Just like the quarterbacks article, I will be breaking down my top 15 devy and dynasty prospects at their position. This list will be updated daily until we get to #1.
Just Missed (16-20):
20. James Proche, Senior, Southern Methodist – 5’11″/190
19. Damonte Coxie, Redshirt Junior, Memphis – 6’3″/200
18. JD Spielman, Junior, Nebraska – 5’9″/185
17. Donovan Peoples-Jones, Junior, Michigan – 6’2″/208
16. DeVonta Smith, Junior, Alabama – 6’1″/175
15. Justin Jefferson, Junior, Louisiana State – 6’2”/185
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 54 REC, 875 YD, 16.2 YPR, 6 TD; 5 CAR, 26 YD
This one feels like a projection. Jefferson isn’t exactly a household name at receiver (outside of LSU households, at least) but he has fantasy WR2 upside. LSU finally has a decent quarterback and they should be able to lean on the passing game much more in 2019 than they have been able to in recent years.
The main beneficiary of this will be Jefferson, who led the team in receiving last year, and should have an even better season in 2019. He was consistently a good receiver in 2018, playing well against very tough teams like Georgia, Alabama, and Central Florida.
Jefferson also beat up on the teams he was supposed to, like Ole Miss and Arkansas, and only had one dud performance against an SEC opponent, Mississippi State.
I love to see consistency in players. If I can rely on a guy to get me a reasonably steady 12 fantasy points per game with an 18 spot here or there, I value that more than an inconsistent player with a ceiling of 30 points but a floor of 5. And I see Jefferson potentially being that type of fantasy performer.
He’s really fast, tracks the ball well, has good hands and makes a lot of tough catches. On film, I almost always see him outrunning the coverage, so this is a player who will be able to burn NFL defensive backs with some regularity we’re talking about.
Jefferson shows a lot of effort when he plays. There are highlights of him diving for overthrown passes and while he isn’t a great blocker, he is willing to do it, which is another trait I love to see in a player. This type of effort is an indicator of a hungry player who wants to get better.
And while he’s great as a deep threat running “go” routes, he’s a good route runner and his tree is a little deeper than that, which makes me think he can continue to grow in this area as a future pro even if his role in college is primarily as a deep threat.
LSU is known to produce a lot of pro receivers. Jefferson is next up to be a good one.
14. Collin Johnson, Senior, Texas – 6’6”/220
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 68 REC, 985 YD, 14.5 YPC, 7 TD
Something about Collin Johnson reminds me of Devin Funchess, except Johnson is slower than Funchess, who ran a sub-4.5 forty time at the combine.
For the record, I think Johnson is going to be a better NFL player than Funchess has been, but the comp isn’t very promising and it is a big reason we find him here at 14.
Johnson’s highlight reel looks great but the cracks start to form once you get into his film more. He’s a big, physical receiver who has the size advantage over any defender that will be assigned to him. And he uses his size well to his advantage, boxing out defenders or simply out-leaping them.
As mentioned before though, Johnson isn’t particularly fast or quick. He is not shaking a defender on a route, nor is he outrunning the defense on the way to the house. Johnson might be able to run through some tackles but that, too, becomes more difficult in the pros.
It is encouraging, however, that Johnson has shown clear improvement each year he’s been in college. The fact he went back to school for his senior year shows also that he’s a team-first kind of guy. He will be great for an NFL locker room and has potential to be a good player, which should get him drafted as high as the second round in the NFL Draft.
Overall, I think Johnson can be a good possession receiver and red zone target in the NFL. The touchdown numbers he’s capable of putting up alone will give him fantasy value.
13. Tylan Wallace, Junior, Oklahoma State – 6’0”/185
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 86 REC, 1491 YD, 17.3 YPR, 12 TD; 1 CAR, 6 YD, 1 TD
Lucky 13. When I do my dynasty and redraft rankings, I like to designate the 13th spot for a player I label “Lucky 13,” and identifies a player I view as a bit of a wildcard. They could very well be better than #13 but there’s also a feeling they could be worse. Wallace falls into this camp for me.
