Range of Outcomes: Top-Five Rookie WRs

by Aaron Stewart, August 27, 2021

The best part about the Range of Outcome series is that I simultaneously praise and insult your favorite rookies. A shallow running back class was covered here. Quarterbacks were broken into two parts. One covered Trevor Lawrence and two dual-threat QBs. The other covered the two AFC East rookie QBs.

Now we turn our attention to the wide receiver portion of the series. This article will cover five of the top rookie wide receivers’ floors and ceilings. If you don’t see your favorite rookie receiver in this article, be patient. Another upcoming Range of Outcomes article is Scripted, Edited, and Completed.

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Ja’Marr Chase

Big school wide receivers that were productive with high draft capital narrows our list of comps for Ja’Marr Chase to Odell Beckham and Mike Wallace.

Ja’Marr Chase’s Best Comparable Players

 

Wallace’s 2012 season represents Chase’s floor in fantasy football.

 

That season saw Wallace and his teammates Antonio Brown and Heath Miller all top 100 targets. Wallace functioned as a high aDOT option while playing for the Steelers. In 2011, he finished with an aDOT of 15.2 per Mike Clay.

In Chase’s historic 2019 collegiate season, he had a Target Share under 20-percent and averaged 21.2 YPR. These two observations are concerning. First, both Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd finished with top-36 Target Shares in 2020.

Second, Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ porous offensive line have struggled in training camp. It seems the Bengals have not addressed their 82.5-percent (No. 24) Protection Rate of their offensive line.

The lack of pass protection will have Burrow targeting Boyd and his 8.9 (No. 76) Average Target Distance. Additionally, Chase will have competition for deep targets in Higgins, who finished with 24 (No. 10) Deep Targets and 1262 (No. 24) Air Yards.

 

Chase’s ceiling is fellow LSU alumni and NFL superstar WR Odell Beckham.

 

Both are similar sizes with Chase testing as a better athlete. In fact, his 141.9 SPARQ-x Score is the third-highest recorded score among all WRs.

Chase broke out during his sophomore season with a 19.5 (77th-percentile) Breakout Age. This mirrors Beckham’s 19.8 (68th-percentile) BOA. Beckham put together back-to-back top-five WR seasons in PPR during the 2015-16 seasons. On a PPG basis, he finished as a top-10 WR in PPR in 2018.

Target competition is a valid concern for Chase that Beckham did not face during his ascension. A takeaway from Chase’s 2019 collegiate season, though, is that he has the talent to maximize his targets.

 

Chase’s ceiling is multiple top-5 PPR seasons and his floor is a touchdown-dependent WR2.

 

Jaylen Waddle

The Best Comparable Player feature is utilized to show fantasy gamers similar peers at a position. Four of the five comps for Jaylen Waddle combined for 16 career catches.

Jaylen Waddle’s Best Comparable Players

 

Is Waddle more talented than those four? Absolutely. The problem is that 5-9, 180-pound WRs rarely make it to the NFL and a minuscule (pun ABSOLUTELY intended) amount hit.

 

John Brown’s 2018 season with the Baltimore Ravens is the floor for Waddle.

 

Brown and his 4.34 (98th-percentile) 40-Yard Dash was utilized as a deep threat. His 16.3 aDOT ranked inside the top-10 at the WR position (via Pro-Football-Reference). His 42 receptions on 97 (No. 39) targets resulted in a 43.3-percent (No. 106) Catch Rate.

When paired with an 18.0-percent (No. 47) Target Share, it resulted in a WR45 finish. Tua Tagovailoa, a year removed from a hip injury, struggled to throw deep last season. He averaged 5.8 (No. 29) Adjusted Yards Per Attempt and had a 36.4-percent (No. 24) Deep Ball Completion Rate. A lingering hip issue would hinder his ability to throw deep to Waddle.

 

The following 2019 season for Brown represents Waddle’s ceiling.

 

On sheer passing volume alone, Brown’s deep-threat skills were utilized perfectly. Josh Allen’s 72 (No. 8) Deep Ball Attempts countered his 25.0-percent (No. 33) Deep Ball Completion Rate.

Brown finished 2019 with 28 (No. 5) Deep Targets and 862.5 (No. 8) Completed Air Yards. Allen’s tendency to throw deep led to Brown seeing a 25.7-percent (No. 10) Target Share. Brown was in the perfect situation for a deep-threat specialist.

And yet, he finished as WR20 in PPR leagues.

 

Waddle’s ceiling is a low-end WR2 and his floor is a WR4 in fantasy football.

 

 

DeVonta Smith

Woof.

