This is the most intriguing rookie wide receiver class since Davante Adams, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins and John Brown arrived in 2014. Those guys turned out to be amazing, and the 2020 crop shapes up to be pretty great, too.
In any other year, the top rookie receivers would get picked starting at 70th overall. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they won't be nearly as prepared for the pro game as their predecessors were. The rookies didn't partake in any minicamps or offseason programs and won't actually put on their pads and practice in team drills until mid-August. Their first taste of NFL action won't be until Week 1 because there are no preseason games.
Rookie receivers are on a learning curve anyway, and rarely will one break out for big year like Evans and Beckham did when they debuted. It's the rookies who were NFL-ready who figure to take weeks to get acclimated, and the ones who weren't quite as ready will take months, if not the whole year.
This information will help you sort out the rookie receivers who can potentially work as No. 3 wideouts for your Fantasy team from those who might hang out on the waiver wire. Nearly all of these pass catchers will find success at some point this year. It's a matter of when ... and if you're patient enough to wait for it.
The wide receivers are listed in the order I would draft them in a PPR league for 2020 re-draft.
We took a deep dive on the wide receivers and strategies for drafting them Thursday on Fantasy Football Today podcast. Follow all our podcasts and subscribe here.
STRENGTHS: Blazing speed; big-time spring in his legs to jump; polished route runner; a double-move king that helps him get open as well as rack up yards after the catch; physical despite being short; can contribute in return game; NFL pedigree (father is Super Bowl-winning defensive lineman Montae Reagor).
WEAKNESSES: There could be some awareness/focus issues -- he had nine drops at TCU last year (his hands aren't small) and there were a smattering of plays where he didn't seem wired in; leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker.
EXPECTED ROLE: Starting outside receiver for the Eagles. Reagor's experience with spread concepts should mesh well with Philadelphia's altered West Coast offensive system, and his speed is desperately needed. Carson Wentz is an established deep-ball passer who should take advantage.
COOL STAT: Reagor had over 1,000 yards and nine scores as a sophomore. His numbers tanked as a junior, but it was because the true freshman quarterback he played with threw catchable passes on only 30.7% of his targets, according to Pro Football Focus. By comparison, Carson Wentz was on-target with 74% of his throws in 2019 and ranked in the top-10 in PFF's deep passing metric.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Terry McLaurin's rookie year (58 catches, 919 yards, seven touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Terrance Williams' rookie year (44 catches, 736 yards, five touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: If you value the opportunity in front of him in a pass-heavy offense, Reagor's worth taking as soon as 90th overall in any redraft format. However, you may luck into finding him closer to 110th overall since he doesn't have the same name-brand appeal as other rookies in the class. Reagor is worth a late first-round pick in rookie-only drafts and will for sure get taken by the end of Round 9 in keeper formats and Dynasty startups.
STRENGTHS: The best all-around receiver in the draft class; runs routes like a six-year NFL veteran; very good speed with great acceleration when he hits the open field; very good lateral agility to ghost defensive backs; great hands to pick up off-target throws; plays violently; willing blocker; productive track record (over 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2018 and 2019), and was named the country's top receiver in 2018.
WEAKNESSES: Lean body -- he needs to put on a little more muscle; wasn't pressed often in college, so it's unknown if he can handle physical coverage; 10 drops over the past two seasons (on 213 targets); did have a meniscus tear in his knee in 2018.
EXPECTED ROLE: Starting receiver for the Broncos, likely to play along the outside more often than in the slot. May eventually elevate to their No. 1 receiver, but it could be in 2021.
COOL STAT: Jeudy finished his time at Alabama with 2,742 yards, the fourth-most of any receiver who played at Alabama (39 yards behind Calvin Ridley, almost 100 yards more than Julio Jones). He also had 26 touchdowns (second-most in Alabama history) and 159 receptions (fifth-most).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: John Brown's rookie year (48 catches, 696 yards, five touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: Don't be surprised to see Jeudy as the first rookie receiver off the board this year, be it in seasonal leagues (Round 8 or 9), Dynasty startups (Round 7 or 8) or rookie-only drafts (top-five pick).
STRENGTHS: A powerful beast with the ball in his hands -- a physical yards-after-catch machine (over 11.0 YAC per catch); good size to go with effective speed; great, aggressive route runner; very good stutter step that freezes DBs; great hands; great awareness; can and will line up anywhere.
