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Jayden Reed Fantasy Football Profile - 2023 NFL Rookies and Sleepers

Jayden Reed - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

The Green Bay Packers have not drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2002 when they selected Javon Walker and that trend wasn't broken this year. With a very questionable group of pass-catchers, it was apparent to just about everyone that Green Bay needed to make some major additions at both wide receiver and tight end. While the front office didn't use their first-rounder on fan-favorite Jaxon Smith-Njigba, they did use both of their second-rounders on pass-catchers, including Michigan State receiver Jayden Reed.

Reed had an excellent junior season at Michigan State before struggling a bit this past season. However, he was recognized as one of the biggest winners during Senior Week in Mobile, Alabama. He consistently created separation and displayed his smooth and efficient route-running. Landing in Green Bay gives Reed a quick and fairly painless pathway to immediate playing time and targets.

The Packers have waved goodbye to Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Amari Rodgers, Robert Tonyan, and Marcedes Lewis this past offseason. Prior to this year's draft, the team's No. 3 receiver was 2022 seventh-rounder Samori Toure, who had just five total receptions last season. An early role as a 2023 starter is certainly within reach for Reed. For fantasy managers, the question becomes if that will result in any fantasy relevance. Let’s dive in (please use promo code "BOOM" for 10% off of any premium purchase).

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Jayden Reed College Prospect Profile

Jayden Reed started his collegiate career at Western Michigan and he wasted no time making his mark. He finished his true freshmen season with 88 targets, 56 receptions, 797 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. He was used exclusively in the slot, lining up there on 98.3% of his snaps, according to PFF.

He displayed elite efficiency in this role, ending with a 2.37-yard-per-route-run average. Among receivers with at least 75 targets, this ranked 51st out of 145 qualified receivers. His play represented a breakout and at just 18.4 years of age, that gave him a breakout age in the 98th percentile, according to PlayerProfiler. Following this incredibly impressive true freshmen season, Reed transferred to Michigan State, forcing him to miss the 2019 season.

Reed wasn't quite as effective in his first season as a Spartan as he was as a Bronco. He finished with 52 targets, 34 receptions, 407 yards, and three touchdowns in a Covid-19 shortened season that left the Spartans playing just seven games. Michigan State largely used him out of the slot as well, lining him up there on 75.8% of his routes, per PFF. His efficiency waned with his yard per route run average dropping to 1.64. It was a disappointing season considering just how well he performed in 2018 as a true freshman.


Reed's 2021 Breakout Season & Senior Bowl

Things clicked again as a junior for Reed. He had his best collegiate season in 2021, ending the season with 101 targets, 59 receptions, 1,026 yards, and 10 touchdowns. This uptick in production also correlated with a change in how they lined him up. His slot rate dropped significantly with him lining up there on just 15.9% of his routes.

Instead, Reed spent most of his time utilized as a true outside receiver and he performed excellently in that role. It resulted in an 82.3 receiving grade from PFF (36th-highest among qualifying WRs) and a yard-per-route-run average of 2.67 (30th).

Reed opted to return to Michigan State for his senior season and ended his collegiate career with 84 targets, 55 receptions, 636 yards, and five touchdowns. His PFF receiving grade dropped to 71.2 and his yard per route run average fell to 1.83. It was a disappointing season considering how well he played as a junior. However, if his stock fell at all due to that, he immediately made up for it at the Senior Bowl and was universally regarded as one of the week's biggest winners and standout players.

According to PlayerProfiler, his college dominator rating was 35.7%, which ranked in the 72nd percentile. He also recorded a 25.0% target share (74th percentile) and we already discussed his 98th percentile breakout age.

There is a lot to like about Reed as a prospect, including his speed and agility. He ran a 4.45 40-yard dash, displaying the speed needed to beat a defense over the top. However, it's not just the numbers game that likes Reed. Matt Harmon's Reception Perception is also a big fan of the Spartan prospect...

A lot of the same points made by Matt Harmon were echoed here by Sports Info Solutions scout Jordan Edwards, who had this to say about Reed:

"Reed has the experience and versatility to line up at multiple spots as a receiver and produce. His best trait is his release package off the LOS, putting defenders in a blender to create separation immediately. Once the ball is in his hands, he shows the ability to turn into a playmaker. He shows some creativity to try and create explosive plays after the catch and has some twitch to make people miss in the open field. His deep-ball tracking ability and success at winning in contested-catch situations are remarkable at his size as well."


Jayden Reed Fantasy Football Expectations

The Packers' receiver room is a bit wide-open at the moment. The only thing fantasy managers know is that Christian Watson is going to be Jordan Love's No. 1 target. After that, it's anyone's best guess. That's because there are so many new faces coming in and so many old faces exiting.

Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, Sammy Watkins, and Randall Cobb all moved on, opening up 180 targets, 111 receptions, 1,461 yards, and seven touchdowns. Which is to say nothing of the 74 targets, 59 receptions, 536 yards, and four touchdowns left behind by Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis. While some say vacated targets are a real thing, there's no doubt about it. There are a lot of targets up for grabs in Green Bay.

The good thing for Reed is that he offers something a bit different than what Watson and Romeo Doubs bring, as they both profile as more traditional outside receivers. Reed profiles as more of a slot receiver, and the Packers do not really have any slot receivers on their roster outside of him at the moment. That gives Reed a pathway to immediate playing time.

While Doubs was just a fourth-round rookie in 2022 (he did miss four games due to injury, which requires fantasy managers to take his season with a grain of salt), there's still reason to believe he's a player the Packers could improve upon as their No. 2 target.

Among 80 receivers with at least 50 targets last season, Doubs ranked 72nd with a PFF receiving grade of 62.0. His 1.36-yard-per-route-run average ranked 54th. Most concerning, however, was his 10.6% drop rate, which was the sixth-highest in this sample of receivers. Looking at those numbers, it shouldn't be surprising if Reed is able to leapfrog Doubs as Love's preferred No. 2 target and that presents a lot of fantasy football upside.


Reed's Undervalued Average Draft Position

As of right now, fantasy managers aren't factoring in that possibility enough as Reed currently has an ADP of WR71 and 171.7, which represents the 14th round. His route-running acumen from the slot could result in a heavy dose of targets as a rookie, making him a preferred option in PPR scoring leagues.

While the most likely outcome is a committee approach from all non-Christian Watson receivers (which will make it difficult for fantasy managers to trust any Packers receivers behind him), the potential is there for Reed to secure that No. 2 role which provides more weekly consistency. His current price tag and pathway to targets make him an attractive option late in drafts. He could end up being much more valuable in the second half of the season than his cost considers.

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