As we get into devy draft season, below are my top 5 devy WRs you should be looking to acquire. I’ll walk you through my process, comparing & contrasting the players on the analytical metrics of size, production, and age. This process is about increasing the odds of a player’s success in the NFL. Let’s get to it!
The Top 5
1. Kayshon Boutte, LSU, class 2023
This is a shaky #1, as I think any of the top 3 could be ranked #1. Boutte is a 247Sports composite 5 star out of New Iberia, Louisiana. He burst onto the scene in 2020 as a freshman and took over the WR room, while Ja’Marr Chase elected to sit out the season. In his second season at LSU, he injured his ankle in October and was out the rest of the season. In March of 2022, it was confirmed that Boutte had to have a second surgery on his ankle. The other point of concern is the change in coaching staff with the hiring of head coach Brian Kelly. Hopefully, even with this regime change at LSU and his injury, Boutte can still produce at the high levels he did his freshman season. I’m counting on it!
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State, class 2023
Smith-Njigba is a 247Sports composite 5 star out of Rockwall, Texas. He did not produce much during his freshman year. Playing behind future 1st round NFL draft picks Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave in the Justin Fields led Buckeye offense. Then in 2021, with CJ Stroud at the helm, Smith-Njigba posted crazy numbers. He led all Buckeyes in receptions and receiving yards. Expect Smith-Njigba to continue his success with CJ Stroud at QB again this year. Especially with Wilson and Olave moving on to the NFL.
3. Quentin Johnston, TCU, class 2023
Johnston is a 247Sports composite 4 star out of Temple, Texas. Johnston has produced well in his first two seasons at TCU from a market share perspective. But the thing that stands out most about him is his size. He currently measures in at 6’4’’ and 201lbs. If he produces for another year, I can see NFL scouts drooling over his measurables for the 2023 draft.
4. Xavier Worthy, Texas, class 2024
Worthy is a 247Sports composite 4 star out of Fresno, California. Worthy put up ridiculous production in his freshman year in the Steve Sarkisian offense. However, he still has two more seasons of college football before he can be drafted into the NFL. Also of note, QB phenom Quinn Ewers transferred to Texas this offseason. So it will be exciting to see Worthy get to play with Ewers either this year or the next.
5. Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh, class 2023
Addison is a 247Sports composite 4 star out of Frederick, Maryland. Although he is on the lighter side, Addison has been an incredibly consistent producer at Pittsburgh. I have no doubt that Addison will be a significant part of Pittsburgh’s offense in 2021. The question is, will his absolute numbers hold up with his former QB, Kenny Pickett, moving on to the NFL.
So on size, here is their data on height & weight. Then we used that data to calculate the players’ BMI. Lastly, we determined whether that player’s dimensions fit into a WR ‘Prototype’ category used by @DFBeanCounter at Bulletproof Fantasy football. Unfortunately, until the NFL combine, we are at the whim of school rosters for their height/weight measurements. Which can be accurate, but many times are not.
Generally, for a higher probability of success in the NFL, you like to see WRs that are taller than 5’11’’ or 71 inches. Everyone in my devy top 5 is above 71 inches.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Then you like to see WRs with a BMI of greater than 26. Please reach out if you’d like me to forward some articles/research on how and why BMI matters and why we are looking for >26 BMI. Both Boutte & Smith-Njigba are above 26. You also want to be cautious of WRs with BMIs less than 25. Both Worthy & Addison have BMIs less than 25. However, both of these WRs have time to add weight before they are drafted into the NFL.
For Johnston to get to an above 26 BMI, he would only have to get to ~214lbs or add 2lbs. This is very doable, and I think Johnston gets there before the NFL draft next year. For Worthy to get to an above 25 BMI, he would have to get to 190lbs or add ~27lbs. And for Worthy to get above a 26 BMI, he would have to get to 197lbs or add ~34lbs of weight. Generally, college football players tend to add ~10-20lbs of weight from where they were in high school, sometimes more, but I’m not sure Worthy will be able to add 27-34lbs over the next two years. He does have two years, though, to bulk up a bit. And finally, for Addison to get to an above 25 BMI, he has to get to a weight of 184lbs or add ~9lbs. That’s possible, but the likelihood of achieving an above 26 BMI is low.
Now onto Prototypes, DFBeanCounter defines Prototypes (formerly known as Alphas) as 71’’+, 195+, 26BMI+. Here is a good Twitter thread about why Prototype (Alpha) matters:
So right now, the guys that fit into the Prototype physical profile are Boutte & Smith-Njigba. Johnston has a high probability of getting to the Prototype physical profile before the 2023 draft. Given that he is only 2lbs away. It doesn’t seem likely that Worthy or Addison get above a 26 BMI before their respective drafts. So it’s unlikely that they will be Prototype prospects.
The best way to measure college production related to success in the NFL is via market share. Essentially how much of a team’s offense goes through a particular player. The two stats used here are a player’s receiving yards per team pass attempt (RYPTPA) and a dominator rating. The most common dominator rating is 50% weight on a player’s market share of their team’s receiving yards added to a 50% weight on a player’s market share of their team’s receiving touchdowns on a per-game basis. Now let’s look at some charts to see how these top 5 WRs compare production-wise.
