In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.
This rookie class is turning out to be as good as advertised through the first quarter of the season. Heading into Week 5, four different rookie wideouts find themselves inside the top 40 at the position. These include CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Laviska Shenault, and Jerry Jeudy. We’ve also seen exciting potential from Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins. Toss in the future outlook for injured players like Henry Ruggs and Jalen Reagor, and we could be looking at one of the best wide receiver classes in some time.
Another rookie wide receiver broke through this week. Tyler Johnson capitalized on an increased opportunity due to injuries in Week 5 and hauled in his first career receptions.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Tyler Johnson finished the Week 5 loss to Chicago with four receptions for 61 yards on six targets. The 2020 fifth-round pick stepped up with Chris Godwin and Justin Watson out due to injuries. Johnson did not record anything in the previous four games, meaning he is well off the fantasy radar at this point as the return of the other receivers will minimize his role.
What Could Have Been
There will always be this “what if” question surrounding Johnson. The fifth-round pick by the Buccaneers probably should have declared after his junior season in Minnesota. He followed up a sophomore campaign that saw him post a Dominator Rating of 62% by topping 1,300 yards, scoring 13 touchdowns, and recording a DR of 51%.
Blair Andrews found that declaring early is a significant indicator of future success for young wide receivers. Even older college prospects who declare early have a strong track record of success.
His senior season wasn’t bad, but he failed to truly separate himself from an already loaded class of wide receivers. Teammate Rashod Bateman exploded last season as well, which certainly capped Johnson’s upside in 2019.
Johnson may have fallen to the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but his strong production profile, which included three straight seasons of a 40% Dominator Rating or higher, offers fantasy owners some hope.
Why There Is Still Hope
Before the NFL Draft, Shawn Siegele had encouraging things to say about Johnson based on his performance in our WR Prospect Lab Rankings. For a quick reference as to what the model looks at, here’s a summary:
Our draft-agnostic model includes career receiving yardage share, final season yards per game, final season all-purpose TDs, breakout age, forty time, and whether the prospect played in a Power 5 conference.
Also, Jack Miller spoke about Johnson when he tabbed him as a hyperproductive wide receiver who could fall to Day 3 of the NFL Draft. He emphasizes his early breakout age (19.3) and how strongly that correlates to early success in the NFL. Johnson did fall to Day 3, but his collegiate metrics fit the profile of someone who outperforms draft position.
The reasons for optimism and hope surrounding Johnson have always been there, and we may have caught a glimpse of his potential this past week.
Johnson will take a back seat to both Mike Evans and Godwin but figures to earn a shot at the WR3 role after his impressive Week 5 performance. With Watson missing the game and Scott Miller not even drawing a target in the recent matchup, a door of opportunity has opened for Johnson. His price, while up right now, will likely fluctuate this season. Target him in your dynasty leagues after a few down weeks and stash the highest upside Day 3 pick from 2020.