There are a select few players who have the ability to step in as a rookie and make a significant impact in their first year. Not only is Henry Ruggs one of those players in 2020, but he is also someone who you should be targeting in your upcoming fantasy drafts. Ruggs presents a fantastic value at his current ADP and is a near-lock to outperform his price tag.
The Las Vegas Raiders were enamored with Ruggs’ skillset
In a few years, we very well could look back and call the 2020 NFL Draft class one of the best when it comes to wide receivers. While this class was deep and full of top-end talent, the Raiders selected Ruggs with the 12th overall selection as the first wide receiver off the board. Ruggs brings something the other players don’t have; game-breaking speed.
This element of his game was on full display during his career at the University of Alabama. During his three-year career, Ruggs caught 98 passes for an astonishing 1,716 yards (17.5 avg) and 24 touchdowns. To put this into perspective, Ruggs scored a touchdown on every 3.92 receptions. What is more impressive is how he did this.
While Ruggs is a threat to take the top off the defense on any play, he made his production on short routes and screens. His speed and agility, along with incredible vision, allowed him to maneuver through pursuers and simply run past most defensive players trying to cut him off.
His combine performance was enough to impress
Then at the NFL Combine, Ruggs put his athleticism on full display. His 4.27 40-yard sprint was nearly a tenth of a second faster than everyone else who laced up their cleats in Indianapolis. Amazingly, we were almost disappointed as there was a real shot of him breaking John Ross’s 2017 record of 4.22.
However, Ruggs isn’t a one-trick pony. His 42″ vertical jump was second best as well. Check out some of Ruggs’ basketball highlights and see high he can get for yourself how.
After joining one of the worst wide receiver groups in the NFL, Ruggs is instantly going to see the field. Not only is he going to make an impact for Las Vegas, but he will make an impact in fantasy football in 2020.
Henry Ruggs has every chance to breakout in 2020
When trying to find fantasy players to target, we look for a few crucial factors, especially in later rounds. Talent is an obvious must, as they need to give the team a reason to put them on the field. Draft capital is another factor, as it shows the commitment the team has towards the player. The final part is the opportunity and path to playing time. Is a player buried on the depth chart, or is there a clear path to production early on in their career? Ruggs passes all of these criteria with flying colors.
We have already covered both talent and draft capital, so let’s examine his path to playing time.
The then 2019 Oakland Raiders, had one of the worst groups of pass-catchers in the NFL. The Antonio Brown experiment failed miserably and left a massive hole at the position. Instead, Gruden had to rely on newly-acquired Tyrell Williams and rookie Hunter Renfrow to carry the load. Tight end Darren Waller ended up being the biggest surprise of the season, as he led the team in receiving yards with 1,145. A large part of his success was the lack of other proven options.
Addressing this weakness was the offseason’s priority, as the team selected both Ruggs and Bryan Edwards from South Carolina. So long as both players grasp the offense in this extremely condensed offseason, they will step into starting roles Week 1.
Ruggs’ position on the field will change his output
All reports coming out of camp are that Ruggs is blowing away the team’s expectations. It is also being reported they plan to play him in the slot. For fantasy purposes, this is ideal. In 2019, Derek Carr had the lowest average depth of target of all qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL. As we brushed on earlier, this is where Ruggs made most of his damage happen in college. His ability to create instant separation at the line of scrimmage will get Carr to make a quick read and use his underrated accuracy to allow Ruggs to make plays in space.
One more thing working in Ruggs’ favor is the unfortunate injury to Williams. During a practice, Williams came down on his shoulder and suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder. An injury such as this has a wide range of outcomes regarding the length of recovery time. Depending on the size of the tear, rehab becomes an option while the joint becomes stronger.
However, if the tear is more extensive, he could be looking at a six-to-eight month recovery time, as surgery is necessary to stabilize the joint. Regardless of the recovery path, I do not foresee Williams being on the field Week 1, and he could end up missing the entire season as a worst-case scenario. When you add up all of these factors, plus his current ADP of WR45, Ruggs screams buying opportunity and someone you need to target in your fantasy drafts for 2020.
Henry Ruggs will vastly outperform his 2020 draft position in fantasy
I believe Ruggs has a floor of 100 targets and could see upwards of 115, much in part to him lining up in the slot and running where Carr looks to throw the ball. I currently have Ruggs slated for a 20% target share, which equals 112 targets.
While I do not believe his 17.5 ypc will continue from college, Ruggs should hover around 14 to 14.5 yards per reception thanks to his speed and ability after the catch. In my projections, I have him at 14.3 yards per catch. For context, this would have ranked Ruggs as WR25 in 2019.
My final stat line for Ruggs is 68 receptions on 113 targets for 977 yards and six touchdowns. In 0.5 PPR scoring, he is WR28 in my projections, which blows away his current price.
In full transparency, I have shifted my view on Ruggs. Leading up to the draft, I felt he was more of an NFL asset than one for fantasy purposes. A player who brought massive boom potential, but his floor would be enough to potentially lose your fantasy matchup. I even reiterated this point in the late hours after the first round when I wrote an article covering Ruggs’s dynasty value.
Ruggs is the prime example of why you should always be willing to look into other facts and allow yourself to change your opinion on a fantasy player. Evaluation processes like this make you a better fantasy player. At the end of the day, that’s what we are all striving to do.
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