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2019 NFL Draft Class Preview - Wide Receivers (Part 2)


Last month, we kicked off the draft class preview by discussing the top prospects at the WR position and we've followed it up with the other fantasy-relevant positions.

There's a reason to be excited about the TE position and some of the potential with the RBs, but make no mistake about it, the strength of this class is the depth at the WR position. There will be contributors that come from day three of this draft.

So today, we'll wrap up our preview of this class with shorter draft previews about more prospects than normal. I apologize in advance if I skip out on your favorite sleeper.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Methodology

As a reminder, in case you missed my first preview, my primary two tools are regression trees created by Anthony Amico and Kevin Cole showing the historical success rates of WRs based on their college production. In each of these regression trees, success is considered a top-24 WR season in the player's first three seasons.

Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State

Height: 6'5''
Weight:  225 lbs
Final Season Age: 22.6

Hakeem Butler G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 8 9 134 14.9 2 0.04 0.10 0.07
2017 13 41 697 17 7 0.2 0.26 0.23
2018 13 60 1318 22 9 0.42 0.46 0.44
Career 34 110 2149 19.5 18 0.22 0.27 0.24

For his career, Butler's statistics aren't overly impressive. He fell short of the ideal 29 percent market share of yards and he only had one season over the breakout season threshold of a 0.30 dominator rating. However, even though he doesn't stand out for his career, his final season is so impressive that he tests well in both regression trees with a 33-percent historical success rate in the Amico model and a 50-percent success rate in the Cole model.

Butler's combine could improve his draft stock into early day two or potentially late day one. Assuming that he's a day two selection, Butler is likely a mid-first round rookie pick in dynasty leagues.

 

Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State

Height: 6'0''
Weight:  208 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.5

Parris Campbell G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 4 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2016 12 13 121 9.3 0 0.04 0.00 0.02
2017 13 40 584 14.6 3 0.16 0.08 0.12
2018 14 90 1063 11.8 12 0.21 0.24 0.22
Career 43 143 1768 12.4 15 0.13 0.11 0.12

In a similar fashion to many Ohio State receivers before him, Campbell lacks the production to stand out as a prospect. He finishes with a 1.7-percent success rate in the Amico model and 32 in the Cole model. The positives for Campbell, however, are a consistent improvement in usage, relative youth despite being on campus for four years, and high-level athleticism resulting in versatility.

Campbell not only developed as a receiver but added some value in the running game and as a returner. He's expected to be a combine star which could lead to his draft stock rising. If a team projects him as an offensive weapon rather than a pure WR, he could turn into a Theo Riddick type player with PPR value. He likely projects as a second-round rookie pick.

 

Marquise Brown, WR Oklahoma

Height: 5'10''
Weight:  168 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.6

Marquise Brown G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2017 13 57 1095 19.2 7 0.22 0.15 0.18
2018 12 75 1318 17.6 10 0.29 0.23 0.261
Career 25 132 2413 18.3 17 0.25 0.19 0.22

After a season in junior college, Brown made an instant impact on the high-powered Oklahoma offense. He never exceeded a 0.30 dominator and fell short of 29 percent career market share of yards. Brown's efficiency during his two seasons makes it clear that he's a capable field stretcher and with 29 percent of a historically good OU offense in 2019, there's a reason to believe in his talent. He finishes with a 33 percent success rate in the Amico model and 32 percent in the Cole model.

Between his size and his lisfranc injury, there are a few red flags about Brown's chances. Without a combine or pro day, Brown will rely on his existing film and team interviews to improve his draft stock which ranges from early round one pick to late day two. Any day two pick would likely push Brown into round two of rookie drafts.

 

Greg Dortch, WR Wake Forest

Height: 5'9''
Weight:  170 lbs
Final Season Age: 20.6

Greg Dortch G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2017 8 53 722 13.6 9 0.2 0.28 0.24
2018 12 89 1078 12.1 8 0.35 0.32 0.34
Career 20 142 1800 12.7 17 0.27 0.30 0.28

Dortch was a major contributor in eight games in 2017, but he truly broke out in the 2018 season with a .34 dominator rating. Because my market share calculations are for the full season of play, Dortch's 2017 campaign loses some shine and it hinders his career, but if we use his numbers at the time of his injury, his profile gets markedly better. With a 0.41 dominator at the time of his injury, Dortch's X85BA slips below the age 20 threshold and he finishes with a 66 percent historical success rate in the Amico model. And with a career MS yards above 29 percent, he finishes with a 30-percent success rate in the Cole model.

