News & Analysis

NFL Combine Day 3 fantasy football takeaways

After two days of media interviews, the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine finally took to Lucas Oil Stadium for the on-field testing events. While we aren’t going to completely revamp our 2020 overall rookie rankings as a result of  these events, the times, heights and distances certainly can give more clarity to our initial dynasty fantasy football evaluations. 

Let’s dive into the biggest fantasy football takeaways from Day 3 of the Combine.

Henry Ruggs doesn’t break the record, but still blazes in the 40

We didn’t see the 40-yard dash record fall on the first day of on-field testing, but Henry Ruggs III did manage to post one of the fastest times in Combine history at 4.27. While his speed is extremely attractive and will likely make him one of the first wideouts off the board in April’s draft, it’s important to note that speed alone doesn’t lead to fantasy production at wide receiver.

Here’s the list of wideouts who have run under 4.30 at the Combine: 

Player Time Year
John Ross 4.22 2017
Rondel Menendez 4.24 1999
Jerome Mathis 4.26 2005
Marquise Goodwin 4.27 2013
Jacoby Ford 4.28 2010
J.J. Nelson 4.28 2015

This isn’t exactly a who’s who of fantasy studs. In fact, we actually have a list of players who briefly flashed fantasy potential but generally weren’t consistent assets. To be fair, Tyreek Hill didn’t participate in the Combine and did run sub-4.3 at his pro day. So that’s not to say Ruggs can’t be a fantasy standout. However, we can’t simply take something like a player’s 40 time and use it as the end all, be all. 

At this point, we know Ruggs is uber-athletic, but he’s also very green, with fewer than 100 catches to his name during his time with Alabama. Still, his massive ceiling makes him a top-5 dynasty wideout prospect.

Donovan Peoples-Jones puts on a show

The former Michigan receiver had a disappointing college career after being one of the most highly coveted recruits in the nation. However, Peoples-Jones certainly raised a few eyebrows with his on-field testing on Thursday. He ran a solid 4.48 in the 40-yard dash, but the real fireworks came in the jumping events. Peoples-Jones jumped out of the gym with an insane 44.5-inch vertical jump and 11-foot-7 in the broad. Only five players have jumped higher and only two have jumped further in combine history.

But, as with Ruggs, we can’t just move Peoples-Jones way up the dynasty draft board. We’ve actually seen a player test very similarly in recent history: Chris Conley. The Jacksonville Jaguars wideout jumped a half-inch higher and had the exact same broad jump number as Peoples-Jones. While Conley has certainly managed to stick as a starting wideout in the NFL, he’s been far from a consistent fantasy option.  

Chase Claypool silences his detractors

There was somewhat of a divide among evaluators on Claypool heading into the Combine. Some viewed him as a height/weight/speed prospect similar to his former college teammate Miles Boykin, while others saw him as a potential big slot/tight end convert like Devin Funchess

It doesn’t look like there’s any debate after Thursday night, as Claypool went out and ran 4.42 in the 40-yard dash. That’s the exact same time Boykin ran last season and nearly 0.3 seconds faster than Funchess’ 4.70. More importantly, Claypool did it 238 pounds, which is 18 pounds heavier than Boykin. 

Claypool wasn’t the most efficient wideout over the course of his college career, with just 1.79 yards per route run, but he’s coming off a 2019 season during which he found the end zone 13 times. Given his testing numbers and that productivity, his dynasty stock is on the rise.

Surprising speed from Justin Jefferson

Jefferson was one of the most productive wideouts in the nation this past season, but questions surrounded him heading into the Combine — especially regarding his speed. Jefferson answered those questions with a rock-solid 4.43 official time in the 40-yard dash. His numbers in the vert (37.5) and broad (126) don’t necessarily stand out, but neither raises any red flags.

Like everyone at LSU, Jefferson is coming off a massive season. While we can certainly attribute some of that to the play of Joe Burrow, it’s also important to note that he moved from the outside into primarily a slot role in 2019. Playing in the slot would certainly cap his overall fantasy ceiling, but we’ve seen a number of players in recent seasons who have been very productive fantasy options out of the slot. Jefferson is currently our No. 6 dynasty rookie wide receiver.

Tight end and quarterback quick hits

• Speed doesn’t matter as much for tight ends as it does for running backs or wideouts, but we did see a noteworthy time from Albert Okwuegbunam. The Missouri product was the lone tight end to go sub-4.6, blazing a 4.49. He’s a deeper name to know in this year’s class.

• Adam Trautman didn’t run as fast as Okwuegbunam in the 40, but the former Dayton Flyer tied for the second-fastest 20-yard shuttle (4.27) and blew away the field in the three-cone with a blazing-fast 6.78. Trautman’s short-area quickness is very appealing.

• Testing results are often overvalued at quarterback, but it's worthy of note that Cole McDonald ran the fastest 40 time at 4.58. Many expected that distinction to go to Jalen Hurts, but McDonald edged him by 0.01 seconds. We’ve already pegged McDonald as a deep fantasy sleeper in this year’s class.

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