Devonta Smith’s Best Comparable Players

 

DeVonta Smith must be the outlier of outliers to succeed at the NFL. At 6-0 and 170-pounds, the concern with Smith is BMI. We don’t have any players in the database anywhere close to Smith’s size. His Best Comparable Player, Joe Horn, had 30 pounds on him.

The purpose of this article series is to use Best Comparable Players to predict a floor and ceiling. But similar to Clyde Edwards-Helaire last season, a proper floor and a ceiling cannot be determined from the list of players.

Does this make Smith a bad prospect? Absolutely not. The goal with analytics is to find ways to limit mistakes. Simply put, we have not seen players with his analytical profile succeed in the NFL.

Therefore, it’s impossible to take anything away from his Best Comparable Player comps.

 

Smith’s floor and ceiling are incomplete. Trust your film grinders?

 

Rashod Bateman

There are two notable comps for Rashod Bateman with similar physical builds: Stefon Diggs and Tyler Boyd.

Rashod Bateman’s Best Comparable Players

 

With a 33-inch (81st-percentile) Arm Length and 122.7 (58th-percentile) Burst Score, Bateman profiles as a more explosive version of these target hogs with a higher 10.09 (56th-percentile) Catch Radius.

 

Boyd’s 2018 season is Bateman’s floor.

 

Boyd finished with 15.8 (No. 20) Fantasy Points per Game as an efficient weapon from the slot. During the season, he finished with a 14.8-percent (No. 26) Hog Rate.

Of course, he demanded the ball! It’s what he did in college with a 39.8-percent (99th-percentile) College Target Share, and he scored a 29.4-percent (No. 11) Dominator Rating during the 2018 season.

Bateman’s 35.7-percent (98th-percentile) College Target Share rivaled Boyd’s. This was accomplished while playing alongside future NFL WR Tyler Johnson his first two seasons.

Both Bateman and Boyd finished with a College Dominator over 40.0-percent. Bateman can play as a target hog slot receiver that outmatches his nickelback coverage.

 

Bateman’s ceiling is as high as the skyscrapers in Buffalo where Diggs plays.

 

Diggs has had two top-12 finishes in the past three seasons. In 2018 and 2020, Diggs finished top-12 in Target Share and Hog Rate.

These two WR1 seasons were done with pre-breakout Josh Allen and Kirk Cousins at QB. Diggs was able to elevate his quarterbacks to career seasons. Bateman has the talent to do the same to Lamar Jackson.

Similar to Diggs in college, Bateman had an early 18.8 (93rd-percentile) Breakout Age. Additionally, Bateman improved his Target Share each season after his early breakout.

 

Bateman’s ceiling is top-5 WR fantasy football season and his floor is low-WR2.

 

Rondale Moore

As discussed with other NFL rookies, a lack of good analytical comps for players should be taken note of.

Rondale Moore’s Best Comparable Players

 

Unlike Devonta Smith, at least Rondale Moore has a close comp that has produced in the NFL in T.Y. Hilton.

 

Hilton’s 2017 season is Moore’s floor.

 

Moore’s athleticism allows him to play the slot or outside. In 2017, Hilton played on the outside with Jacoby Brissett as his quarterback. The results weren’t pretty.

Hilton saw a slightly higher Target Share (23.1-percent), but caught 52.3-percent (No. 83) of the passes. He finished as WR27 and failed to top 1,000 yards for the only time in a six-year period. It’s worth mentioning that Murray has not finished inside the top-30 in Catchable Pass Rate in his two-year career.

 

Moore’s ceiling is Hilton’s 2018 season.

 

Hilton saw 120 targets and efficiently converted it into a 76-1270-6 stat line. That season he finished as WR14, and the 239.0 PPR points would have been WR15 in 2020. What Hilton accomplished was done with a 22.6-percent (No. 20) Target Share.

An improving pass offense in Arizona jumped from No. 18 to No. 15 in pass attempts last season. The passing yards followed suit and improved from No. 24 to No. 17. Kyler Murray and the Cardinals want to pass more.

In an injury-shortened junior season, Moore averaged 11.67 catches per game. As a freshman, he saw a mind-boggling 29.0-percent College Target Share.

 

Moore is a PPR cheat code.

 

Cheat codes are unfair and so is Moore. His 4.37 (96th-percentile) 40-Yard Dash is paired with a 135.3 (96th-percentile) Burst Score and 10.78 (94th-percentile) Agility Score. Moore has WR2 upside while playing alongside DeAndre Hopkins in an offense that’s trending towards passing more.

 

Moore’s ceiling is a mid-WR2 capable of explosive plays from the slot and his floor is a deep threat WR3 lacking accurate passes from his QB.