Every year around this time, we start to hear about the rookies who are dominating camps across the country. (Except for this year, maybe). These late summer days are the time of year when the hype train starts leaving the station, and guys subsequently start climbing up draft boards and rankings lists. It’s also the time we start hearing Patrick Mahomes is throwing interceptions all over the field, so we make hasty decisions and trade him away because of it. What I am going to try and help you do is find value for your team in the guys we don’t hear about in camp – the guys who aren’t being talked about but should be. Is there a better feeling than finding some dynasty rookie sleepers nobody else is talking about? I think not.
There is no better place to find value than the rookie class—this is where all of the potential energy of NFL talent is stored. The further down the draft board you can find a diamond, the better the dynasty return you will get. We are looking for the next fantasy football Amazon stock. At the back of this year’s draft board is where we find my first “Value Diamond”- K.J. Hill of the Los Angeles Chargers.
- HT 6’0″
- WT 192 lbs
- 40-Yard Dash 4.60, 4.62
Hill did not wow at the combine primarily due to the 4.60 and 4.62 he posted in the 40-yard dash. His slow speed and somewhat undersized frame undoubtedly caused his draft stock to fall in a class that was littered with wide receiver talent. Currently, I have Hill as my 47th rookie overall (WR21), but this is precisely the type of potential value gain we are looking for to stash at the end of our bench.
According to Ohiostatebuckeyes.com, Hill broke numerous receiving records while at Ohio State. Hill was the first receiver in school history with three years of 50-or-more receptions. He also caught at least one pass in 48 consecutive games, which tied Gary Williams for the school record.
What Hill does better than almost any other wide receiver in the class and what will ultimately lead to an increase in his production, especially in PPR formats, is get open. Hill possesses elite route running techniques and the capability to create space between himself and the defender that can lead to a long, productive fantasy career.
Whenever I buy something online, I check the reviews. I don’t look at the positive reviews, though. Instead, I look at the negative reviews and decide if I can live with those issues. For me, taking a chance on a late-round flyer requires the same technique, so let’s look at Hill’s shortcomings first and decide if we can deal with those.
The most obvious issue for Hill is his 40 time. With a 4.61 average combine time, Hill is considered below average for an NFL receiver (30th percentile). But luckily for us, we are not relying on his speed. The other negative we have to worry about with Hill is his draft capital. While many don’t want to admit it, draft capital is a real thing when considering who to roster on your fantasy team. There is always the risk of “wasting” a late-round draft pick only to have the player cut a few weeks later. Hill can possibly be acquired through your waiver wire, alleviating this concern, but in deeper dynasty leagues, you are probably going to have to use a late-round draft pick to get him on your roster.
If you can place him on your taxi squad, that is going to be the best option for his rookie year as it will probably take some time for Hill to find his way onto the field for meaningful playing time (think Hunter Renfrow).
If you’re still reading, first – thank you, but you’re probably doing it because, like me, you are willing to deal with the bad reviews and are thinking of buying. So let’s focus on what you’re getting with Hill that makes him worth the roster spot.
The first thing which stands out to you when you see Hill on film is his separation. His ability to use the field and his frame to create space is exceptional. He’s not going to run away from you after the catch but he can easily create enough space to get a first down.
A perfect example of creating space in a small area.
Draws the defender to the middle of the field, then with a subtle double move, and burst creates the necessary space.
This demonstrates both his ability to create separation with burst and the next attribute – his reliability with a difficult over the inside shoulder catch.
Reliability is an obvious key to a successful NFL career. According to playerprofiler.com Hill posted at least a 75% catch rate in every year at Ohio State. By comparison, CeeDee Lamb, who I consider to be the WR1 in the class, posted catch rates of 68.7%, 82.3%, and 66% or an average catch rate of 72.33%. Jerry Jeudy who projects to play much the same role we are looking for Hill to play was on par with his catch rate, posting 74.7% and 75.5% in his last two years at Alabama – all at a significantly higher fantasy price tag. The difference between Hill and Lamb does not represent a significant drop but when the rookie WR21 is posting a catch rate higher than my WR1, and on par with a top 20 overall receiver (Jeudy), there is clear value to be had there.
K.J. Hill is an average-sized NFL wide receiver who possesses elite route running and separation ability while owning an elite catch rate. Additionally, his inexpensive price tag (ADP of 235) makes him a solid late-round rookie draft target or a “throw in” on the trade you’ve been thinking of pulling the trigger on. Make no mistake he could provide you with no return, but I see an upside to him that is worth the gamble.