontayvion Wicks, who had spells of production in the Packers’ offense. Again, I highlighted him last season as an honorable mention because of his big-play ability and vertical game. Trey Palmer didn’t produce in Year 1 but made his way onto the field despite being a sixth-round pick. Again, another prospect who commanded an extremely high target share to go along with a deep threat and special teams skill set.

Demario Douglas was someone I was very late on given I was much higher on Kayshon Boutte. That was an error on my part. Douglas broke out at 20 years old and posted a top-five target share in the 2023 class at 32%. Like many sleepers that “hit” in the later rounds, Douglas also offered value as a special teams returner and posted a strong dominator rating (60th percentile), per PlayerProfiler.com.

The rookie WR busts from last season that were drafted later — Cedric Tillman, Jonathan Mingo, Jalin Hyatt — all had breakouts at age 21 or older. There were way more hits at 20 or younger (especially at 19). There were more underwhelming rookie WRs ranked near the bottom in college career dominator ratings versus the top.

As for best season versus final season dominator ratings — when the final season was much worse than the best — it was a negative outcome in Year 1. The rookies had much better results when the finals season/best season were the same.

Unearthing incoming rookies with high-end college production, a solid breakout age, kick/punt return ability and/or a vertical element to their game is a great way to scoop up sleeper value late in rookie dynasty drafts. Especially given the new kick-off rules we could see NFL teams value special teams ability even more in this year’s draft.

Breakout Ages for the 2024 Draft Class

Name Team Age Class Career Dominator Rating Breakout Age
Malik Nabers LSU 21 Junior 28% 18
Xavier Worthy Texas 21 Junior 30% 18
Jacob Cowing Arizona 23 Senior 32% 18
Brenden Rice USC 22 Senior 20% 18
Rome Odunze Washington 22 Senior 26% 19
Keon Coleman Florida State 21 Junior 20% 19
Troy Franklin Oregon 21 Junior 23% 19
Ainias Smith Texas A&M 23 Senior 18% 19
Tahj Washington USC 23 Senior 14% 19
Marvin Harrison Jr. Ohio State 22 Junior 24% 20
Jalen McMillan Washington 22 Senior 17% 20
Malachi Corley Western Kentucky 22 Senior 18% 20
Jamari Thrash Louisville 23 Senior 24% 20
Malik Washington Virginia 24 Senior 22% 20
Brian Thomas Jr. LSU 21 Junior 24% 21
Adonai Mitchell Texas 22 Junior 15% 21
Ja’Lynn Polk Washington 22 Senior 16% 21
Devontez Walker North Carolina 23 Redshirt Junior 24% 21
Ladd McConkey Georgia 22 Junior 14% 21
Ricky Pearsall Florida 24 Senior 19% 21
Jermaine Burton Alabama 23 Senior 19% 21
Javon Baker UCF 22 Senior 11% 21
Xavier Legette South Carolina 23 Senior 15% 22
Roman Wilson Michigan 23 Senior 21% 22
Johnny Wilson Florida State 23 Senior 21% 22

Javon Baker (WR – UCF) 

Javon Baker couldn’t sniff the field at Alabama (he wanted the ball and was facing elite competition), so he transferred to UCF during the last two seasons of his college tenure. He enjoyed two strong seasons with the Knights, posting dominator ratings of 23% and 31%.

The 6-foot-1 and 202-pound WR was a big-play savant, owning the second-highest yards per reception (21.9) nationally in 2023. He ended the season fifth in yards per route run among the 2024 WR draft class (3.21).

Baker finished fourth in targets and third in receptions of 20+ air yards in 2023. The only other WRs in the class to do so? The consensus top-four (Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze, Brian Thomas Jr. and Malik Nabers).

His deep route percentage ranked third in the class, per Sports Info Solutions.

He reminds me a ton of DeVonta Smith from a route-running and body-control perspective. Baker has more size and yards after the catch (YAC) to his game, though.

