if you missed the rookie running back rankings primer from Monday - go watch that first.
Ja'Marr Chase - LSU
Borderline no flaws for Ja'Marr Chase as a prospect.
Never forget, this guy went 84-1780-20 as a 19.5 year old sophomore. He sat out the 2020 season and is still widely viewed as the consensus WR1 in this class and a top-5/7 pick which should tell ya about all you need to know.
He came in a tiny bit lighter/smaller than we hoped, but that really doesn't matter in the NFL anymore.
He's awesome in contested catch situations, he's awesome downfield. Both PlayerProfiler and PFF have him comped to OBJ - He's not as flashy and quick-twitch as OBJ, but he has the capability to be just as good as an overall WR at the next level.
There's about a 0% chance he drops out of the top 10 picks in the draft, so he'll always have that draft capital.
Move along here.
Rashod Bateman - Minnesota
Like everyone else in this class, the biography numbers were lied about when they were in school. We were told Bateman was 6'2-210lbs, he's 6'0, 190lbs.
Doesn't make him any less awesome than he was. My comp for him was always Justin Jefferson. Just wildly crispy on the short/intermediate routes, underrated after the catch, can absolutely be a problem on downfield throws. He's in that Jefferson/Keenan Allen arch-type, capable of doing everything at an 8.5 or above, and can certainly develop elite traits in the NFL. He can play the slot, he can play outside, sub 4.5 speed, with a breakout age of 18 years old. Absolutely dominant as a sophomore before catching covid and opting out in 2020.
Do not let the lack of flashiness deter you from Bateman as a top pick in this year's rookie drafts. The nuances he brings to the field are the nuances that bring your dynasty teams to future chips.
DeVonta Smith - Alabama
Man, Smith and Jaylen Waddle are my WR3/4. They're in the same tier for me and I can't really decide who I want more. I'd argue that Waddle has more upside, tbh. Most people would think they opposite, but Smith has a better floor.
No 6 ways about it, Smith is dominant on film. His routes, attacking the ball in the air, his explosiveness, his YAC. Nothing not to like about his game on tape.
Everything outside of watching TV gets a bit icky.
- Size - probably like 170lbs.
- Breakout age came late - nearly 21 years old.
- Didn't test at the pro-day, so we don't know how fast he is. Is he a 4.39 guy, or a 4.51 guy? It matters. Just bc you think he's fast on tape, doesn't mean he's NFL FAST.
Jaylen Waddle - Alabama
The one thing I'm confident in saying Jaylen Waddle definitely has is game-breaking speed. I really see Tyreek Hill when I watch Waddle. Uncoverable speed.
But here's the thing, it feels like everyone feels the need to argue for one or the other, but pretty much everything you ding Smith for, you have to ding Waddle for. The weight: also around 175lbs. Waddle just happens to be 5'9 instead of 6'0 - do you look at that as a positive? Tyreek Hill is short, but he's thicc. But do you want height on your WR? I know we don't want 6'4, but isn't 6'0 better than 5'9?
If you're going to talk about Smith's breakout age, you also have to acknowledge Waddle's... and that it's way, way, worse in just about every category:
You might be asking, why would anyone put Waddle over Smith, well here are the arguments:
1. The NFL might literally do that. There's a very, very real chance, I'd say at least 50/50, that Waddle actually gets drafted before DeVonta Smith does.
2. When we talk about college WRs, we like to look at production relative to age. So one thing to note is that these two are the exact same age. Waddle is 11 days younger than Smith. But Waddle's freshman season, his 18 year old season was far more impressive than DeVonta Smith's. As a freshman, Waddle out-produced DeVonta Smith as a sophomore. He also out-produced Henry Ruggs, Irv Smith, lot of NFL players. So there is credence to it, on a relative basis against Smith on the field at the same time.
3. The last argument, and easily the least favorite of mine personally is the 4-game sample size in 2020 of the two playing together before Waddle got hurt.
Smith caught like 14 more balls than Waddle did, he earned far more targets, had a much higher target share, same number of TDs, just had like 70 fewer yards overall than Waddle. People are acting like Waddle out-scored, out-touched, out-targeted Smith by a hefty amount during that span, wasn't even close to the case. The yardage was there, Waddle is an elite deep threat.
Smith doesn't win the Heisman if Waddle stays on the field, but they're both great players. The draft and landing spot will dictate if either has the ceiling of being an alpha, or they're just high-end WR2s on their own team.
At the end of the day, they're both great prospects but both carry a pretty damn high degree of risk in terms of using a 1st round rookie pick on.
Rondale Moore - Purdue
Rondale Moore is borderline the most athletic man on the planet
His explosiveness would set off a metal detector.
Running, jumping, spriting, lunging, If he sat on a whoopie cushion i feel like it would send him shooting through the roof.
Man this guy is fun to fucking watch on film. He's a guy that actually jumps off the tape, both figuratively and literally.
That 5'7 thooooooooo
THAT 5'7 :(
Even Steve Smith was 5'9. We have like 0 historical precedent of having a 5'7 player be a legit fantasy WR. Even 5'8 is tough to find someone really fantasy-relevant outside of pure slot WRs like Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, those types of guys.
How many teams are gonna let a 5'7 guy lineup and roast on the outside? Should they? Yeah. It would be amazing if he went to NO or GB in the byke part of the 1st round and even if either of those teams used him as a full-time slot WR, that would be amazing.
But I'm nervous some team is going to use him as like a hybrid running back, that gets like 60 targets and 60 carries. Like cool, but 120-150 touches when 40-50% of them are carries isn't serious enough volume for me to get excited about in fantasy.
I think I'm gonna continue leaning towards the side of idc that much about the height and think the talent wins out, but just like every other exciting prospect in this class, there are serious red flags that can stifle him at the next level - and Moore's red flags aren't really even his own - it's more so the NFL team that drafts him has to choose not to be cunty about how they use him.