Based on stats alone, Wallace looks like he should be ranked higher, but I carry a healthy amount of skepticism toward Oklahoma State receivers in the NFL. And Wallace’s film, while good, doesn’t scream “star.”
Wallace is an all-around pretty solid receiver, that’s why he’s in the top 15 still, but nothing about him pops enough for me to consider him a top 10 or better overall receiver prospect. He is my #9 draft-eligible receiver though and I see him as a 3rd-round NFL Draft prospect.
One of the reasons I’m a little low on Wallace is because he only lines up on one side of the field and doesn’t have a lot of versatility outside of that role. I also get the sense that his fantasy value will be heavily contingent on his landing spot and scheme much more than most, if not all, of the players ranked above him.
However, you don’t collect nearly 1500 yards without beating up on pretty much everyone you play, but Wallace particularly played well against Texas and Oklahoma with 10 receptions for 220+ yards and 2 TDs in each of those games. I figure we will see him post another 1300+ yard season in 2019 and he should be a Biletnikoff Award candidate.
Wallace shows a lot of promise as a player who could be a fantasy WR2 at some point in his career.
12. Tyler Johnson, Senior, Minnesota – 6’2”/200
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 78 REC, 1169 YD, 15.0 YPC, 12 TD
Johnson was a quarterback in high school but has excelled at his new position in college and become a very good wide receiver for the Gophers. I have a mid-second round draft grade on him right now but that could go by the end of the 2019 season with an equal or better performance to last year.
The Minneapolis native isn’t elite in any one area but he’s an all-around good athlete with good hands, speed, quickness, and route running ability. He’s quick enough to shake some (but not all) defenders and is not afraid of contact. Johnson is tough to bring down and uses his skills as a ball carrier from his days as a dual-threat QB to pick up a lot of yards after the catch.
He has clearly improved each year he’s been in college and he will continue to improve as he becomes more accustomed to being a receiver. I don’t think Johnson is going to be a completely finished product coming out of Minnesota, simply because he’s fairly new to this position and still has a lot to learn.
Competition levels don’t matter to Johnson either. Some of his better games last year were against tough teams like Ohio State and Iowa. He’s a consistently solid-or-better performer too, and only had two games I would consider fantasy duds in 2018.
Johnson has the intangibles, too, as he’s hardworking and a great team guy. In my opinion, he is an ideal complementary receiver in the NFL and has fantasy WR2 potential. He should have a long, solid career in terms of performance on the field and in the fantasy realm.
11. Henry Ruggs III, Junior, Alabama – 6’0”/183
2018 Stats: 14 GP, 46 REC, 741 YD, 16.1 YPC, 11 TD
The first of three Alabama receivers in the top 15 – and it was almost four. I swapped out DeVonta Smith for Justin Jefferson so I wouldn’t be accused of Bama bias…
Ruggs’ stats don’t jump off the page the way Tylan Wallace’s or even Tyler Johnson’s do, but Ruggs is more talented. The four-star recruit out of Montgomery, Alabama, runs a 4.25 second 40-yard dash. That’s insane. And he’s tough. He can reliably make those tough, contested catches. He’ll run through some tackles and can go over the middle, too.
Ruggs can lineup anywhere on the field and will continue to improve as a route runner. I see him as the perfect complementary receiver in the NFL. So, what’s keeping him out of the top 10?
Firstly, and most simply, I don’t see Ruggs as a #1 receiver for an NFL team. He looks more like a complement to a true #1 and I think his target share in the pros will be capped as a result.
The other reason: consistency, or the lack thereof. I want to see Ruggs show up more against stiff competition in 2019. He tended to disappear against tougher teams and had less than 60 yards in nine games last year, only going over 100 twice.
Of course, I have to point out that this is partially a result of Ruggs, a receiver with first-round upside, having to share the field with two other future first-round picks at receiver and one more who could be selected in the second round. On a team where he was top dog, he’d be a 1000-yard receiver, easily.