The body of work and late breakout age aren’t ideal. But when given context to playing at the ultra-competitive Bama program — neither Smith nor Jaylen Waddle had early breakout ages — it can be more easily forgiven. There’s no denying Baker produced immediately once he started playing as a starter with a 27% dominator rating during his final two seasons at UCF. That mark would match the top WRs in the class. What if Baker had stayed at Alabama? There’s a chance he would have had similar production as the Crimson Tide’s No.1 WR and be a consensus top-five WR in this draft class. It’s not a given his production would carry over, but given how cheap Baker is in your rookie drafts, he’s worth taking a shot on.

Per PlayerProfiler.com, Baker’s 34% college target share ranks in the 97th percentile.

Single Season Dominator Rating

Name Best Season Dominator Rating Best Season Final Season Dominator Rating
Devontez Walker 50% 2022 22%
Malik Washington 47% 2023 47%
Marvin Harrison Jr. 44% 2023 44%
Jamari Thrash 43% 2022 26%
Jacob Cowing 42% 2020 29%
Xavier Worthy 39% 2021 23%
Roman Wilson 37% 2023 37%
Xavier Legette 35% 2023 35%
Malik Nabers 34% 2023 34%
Rome Odunze 33% 2023 33%
Brian Thomas Jr. 33% 2023 33%
Adonai Mitchell 32% 2023 32%
Keon Coleman 31% 2023 31%
Ricky Pearsall 31% 2023 31%
Javon Baker 31% 2023 31%
Jermaine Burton 30% 2023 30%
Troy Franklin 29% 2023 29%
Malachi Corley 27% 2023 27%
Ainias Smith 27% 2020 15%
Jalen McMillan 25% 2022 12%
Brenden Rice 25% 2023 25%
Ja’Lynn Polk 23% 2023 23%
Tahj Washington 23% 2023 23%
Johnny Wilson 22% 2023 14%
Ladd McConkey 20% 2022 9%
Jordan Whittington 13% 2022 8%

Malik Washington (WR – Virginia) 

Malik Washington posted crazy numbers in his final and lone year at Virginia, after transferring from Northwestern — 47% dominator rating with nine TDs and nearly 1,400 receiving yards. The 191-pound svelt WR also recorded a 38% target share, which led all WRs in the 2024 draft class.

His 2023 season was one of the best in the class. And his ascension continued into the testing stages with him posting impressive jumping numbers in the broad jump and vertical leap. He ranked first in the vertical jump in the class at 42.5″ (98th percentile). He may be short, but he is so stout and rocked up physically.

The 5-foot-8 WR thrived at the East-West Shrine practices. He finished the 2023 season as Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) second-highest graded WR (92.4).

As one of the oldest WRs in the class (will be 24 in October), the raw experience should help Washington hit the ground running. It will be extremely telling if Washington can earn Day 2 draft capital.

Johnny Wilson (WR – Florida State) 

At an imposing 6-foot-6 and weighing 231 pounds, Johnny Wilson is a physical specimen who brings a unique set of attributes to the wide receiver position.

Wilson began his collegiate career at Arizona State before transferring to Florida State, where he flourished. His towering frame and catch radius made him a favorite target on contested catches. In his first season with the Seminoles, he racked up 43 receptions for 897 yards and five touchdowns for a 22% dominator rating, showcasing his ability as a constant threat to opposing defenses. His 3.36 yards per route run ranked 5th-best in the nation (second among Power 5 schools).

The big concern is his late breakout age of 21, which came in 2022. He posted a 22% dominator rating but took a step back this past season with just two TDs after Keon Coleman took over as the No. 1 target for Florida State (although Wilson was more efficient on yards per route run basis). Still, somebody will take a shot on his rare size, hoping they can recapture his 2022 form. Not to mention, his target rate is above expectation (14.7%), ranking first in the 2024 WR class. He was targeted more often than he should have been — likely due to factors relating to his massive catch radius. When he’s covered, he’s still open.

Many NFL teams have expressed interest in converting Wilson to tight end, which would likely be a positive for his fantasy outlook.

More Dynasty Rookie Draft Advice


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