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The Arrival of Rashard Higgins

After a surprising 2017 week 2 performance, Rashard Higgins rose to the top of the Browns WR depth chart. To the shock of many, he exploded with 11 targets, 8 touches, and 99 yards after barely ever seeing the field. With Corey Coleman’s injury helping pave a path, Higgins’ transformation from practice squad player to number 1 receiver reminds us just how quickly things can change in fantasy football.



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Higgins was a priority waiver grab in most leagues, but who is this guy?! First things first, the Browns 2016 5th round pick is commonly known as Hollywood Higgins…. potentially the best nickname in all of football (take note Buck Allen). Higgins’ college resume was quite impressive. At Colorado State, Higgins was a finalist for the 2014 Biletnikoff award, a consensus first team all American, and he led the nation in receiving yards (1,750) and yards per catch (18.2). In his final 2 seasons at Colorado State he fashioned 164 catches for 2,587 yards and 23 touchdowns. A full breakdown of his production can be seen below:

It seems irregular that a steady college producer, who was a Biletnikoff finalist, is relatively unknown and was available in a majority of dynasty leagues. I think that perhaps one reason why is because of Higgins’ complete lack of athleticism. The 21-year-old, 6’1” 200-pound receiver had a very pedestrian pro day performance. He ran a 4.60 40-yard dash, a 4.53 20-yard shuttle, a 7.13 3-cone drill, with a 32” vertical, and a 10’0” broad jump. Looking a little deeper, his speed score was in the 19th percentile, his burst score in the 10th percentile, with a catch radius in the 9th percentile. It was therefore fair to question whether he’d be able to gain separation at the next level.

There was a mixed reception during the draft process as to how successful he would be, and whether his lofty college production was inflated due to the system the Rams run. One NFC North scout noted, “I can tell you that ‘Hollywood’ is not lacking in confidence. Good player but he might be buying into those stats from last year a little too hard. He’ll see how much faster the game is going to get. His position coach (Alvis Whitted) played in the pros and I think he’s really helped.”

Furthermore, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein again highlighted his athletic short falls noting, “Slightly built short strider with effervescent personality and an endless supply of confidence, Higgins has been highly targeted and extremely productive in each of his three seasons with the Rams. Higgins showed off improved hands to go with his winning ball skills when the ball is in the air. His lack of strength and average release quickness is a concern against NFL press coverage, but the overall package is good enough to find snaps as a pro.”

In my opinion, Mark Dulgerian’s analysis highlights what I think his role will be moving forward. He said, “Higgins is the most pro-ready WR the Browns have selected in terms of experience in a pro-style system. He’s QB friendly with separation savvy and sticky hands. He has potential to be a short to intermediate workhorse in Hue Jackson’s offense.” His sticky hands, good route running, but lack of top end speed seem to highlight a glaring match with a slot role for Deshone Kizer.




Even once Coleman returns, Higgins may seem plenty of work in 3 WR sets as the Browns slot man. With most prospects, we often wonder if they can ever go “big”. Luckily, Higgins has already proven that he’s capable of going for 100 yards. The question will be if he can now sustain substantial production to provide long term value. One thing’s for sure though, Hollywood has officially arrived in the NFL.

 

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About Jon Diment

Dynasty has caused many fights with all my friends, and I'm totally okay with the fact that fantasy football is now consuming our lives. The thrill we get every Sunday is like no other and makes it all worth it. I hope that my advice helps make your dynasty teams good enough to take your mind off life's other troubles. Currently working in business operations for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Follow me on twitter: @DynastyJon