• Andy Will

2020 WRs In Review: Part 1

Twitter: @ScottWill2909

The 2020 wide receiver class made some impact when they joined the NFL. It was a year like no other for everyone but especially for the rookies, they came into the league with no real pre-season to speak of and many of them made substantial contributions to their teams. In this article, we will look at some key statistics and what will be changing within their teams going into the 2021 season.

Stay tuned for 2020 WRs In Review: Part 2!

Chase Claypool

What did he do in 2020?

  • He had 4 games with carries inside the 20-yard line (3 in fact within the 10) 2 of which went for TD’s.

  • Level with Juju Smith-Schuster with 9 (receiving) touchdowns.

  • He finished with more targets within the 10-yard line than Juju Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Eric Ebron with 9. All 3 of his catches went for touchdowns.

  • There were 8 games where he finished with targets within the 20 (not including his rush attempts), only second to Ebron who had 10 games with at least one target within 20 yards of the end-zone.

  • His snap count was down at 62.91%. Smith Schuster finished with almost 20% more.

  • He finished with a lower snap count percentage than fellow 2020 rookies- Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, Ceedee Lamb, and Brandon Aiyuk.

What’s changing in 2021?

A few weeks ago this was slightly easier to call. Ben Roethlisberger helped save the Steelers $15 million in cap space taking them back into the black by just below $8 million. Before this, it was very difficult to see anyway what Juju Smith-Schuster could stay with the Steelers but this made a difference and Juju ended up accepting a 1-year contract to stay with the Steelers while rejecting the opportunity to move teams to take more money. Ray-Ray McCloud is also a free agent from the wide receiver position room as is running back James Connor.

James Connor is moving on and the Steelers will need to improve in that department going into the 2021 season. With the running game underwhelming the Steelers resorted to many short passes to move the offense. It was clear that Ben Roethlisberger trusted Claypool close to the end zone and looked consistently for him.

Gabriel Davis

What did he do in 2020?

  • From week 12 to 16 John Brown was out of the line-up and Davis was able to see an uptick in fantasy output. He finished at WR 29 in standard, 34 in half PPR, and 38 in full PPR which was substantially higher than his final standings.

  • Without Brown, Davis (7 games) only saw fewer than 4 targets once. In the 9 games with Brown it was almost the opposite, he only 4 or more targets in 3 games.

  • Davis finished 2nd behind only Diggs in total snap count percentage with a final total of 73.25%. When Brown was not in the line-up Davis’ snap count shot up to the 80s and 90s and on two occasions he was on-field for 100% of the offensive snaps.

  • Davis scored 7 touchdowns in 2020, however, only 2 of them came from red-zone targets.

  • Finished 3rd overall in total touchdowns only behind Josh Allen (9) and Stefon Diggs (8).

What’s changing in 2021?

A player mentioned a lot when looking at Davis’ output in the 2020 season was John Brown. As we can see above when Brown was on the field the snaps were split and when he was injured Davis’ snap count went through the roof. Brown has left the team and joined the Raiders on a one-year contract. Many thought that Brown’s exit would be the trigger for Davis to have a clear run at competing with Cole Beasley for the 2nd wide receiver behind Diggs, however, shortly after the departure of Brown his replacement was signed in Emmanuel Sanders.

Sanders recently turned 34 and is not likely to play a full-time role. He is coming off a season with the Saints where, despite the loss of Thomas for much of the season, only saw 51.9% of snaps on offense which was lower than Tre’Quan Smith. Sanders, however, will likely spend time in the slot- a position which he led in catches for the Saints- which should allow Davis to excel on the outside. If the Bills continue to be a high-passing offense and Davis continues to improve, he could be in line to better his fantasy finishes in 2021.

Tee Higgins

What did he do in 2020?

  • With Burrows at quarterback, Higgins had a great start to the season ended at WR 23 in standard and 27 in both half and full PPR formats. When Burrow went down the three main receivers' values took a hit with Higgins ending up at 42 in standard and 41 in both half and full PPR.

  • Higgins finished with a 74.81% snap count.

  • Only finished with less than 5 targets in a game once (last game of the regular season). Even though his fantasy finishes dropped after Burrow went down his targets did not.