WEAKNESSES: Not a burner, takes a second to accelerate off the snap; sometimes is TOO physical and will draw offensive pass interference penalties.
EXPECTED ROLE: This one's interesting. Lamb figures to play frequently in Dallas, but there's no denying his role will have to be flexible with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup sharing the field. The hunch is he and Cooper will take turns manning the slot. In a year or two, he has a chance to become Dallas' No. 1 receiver.
COOL STAT: Lamb had 807 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman, 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. His quarterbacks were Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts. They helped Lamb set the Oklahoma record for most 40-plus-yard receptions (24); he's second in career touchdown receptions (32) and third in career receiving yards (3,292).
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Realistically, if Cooper and Gallup stay healthy, you're looking at something like Cooper Kupp's rookie season (62 catches, 869 yards, five touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Jeremy Maclin's rookie year (56 catches, 773 yards, four touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: The talent won't match the ADP in 2020. He's going to go in Round 9-plus in re-draft leagues because his target share figures to be lighter than other rookies. But his long-term outlook is arguably the best of any rookie receiver, which is why he could get picked in front of Jeudy in Round 7 of 8 in long-term drafts. He's a top-five pick in rookie-only formats.
STRENGTHS: Undeniably fast, as in one of the fastest people in the NFL already; footwork goes beyond speed with quick movement, cuts and jukes; oversized and reliable hands (nearly 11-inches wide and only two drops); willing to cross the field; can line up anywhere.
WEAKNESSES: Inconsistent physicality -- isn't a pile pusher or tackle breaker and may have problems with tight coverage; amazing talent; but wasn't even the second-most utilized receiver at Alabama; since last September he's suffered a hip pointer, bruised ribs, a concussion and a thigh injury.
EXPECTED ROLE: Ruggs will start for sure, and the coaches say he'll play in the slot a lot. That's cool, but expect to see him line up all over the place. Not only will the Raiders find clever ways to get him the football, but he'll also run downfield and draw enough attention to open up teammates closer to the line of scrimmage.
COOL STAT: Ruggs averaged a touchdown every 4.1 receptions at Alabama.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Honestly? T.Y. Hilton's rookie year (50 catches, 861 yards, 17.2 yards per catch, seven touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Stefon Diggs' rookie year (52 catches, 720 yards, four touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: Expect a Ruggs fan in every Fantasy draft, and that person will take him by Round 9 in re-draft. If you get him later, awesome. He surely won't go later in long-term formats like Dynasty startups (Round 8) or in rookie-only drafts (between seventh and 12th overall).
STRENGTHS: Smooth route runner with crafty feet; nice size; very good hands; very good at winning jump balls thanks to big-time hops; quicker than fast.
WEAKNESSES: Not a burner despite a 4.4 40 time at the Combine; will need time to adjust to playing along the sideline in the pros.
EXPECTED ROLE: He's an NFL-ready slot receiver, and that's where he's expected to be in Minnesota.
COOL STAT: Jefferson averaged 6.5 receptions over his last 22 games at LSU. He also set a school record with 111 catches last year, third-most in SEC history.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Jarvis Landry's rookie season (84 catches, 758 yards, five touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Most of Jordan Matthews' rookie season (67 catches but under 872 yards and half of his eight touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: Expect to find him late in PPR leagues (Round 10-plus), and even later in non-PPR leagues. He'll go a round or two up from there in Dynasty start-up drafts and will be a top-15 choice in rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Speedy yards-after-the-catch specialist; also good at collecting deep receptions; willing to cross the field and run through defensive traffic to make a play; also can return kicks and punts.
WEAKNESSES: Needs work in route versatility; had some drops, wasn't great with contested catches; lean body and isn't overly physical; not a good blocker; only one year of production at Arizona State; abdominal injury kept him out of Senior Bowl.
EXPECTED ROLE: With Deebo Samuel sidelined for the early part of the season, Aiyuk might get fast-tracked into significant playing time. He can line up anywhere and can definitely get schemed wisely in Kyle Shanahan's offense.
COOL STAT: Aiyuk averaged 10.9 yards after the catch per reception in 2019, per Pro Football Focus.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Dede Westbrook's second season (717 yards, five touchdowns), but with fewer than 66 catches.
