Viewed as a polarizing talent out of the University of Washington, Dante Pettis silenced his critics after being selected 44th overall in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. The franchise even traded up in order to secure the 22-year-old’s services by forfeiting the 59th and 74thpicks in the process. Evidently, GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are enamored with the skill set of Pettis based on the draft capital that was allocated to pick him. What does this mean for his fantasy value in redraft and dynasty formats moving forward? I answer that pressing question by analyzing his athletic profile and collegiate production, while also formulating an outlook for his potential contributions as a rookie in the NFL.
Surprisingly, Pettis decided not to participate in wide receiver drills at the NFL Scouting Combine. As a result, the fantasy football community was unable to determine how he compares athletically to other top peers in the 2018 rookie class. Nonetheless, the former Washington Huskie is listed at 6’ 1” / 186 pounds and possesses 4.47 speed according to his Pro Day testing results. While he owns a small body frame, Pettis tends to play bigger than his size actually indicates. Do not expect him to be a physical wide receiver against opposing defenders, as he instead excels as a crisp route runner with reliable hands and exceptional pass-catching ability. Pettis is also able to line up outside or in the slot, further demonstrating his versatility and experience as a well-rounded receiver.
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In comparison to other highly regarded rookies in recent memory, Pettis does not own a prolific college pedigree. In fact, his overall receiving output across four collegiate seasons is rather pedestrian. Typically, these characteristics would represent a player with a difficult path to relevancy in fantasy. Pettis appears to be an exception to this rule, as he is arguably the most dynamic talent at the wide receiver position in this year’s entire rookie class.
Do not let his box score totals deceive the product that he has delivered on tape, as Pettis is as refined or even better of a receiver than top prospects Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore. In fact, Dante’s versatile skill is what could potentially separate him from others based on his NCAA record 9 punt returns for a touchdown in college. That component of his game figures to elevate his stock in leagues that reward individual points to a player on special teams, making him that much more valuable of an asset to fantasy owners.
Another factor working in favor of Pettis is his durability. He did not miss a single regular season contest in college, so his resume speaks for itself as far as availability and reliability are concerned. The talented wide receiver was also consistent on the field, as he averaged no fewer than 11.6 yards per catch in a single season while in school. Perhaps even more impressive, Pettis managed to showcase his big-play ability with yard per reception averages of 15.2 (2014) and 15.5 (2016) in two of his four seasons at Washington.
A case can be made that Pettis landed in the friendliest fantasy environment among all rookie wide receivers in the 2018 class with the San Francisco 49ers. Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, and Trent Taylor represent the lone threats for volume outside of other skill position weapons in the form of George Kittle and Jerick McKinnon. As a result, Pettis has a clear path to snaps as a rookie.
While Dante does not own the prototypical traits of a WR1 on paper, his floor should be considered a secondary option in an offense with potential for a larger role in the NFL provided his athletic background. Even if he does not earn a large target share during his first professional campaign, the emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo under the direction of Kyle Shanahan figures to bode well for the wide receiver’s outlook long-term.
In redraft formats, he should be viewed as a late-round flier with upside. On the other hand, Pettis is far more valuable in dynasty circles with a near consensus second-round ADP in rookie drafts. I personally have allocated picks 2.03 and 2.05 in two separate leagues to secure his services, as Dante’s price tag continues to increase by the day. Overall, Pettis should offer a relatively safe floor as a rookie assuming San Francisco utilizes him in relation to his draft capital. From a fantasy perspective, this means that he could be on the Flex radar in short order purely based on volume or opportunity. Remember, the 49ers ranked second in the NFL with 607 pass attempts in 2017. Expect that trend to continue in 2018 as the franchise seeks to improve and build on a promising foundation of talent on offense.