Similar to Brown, size is the biggest concern for Dortch. Unlike Brown, however, Dortch is a relative unknown who needs to test well at the combine to impress scouts. He projects as a mid-round NFL draft pick and could be one of the bigger secrets in rookie drafts. His draft stock will eventually rise if there's more coverage, but he can likely be had at the back of the second round, today.

 

Deebo Samuel, WR South Carolina

Height: 5'11''
Weight: 216 lbs
Final Season Age: 23.0

Deebo Samuel G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 5 12 161 13.4 1 0.06 0.06 0.06
2016 10 59 783 13.3 1 0.28 0.08 0.18
2017 3 15 250 16.7 3 0.09 0.17 0.13
2018 12 62 882 14.2 11 0.25 0.34 0.30
Career 30 136 1915 14.1 15 0.17 0.19 0.18

Samuel's missed time and age aren't his fault, but both drastically hinder his draft profile. He had a near breakout season during his 2018 senior campaign, but, as a whole, his career numbers aren't impressive. He lacks the yards per reception to truly be a field-stretching prospect and he falls well short of the ideal 29 percent market share of yards. Using the Amico model, the success rate is 1.7 percent and in the Cole model, 2.6 percent.

Dynasty owners likely know Samuel as the receiver that held back Bryan Edwards, but NFL scouts seem very intrigued by his abilities. Some scouts have gone as far a projecting Samuel in the first round and if that happens, he'd have to be a first-round rookie pick based on draft capital alone. As a prospect, he appears to be more of a third-round rookie pick, based on production.

 

DaMarkus Lodge, WR Ole Miss

Height: 6'2''
Weight:  202 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.7

DaMarkus Lodge G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 1 1 12 12 1 0.00 0.03 0.02
2016 9 15 203 13.5 2 0.05 0.07 0.06
2017 12 41 698 17 7 0.18 0.25 0.22
2018 11 65 877 13.5 4 0.21 0.19 0.20
Career 33 121 1778 14.7 13 0.11 0.12 0.11

In most other college offenses, DaMarkus Lodge is probably the number one WR, but at a minimum, he's the number two. However, alongside DK Metcalf and AJ Brown, Lodge is pretty much an afterthought. With only 11 percent market share of the receiving yards for his career, it's obvious why there are questions. He technically never broke out during college, but it's a positive to see improvement in his final two years. In the Amico model, he finishes with a 0-percent success rate and in the Cole model, just 2.6 percent.

Playing with two potential high draft picks clearly hurt Lodge's chances at high-level production, but for his chances at success to improve, he'll need to elevate his draft stock significantly. However, even with an early selection, Lodge is likely a pass for me in rookie drafts. He may have some upside in the final round, but there are fliers with better production.

 

Anthony Johnson, WR Buffalo

Height: 6'2''
Weight:  211 lbs
Final Season Age: 23.9

Anthony Johnson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2017 12 76 1356 17.8 14 0.39 0.58 0.49
2018 12 57 1011 17.7 11 0.32 0.39 0.3566
Career 24 133 2367 17.8 25 0.36 0.48 0.42

Had Johnson left school following his junior season, he'd have been an analytics darling. He's still a favorite among the community with a second straight season over a 0.30 dominator rating, but age becomes a bigger red flag for the former junior college receiver. In the Amico model, he finishes with a success rate of 0.33. In the Cole model, his success rate is 57 percent.

Had Johnson put up these numbers at a power five school, he'd likely be in the discussion for a first round pick despite his advanced age. But coming from Buffalo has clearly hindered his early draft stock. If he shows at the combine that he's a physical presence who is capable of being an NFL red zone star, his stock should rise, but currently, he projects somewhere between rounds three and five. Ideally, you could snag Johnson in the mid-third round of rookie drafts.