Ruggs is a freak athlete and he’s a good football player too. Guys like that are coveted at the next level. And coming out of Alabama, you can count on Ruggs to be a well-coached, polished prospect with some upside.
Did I mention his future speed rating of 98 on Madden? Ruggs can be what John Ross was supposed to be.
10. Bryan Edwards, Senior, South Carolina – 6’3”/220
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 55 REC, 846 YD, 15.4 YPC, 7 TD
Getting right into it, Edwards is stepping into sole possession of the #1 receiver role at South Carolina after the departure of Deebo Samuel. He’s the top 10 standard: big and fast with good hands and leaping ability. He also can make some of those “circus catches” and is a solid red zone target.
In 2018, Edwards was sort of consistent, as he made at least three catches in every game. However, he had less than 60 receiving yards in seven games and I would have considered six of those to be fantasy duds. Edwards’ talent says he’s higher than #10 in the nation, but I would like to see more consistency and less disappearing in games.
With that, I’m interested to see whether or not he becomes a more statistically dominant receiver in 2019 as the top dog. Stats don’t tell the whole story but I’ve found they are often a great indicator for fantasy purposes when paired with some film study.
In one of the older episodes of the Ride or Dynasty Podcast where we went through a mock rookie draft, I got a little overzealous and drafted Edwards in the second round, admittedly not realizing he had not declared for the draft. After all, he was eligible and his junior year film looked very solid.
Last year, I had him ranked as a top 10 receiver prospect eligible for the 2019 NFL Draft. For the class of 2020, when he will for sure be available, I have him ranked as the WR6. That includes a prediction of some improvement over last year, but I don’t see him rising any further above this ranking and I project him as a fantasy WR2 at his peak.
I feel like Edwards is the type of player where someone might reach up for him in the middle of the first round of a dynasty rookie draft. He could also be one that slips into the second round. I personally wouldn’t take him any earlier than the very end of the first round in a 12-team league, but he’s a priority target if he’s still there in the second.
9. Tee Higgins, Junior, Clemson – 6’4”/205
2018 Stats: 15 GP, 59 REC, 936 YD, 15.9 YPC, 12 TD
Higgins is one of the best receivers eligible for the 2020 draft and should be taken high in the first round. He’s a bit of a physical freak, a five-star player out of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who was a key member of last year’s Clemson team, which, of course, went undefeated on their way to laying a smackdown on Alabama in the National Championship like I haven’t ever seen before.
Higgins played pretty well in that game but was easily overshadowed by Justyn Ross’ dismantling of Bama’s secondary.
Like all the others in the top 10, Higgins has very good hands and is very athletic, though he will be tracked down by defensive backs in the NFL. He does not possess elite speed and I see him as mainly a high-upside possession receiver who will make a lot of catches, but perhaps not do much after the catch. Despite this, he definitely has the upside of a #1 receiver on an NFL team.
While he might contend for fantasy WR1 status at some point in the future, I loosely compare him to another former Clemson star, Mike Williams, who has yet to emerge as that type of player in the pros despite displaying a similar upside in college. My guess is that Higgins will settle in as a consistently solid fantasy WR2 option.
A big reason for being this low on Higgins is because heading into 2019, he isn’t even the best receiver on his own team despite having more experience than the other guy. If I’m drafting devy players based on next-level potential I see, there are eight receivers I like better than Higgins right now in mid-July, 2019.
This really isn’t a big knock on him though. I’d be happy to have Tee Higgins on my fantasy team. But this is a really good class we have coming up in 2020 and someone has to be my fifth-favorite. Similar to my thoughts on my #9 QB Justin Herbert, before I consider Higgins, I’m looking at four underclassman receivers I like more that I see as the best of the class of 2021. The first one appears at #7.
