Welcome to the Stock Watch. While the picture above might make you worried you’ve stumbled into a financial advice column, have no fear, this is about our fantasy football stock. Each year in dynasty leagues we look forward to rookie drafts, snatching up all the prospects we know will lead to glory. But it doesn’t always happen right away. Over the next few pieces, as this off-season draws to a close, I’ll be taking stock of prospects at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 draft class. This isn’t about the stars that we already know are great, it’s about the players taken in the first three rounds that haven’t hit yet—and might never hit.
The Stock Watch rolls on through the Class of 2020, this time stopping to consider receivers. We have a few that hit it big in 2020, like Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, and others who at least have a defined role, like Henry Ruggs III. But there are still a few whose value remains more of a question. It’s four of those, taken in the first three rounds, that I’ll be considering today.
Drafted: No. 21 overall by the Philadelphia Eagles
Situation: Reagor was a hot selection in 2020 rookie drafts after being taken in the First Round by the Eagles. But his rookie year didn’t play out as some had hoped. He was injured and missed time, appearing in only 11 games, while the Eagles’ offense wasn’t as robust as it could have been. Reagor saw just 54 targets, catching 31 passes for 396 yards and a touchdown. But, in that, we saw glimpses of the talent that made him so appealing.
There were plenty of changes for the Eagles this off-season, and plenty of questions about fellow Class of 2020 selection Jalen Hurts being a long-term answer. In addition, the Eagles spent another first-round selection on a receiver, this time Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. But Reagor is still there and figures to be even more of a factor in the offense as he’s healthy and gets a traditional off-season program to learn and grow in the offense.
Stock Value: Rising. Reagor was a highly sought-after pick last year, but his slow start as a rookie led some to sour on him. Now, coming into the 2021 season, he feels like a value again. I suspect he’ll take a step forward and become something closer to the player many thought they drafted last Spring.
Michael Pittman, Jr.
Drafted: No. 34 overall by the Indianapolis Colts
Situation: Pittman is another highly prized pick from last year’s rookie drafts who struggled to get on and stay on the field in 2020. He was taken at the top of the second round and figured to be a weapon right away for Philip Rivers and the Colts. Instead, he appeared in only 13 games and made just eight starts. He saw 61 targets, catching 40 passes for 503 yards and a TD. Again, some flashes but not the start many had hoped.
Going into 2021, there is now a question at quarterback. Carson Wentz is going to miss at least the first few weeks and possibly up to two months into the season. It’s fair to wonder how all the receivers will be impacted. But when it comes to opportunity, the situation is largely the same for Pittman. Parris Campbell, who has had his own injury battles, will be vying for a consistent role, while veteran TY Hilton is back for another season. But Pittman still has the tools and opportunity to be the guy for the Colts, it’s just a matter of whether or not it happens.
Stock Value: Holding. I still believe in Pittman, but he’s not the value in that passing offense that Campbell is coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons. Still, I think Pittman is the best in that group and expect him to take a step forward in 2021. Until that happens, his value won’t really take off. And if it doesn’t happen in 2021, or if the team struggles at QB, Pittman may become a good target to acquire as anxious owners get jumpy.
Drafted: No. 57 overall by the Los Angeles Rams
Situation: Last year, Jefferson was a rookie prospect that dropped into a crowded Rams group. The team had Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp as starters, with veteran Josh Reynolds at the number three receiver in the slot, and a couple of tight ends. As a result, Jefferson was largely an afterthought when it came to production. In addition to the competition, the Rams’ pass offense with Jared Goff wasn’t as robust as some expected. In the end, Jefferson saw just 31 targets spread across 16 games, catching 19 passes for 220 yards and a TD.
Heading into 2021, the Rams have done plenty of work on the passing game. Reynolds is gone to Tennessee, while former tight end Gerald Everett headed out to the Seahawks. Goff is now in Detroit, while Matthew Stafford is in as the quarterback of the Rams. The Rams also added veteran receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted Tutu Atwell in the second round. Meanwhile, Jefferson returns with another year under his belt and plenty of opportunities to step up behind Woods and Kupp.
Stock Value: Rising. I think Jefferson could be a sneaky value in 2021. His current ADP is WR92, which is higher than Jackson and Atwell, but not incredibly high. Reynolds saw 81 targets in 2020, with him gone Jefferson is poised to step into a bigger role that could return value over his ADP.
Drafted: No. 59 overall by the New York Jets
Situation: Continuing with the theme of this exploration, Mims was another pick that got drafters excited because of his situation. But the constraints of injury and being in a flat Adam Gase-led offense quickly quelched that enthusiasm during his rookie season. Mims appeared in just nine games in 2020, seeing just 44 targets. He caught 23 passes for 357 yards, not making the kind of splash some had hoped to see when he was selected.
And Mims’s situation didn’t greatly improve this off-season. There’s a new coaching staff and new quarterback – rookie Zach Wilson – which means starting at square one. The team retained veteran Jamison Crowder while drafting Elijah Moore in the Second-Round and adding veteran Corey Davis on a three-year deal. That makes things suddenly crowded for Mims, who hasn’t impressed early this off-season running with the second and third team.
Stock Value: Fading. Earlier this off-season, I liked Mims’s chances to step forward. The entire Jets’ offense was plagued by an inefficient system, while the coaching change brings new life. But we’ve seen the team add competition, and Mims seems to be behind the curve. Davis will play, and Crowder is the veteran, while Moore seems to be taking off in Training Camp. All that threatens to leave Mims as the odd man out. If I can find a believer, I’m selling right now.
Drafted: No. 81 overall by the Las Vegas Raiders
Situation: Edwards was part of an overhaul of the Raiders’ receiving corps last off-season. He was one of three receivers taken in the draft, going after Ruggs (First Round) and Lynn Bowden (No. 80 overall). Bowden is with the Dolphins now, but Ruggs and Edwards failed to impress as rookies. Instead, it was veteran journeyman Nelson Agholor who finished as the Raiders’ top receiver. Edwards appeared in 12 games, starting three and seeing just 15 targets. He caught 11 passes for 193 yards and a TD. It wasn’t a bad showing when he was targeted, he just wasn’t targeted often enough.
Like me, many were bullish that the South Carolina product would be the Raiders’ best receiver, despite his draft position. And there is still an opportunity for that to occur. Ruggs didn’t break out in 2020, either, or it was a quiet year from sleeper Hunter Renfrow. Agholor moved on to New England, while the Raiders added veteran John Brown. The question is can Edwards move up the depth chart and seize a meaningful role on the field.
Stock Value: Holding. I’m not ready to panic with Edwards because I still don’t believe Ruggs is the guy, and Brown feels like a veteran addition that isn’t a long-term answer. Edwards might not be, either, but it’s a hopeful sign the Raiders didn’t add draft picks to the group, instead waiting to see if last year’s crop can mature. Edwards is still WR86, indicating there are some other true believers out there, but he’s also a guy you can get cheap and stash to see if our faith will pay off. I think it will, beginning with a step forward in 2021.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.