 

Andy Isabella, WR Massachusetts

Height: 5'9''
Weight: 186 lbs
Final Season Age: 22.1

Andy Isabella G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 8 2 7 3.5 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2016 12 62 801 12.9 7 0.26 0.25 0.26
2017 12 65 1020 15.7 10 0.29 0.38 0.33
2018 12 102 1698 16.6 13 0.47 0.47 0.47
Career 44 229 3519 15.4 30 0.26 0.30 0.28

Massachusetts isn't the typical starting point when searching for NFL prospects, but in 2018, Isabella was one of the best receivers in all of college football. His breakout age of 21 isn't good enough to put him in an elite tier, but by following it up with a market share of 47 percent, he's in rare air. He finishes with a 33-percent success rate in the Amico model, but just 5.8 percent in the Cole model, primarily due to his age.

Isabella has begun raising eyebrows as a slot receiver during the draft process and for obvious reasons, analytics scouts are looking at him as a potential gem. He's likely a day three pick because of his size and small school. Because his draft stock won't immediately push him to playing time, Isabella is more of a long-term play, but if you get him in the third round, stash him.

 

David Sills, WR West Virginia

Height: 6'3''
Weight: 210 lbs
Final Season Age: 22.6

David Sills G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 4 7 131 18.7 2 0.04 0.08 0.06
2017 12 60 980 16.3 18 0.24 0.49 0.37
2018 12 65 986 15.2 15 0.23 0.39 0.3123
Career 28 132 2097 15.9 35 0.18 0.35 0.26

From a market share perspective, Sills isn't an amazing prospect, but there are a few excuses that can be made. He started out his college career as a QB and he didn't fully transition into a new position until his junior season and when he did, it was with a breakout season largely on the basis of TD production. And with back-to-back seasons with, at least, 15 TDs, there's justification for fantasy excitement. He finishes with a 33-percent success rate in the Amico model, but just a 5.8-percent success rate in the Cole model.

Sills would be a substantially better prospect, analytically, if he were 21 years old, but it makes sense that a former QB would take some time to develop into a WR. He appears to be a mid-round NFL draft pick and should be considered in the third round of rookie drafts. If his TD production translates to the NFL, he will be a steal.

 

Gary Jennings, WR West Virginia

Height: 6'1''
Weight: 215 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.8

Gary Jennings G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 10 7 116 16.6 1 0.04 0.04 0.04
2016 11 10 165 16.5 2 0.05 0.08 0.06
2017 13 97 1096 11.3 1 0.27 0.03 0.15
2018 11 54 917 17 13 0.21 0.34 0.28
Career 45 161 2178 13.5 16 0.15 0.13 0.14

Jennings is the younger of the two WVU WRs which definitely helps him in the analytics world, but sharing the field with a relatively dominant receiver like Sills hindered his chances at a heavier workload. While he eclipsed 20 percent during two seasons, he fell short of the dominator rating to qualify for a breakout season. He finished with a 1.7-percent success rate in the Amico model and a 2.6-percent success rate in the Cole model.

With his second productive season, Jennings likely answered many of the possible questions about him as a prospect. But even with over 2,000 career yards, he's likely a day three selection. There's no reason to reach for Jennings before the last round of your draft and even in the final round, there could be better options on the board.

 

Preston Williams, WR Colorado State

Height: 6'3''
Weight: 210 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.8

Preston Williams G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 3 7 158 22.6 2 0.06 0.12 0.09
2016 4 9 89 9.9 0 0.03 0.00 0.01
2018 12 96 1345 14 14 0.37 0.54 0.45
Career 19 105 1434 13.7 14 0.15 0.20 0.18

Williams' career at Tennessee was short-lived and uninspiring after joining the team as a highly regarded four-star prospect. And after some off-field issues, he joined a Colorado State team that had given serious volume to Rashard Higgins and Michael Gallup which helped lead them to the NFL. In his one active season, he finished as one of only nine receivers in FBS with a dominator rating over 0.40. He's an interesting test case in the models as he finishes with a 0 percent historical success rate in the Amico model, but his success rate in the Cole model jumps up to 32 percent.