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Antonio Callaway's rookie season (43 reception, 586 yards, five touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: He's late-round material in re-draft and Dynasty start-ups, even with Samuel on the shelf to begin the year. Expect him to go within the first six picks of Round 2 in rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Big, strong, rangy receiver; uses his size and power to collect deep balls and contested catches; has good speed given his girth; doesn't get tackled easily; has large, reliable hands; has NFL pedigree (father was former running back Michael Pittman).
WEAKNESSES: Not a burner, nor will he separate with speed from most NFL corners; may get called for offensive pass interference occasionally thanks to physical nature; college injuries included collarbone, hand, left high-ankle sprain and shoulder surgery.
EXPECTED ROLE: He might begin his NFL career used similarly to how Eric Ebron was in Indy: red-zone matchup specialist. There's no doubt that once he gains experience he can be an every-down outside receiver.
COOL STAT: Was one of only four FBS wide receivers to catch 100 passes in 2019, and had just two drops on 140 targets.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Mike Wallace's rookie season (756 yards, six touchdowns) but with more than 39 receptions.
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Demaryius Thomas' second season (32 catches, 551 yards, four touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: His big size, matchup potential and clever coaching staff, combined with Philip Rivers' penchant for leaning on big red-zone targets (think Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates), leads me to want him with a late-round flier in re-draft leagues. He's got some major appeal as a post-Round 9 pick in Dynasty/keeper start-ups and carries legit long-term value as a Round 2 choice in rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Shifty, aggressive receiver with a mean streak after the catch; among the most physical receivers in the draft class; moves suddenly; adjusts to off-target throws; primarily worked outside the formation but did line up everywhere, and I mean everywhere -- can play Wildcat quarterback and running back.
WEAKNESSES: Play speed is better than timed speed (4.58) but isn't a burner; needs to improve his route-running technique; might struggle with press coverage; physical play has come with a price -- since 2018, has had surgeries on his toe, shoulder and core muscles.
EXPECTED ROLE: If he's a quick study, Shenault could become an every-down player for the Jaguars because of his versatility. If he's not a quick study then he might just be their third receiver.
COOL STAT: 58 percent of his yards came after contact in 2019.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: If everything goes perfectly, then Deebo Samuel's rookie season (57 catches, 14 carries, 961 yards from scrimmage, six total touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Brandin Cooks' rookie season (53 catches, 550 yards, three touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: Shenault could easily outperform his late-round ADP in seasonal re-draft leagues (the potential rushing yards could help). He'll also be a great-value pick in Dynasty startups with a Round 10-plus pick and in rookie-only drafts in Round 2.
STRENGTHS: Tall and fast; enormous catch radius and great vertical jumps (what a combo); adjusts well to poorly thrown passes; very physical; uses power to create space to make plays; good blocker in run game.
WEAKNESSES: Could be too raw to contribute meaningful numbers right away; fast, but didn't separate with speed; definitely needs improved route running traits; acceleration leaves something to be desired; 19 dropped passes over past two seasons; can be too aggressive going for the ball, resulting in penalties.
EXPECTED ROLE: He should begin the season as the Jets' third receiver with a chance to step into the No. 2 spot if Breshad Perriman struggles.
COOL STAT: In each of his three seasons at Baylor, Sims had a minimum of 50 receptions, eight touchdowns and 14.4 yards per catch.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: DeVante Parker's second season (56 catches, 744 yards) but with a couple more than four touchdowns.
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Aaron Dobson's rookie season (37 catches, 519 yards, four touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: Mims is strictly late-round flier material in seasonal re-drafts. He'll also definitely get picked in Round 10-plus in Dynasty/keeper start-ups. Mims should also get caught in the first half of Round 2 of rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Tall, long-armed body makes him a jump-ball dynamo; solid speed and quick feet help him get open running routes; capable deep threat; solid hands.
WEAKNESSES: lean frame (but could add weight); needs to play with more power; also doesn't speed past defenders frequently enough, leading to more contested catches; not a competent run blocker.
EXPECTED ROLE: In 2020, probably not much unless/until A.J. Green misses time. At best he'll be the Bengals' third receiver. Once an opportunity does open, Higgins figures to fill it as an outside receiver with great potential.
COOL STAT: Not stats, but Higgins grew up modeling his game after Green, then leading up to the draft, he worked out with Joe Burrow. He'll begin his career playing with both of them.
