Fantasy Football Slack and Forth: Jerry Jeudy Versus CeeDee Lamb
The 2020 wide receiver class is legit -- like, really great. This group has a chance to be special.
And at the top of this year's wideout class is two potential studs in Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb.
Most dynasty fantasy football rookie rankings across the industry have one of these two slotted in as the top wideout, and while things will undoubtedly be impacted by the NFL Draft -- giving us landing spots and draft capital -- let's dive head first into the Lamb-Jeudy debate.
I had a little chat with JJ Zachariason, our Editor-In-Chief, on Slack to get his thoughts on Lamb versus Jeudy. Here's where we stand.
AustanKas: Man, I love pre-draft stuff -- the whole process of it all. I also love this class. It's a group that most dynasty owners have been looking forward to for a while, and I think this class is going to deliver us a few elite fantasy producers. There's so much to like -- and that's the case with both Lamb and Jeudy. They are ballers and check a lot of boxes no matter how you evaluate prospects. When looking at the two of them, JJ, who are you siding with as of right now?
jjzachariason: I’m currently on the Jeudy side, but it’s close. Admittedly, I’m just going with what my model says. It does side with Lamb among the main three production categories (receptions per game, yards per team pass attempt, and touchdown share), but Jeudy gets a bump when you give those numbers context. He played in a tougher conference, he had more competition for targets…and he was the best receiver on Alabama. Hard to say no to that.
AustanKas: Admittedly, I've got nothing against Jeudy. I really like both guys -- a lot. I think they're gonna be studs, and landing spot could eventually push one over the other for me. But as prospects, I like Lamb's fantasy ceiling a little better than Jeudy's.
Lamb is incredible after the catch. Spending 30 seconds on YouTube watching his highlights will tell you that, but the numbers do, too. His worst yards-per-catch clip in his three seasons at Oklahoma was 17.5, and he averaged an eye-popping 21.4 yards per catch in his final season -- a mark that ranks in the 96th percentile, per PlayerProfiler. But he's not just a big-play guy. He broke out as a true freshman, setting an OU freshman record with 807 yards and 7 scores in 2017, giving him a great breakout age. And he's an early declare (like Jeudy), and we know that's a good sign.
Lamb's ability to rack up yards after the catch and make big plays should be a boon for his fantasy output, and he's good enough at everything else that he shouldn't be some boom-or-bust guy each week.
Is there anything with Jeudy that gives you reason for pause?
jjzachariason: I’m an analytical scout, and Jeudy’s production profile isn’t flawless. Again, a lot of that is likely due to the competition at Alabama. It’s also pretty damn impressive that he’s got a fringe top-10 stat score in my model despite that competition. Meanwhile, his Bama teammate, Henry Ruggs, ranks in the bottom half of the class production-wise.
I suppose if there’s one thing I’d be worried about it’s his size, but you can make the same type of argument for Lamb. When I was looking at comps for these two guys, finding one for Jeudy was a lot easier (it landed on Stefon Diggs), whereas Lamb’s production and size combo gave me a wide range of “close enough” comps like Sidney Rice and DeAndre Hopkins. Jeudy feels safer from that perspective.
Any worry about Lamb’s lankiness?
AustanKas: It's definitely a concern. Lamb being under 200 pounds makes it tough to find a great comp for him, and that always makes me a little uncomfortable.
I also think landing spot matters more for Lamb than it does Jeudy. Lamb will likely thrive in a quick-hitting, short-throws passing attack where the ball is in his hands early and he can go to work after the catch. Lamb's physicality helps him in contested-catch situations, but I think he may need to be schemed the ball more than Jeudy will be. So if Lamb's landing spot is a bad one (poor quarterback play and/or an offensive coaching staff that isn't easy to trust), I'd probably lean Jeudy.
Overall, I could actually get on board with Jeudy being a safer, higher-floor prospect, though both check a lot of boxes.
What are your thoughts on Lamb?
jjzachariason: Yeah, that’s sort of where I land with things. Jeudy just feels safe. I probably shouldn’t use “feel” since that’s irrelevant, but everything seems to back it up: the production is fine, he’s already played with NFL talent, and he’s faced NFL talent.
And the other point to make with Jeudy and competition is that, if Henry Ruggs is being considered a top wideout in this draft, and if Jeudy outperformed him the way he did at Alabama, then what does that say about Jeudy? In three seasons, Jeudy amassed 1,000-plus yards more than Ruggs. Say what you want about Ruggs’ ability to stretch the field and help a team — I don’t disagree with that — but if you’re going to love on Ruggs, you’ve gotta love on Jeudy, too.
I like Lamb and think he’s a really strong prospect. Identical breakout age to Jeudy, similar BMI, strong production. I generally go by the motto that good players see more volume and production because they’re good. It’s just hard for me to ignore what I just talked about with Jeudy, and that’s why I’ve got him ahead of Lamb right now. Plain and simple.
AustanKas: Yeah, all that makes sense. Can you envision a scenario post-draft where you bump Jeudy from your WR1 spot? And what do you think is the ideal fantasy landing place for him?
jjzachariason: I do worry about Jeudy to the Jets, at least in the short term. I don’t mind Sam Darnold, but part of what’s great about Jeudy is his versatility — he played more than half of his snaps from the slot last year, per PFF. But Jamison Crowder could push him into more of an outside role. And we know Adam Gase kills the outlook for skill players. So if he lands in New York, I could see a world where Lamb jumps him.
As for the best landing spot, I’m not sure there is one. People are down on Vegas, but there’d be great immediate opportunity. I think the Raiders are actually fine for both Lamb and Jeudy, especially since Derek Carr's conservative nature will allow them to flash their yards-after-catch ability (where Lamb, specifically, could dominate). And if they upgrade quarterback, then that’s not a bad thing, either. Am I looking at this wrong? Is there any realistic “top” option for these guys among teams drafting in the top-20 or so?
AustanKas: It's funny you mention the Raiders because I think that would be a great spot for Lamb. They -- or at least Carr -- loved the short passing game in 2019. San Francisco would probably be a pretty sweet spot for either Lamb or Jeudy. Kyle Shanahan usually does a superb job utilizing the skills of his players, and they have a need at receiver.
I'm with you on the Jets. Among the teams picking in the first half of the draft that could take a wideout, they're my least favorite landing spot.
Is there any way somebody -- maybe Justin Jefferson or Jalen Reagor -- can get into this tier for you, or is it Jeudy and Lamb clearly above all the other good wideouts in the class?
jjzachariason: With wideouts, I’m generally going to stay put with the pre-draft evaluation unless they go to a perfect spot or a horrific one. Talent just wins out more at the position, and the two, to me, are the two best in this class. I could see being excited by a Packers or Vikings wide receiver in the first round, though, so maybe I’d consider a Denzel Mims or Reagor if they went to one of those teams while Jeudy goes to the Jets. What about you? Same feel?
AustanKas: Yep -- I'm with you. I don't think landing spot matters as much as it does at running back. Jefferson to the Eagles would be fun and could happen, but it wouldn't be enough to get him into the Jeudy/Lamb tier for me.
jjzachariason: I guess what we’re saying here is: these guys are good players who you want on your fantasy team.