8. Jalen Reagor, Junior, Texas Christian – 5’11”/195
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 72 REC, 1061 YD, 14.7 YPC, 9 TD; 13 CAR, 170 YD, 2 TD
Jalen Reagor has quickly become one of my favorite receivers in the nation since I’ve been working on this summer scouting project. He is a four-star recruit out of Waxahachie, Texas, hometown of the great Brian Waters, former All-Pro tackle Jamaal Brown, and Montae Reagor, a retired NFL defensive lineman. Montae also happens to be Jalen’s father.
Montae Reagor was a former All-American at Texas Tech and was selected by the Denver Broncos with the 58th pick of the 1999 NFL draft. NFL talent runs in the family, and Jalen Reagor will surely be drafted higher than his father.
I take hand-written notes when I watch film to get my knee-jerk thoughts on paper. An excerpt of my notes on Reagor reads: “Fast, strong after the catch. Can make contested catches. Has ability to shake a defender, strong route runner. Did I mention he’s fast? Accelerates quickly, has a juke move. F*ck. He’s fast. One-handed catches!”
So, a couple weeks later this article drops reporting that Reagor runs a stunning 4.29 40-yard dash. The very first thing that jumped out at me was Reagor’s speed but I didn’t know he was that fast.
Reagor is a versatile weapon too. He can lineup all over the field and even takes handoffs. He excels as a route runner and has great hands with the ability to make those spectacular catches that end up on the “Top 10 Plays of the Week” countdowns.
This kid is going to be a stud in the NFL and has the skillset to be a team’s WR1. There are 32 of those positions available, so it’s a matter of where within those 32 Reagor falls. I actually agonized a little bit over where to rank Reagor since I think he could be higher than this, but like Tee Higgins, if I miss out on the top three from 2020’s class in my devy league, I’m looking at the top players in the 2021’s class first.
I compare Reagor to DJ Moore, a player I also happen to be very high on. Reagor is faster, Moore is stronger and breaks more tackles. But they’re both very talented, versatile receivers who make a lot of big-plays as excellent runners after the catch. My best guess is that Reagor’s peak is as a consistent high-end fantasy WR2 with potential to push into the top 12.
7. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Sophomore, Southern California – 6’1”/195
2018 Stats: 11 GP, 60 REC, 750 YD, 12.5 YPC, 3 TD
It was the week of the annual USC-Notre Dame rivalry game, a must-watch every year for college football fans. These games are always competitive and entertaining, featuring future NFL players on both teams. The one last year was no different, as both teams saw numerous players drafted this past offseason, yet, amongst all that NFL-level talent, one player in particular stood out to me. St. Brown.
I had read about the uber-talented true freshman, a five-star receiver out of Santa Ana, California, but had not yet seen him play. St. Brown made catch after catch after catch throughout the game, carving up one of the nation’s best defenses with clean, precise routes, displaying speed, quickness, and great hands.
He racked up 10 receptions for 94 yards in that game and I kept thinking how I could see him just as seemingly effortlessly dicing up NFL defenses like that someday, too. So, when I began this summer scouting project, I knew one of the receivers I had to do more research on was Amon-Ra, the youngest of the St. Brown brothers.
Equanimeous played receiver for Notre Dame and is now a Green Bay Packer, and Osiris is in line to become the go-to receiver for KJ Costello at Stanford this year. The brothers are good, but Amon-Ra can be great.
My pro comp for Amon-Ra St. Brown is a slightly taller version of Odell Beckham Jr. They’re both somewhat similar in size and are deadly route runners with the speed to separate. Amazing hands and concentration lead to jaw dropping catches that few other receivers can make. St. Brown has the flash and swagger of OBJ, too. On and off the field.
He’s a highly-marketable guy, face-of-the-franchise material with potential global appeal (he speaks three languages and has roots in Germany) and has superstar written all over him. Is he going to be as good as OBJ? That’s not a prediction anyone can make. OBJ can be an all-time great. But St. Brown is going to be be a very good pro at the very least.
No, he did not have the same 2018 that guys like Rondale Moore or Justyn Ross had. He also did not have as ideal of a quarterback situation as either of them, nor did he have the three extra games Ross played in to pick up those 371 extra yards.
