The wide receiver class of 2020 is very good and very deep. Devy owners have been looking forward to their arrival, while dynasty owners are loading up in rookie drafts. In the Black Crown startup, I prioritized rookie picks, and then I selected six WRs during the rookie draft. Still, this class has an almost impossible task if they want to match the 2014 group.
In today’s exercise, we’ll compare the two classes to find out just how close they were before entering the NFL, we’ll look at the epic rookie seasons from the 2014 class to help us determine redraft value, and then we’ll take a global look at the impact of rookie WRs in redraft. Finally, we’ll look at points implied by current ADP and decide which rookie WRs to target.
2020 vs. 2014
|2014||Proj Percentile||2020||Proj Percentile|
|Sammy Watkins||98||Jalen Reagor||93|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||94||CeeDee Lamb||92|
|Jordan Matthews||94||Brandon Aiyuk||89|
|Mike Evans||92||Justin Jefferson||89|
|Brandin Cooks||90||K.J. Hamler||86|
|Marqise Lee||88||Laviska Shenault||86|
|Davante Adams||84||Jerry Jeudy||85|
|Jarvis Landry||80||Michael Pittman||84|
|Paul Richardson||80||Henry Ruggs||83|
|Allen Robinson||79||Tee Higgins||80|
|Donte Moncrief||78||Denzel Mims||80|
|Kelvin Benjamin||75||Chase Claypool||78|
|Cody Latimer||74||Bryan Edwards||74|
The 2014 class owns a strong advantage at the top end. They have three players with superior projections to anyone from the 2020 class and five players who earn a projection above the 90th percentile. The two classes are very comparable the rest of the way, with the 2020 class actually gaining an advantage by placing more prospects above the 80th percentile. If Jerry Jeudy and Michael Pittman want to end up as better NFL players than Davante Adams and Jarvis Landry, they’ll have to be borderline hall-of-famers, but they hold the slight edge as prospects.
How Did The 2014 Class Perform as Rookies?
Seven years later, the 2014 class is still heavily represented in the top-10 WRs by FFPC Redraft ADP. Adams trails only Michael Thomas and slides into the back end of the first round. Given the early fireworks from this class, it’s surprising that their current leader didn’t do much for his first two seasons. The same cannot be said for the rest.
Since 2001, 19 rookies have crested 200 points, a threshold roughly equivalent to a WR2 season. Five of those campaigns occurred in 2014.
2014 Rookie WR Fantasy Scoring
|Odell Beckham Jr.||297||1305||12||12|
Looking at the full season may even underestimate their immediate production. Odell Beckham, Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Kelvin Benjamin all averaged over 14 PPG over the first half of the season. Brandin Cooks was injured in Week 11, but he averaged 13.9 PPG to that point. He then went on to four consecutive 200-point seasons.
The numbers were even more spectacular over the second half of the season.
2014 Rookie WR Per Game Production – Second Half of Season
|Odell Beckham Jr.||28.6||133.2||1||9|
Beckham and Evans maintained their 14-plus pace and were joined by two of their compatriots. Jarvis Landry began the ridiculous reception run that gave him 400 catches over his first four years, a number only bested – and annihilated – by Thomas. Jordan Matthews paid off Chip Kelly’s enthusiasm. It’s easy to forget now, but before injuries destroyed his playmaking ability, Matthews was one of only 11 rookies this century to begin his career with back-to-back 200-point seasons.
Beyond the immediate production, the 2014 class is notable for its career hit rate. Although it took a few of the players a little longer, the only real disappointments from this group were Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson, Donte Moncrief, and Cody Latimer.1 The WRs from the 2014 draft entered the NFL as elite prospects, but they proceeded to destroy any realistic expectations.
It’s fun to dream about this happening again in 2020, even in what promises to be an unusual year, but we probably need to be prepared for a different outcome.
What can we expect from early-round WRs as rookies?