This is the first installment in a short series I’m putting together covering incoming skills position rookies who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve… yet. While these names are likely already familiar to fantasy fanatics, they may not be known to more casual players, and it’s our job as writers and advice gurus to spread the word. Let’s get to it.
Hakeem Butler, Iowa State, 6’6”, 225 lbs
Can Butler even be considered underrated at this point? He’s the best receiver in the class of 2019 but I don’t think the collective consciousness knows it yet. They will. This dude is going to be a monster at the next level, and I’m not just referring to his size. But seriously, 6’6”, 225? Who the hell wants the responsibility of covering that? He’s huge, fast, physical, makes those circus-type catches look easy, and breaks not only tackles, but the spirits of defensive backs. Butler exploded for 1318 yards and 9 touchdowns on 60 receptions for the Cyclones in 2018, and he’s only getting started.
Emmanuel Butler, Northern Arizona, 6’4”, 220 lbs
Since that last one was a bit of a cop-out, I wanted to also include a lesser-known Butler on the list. Emmanuel Butler has been generating some chatter lately and is being discussed as the best FCS receiver in this year’s class. He was off to a stellar start to his college career, posting back-to-back 1000+ yard seasons in 2015 and ‘16, before losing nearly all of 2017 to an injury and being limited to nine games in 2018 due to… more injuries. His highlight reel is impressive and we’ll get to learn more about Butler at the 2019 NFL Combine.
Andy Isabella, Massachusetts, 5’10”, 190 lbs
One of my favorite players in this year’s class, Isabella is the next big-time slot receiver in the NFL. The Biletnikoff finalist caught everything en route to a 102 reception, 1698 yard, 13 touchdown performance in 2018. Competition level didn’t matter, as Isabella torched Georgia for a 15/219/2 stat line in November and didn’t have a single bad game all year. This dude can fly and has hands like flypaper. His juke move is dirty and he’s tough to bring down despite his diminutive size. He’s also shown ability as a runner, collecting 342 rushing yards in college.
Anthony Johnson, Buffalo, 6’2”, 207 lbs
Don’t knock the man for playing in the MAC. The Mid-American is known to produce quality NFL talent, and Johnson is the next big thing out of the conference. In his two years at Buffalo, the former juco transfer racked up 133 receptions for 2367 yards and 25 touchdowns. While his numbers in 2018 were down from 2017’s, he plays fast, physical, makes the tough 50/50 receptions, and is great with the ball after the catch. Johnson can make some noise as a rookie and long-term looks like a stud at the next level.
Edit: I chose the wrong Johnson from the MAC. It should have been Diontae Johnson here. Can’t win them all.
Stanley Morgan Jr., Nebraska, 6’1”, 200 lbs
The ‘Huskers aren’t quite what they used to be, and I suspect Morgan is flying a bit under the radar because of it. The program’s all-time leading receiver served as Nebraska’s best weapon, by far, in 2018. Morgan made his fair share of big plays but caught my eye with his consistency, having put up a stat line of at least 3 receptions and 60 yards in every game in 2018, aside from his 2 reception, 31 yard performance against a stout Northwestern defense. Every NFL (and dynasty) team needs steady, consistent contributors capable of going off. Morgan is that player.
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