USC is known to produce notable NFL receivers with some regularity. My belief is that St. Brown is next up in a long line that includes Lynn Swann, Keyshawn Johnson, Steve Smith, Robert Woods, and Juju Smith-Schuster.
On my way-too-early 2021 NFL Draft big board, I have a spot in the top 15 set aside for St. Brown. Will be a pro team’s #1 receiver and has fantasy WR1 upside.
6. Rondale Moore, Sophomore, Purdue – 5’9″/180
2018 Stats: 13 GP, 114 REC, 1258 YD, 11.0 YPC, 12 TD; 21 CAR, 213 YD, 2 TD
I’m going to preface this by saying the players I have ranked 5-7 are interchangeable. If you prefer one over the others, you’ll hear zero argument out of me. I heaped praise on Amon-Ra St. Brown as being similar to Odell Beckham Jr. in many ways. If he somehow ends up as good as Beckham, I was wrong and #7 in my rankings was too low. However, St. Brown has more to prove than Moore.
Moore’s pro comp isn’t quite as impressive, but he can be better than his comp, unlike St. Brown. How can one be better than OBJ? He’s already a legend in his mid-20s. But this isn’t about St. Brown. We’re here to discuss the stud Boilermakers receiver out of New Albany, Indiana.
When I watch Moore play, I see a faster version of Golden Tate in Andy Isabella’s body. This is a player who would have caught the attention of college football fans and devy league fantasy footballers even if he hadn’t exploded for over 1450 combined yards as a true freshman.
The four-star prospect turned down offers from Texas and Alabama to stay in-state. In his first campaign, he seemed to be impervious to competition levels and only had what I would consider fantasy dud performances twice, one against Iowa and the other against Eastern Michigan. With this level of dominance right off the bat, the Big 10 is on notice for the next two to three years.
Moore already looks pro-ready at the age of 19. He has great hands and has all the moves after the catch to make defenders miss. He is the type of player that can turn a screen pass into a touchdown. Moore is very dangerous with the ball in his hands, especially in space. NFL defenders are tougher to run around or put a juke move on, but good luck tackling Moore in the open field.
Being as quick as he is fast, Moore also runs with a surprising amount of tenacity and I saw him run through quite a few tackles in my film study. His speed and quickness will hold up in the NFL, but Moore is very small and I’m skeptical whether he can similarly break free from would-be tacklers at the next level or not. This will lead to less big plays overall.
He will also not be able to out-physical bigger NFL corners and will often have to be schemed open to compensate. Moore has a lot of versatility as an athlete and could lineup all over the field, however, he might be best suited to the slot where he can be that reliable chain-moving safety blanket-type receiver in the same vein as Wes Welker or the aforementioned Tate.
The positives far outweigh the negatives for Moore and he has a bright career ahead of him. He comes in at six and not higher because there are two sophomore receivers I’d prefer to add to my devy dynasty teams and I’m also very high on three draft-eligible juniors who I believe will all declare for the 2020 draft, could realistically be top 10 selections, and have immediate impacts in the NFL.
As far as the class of 2021 goes, Moore should be a first-round pick, though he might fall closer to the end of the first or even the second round due to his size. That won’t stop him from becoming a very good pro receiver though. Draft position ain’t nothing but a number. It might even motivate him more. Moore has fantasy WR1 upside.
5. Jaylen Waddle, Sophomore, Alabama – 5’10”/182
2018 Stats: 15 GP, 45 REC, 848 YD, 18.8 YPC, 7 TD
Bama bias! Jaylen Waddle at five? Above Rondale Moore? Lolz GTFO, bro!
I’ll probably catch some noise for this one, but this is a projection. Yes, Moore was an All-American as a freshman whereas Waddle was a mere Freshman All-American. And sure, Moore had more than twice the number of catches Waddle had. I can’t even cite a difference in size as a reason for preferring Waddle.
