South Alabama wide receiver Jalen Tolbert is an intriguing prospect to evaluate for dynasty fantasy football leagues in 2022. He finished his collegiate career with highs in receptions (82), yards (1,474), and touchdowns (8). How should dynasty fantasy managers view Tolbert after he landed with the Dallas Cowboys?
Jalen Tolbert’s dynasty fantasy profile
The South Alabama WR checks in at 6’1″ and weighs 194 pounds. What are the best parts of his game, and what aspects of his profile might he need to overcome to succeed at the NFL level?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. As Tolbert’s scouting report details, the kid can fly. No wide receiver in the 2022 rookie class had more 30+ yard receptions than Tolbert. He’s fast, athletic, and agile. Tolbert displayed excellent footwork and an ability to get off the line quickly.
Tolbert has had some serious blow-up games throughout his college career. He took a little while to get going, but Tolbert had his first mega-smash game against Arkansas State in the final contest of his 2019 season when he caught 5 passes for 144 yards and a whopping 4 touchdowns.
Tolbert’s senior campaign is where he really established himself as an NFL-caliber wide receiver. He posted seven 100-yard receiving games. One of those games was against Tennessee, one of the toughest opponents Tolbert faced at South Alabama.
An important factor in the success of prospects is draft capital, and the general consensus around draft experts is Tolbert shouldn’t make it out of Round 2. His athletic testing wasn’t great by any stretch, but he didn’t post any numbers that would send him plummeting down draft boards.
Although South Alabama is an FBS school, playing in a non-Power Five conference is always a disadvantage for college prospects. So while Tolbert torched defenders on a regular basis, those defenders weren’t exactly future NFL players.
Tolbert also struggled with concentration at times. In 2021, he dropped 7 passes. I’m typically not one to care much about drops, but NFL coaches might. Anything that can be used to decrease Tolbert’s draft stock is at least noteworthy.
Another issue for Tolbert is his age. Not being an early-declaration prospect isn’t as big of an issue as already being 23 years old. For context, Tolbert is four months older than Justin Jefferson, who already has two NFL seasons under his belt.
The combination of Tolbert’s advanced age, late breakout age (20.5), and weak college competition playing at South Alabama all should serve as warning signs for fantasy managers to proceed with some caution when it comes to drafting him.
Tolbert’s injury history
One of the main reasons Tolbert is such an old prospect is injury. Prior to his true-freshman season, he suffered a knee injury and took a redshirt.
Coming off injury when he returned to action in his redshirt-freshman season, Tolbert didn’t play much, only appearing in five games. As a result, it took him longer than it should’ve to get rolling. The good news is Tolbert hasn’t missed a game since.
Tolbert’s dynasty value with the Cowboys
This is an interesting spot for Tolbert to land. Let’s start with the positives. The Cowboys have a top-10 quarterback and one of the best offenses in the league. Dak Prescott can support three fantasy-relevant wide receivers so all Tolbert needs to do is get on the field and he has a shot at fantasy value.
Now for the not so good. Tolbert is already 23 years old. He will open the season as the WR4, at best, behind CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and James Washington. Tolbert going on Day 2 instead of falling to Day 3 is huge for his potential success, but there’s still no guarantee he plays much as a rookie.
In a best-case scenario, Tolbert would immediately start in three-receiver sets while Gallup works his way back from his ACL tear. Unfortunately, there’s a very real chance Noah Brown plays ahead of him. Then, once Gallup returns, it will be an uphill battle for Tolbert to find playing time.
Dynasty managers interested in Tolbert need to view him as a long-term project. While ideally, we want rookie production in the form of at least 500 receiving yards, eventually we get to a point with rookies where it’s simply not possible and we need to hope we have an outlier on our hands. That is likely where we’ll be with Tolbert following his rookie season.
Tolbert is highly unlikely to have any redraft value. If he does, it will be later in the season and due to some injuries in front of him. He will go undrafted in standard-sized 12-team leagues.
In dynasty, Tolbert is a worthwhile addition to the back of your roster, but I would not draft him with any expectations of production. If he emerges into a fantasy WR3/4 at some point within the next three years, consider that a win for your fantasy team.