2020 NFL Draft Rookie WR Landing Spots: Round 2 (Fantasy Football)
The first day of the 2020 NFL Draft has come and gone and we saw a brand new remote platform complete with “Boos” for commissioner Roger Goodell. While the draft broadcast is unprecedented, the draft remained blissfully familiar and mostly unpredictable. During Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, teams addressed specific needs at all positions from the quarterbacks to cornerbacks. We didn’t see a WR go off the board until pick 12 with Henry Ruggs to the Las Vegas Raiders that sparked a run of five more WRs to be selected in the first round. Make sure to read the fantasy takeaways of Round 1 WRs.
This still leaves a lot of rookie WRs ripe for the picking among this deep draft class. Let’s take a look at the rookie WRs of Round 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft and evaluate their landing spots.
Tee Higgins – Cincinnati Bengals
Round 2, Pick 33 overall
Tee Higgins brings his towering height to Cincinnati at 6’4” which should translate to red-zone targets in mismatch coverage. Despite a disappointing 40-time, Higgins has shown that he doesn’t need top speed or explosive separation to make deep plays downfield. Thanks to his height and extra-large catch radius, he can haul in contested throws anywhere. It is possible these numbers are a bit skewed with QB Trevor Lawrence at the helm and non-elite coverage in the ACC conference, but he did tie DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins for touchdowns in Clemson at 27.
QB Joe Burrow has familiarity with Tee Higgins not only playing against him in his college career but as well as practicing together during the offseason. While this early chemistry is promising, his landing spot poses a problem in terms of fantasy with the many WR mouths to feed. The volume of targes will be slim picking unless there are offseason moves yet to pass. [Editor’s Note: For more on Higgins, see his Reception Perception profile by Matt Harmon detailing his potential as a possession receiver.]
Michael Pittman – Indianapolis Colts
Round 2, Pick 34 overall
At 6’4”, 223 lbs, Pittman will never be described as small. He is a punishing WR out of USC who still managed a 4.52 40-time (64th percentile) and a 1.51 10-yard split (96th percentile) despite his size. His vertical jump at the combine wasn’t terrible at 36.5”, but at his build, that can be expected. Where Pittman lacks in hops, he more than makes up for in every other aspect of his game. He only logged five drops on 176 catchable passes, has a huge catch radius, and can physically overpower a defender on contested catches.
Pittman flourished with high volume passing and QB Philip Rivers ranked 4th highest in passing volume in 2019 at 591 attempts. Pittman has insanely reliable hands, dropping only 5 passes in his college career, forcing 14 missed tackles, and tallying 236 yards after the catch. He could easily become a reliable target for Rivers in 2020. He has the ball skills and ability that should quickly translate into the NFL. [Editor’s Note: For more on Pittman, check out his Reception Perception profile by Matt Harmon where he details his chances at being a No. 1 WR.]
Laviska Shenault – Jacksonville Jaguars
Round 2, Pick 42 overall
While Shenault doesn’t have the flashy touchdown numbers with only four in 2019, he has the physical ability to be a game-changer for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In fact, his numbers all around aren’t very glitzy, except for the fact he leads his draft class in missed tackles with 44 and he has over seven yards after the catch. He can line up both in the slot and out wide but his route running needs work. These are things that he can learn and improve upon as he progresses in the NFL.
Shenault needs some polishing before he becomes fantasy relevant in terms of redraft for 2020. This is another situation where there is a plethora of WRs for QB Gardner Minshew to choose from. If Shenault can log in some playing time and make an impact, downfield threat D.J. Chark should see some uptick targets with defenses scheming for the slot receivers and short passes. [Editor’s Note: For more on Shenault, check out his Reception Perception profile by Matt Harmon where he gives his range of potential outcomes.]
K.J. Hamler – Denver Broncos
Round 2, Pick 46 overall
K.J. Hamler of Penn State is quietly a swiss army knife of a slot receiver. He has an uncanny ability to create separation and had a step or more of separation on 64% of his targets of 10 plus yards per PFF. He explodes from the line of scrimmage, can easily and quickly confuse defenders, and doesn’t lose speed in his routes. He can be a dynamic slot receiver on short passes and is incredible in open space.
His receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, and receiving touchdowns were among the top-10 in the Big 10 in 2019 and his special teams play was no different. Hamler was again in the top-10 in the Big 10 for punt returns, punt return yards, punt return yards per return, kickoff returns, kickoff return yards, and kickoff return yards per return. Hamler’s biggest issue is his propensity to drop the ball, dropping 12 passes in 2019.
In terms of real football, the one-two punch of Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler means John Elway means business for QB Drew Lock. I prefer Hamler in dynasty formats as he works on his hands at the NFL level. However, it would not surprise me in the slightest if he makes an impact during the second half of the 2020 season as defenses pay closer attention to Courtland Sutton and Jeudy. He has been compared to another Penn State player, calling to mind explosiveness, elusiveness, as well as breaking this player’s all-purpose yards record. That Penn State player was Saquon Barkley.
2020 Competition: Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Daesean Hamilton
Chase Claypool – Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 2, Pick 49 overall
Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool is another towering WR at 6’4″ and 227 lbs. Despite playing over 100 fewer snaps in 2019 than he did 2018, Claypool logged 66 receptions on 108 targets for 1,037 yards and a whopping 13 touchdowns. His imposing size helps battle defenders off contested catches and he has forced 27 missed tackles during his collegiate career. Also due to his size, he does struggle to create separation during his routes but did an excellent job of hauling in off-target throws at Notre Dame. Per PFF, he could legitimately be considered for TE if he added a bit more bulk and the Steelers are struggling at the position.
This is a great move for Ben Roethlisberger and JuJu Smith-Schuster. It would be an understatement to say that the Steelers struggled without their main signal-caller last season. Adding more offensive weapons, especially one with the size and physicality of Claypool, will help all of the skilled positions. It will be interesting to see how Mike Tomlin chooses to use Claypool and his massive size. Historically, the Steelers don’t feature rookie WRs very often. Last year was an exception in Big Ben’s absence and Diontae Johnson exploded into fantasy relevance. I would look for Claypool to start showing flashes and scoop him up off the waiver wire for match-up based games in redraft.
Van Jefferson – Los Angles Rams
Round 2, Pick 57 overall
Before transferring to the University of Florida, Jefferson played for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2016 as a redshirt freshman where he immediately made an impact. He caught 49 passes for 543 yards and outproduced fellow teammates, D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown. Despite a change of scenery and a few years older, Jefferson couldn’t break the ceiling of 700 yards. He topped out at 657 yards and 6 six touchdowns in 2019. Jefferson did the best he could in Florida with mediocre quarterback play and has the speed and ability to create separation.
To be completely honest, this pick is a head-scratcher for me. Besides his speed and consistent ball catching ability, there isn’t much that jumps off the page as a Round 2 pick. Sean McVay has worked wonders in the Rams offense so we will see how he utilizes Jefferson in 2020. In terms of fantasy, this helps to bolster Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and even Tyler Higbee if Jefferson sees action this year.
2020 Competition: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods
Denzell Mims – New York Jets
Round 2, Pick 59 overall
Mims has the sort of raw explosiveness and power that you can’t teach, yet needs a lot of help in other areas of his game. Since 2017, he’s seen a lot of action at Baylor with 112, 91, and 113 targets through 2019. 2018 was a bad year for Mims, but he bounced back with another 1,000 plus yard season last year with a collegiate career-high 12 touchdowns. Some aspects of his game like route running are teachable and can improve with good coaching and reps at the NFL level. Unfortunately, he has a Jeckle and Hyde type of catch personality. He tied at 2nd in the NCAA for contested catches with 20 but will miss or drop passes thrown directly at him.
The Jets certainly have a need at WR with downfield threat Robby Anderson no longer with the team. However, Quincy Enunwa is healthy again and they have added Breshad Perriman. Although Mims needs to work on several aspects of his game during the offseason, he is an all-around dominant athlete. How Gase will incorporate Mims will determine his fantasy relevance for 2020. [Editor’s Note: For more on Mims, check out his Reception Perception profile by Matt Harmon highlighting his freakish measurables and athleticism.]
2020 Competition: Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Quincy Enunwa