  • Without Burrow, Higgins yardage outputs dropped. Before the injury, in the 9 games, he registered 6 games with more than 60 yards. The only ones he missed this total were in the first 2 games of the season (and in week 2 he went collected two touchdowns) and then the game when Burrow’s got injured (and in that game Higgins still finished with 10 targets). After the injury, he went above 60 yards only once out of 6 games.

What’s changing in 2021?

On the 16th of March, The Giants announced that they agreed on a deal to sign wide receiver John Ross, and multiple teams were reported to be interested in bringing in veteran AJ Green. Green wasn’t without a team for long as he was snapped up by the Cardinals to play opposite Hopkins. The Bengals ended the season with 3 receivers with 100+ targets so with AJ Green leaving this means Higgins’ share could get a boost alongside Tyler Boyd.

As we can see by some of the collected statistics from before and after the season ended injury of Burrows, Higgins (and everyone else connected to the Bengals) will be praying that he is ready to step back into the starting quarterback role. The Bengals need to add protection to the offensive line as Burrows was not given very much time. AJ Green leaving, the return of Burrows and an improved O-line could mean an exciting 2021 season for Higgins.

Over the last few days, the landscape of the top of the draft changed. San Francisco traded up to the 3rd spot and Miami then traded back up to 6 in a deal with the Eagles. Many expect this to mean that the first 3 and possibly the first 4 picks could all be used on quarterbacks and if this is the case then a top offensive option could fall to the Bengals. If Ja’Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts - or both- are available could the Bengals take one of them? If they do then this could limit Higgins’ value slightly, however, as we can see, even with a 3rd receiver he was a top option for the team.

Jalen Reagor

What did he do in 2020?

  • Reagor played 11 games during the season due to injury but only a 45.22% snap share. This was 3rd behind Fulgham, the fellow rookie who played 13 games and had 48.94%, and Ward who played all 16 and had a snap share of 70%.

  • Out of his 11 games played he only had less than 4 targets in 2 of them.

  • He had a season-high in targets during a matchup with Arizona where he finished with 8 targets. This was with Hurts at quarterback.

What’s changing in 2021?

There have been plenty of changes that will affect Reagor in the early stages of the off-season. Carson Wentz, in a blockbuster trade, was sent to the Colts and it looks as if Jalen Hurts will take the full-time starting quarterback role after finishing the year in that position. The Eagles traded away their 6th overall pick to the Dolphins for the 12th, a 2021 4th round, and a 2021 1st. With this trade, it put an end to the speculation that the Eagles would draft a QB with the 6th pick and they look to move forward with Hurts.

The wide receiver group is looking a little thin after some of the other moves the Eagles have made over the past few weeks. DeSean Jackson has left Philadelphia after his contract came to an end and has joined the Rams to become another target for Matthew Stafford. Another player who has left the team is Alshon Jeffery. Although neither player played much it leaves the group without too much experience. There have been rumors that Zach Ertz may be next to leave. It was reported that he was permitted to seek a trade from the team and this would leave the team needing to add some more pieces. The top couple of receivers in the draft will likely be gone by the time the Eagles are on the clock at 12, however, the 2021 WR class looks deep once again so it’s possible they still land a top option. Even if the Eagles add more options Reagor will need to step up and help the team improve from their poor showing in 2020.

Denzel Mims

What did he do in 2020?

  • Mims played 9 games and didn’t play until week 7 in a divisional game against the Bills due to a hamstring injury at training camp.

  • Mims leads the team in receiving yards in his first two games in the NFL and finished with a total of 3 games as the top receiver in terms of yardage.

  • He finished with 4 of 9 games with 7 or more targets and only 2 games with less than 3 (the last two games of the season he finished with only 2 targets).

  • Mims only played 44.39% of snaps, although this was not surprising due to missing so much of the season. This was however good enough for 3rd within the receiving core behind Perriman with 65.82% and Crowder with 59.96%. During week 17 he played his least amount of snaps in any game he appeared in with 28.6%. However, this was due to being put in the concussion protocol following his first catch. Every other game he played in he didn’t play less than 78%.

What’s changing in 2021?

This off-season is a big one for the Jets. They hold the 2nd overall pick in the upcoming draft and are in prime position to take their pick of any top prospect quarterback they like (minus probably Trevor Lawrence). If they decide to go in another direction or sell the pick in the lead up to the draft and go ahead with Sam Darnold they need to improve.