The hype around the NFL's incoming wide receiver class is warranted thanks to the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. But the 2020 NFL wide receiver draft class was one for the ages, especially when it comes down to the top five.
The top five second-year wide receivers all broke out as rookies and could be on their way to fantasy football stardom in Year 2.
This is a telltale sign that big things are coming for the 6-foot-4 standout from Notre Dame. Since 2013, that mark ranks fifth-highest among any rookie wideout. The four players who bested it were Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr.,Kelvin Benjamin and Cordarelle Patterson.
A high-end target rate isn’t the only thing that stood out about Claypool's rookie year, as his 11 touchdowns were an extremely rare feat — rookie or not.
Rookie WRs with double-digit TDs
|2014||Odell Beckham Jr.||12|
|2010||Mike Williams (TB)||11|
Claypool became just the seventh rookie to score double-digit touchdowns, a threshold that puts him into an esteemed company. But, again, his seasonal accolades don’t end there.
He also led the NFL in deep targets (42), finished fifth in total air yards (1,825) and tallied 5.3 yards after the catch — a mark that ranked 12th best. His combination of a top-12 season in terms of YAC/reception and aDOT (15.1), places him among another elite group of receivers that includes Calvin Ridley, Kenny Golladay, Stefon Diggs, Chris Godwin and Tyreek Hill. The only difference? It took those players more than one season to accomplish this.
Claypool’s historical comparisons are virtually off the charts, so fantasy football gamers need to be all over him. The concerns around a crowded Pittsburgh Steelers receiver room and Ben Roethlisberger’s declining arm are real but were also present last season.
Only Justin Jefferson (16.9) and Brandon Aiyuk (15.4) scored more fantasy points per game than Claypool (13.6) among first-year players. That's amazing considering Claypool was the No. 3 receiver in the target pecking order, and Roethlisberger was one of the league’s most inaccurate quarterbacks throwing the ball 20 or more yards downfield.
Claypool commanded just a 17% target share in games with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster playing in full. Big Ben’s on-target percentage (34%) on those throws was well below league average (42%), ranking 31st out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks.
There’s a surplus of baked-in upside with Claypool’s role as the team’s primary deep threat even with an erratic/declining passer under center; take that all day at his WR29 ADP. Alphas don’t stay at WR3 price tags for very long.
Chase Claypool led all rookies in target rate per route run (24.3%) – a mark that ranks top 5 among all rookie WRs since 2013
you *literally* can't spell Chase Claypool without the word “alpha” pic.twitter.com/RugoGYiHL9
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) June 24, 2021