A major red flag for Williams' potential fantasy value is his lack of a combine invite. While the reason for the lack of invite has little to do with his on-field production, historically, failing to receive a combine invite rarely find success in the NFL. His draft capital will prove important as most combine snubs slip to late day three. If he's a day two selection, he can be taken comfortably in the late second or early third.

 

Antoine Wesley, WR Texas Tech

Height: 6'4''
Weight: 200 lbs
Final Season Age: 21.2

Antoine Wesley G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2017 6 10 137 13.7 0 0.03 0.00 0.02
2018 12 88 1410 16 9 0.33 0.33 0.33
Career 19 98 1547 15.8 9 0.11 0.08 0.10

Despite playing three years in the high powered air raid offense, Wesley failed to make an impact until his third year on campus. And once he established himself, he made a sizeable impact, representing a third of the passing offense. He finishes with a 1.7-percent success rate in the Amico model and a 32-percent success rate in the Cole model.

Because Wesley is still fairly young and appears to be capable of stretching the field, he's an intriguing prospect even without elite production. Should scouts elevate him into a top-four round pick, he should be worthy of an early third round rookie pick.

 

Lil'Jordan Humphrey, WR Texas

Height: 6'4''
Weight: 225 lbs
Final Season Age: 20.7

Lil'Jordan Humphrey G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 3 2 15 7.5 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2017 11 37 431 11.6 1 0.13 0.06 0.09
2018 14 86 1176 13.7 9 0.33 0.32 0.32
Career 28 125 1622 13.0 10 0.16 0.15 0.16

Humphrey was the owner of the best first name in college football and he was also one of the most fun WRs in all of college football. As the leading receiver for Texas, the team found ways to get the ball in his hands. Not only did he lead the team in receptions and receiving yards, but he had several rushing attempts, a rushing TD, and handled ten kick returns.  In the Amico model, he finishes with just a 1.7-percent success rate and 32 percent in the Cole regression tree.

With only one season of meaningful production, Humphrey is still a bit of an unknown when it comes to draft prospects. A strong showing at the combine could elevate his draft stock, but he's likely a mid-round draft selection. Barring a perfect landing spot, with a mid-round draft selection, he's likely a late second round rookie pick.

 

Even More Prospects to Know

Keelan Doss finished his UC-Davis career with back-to-back seasons with over 100 receptions and over 1,300 yards.  He lacks some efficiency, but he could translate into a sure-handed receiver in the NFL.

Emmanuel Butler stands 6'4'' and weighs in a 220 lbs. With over 3,000 career receiving yards, he could be a late round steal that turns into a big-body option in the NFL.

Ashton Dulin was a contributor in the receiving, rushing, and special teams aspects of the game and was named the G-MAC offensive and Special Team player of the year.

Jonathan Duhart is coming off of a 74 reception season with over 1,000 yards and nine TDs. He finished his career with 28 TDs while averaging 14.6 yards per catch.

Dillon Mitchell finished his final season with 75 receptions resulting in 35 percent market share of yards and 37 percent share of TDs.

Anthony Ratliff-Williams contributed heavily in the kick return game while also amassing back-to-back 600 yard seasons.

Diontae Johnson had the tenth highest dominator rating as a junior while he totaled over 1,200 receiving yards and 13 TDs on 74 receptions.

KeeSean Johnson had three seasons with a Dominator rating over 0.3 and his career finishes with over 3,400 yards and 24 TDs.

Penny Hart had two seasons over 1,000 receiving yards and as a senior, he took on a big role in the team's special teams.

Jazz Ferguson is a former four-star LSU receiver who left to join Northwestern State. In his one season, he put up 1,117 yards and 13 TDs on 66 receptions.

Tyre Brady made the most of his transfer to Marshall after a brief stint at Miami. With back-to-back seasons over a 0.30 dominator, including having the tenth highest dominator in 2018, Brady could be a steal on day three.

And the list of prospects could go even longer.

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