This draft class was absolutely stacked with WR talent. I would even go so far as to say that it is the best in the last decade. Now that we have certainty about where these prospects have landed, and who they have surrounding them, we can make a more accurate analysis on how to go about drafting them this season. An impact rookie wide receiver can do wonders for filling out your roster. So without further ado let’s get into it!
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Overvalued or Undervalued (Impact Rookie WR Edition)
Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) ECR WR #27:
Chase opted out of his 2020 season at LSU due to covid reasons. Flashback to 2019, he won a National Championship and was regarded as one of the best WRs in the country. Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Burrow made quite the combination in college, and guess where Chase ended up two years later…..? Back with Joe Burrow in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals. I absolutely love this landing spot for Chase.
Now I know a lot of people might be deterred due to the fact that there are a lot of mouths to feed in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. I may be in the minority here, but given the fact that they have other weapons that defenses have to plan for, this should help Chase’s growth period early on. I would even go so far as to say that this Bengals offense has the potential to be a fantasy gold mine.
A guy like Chase is someone that can win leagues, someone that is matchup proof, and you can plug into your lineup without too much thought. This is why I am reaching for a lot of rookie WR’s this season, Chase being one of them.
ECR: WR #27
My Rank: WR #23
Conclusion: Slightly undervalued
Devonta Smith (PHI) ECR WR #41
This is going to be a guy that fantasy managers will talk about for a long time. The Alabama product is simply a gamer. He is not the biggest, he is not the fastest, and he is not the strongest, but he produces on the biggest stage day in and day out. Philly is an interesting landing spot for Smith, the Eagles liked him so much that they traded up in the draft in order to hop over to the Giants and steal Devonta Smith.
From day one, Smith will be the guy in Philadelphia. He is too good and too versatile. The Eagles ranked 11th in the NFL in pass attempts per game with 37.4. As Jalen Hurts progresses into his sophomore year, there is reason to believe that they will be throwing the ball downfield a bit more. Smith broke nearly every receiving record at Alabama. Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about perhaps the best football program in the country. A program that hosted the likes of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Amari Cooper, and Jerry Jeudy. I know there are question marks about the size, and the strength but until the production ceases, I want every share of Smith I can get my hands on.
ECR: WR #40
My Rank: WR #28
Jaylen Waddle (MIA) ECR WR #51
You all may notice a trend here, but Waddle is another guy that I am targeting earlier than the expert consensus rankings. This is a wide receiver with truly elite speed and a complete knack for creating a ton of open space on the field. Listen, I am also a Myles Gaskin truther, but the reality is, this is a team that is very close to contention, and in order for that reality to come into fruition, they desperately need Tua to take the next step this season.
Waddle slides in next to Will Fuller V and DeVante Parker, in what looks to be a great receiving room. At his current ADP, there are few guys that possess the upside that Jaylen Waddle has. Therefore, I see no reason why one wouldn’t take a gamble on this rookie.
ECR: WR #51
My Rank: WR #44
Rashod Bateman (BAL) ECR WR #64
This is the end to the trend of undervalued rookie wideouts. To put it simply, I want almost no shares of this Ravens offense outside of Mark Andrews.
My verdict on the matter has less to do with Bateman being talented, and a lot more to do with the fact that the Ravens offense is too sporadic for my taste. On any given week, someone will have a monster game. But John Harbough often seems to do exactly the opposite of what fantasy managers think he will do. I could end up eating my words, and the pairing of Lamar Jackson and Rashod Bateman could be elite, but I highly doubt it, at least in year one.
ECR: WR #64
My Rank: WR #68
Conclusion: Slightly overvalued
Rondale Moore (ARI) ECR WR #73
This one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Rondale Moore is perhaps the most agile, short burst receiver in this most recent draft class. My concern is the landing spot. The Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and AJ Green rostered. Therefore, we as fantasy managers have to question where the targets are going to go.
Moore is likely to have the occasional big play, but consistent targets are likely not going to come his way in his rookie campaign. So in conclusion, his ECR seems far too high considering the other rookies that are ranked below him and have a much easier route towards a steady target load.
ECR: WR #73
My Rank: WR #83
Amon Ra St. Brown (DET) ECR WR #81
St. Brown needs to be ranked higher than Rondale Moore, solely based on the current receiver room in Detroit. The Lions gave Jarred Goff a huge upgrade on the offensive line when they drafted Oregon OT Penei Sewell. This is a team that had T.J. Hockenson, and little to no WR weapons. Thus, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to assume that St.Brown immediately becomes the guy in Detroit.
Amon Ra St. Brown lit it up at USC, but he was a borderline top-10 WR in my draft rankings prior to draft day. Nevertheless, Goff needs somewhere to throw the ball. Not to mention, the Lions are not likely to be a contender, and so the game scripts are usually going to lean towards throwing the ball late in games. He is not someone I am actively targeting, but he is ranked lower than he probably should be.
ECR: WR #81
My Rank: WR #76
Conclusion: Slightly Undervalued
Terrance Marshall Jr. (CAR) ECR WR #83
Terrance Marshall Jr. was ranked higher in my pre-draft WR rankings than both Rondale Moore and Amon St.Brown. But, for fantasy purposes, talent is only one factor, and a landing spot is an entirely different beast. Carolina has a pretty packed WR corp. DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and David Moore are the current projected top three in Carolina.
Again, it is important to state that Marshall Jr. is extremely talented, but the current landing spot makes it difficult to trust that he will receive consistent targets. As we know, as far as wide receivers go in fantasy football, target shares are everything. Without a regular load of targets, plugging a guy like Terrance Marshall Jr. into your lineup is nothing short of throwing a dart.
ECR: WR #83
My Rank: WR #90
Kadarius Toney (NYG) ECR WR #90
Toney was one of my dark horses coming out of the University of Florida this season. He has an elite speed grade and he is excellent at creating space all over the field. I know I am preaching to the choir at this point but this is yet another case of a WR room that is simply too crowded to trust the incoming rookie.
This pick was a little perplexing to me considering that with the addition of Kenny Golladay, the Giants had plenty of wide receivers, and their biggest need was an edge rusher. Nevertheless, here we are, and we have to project what we can expect out of Toney…
Kadarius has big upside, there is no denying that, but as far as consistent targets go, I am simply just not sure that they are going to be there. Especially considering that the Giants got Saquon Barkley back, and Daniel Jones will have a lot of mouths to feed. So while I do not mind the idea of taking a shot on Toney, I would temper my expectations at his current ECR.
ECR: WR #90
My Rank: WR #95
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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