This chart from Campus2Canton.com shows each WRs RYPTPA at each year of experience out of high school. The upward-sloping dashed line is historically what the average RYPTPA was for WRs with Top 24 fantasy NFL seasons (i.e., NFL success). So when looking at this chart, you want to see players that remain above the line throughout their careers. Xavier Worthy only has one year of experience so far, but that one year was a historic year for a freshman WR. He has had a great start. Quentin Johnson and Jordan Addison have remained above the line for their freshman and sophomore seasons. One more year above the line for both of them, and they would be considered rock-solid prospects from a production perspective.
Boutte had an outstanding freshman season. But he got hurt his sophomore season and didn’t play for a portion of his 2nd year. As you can see, his 2nd-year data point is well below the line. Some might say Boutte proved everything he needed to prove with his outstanding 1st year of production. To attain that rock-solid prospect profile, we need to see Boutte produce at a high level (above the line) in year three.
As for Smith-Njigba, he didn’t have much of a first year from a production standpoint. Although, it’s important to understand why. And that may be because he was competing for market share with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Wilson & Olave seem like they will both be 1st round NFL draft picks this year. Then his 2nd year at OSU, even with Wilson and Olave on the team, Smith-Njigba outperformed everyone on RYPTPA. This is all you are looking for from a guy like him. With Wilson and Olave moving on this year, Smith-Njigba will likely stay above the line for his 3rd year.
And now, here is the chart on the player’s dominator rating.
Again this dominator rating is a 50/50 weight on yards & touchdowns. Honestly, this chart isn’t very different from the RYPTPA chart above. However, this chart will be helpful for discussing the age metrics below. So keep it in mind.
And finally, the last chart on production market share is a weighted dominator. The weighted dominator puts an 80% weight on the market share of yards and a 20% weight on the market share of touchdowns vs. the 50/50 on the non-weighted dominator rating.
Again not much difference here. It just helps you better understand what a player’s share of touchdowns was vs. yards. For instance, if you look at Smith-Njigba’s 2nd season, you can see his weighted dominator (80/20) is higher than his non-weighted dominator (50/50), which means he had a higher percentage of team yards vs. team touchdowns.
Break out age (BOA)
BOA is the age at which a player reaches a dominator rating of 20% or greater. So when someone says that a player has a BOA of 18 years old, that means that they had a >20% market share of their team’s offense in their freshman year.
Generally, the higher the dominator rating, the better, and the earlier, the better. Typically you want to see a BOA of 20% in a players’ first two years or <20 years old (there is some nuance to this as some players enter college much older than others). Also, before they head to the NFL, you’d like to see them achieve a dominator rating of >30% at some point. That doesn’t necessarily have to come before 20 years old, but again the earlier, the better.
Now BOA is not much different than looking at the production charts above. Prospects that stay above the line inherently usually hit what you are looking for from a BOA perspective, but it’s nice to see it represented numerically. These are the BOAs of the top 5 WRs.
As you can see from the chart, all the top 5 WRs have BOA’s of less than 20. This gives them all a better probability of success in the NFL.
Putting it all together
All the WRs check the BOA box. And all the WRs check the production boxes so far. Some look more consistent from a production perspective, but all of the 5 WRs meet the minimum requirements to this point. It goes without saying, we want to see all of the WRs stay above the line on the production charts for RYPTPA & dominator ratings for their remaining time in college. If any of them falter, that could cause them to fall out of the top 5.
One other thing to consider when ranking devy players is how long it will be until they get to the NFL. When comparing two similar players, what year they get drafted and start earning points for your fantasy team has to be considered. All the guys in the top 5 are in the class of 2023 except Xavier Worthy. Ordinarily, if a WR puts up a year like Worthy did his freshman year, he might have to be considered the top WR, but it will be two full seasons before he gets to the NFL. You have to put a little discount on the player for being a year behind the others. All this to say, it’s possible if you ignore what class they are in that, Worthy could be ranked higher than #4.
And finally, from a size perspective, Boutte & Smith-Njigba check the boxes and look like Prototype WRs. It looks like Johnston has a good chance to become a Prototype WR before he enters the draft, so that is encouraging for him as well. Both Worthy and Addison are thinner/smaller players, which isn’t a death sentence. I mean, they are top 5 devy WRs. It just gives them less of a likelihood of success in the NFL and is one of the reasons they are ranked below the other three.
Just outside the Top 5 devy WRs in alphabetical order:
Ja’Corey Brooks, Alabama; Jermaine Burton, Alabama; Josh Downs, UNC; Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State; Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State; Rakim Jarrett, Maryland; Parker Washington, Penn State
These are my top 5 devy WRs going into the 2022 season: Kayshon Boutte, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Xavier Worthy, & Jordan Addison. I think it would be a good idea to target these WRs in devy leagues because I think they all have a decent probability of success in the NFL. Your top 5 may be different, but I think examining size, production, & age gives you a clearer idea of what to look for in a devy WR.
If you are interested in learning more about Dynasty/Devy fantasy football, please follow along on Twitter @_JasonStein and let me know what questions you have and how I can help.