While we are all cooped up, I thought it would be a fun idea to get some of the awesome fantasy football writers I’ve met this past season in a league with a few of my choice competitors from home leagues. The basics of the league are: 12 team, superflex, PPR format with a few additional scoring wrinkles such as a quarter point-per-first-down, TE premium, some yardage bonuses and a little negative for QB sacks. Senior editor Razzball_MB wrote a nice review of the pro draft in an article earlier this week. SPOILER: He likes my team in year 1. DOUBLE SPOILER: We may not have a year 1… but, I digress.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Since you’re quarantined and I have your undivided attention, let’s talk about some college running backs that appear to have what it takes to make an impact on your devy roster. In a “devy” league, short for developmental, managers can select players who are still in college (or high school) and stash them on a separate, inactive roster until they are drafted into the NFL.

For the devy manager, there is truly no offseason as we must take the months with no NFL to update our devy ranks and prepare to dig deep and draft some unknown lottery tickets hoping that you can pick up the next Jonathan Taylor or CeeDee Lamb before your league mates even know their name.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The combine has passed, the draft is yet to happen which leaves us in a free agency frenzy… that is unless you are interested in “devy” leagues, short for developmental leagues. In this setup, managers can select players who are still in college (or high school) and stash them on a separate, inactive roster until they are drafted into the NFL.

For the devy manager, there is truly no offseason as we must take the months with no NFL to update our devy ranks and prepare to dig deep and draft some unknown lottery tickets hoping that you can pick up the next Jonathan Taylor or CeeDee Lamb before your league mates even know their name.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The tight end position is similar to QB in fantasy, in the sense that only an elite player really turns tides for your team. Most TE production is replaceable week in and week out. In 2019 the top 7 tight ends ranged between 16.6 and 13.6 in PPR points per game before a 1.3PPG gap to TE 8. The elite tier was even more dramatic in 2018 when the top 2 TEs averaged 3 PPG more than TE3.

Because of this, in most leagues the TE position is an afterthought on draft day. In dynasty rookie drafts it is difficult to know how to value a TE because 1) they take a while to develop for fantasy and 2) they are so often replaceable compared to other positions. If you are going to take a rookie TE, it better be in an attempt to land a whale.

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The quarterback landscape for fantasy is a strange one as unlike other positions a quality QB can stay atop the rankings for over a decade with minimal fluctuation. Additionally, only the very elite  QBs really matter for our game, as we know that after a select few passers, replaceability is very high. So, when looking at rookie QBs, redraft league players can pretty much forget the class (unless it’s Kyler Murray *swoon*) and even dynasty league managers with 1QB don’t need to stick their neck out for a rookie. 

However, moving into deep dynasty or leagues where it is required (2QB) or beneficial (superflex) to start multiple QBs, things get interesting. These types of leagues are often starved for starting QBs and the only way to obtain one is a difficult trade or drafting an incoming rookie. For managers in these types of leagues, let’s get to prospecting! 

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The back end of my WR rankings for 2020 include some crushes that I hoped would have generated some buzz at the combine but didn’t, plus one athletic freak that caught everyone’s eye but I still have doubts about. 

In the pre-combine top 30 rookie wide receiver rankings I laid out the key factors I was looking for and why I ranked the players where I did. As a follow up I am now adjusting based on new information such as body mass index (BMI), athletic testing and overall post-combine buzz coming out of Indianapolis. 

There was a lot of movement within the WR rankings because so many players are very close and small details can cause big ripples. I did penalize the players who did not run at the combine because I think in a class so tight, that will matter on draft day, impacting projected draft round.  

A Word About BMI

Numberfire ran a nice study in 2015 and their conclusion was “If we’re talking absolute, elite production, your best bet is more than likely a tall wide receiver, and a heavy one, too.” The correlation was fairly weak, but in general bigger WRs had more success. The study found that the average BMI for WRs that scored 10+ touchdowns was 27.09 and the average BMI declined in groups with less touchdowns. While that was from 2015, this past season saw 10 of the top 12 WR finishers in points per game had a BMI of >26.5 and 7 of them had a BMI >27.

Only DJ Chark (24.1) came in under 26.  I don’t think it’s linear, as in a 28 BMI is better than a 26.5, but I do think a threshold is probably needed. Most WRs at the combine hit at least 26 because that’s just the typical pool of NFL players. This year is odd because the top 2 consensus WRs did not register a 26, but draft capital cures a lot of ills. The lesser known players that didn’t get to 26 got dinged for me because their draft slot was already tenuous. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

In the pre-combine WR rankings I laid out the key factors I was looking for and why I ranked the players where I did. As a follow up I am now adjusting based on new information such as body mass index (BMI), speed and overall post-combine buzz coming out if Indianapolis.

There was a lot of movement within the WR rankings because so many players are very close and small details can cause big ripples. I did penalize the players who did not run at the combine because I think in a class so tight, that will matter on draft day, impacting projected draft round.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to the back end of my top 30 rookie WRs. Because you are reading this, I already have mad respect for you as I know only the deepest degenerates want to know who the incoming WR30 is. As stated in my initial post, I used receptions per game in college, along with breakout age and projected draft capital to rank this class. 

Most of these guys have a small chance of getting drafted high enough to be projected as a fantasy star, but they all have something interesting to keep an eye on! For those that didn’t read the WRs 1-15 article, I explained some of the methodology below. Otherwise, skip to the list!

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With so many fantasy relevant wide receivers heading into the NFL draft, I had no choice but to list 30 incoming rookies that could be important at the next level and for our fantasy teams. I have previously discovered that receptions per game in college makes for a nice filter when identifying fantasy WR2s or better in the NFL. That, along with breakout age and projected draft capital, were the three-pronged criteria I used to rank this class. 

This article will feature the front of the class, WRs 1-15 by my ranking. Even the consensus studs have some warts (Jeudy/Lamb a low BMI, Reagor’s final season was meh, etc) but it is certainly very deep. There’s something for everyone, so take a peek and see who to flag as we proceed to the summer. 

Please, blog, may I have some more?