On film, they’re both future stars and it is difficult to say if one is actually better than the other. Truth be told, I like my pro comp for Waddle a little more than the one I have for Moore, which influenced this ranking more than my being a Bama fan did.
Here is my case for Waddle:
There is a lot of speed on this list, but Waddle might be the fastest. He can flat-out fly. It’s unfair. I would be more surprised to see him run slower than a 4.3 forty time than I would be to see him go faster than 4.25. There was a video of him and Henry Ruggs racing this offseason and they were neck and neck.
As a true freshman amongst the sea of talent that is Alabama, Waddle stood out. A five-star prospect out of Houston, Waddle was an incredibly explosive playmaker for the Tide in 2018 with the ability to take the top off a defense, and finishing second on the team in receiving behind Jerry Jeudy’s 1315 yards.
Waddle averaged an insane 18.8 yards per reception in 2018. For comparison, Rondale Moore only averaged 11.0 yards. If Waddle saw the volume of targets Moore saw to make those 114 receptions, he would’ve ended up with 2143 yards. Sure, that pace may have been unsustainable, but it’s not due to lack of ability that Waddle didn’t collect 1250+ receiving yards as a freshman like Moore did.
This is not to take anything away from the guy. Moore is amazing, but he had basically zero competition for play time or targets. Waddle had to claw and fight his way onto the field as the WR4 on an offense fielding five-star talent at nearly every position.
Waddle made many plays for the Tide as a deep threat last year but is much more than that. He’s a tough receiver who can go over the middle and make those catches in traffic, too. With the ball in his hands, he is very dangerous. He’s shifty, has some jitterbug to him, and has elite acceleration. And Waddle will only continue to improve. The sky’s the limit.
My pro comp for Waddle is Tyreek Hill. He can be Hill without the off-field issues. Perhaps even better. Get him paired with a creative offensive mind like Andy Reid or Sean McVay and you have an unstoppable force at receiver who cannot be locked down by one single defender. I see him as a no-doubt #1 receiver for both NFL and fantasy teams in the future. Tyreek Hill 2.0!
4. Laviska Shenault, Junior, Colorado – 6’2”/220
2018 Stats: 9 GP, 86 REC, 1011 YD, 11.8 YPC, 6 TD; 17 CAR, 115 YD, 5 TD
Shenault is going to be a really good receiver in the NFL. I had heard about him last year and knew he was being discussed among the top receivers in the nation but it wasn’t until I started doing research on this scouting project that I saw for myself what he was capable of.
I was actually reviewing film on Colorado’s quarterback Steven Montez when Shenault really caught my attention. Montez is a quality quarterback and has some potential to play at the next level, but I couldn’t help but notice that Shenault seemed to be on the other end of every one of Montez’s best throws.
He dealt with some injuries in 2018 but nothing too concerning going forward. Despite missing a few games, he still went over 1100 total yards, averaging 11.4 touches per game for 125 yards, and 1.2 touchdowns. That is a crazy level of production that few on this list can match.
This dude is fast, physical, flashy, and has a prototypical possession receiver build around the same size as Dez Bryant or Davante Adams. He has a similar upside to both those guys, too. Dez was one of the most dominant receivers in the game during his prime and Adams is currently one of the best.
On film, you can see Shenault making tough, circus-like catches, leaping over sometimes two or more defenders. He can be relied on to be that #1 go-to receiver and he is versatile, occasionally taking carries out of the backfield and being used effectively on reverse plays.
While Shenault isn’t as shifty as the four players ranked below him, he is still dangerous after the catch. Especially when he gets the ball in space, Shenault is a powerful runner for a receiver and is adept at making one cut, getting around a defender, and turning on the jets for a big gain. He can be observed clearly leaving defenders in his dust with legit speed likely in the 4.4s.
In speaking of jets, the Jets of New York would be a great fit for Shenault. They need a true #1 receiver, and the record I project them to finish with should put them in position to draft Shenault, who could be selected as high as the top 10 of next year’s draft, should he declare. Pair him with Robby Anderson and let Sam Darnold just have a field day picking defenses apart. Future fantasy WR1.
