As we close in toward a new season, the ever-changing NFL landscape has player fantasy football values constantly on the move, and nothing shakes up the league like the recently finished NFL Draft, where young rookies begin their NFL careers.
Jayden Reed’s Dynasty Outlook and Value
It is almost comical that the Packers are finally drafting receivers after waiting years to do it. A year after selecting Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, the Packers followed up with Jayden Reed from Michigan State, one of my favorite receivers in the 2023 draft class.
Despite being held back by the Spartans’ lackluster passing game, Reed still managed to have three seasons where he gained over 600 yards and scored five touchdowns. In 2021, he even surpassed 1,000 yards and scored 10 TDs. Throughout his career, Reed had an impressive 2.18 yards per route run (YPRR) and an 11.5 aDOT. Reed also drew a target on nearly 25% of his passing downs as the top option.
Reed may not be the tallest or heaviest player — standing at 5’11” and weighing 187 pounds — but he fights through contact mid-route, tracks the ball well, and has three-level speed and separation. According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Reed posted a 70.3% success rate vs. man, 79.2% vs. zone, and an 87th percentile success rate vs. press at 77.8%.
While it took some time, we saw Watson thrive last year with Aaron Rodgers, as he ranked 11th in yards per route run and third in fantasy points per route. He was fourth in YAC/perception and, between Weeks 10 and 13, never finished lower than the WR10, scoring eight of his nine touchdowns on 26 targets.
This type of touchdown efficiency will not happen in 2023 with Jordan Love under center, who remains an unknown quantity in this equation despite some positive showings and a small sample size. However, it would not shock me if Reed had a more consistent season in 2023 than Watson for fantasy, which might surprise some managers.
Reed is a more complete route runner than Watson. He is a separator off the line and at the stem. So much of Watson’s success could be attributed to Rodgers being able to raise the ceiling of those around him, and those developmental traits Watson has might show more than we might think.
On the flip side, Reed has an NFL route tree right now. His ceiling is closer to a Terry McLaurin, who is always open (even when covered) and can win in contested-catch situations.
I am not saying this will be Reed, but that is at least in the range of outcomes. He can play in both the slot and the perimeter, and from Day 1, I have him as the No. 2 for the Packers, but by midseason, he could be fighting Watson for priority targets.
Jayden Reed’s Fantasy Ranking
While I am hopeful for Reed’s potential, it would be unrealistic to expect him to perform at the same level as Justin Jefferson during his rookie season. He is an outlier. However, I am confident that Reed will surpass many people’s expectations.
The critical factor that will determine his success is Love’s readiness to become the Packers’ quarterback. Investing in Reed is essentially a bet on Love, and some managers may be hesitant to take that risk.
Reed is my WR6 coming out of the draft amongst rookie wide receivers. When plugged into the overall dynasty picture now that he has a landing spot, Reed currently sits as the WR46, which does seem to be a bit above the consensus. Yet, I did come into the draft with Reed a bit higher than others, and nothing really happened to change that opinion, given the draft capital invested (No. 50).
Reed has a high-level football IQ and knows how to read coverages mid-route. He can get open and stay open by throttling down his 4.45 speed to stay in soft spots of zones and not close windows for a QB who needs a WR to help him complete the easy throws.
Reed also pays attention, breaking off a route if his quarterback is in trouble. Love did show an ability to escape the pocket and extend plays against the Saints, something I expect to continue. If both are on the same page early, Reed can benefit.
Reed has been brought in to grow with Love and help reset the organization as it enters a new era. Managers looking to upgrade their ceiling in dynasty drafts would do well by following the same path and adding Reed to their rosters while his value is still attainable.
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