As we inch toward the new season, the ever-changing NFL landscape has player fantasy football values constantly on the move. Whether you’re used to the dynasty platform or are still learning the rules, let’s dive into the latest dynasty value of Josh Downs.
Josh Downs’ Dynasty Outlook and Value
The 2023 rookie wide receiver class wasn’t viewed as particularly strong. It certainly won’t hold a candle to the incredible 2022 class. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t quality fantasy assets to come from it.
Downs was never in the running to be one of the top receivers drafted, but he was considered a likely second-round pick. Although he fell to the third round, that’s still Day 2 draft capital. So, we have every reason to maintain confidence in him … that is, if we believe in the talent profile.
Downs is the latest in a long line of prospects we previously would’ve deemed “undersized.” At 5’9″, 171 pounds, he’s another DeVonta Smith archetype. To be clear, I’m not comparing his play to Smith’s — just his size. We are seeing more and more smaller receivers enter the NFL. It’s just the new norm.
Running a 4.48 40-time is good in a vacuum, but it puts Downs’ speed score in the 13th percentile. However, everything else about his athletic profile is just about elite.
Downs is an early declare, which bolsters his prospects of NFL success, and he was incredibly productive at an early age. In his sophomore season, Downs commanded a 38.7% target share, catching 104 passes for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns.
Where Downs might be limited is in his role at the NFL level. In college, he was almost exclusively a slot receiver, which is unsurprising, given his size. Downs’ slot rates in his three collegiate seasons were 83%, 95%, and 87%.
Fortunately, there’s no reason Downs can’t occupy that role on the Colts. Michael Pittman Jr. profiles as their possession outside receiver. Alec Pierce is their stretch Z. That leaves Downs as the primary slot guy, as long as he can beat out Isaiah McKenzie (which he should).
The real hiccup will be in quarterback play. Slot receivers typically rely on precision passing and good rapport with the man under center. The Colts are likely to start unpolished rookie Anthony Richardson out of the gate.
Richardson possesses an incredibly high ceiling as a pro, but he’s got a ways to go before he reaches it. He’s also not exactly a dink-and-dunk type of passer. Downs’ development — and fantasy value — is tied to Richardson. With Pittman and Pierce already more established, it’s unlikely Downs makes much of a fantasy impact as a rookie.
Josh Downs’ Fantasy Ranking
The best dynasty rookie receivers are the ones with high upside that we can project to start immediately. Downs’ ceiling is definitely higher than most third-rounders. Whether he projects to start right away depends on your definition of “start.”
Downs should start in three-receiver sets. But he’s unlikely to be on the field in two-receiver sets. If Downs emerges as a weekly must-start fantasy asset, it is unlikely to happen as a rookie.
Downs checks in at 2.05 in our latest dynasty rookie rankings. He’s the rookie WR6. It wouldn’t be a shock if Downs emerged into a weekly fantasy WR2; it just may take a couple of years. Of course, in dynasty, we must think beyond just the current season.
If you can get Downs in the third round of your rookie draft, that’s a shot worth taking. At the right price, he’s a fine pick in dynasty startup drafts, as well.
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