3. CeeDee Lamb, Junior, Oklahoma – 6’2”/191
2018 Stats: 14 GP, 65 REC, 1158 YD, 17.8 YPC, 11 TD
Oklahoma is an offensive powerhouse that seems to send at least one big-time fantasy-relevant player into the NFL each year. There was Joe Mixon in 2017, Baker Mayfield in 2018, and Kyler Murray and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in 2019. Take a guess at who this year’s might be.
Murray was, of course, drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. And Brown, while undersized, is a very talented, electric receiver who had over 1300 yards for the Sooners last season and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens of the 2019 NFL Draft. But, what if I told you he wasn’t even the best receiver on his own college team?
A very real argument can be made that CeeDee Lamb, a four-star prospect from Richmond, Texas, was.
Lamb is a great athlete and he makes some of the most amazing catches I’ve seen a college receiver make. He’s physical (see his hit on Bama’s Mack Wilson in the highlights vid), is really fast, and a really good route runner. This dude is a baller. He just has “it.” Lamb was born to be an NFL receiver. Watch some of his film and tell me I’m wrong.
From a statistical perspective, he finished second behind Brown in receptions and yards last year, but edged out Brown in yards per catch with 17.8 versus Brown’s 17.6 and scored 11 touchdowns, which was one more than Brown.
Yes, Lamb played in 14 games last season while Brown only played in 12. That also shows he can stay healthy for a whole season, that’s a good thing. As for the statistical divide, keep in mind Lamb was a sophomore and still has some growing to do. He improved over over the couse of the season and played at a very high level against Texas and Alabama in the final two games.
I came away from the playoff game against Bama impressed with Lamb and I began to think about how awesome Oklahoma’s offense is going to be in 2019 with the addition of an improved Jalen Hurts at quarterback.
This year, Lamb steps into a clear #1 receiving role for the Sooners and is set to perhaps make a run at the Biletnikoff Award, but he will have to unseat last year’s winner, which is going to be a tall task. At the very least, he will be First Team All-Big 12 and a very high draft selection in 2020.
My pro comp for Lamb isn’t exactly a perfect match but I liken him to Stefon Diggs, but what Lamb loses in juke moves and stutter steps, he makes up for in being a little taller and more physical. Lamb will be a pro team’s #1 receiver and should be a significant contributor as a rookie. He will be an easy top five pick in dynasty league rookie drafts and a high-end option at receiver for many years.
2. Justyn Ross, Sophomore, Clemson – 6’4”/205
2018 Stats: 14 GP, 46 REC, 1000 YD, 21.7 YPC, 9 TD
I just want to get this out of the way. My pro comp for Justyn Ross is AJ Green, a comparison I don’t make lightly. The upside is similar, too. Ross can be that damn good and I don’t think I’m jumping the gun too much.
Before even getting into what he does on the field, I want to talk about something I see as largely intangible in Ross. That is how he played his best football against the best competition in the country, Notre Dame and Alabama. That speaks to something in such a young player that no stage is too big, in fact, he thrives as the lights get brighter. Not all athletes are wired this way and it is rare.
Ross is also crazy athletic, plays physical, makes those contested catches, one-handed catches, outleaps defenders, and has some juke moves after the catch to boot. He is fast enough to outrun defenders in the NFL, too. Breaking those long runs after the catch won’t be a problem for Ross. At his size, that’s a terrifying proposal for whichever cornerback is lined up across from him.
I mean, this is a guy who will go into the pros as a 6’4”/225 receiver that runs in the 4.4s and can play every receiver role. Ross can win those fights for the ball in the redzone and take the top off the defense as a deep threat, all while making those all-important chain-moving catches. And he does them all at a high level.
He led last year’s Clemson team in receiving yards as a true freshman. His clip of 21.7 yards per reception was absurd. Give Ross the same volume as his teammate Tee Higgins (59 receptions) and you have a nearly 1300-yard receiver on your hands. As a true freshman. I repeated that to emphasize the kind of weapon Ross is already. Because his ceiling is so much higher.
