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Jalen Reagor - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

The Philadelphia Eagles made Jalen Reagor the fourth wide receiver selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. While there was very little consensus regarding the top receivers in this class, most analysts had Reagor somewhere in or near their top five before the combine and firmly in their top eight or so post-combine.

Reagor was probably overdrafted by the Eagles, but that is more of a data point for us to use than a mis-allocation of resources. When evaluating prospects' likelihood of NFL success, we care about three things:

  1. College performance
  2. Athletic measurables
  3. Draft capital

So what does this all mean for fantasy football purposes? Let's take a look.

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College Performance

Jalen Reagor broke out during his age 19 season (95th percentile), and his 32.6% college target share was in the 93rd percentile. However, Reagor's college production isn't overly impressive.

Reagor did deal with awful quarterback play at TCU, but only his 2018 season where he posted a 72-1061-9 line was truly outstanding. In his final collegiate season, Reagor regressed to just a 43-611-5 line. His best college season is more important than his last, but we can't discount the dip in production entirely.

Reagor's 14.5 yards per reception during his three years at TCU is only 46th percentile. Fortunately, his 36.7% dominator rating is 73rd percentile. Reagor's catch rate dropped all three seasons. It began at 57.9% in 2017. It was 54.1% in 2018 and 46.2% in 2019. Again, quarterback play was an issue and, unfortunately, we don't have catchable target rate statistics for college players.

Overall, Reagor showed the ability to produce at a high level in college even though he wasn't objectively a prolific college producer.

 

Athletic Measurables

The area where Reagor is most appealing is athletically. Reagor completely bombed the agility drills resulting in a 7th percentile agility score, but the rest of his measurables suggest he's a very good athlete.

Reagor ran a 4.47 40 time, which was lower than many expect, but still good for a 70th percentile speed score. His burst score was off the charts, registering in the 99th percentile. His catch radius was not great, but certainly not a death sentence in the 56th percentile. At 5'11", 206 lbs, Reagor is able to move very well and has the speed to burn corners deep.

Physically, there is no doubt that Reagor has the ability to succeed at the NFL level. If he can develop is receiver skills to match his athleticism, Reagor has WR1 upside.

 

Draft Capital

The Eagles spent the 21st overall pick on Jalen Reagor. A mid-first round pick is strong, but what is even more telling is who the Eagles chose Reagor over. Many analysts mocked Justin Jefferson to the Eagles and plenty of analysts had Reagor behind guys like Denzel Mims, Brandon Aiyuk, and Michael Pittman.

The Eagles taking Reagor higher than anyone expected sends a clear message that they believe in him. It also makes it exceedingly more likely he will have greater opportunities to succeed.

 

Rookie Season Outlook

An argument can be made that no rookie wide receiver is better positioned for immediate success than Jalen Reagor. Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk would appear to have a clearer path to playing time, but the Eagles have a better passing offense than the Vikings and 49ers for fantasy purposes.

The Eagles have a talented backfield featuring Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, but they are a pass oriented team. Carson Wentz attempted 607 passes last season.

At first glance, the path to targets seems difficult with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, and DeSean Jackson firmly ahead of Reagor, and Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Dallas Goedert, and Greg Ward all in the mix. While there are a lot of options on the Eagles, Reagor should immediately step in as the Eagles' WR3, supplanting Ward. He will also be prioritized ahead of Scott and likely Goedert for targets.

The most likely catalyst for a Reagor rookie year breakout will, unfortunately, be injuries. DeSean Jackson is entering his age 34 season and coming off a year where he missed 14 games. Jackson has a lengthy injury history and is a good bet to miss time. If and when Jackson goes down, Reagor could be thrust into a near-every down role.

Alshon Jeffery is entering his age 30 season, coming off a season where he missed seven games, appearing on the injury report with four different ailments. Jeffery has a history of soft tissue injuries as well as shoulder issues. He is more likely to miss games than not in 2020.

There is a realistic scenario where Reagor spends a handful of games as the team's WR1. With Jeffery and Jackson not only on the wrong side of 30, it's a question of when, not if, Reagor becomes the Eagles' top receiver. While 2021 is more likely, 2020 is not out of the question.

 

Long-Term Outlook

With Reagor so young and athletic, and tethered to a 27 year old quarterback, he is positioned nicely for years to come. Jeffery and Jackson won't be around much longer. Once they are gone, Reagor will be the WR1 and, at worst, second on the target totem pole behind the tight end (whether it's Ertz or Goedert is another topic).

It's a tricky game to try and guess when a wide receiver will break out. Historically, rookie receivers are more likely to lose value in year one. Reagor will definitely be a name to target at some point during the 2020 season.

If you don't want to guess when, just draft him. You will get a positive return on investment even if you have to wait a little bit for it.

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