And in case you want a stat, too: he had 25 touchdowns in his past 30 games and is the only guy in the history of Clemson's program with 10-plus scores in consecutive seasons.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Hakeem Nicks' rookie season (47 catches, 790 yards, six touchdowns), but it's only likely if Green misses significant action.
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Kendrick Bourne's second season (42 catches, 487 yards, four touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: At best a late-rounder in seasonal redrafts. He'll get taken in Round 9 or 10 in Dynasty/keeper start-ups and in the top-15 picks in rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Tall, large human; plays with serious physicality, picks up yards after contact; leverages his body to help complete passes; good, quick feet off the snap and in his routes; has the technique to freeze defensive backs; also has experience playing in the slot; good hands -- had just three drops over 107 targets.
WEAKNESSES: Not speedy and might struggle to run past people in the pros; significant injury history -- torn right meniscus in 2015, arthroscopic knee surgery in 2019, foot fracture in 2020; may struggle with contested catches.
EXPECTED ROLE: Might have to fight to find playing time in 2020 but should become a staple in the Las Vegas offense beginning in 2021.
COOL STAT: Played high school varsity football when he was 13.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: If he finds meaningful playing time, he might match Zach Pascal's second season (41 catches, 607 yards, five touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Dorial Green-Beckham's rookie season (36 catches, 392 yards, two touchdowns).
DRAFT HIM: One of your last three picks at the absolute earliest in redraft. He's an under-the-radar late-round pick in Dynasty/keeper start-up leagues and somewhere between 18th and 30th in rookie-only drafts, which also projects to be good value.
STRENGTHS: If superheroes played football, they'd look like Claypool: gigantic, chiseled and athletic; looks like a tight end but doesn't quite run like one; has the potential to obliterate any defensive back in contested catches; primarily lined up outside but did work inside and ran all sorts of routes; good, powerful blocker.
WEAKNESSES: Speed is solid, that's it; footwork has potential to be good but it was inconsistent in college; sometimes struggles to reel in receptions, had seven drops on 80 targets in 2019; torn shoulder in 2017, minor right ankle surgery in 2019.
EXPECTED ROLE: Rarely do the Steelers rush their rookies, so Claypool might at best be a part-timer who could collect easy touchdowns in single coverage (Ben Roethlisberger loves big targets).
COOL STAT : Had 25 career tackles at Notre Dame covering kicks.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Heath Miller's second season (34 catches, 393 yards, five touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Minimal offensive playing time.
DRAFT HIM: Can't envision many folks taking Claypool in seasonal leagues, but can see someone in every single long-term format taking a chance on him. That makes him a late-rounder in Dynasty start-ups and a choice after 24th overall in rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Big-bodied receiver; catches and runs smoothly; not bad at making defenders miss; beast in the red zone; does a good job adjusting to errant throws.
WEAKNESSES: Won't run past many defenders; doesn't have very good quickness in his routes; doesn't play as strong as you'd think; needs work as a blocker; dominated small school competition.
EXPECTED ROLE: Part-time receiver in the Washington offense. Might ascend to the No. 3 option.
COOL STAT: Scored exactly 10 receiving touchdowns in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Had over 1,000 yards in each year, too.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Malcolm Mitchell's rookie year (32 catches, 401 yards, four touchdowns).
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Minimal offensive playing time.
DRAFT HIM: Not expected to find a spot in seasonal redrafts. Will get taken late in Dynasty/keeper leagues and in Round 3 of rookie-only drafts.
STRENGTHS: Excellent speed with excellent acceleration; also has quick feet and uses good technique to create separation in his routes and juke defenders; a lot of slot work in college; also returns kicks and punts.
WEAKNESSES: Very small with limited power to his game, will get out-muscled on contested catches; sometimes uses body to try to corral passes -- led the FBS with 12 drops in 2019; torn ACL in 2016.
EXPECTED ROLE: Broncos' primary return man and third receiver working frequently in the slot.
COOL STAT: Four of his five 100-yard games at Penn State came in his final season.
HIGHEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Hunter Renfrow's rookie season (605 yards, four touchdowns) with fewer than 49 receptions.
LOWEST 2020 POTENTIAL: Minimal offensive playing time and a focus on special teams work.
DRAFT HIM: Unless special-teams yardage counts, you can go without him in seasonal leagues. It's Dynasty startups where he'll get picked late. He'll probably get nabbed in Round 3 in rookie-only drafts.
Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.