Keep in mind, too, that Ross also played with a true freshman at quarterback for most of last year. As great as Trevor Lawrence is (he’s my #1 devy quarterback and consider him an immediate top 12 dynasty quarterback upon becoming draft-eligible), he was also in his very first year as a starter. He had some growing pains and wasn’t perfect by any means the whole season.
My point is that both these guys are only going to get better as they adjust to the competition level and develop a better rapport. As a sophomore this year, Ross will make the #1 role his own and not give it up. He’s simply better than Higgins or anyone else on that great Clemson team. He’s better than most receivers in the nation. All but one, actually.
Ross’ biggest downside is that he’s only a sophomore and will have to wait until 2021 at the earliest to become draft-eligible. But for you devy and dynasty footballers out there, this is a future top five NFL receiver – for real and for fantasy, and a surefire top 10 pick in whatever draft he enters. AJ Green 2.0! Do with this information what you will.
1. Jerry Jeudy, Junior, Alabama – 6’1”/192
2018 Stats: 15 GP, 68 REC, 1315 YD, 19.3 YPC, 14 TD
Alabama is a prime example of that old saying about how the rich get richer. They have an absolute embarrassment of riches at every position on that team, but their receivers group is second to none. And, of course, the alpha of this potentially all-time-great group is Jerry Jeudy, a consensus All-American and 2018’s Biletnikoff Award winner.
Jeudy is the best draft-eligible football player in the nation. He’s #1 on my big board and, even as a receiver, is worthy of the first overall selection. If it weren’t for some excellent quarterback prospects being available for 2020, I think he would be. He has All-Pro written all over him, and has the best chance of someday being regarded as legendary out of all the great players on this list.
The five-star receiver out of Deerfield Beach, Florida is a rare freak athlete who is as quick and elusive as any player I’ve ever seen. He’s better than most running backs in this department. This is an elite receiver who is additionally able to do things after the catch that few, if any, are able to do. Even without that ability, he would still be a first-round talent.
Jeudy is not particularly big or powerful, but good luck wrapping him up. He’s too shifty to be tackled by one defender. It will often take a small crowd of defenders to do it. If he gets the ball in the open field, forget about it. Just try not to get burned next time you’re on the field. But we all know what’s going to happen.
In my opinion, Jeudy is the most talented receiver prospect to come out of college since Julio Jones. Yes, they’re very different players but they’re both true #1’s. Jeudy is also the one player I couldn’t come up with a good pro comp for because I think he’s going to be a standard-setter that future receivers aspire to be.
The talent speaks for itself. We have already covered two other Bama receivers I see as first-round prospects in this countdown, and mentioned another as being worthy of second-round consideration. Bama also saw a tight end selected in the second round in 2019’s draft. And yet, Jerry Jeudy stood heads and shoulders above all of them.
I already consider Jeudy a top 12 dynasty receiver and I’m not being hyperbolic. If you have an opportunity to add him in your devy leagues, do it. Because unless you’re holding the 1.01, or 1.02 if someone in your league loves D’Andre Swift, in rookie drafts next year, you aren’t going to have this opportunity at a relative discount again.
Here are 10 more names to keep an eye on:
Freshman Phenoms: Bru McCoy, USC; Garrett Wilson, Ohio State; John Metchie, Alabama
Sophomore Surge: Justin Shorter, Penn State
Junior Jump: Shi Smith, South Carolina
Senior Spring: Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt
Sleepers: Rashod Bateman, Sophomore, Minnesota; Osiris St. Brown, Junior, Stanford; Marquez Stevenson, Junior, Houston
Transfer to Watch: Jayden Reed, Sophomore, Michigan State (transferred from Western Michigan)
That’ll wrap up my summer devy project! I’ll be covering running backs individually throughout the season. Much more content is in the works! If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @bicspicksffb.