September 21, 2023

The top-15 WRs under the age of 25

The wide receiver position is absolutely loaded in both fantasy and reality.

It’s so hard to put together a ranking list without feeling like you’ve sidelined someone or belittled a really good player or two. And yet I’m going to try… and I definitely feel the said guilt.

After spending hours mapping out a ton of guys who had been called up to Reception Perception over the past several years, I decided to sit down and rank the top 15 wide receivers 25 and under (excluding rookies).

One note: These aren’t just fantasy rankings – you can find them here – but this is how I see these guys as pure individual NFL players taken out of the context of their situation.

Jefferson is the easy choice to top this list and he is currently in talks with Davante Adams to be the best wide receiver in football, period. He is one of the two or three best route runners in the game and can win on all three levels. There are no restrictions on his game.

There was a lot of talk about his role in ‘The Cooper Cup Roll” as soon as Kevin O’Connell took charge, but that didn’t happen. Jefferson was moved more often pre-snap, but played less in the slot than in 2021.

It’s crazy that Jefferson is already an unquestionably elite player at the position and is just heading into Year 4. He could break 2,000 yards at some point in his career.

Chase must be represented at some level when ranking the top five wide receivers in the NFL. He is truly an elite talent. He has no holes in his game; he is good at everything. We know the explosive YAC ability and his ability as a ball winner. However, he is currently one of the most underrated route runners in the NFL. Chase opens at a fast pace despite having a ton of go routes and has a detailed approach to the game as a technician.

Chase plays on an aggressive offense where he is the clear alpha receiver and tied with one of the best quarterbacks in the league. It really is a dream scenario for a “checks all the boxes” talent.

The Cowboys bet big on Lamb making a jump to alpha-No. 1 wide receiver status in 2022 and they were rewarded immensely. Lamb shows the ability to dominate as a slot man, taking over half of his snaps, but he also masters working as an X and flanker receiver. Dallas asks a lot of him – and he delivers.

The Cowboys have surrounded Lamb this year with a better cast in the receiver room. Brandin is cooking is a perfect speed flanker to fill a great need for this attack and Michael Gallup should be healthier a year plus away from his ACL tear. Nevertheless, their world will revolve around Lamb.

Fellow eagle A. J. Brown is an elite No. 1 wide receiver. His teammate is fighting to be considered one of the best 1B receivers in the game. Smith lined up first as the X receiver for Philly and is one of the better wide receivers out there.

Smith emphasizes defense vertically and has excessive body control. He would be the WR1 of most teams in the league. The Eagles receiver duo is quite an enviable combination.

If you only care about raw stats, you’re going to hate that Aiyuk is ranked so high. I can’t stress enough how misleading it is to focus only on production when evaluating wide receivers. Aiyuk runs the hardest routes on this attack and is a threat to guard in man cover. He is explosive with the ball in his hands and has managed to develop his route by leaps and bounds since coming into the league.

I am fully convinced that under the right circumstances he could be a 1500 meter type receiver.

Aiyuk will face an uphill battle to be a primary fantasy wide receiver playing on the run-leaning 49ers offense alongside such steep goal competition. But he has all the tools to be a primary No. 1 wide receiver and is one of the most valuable players in that passing game.

Metcalf is the only player on this list drafted before 2020 – and him still won’t turn 26 until December. He’s an underrated trail runner and it’s a chore to keep tabs on the press. Don’t forget how good he is just because a few other younger guys are hot on his heels in the receiver ranks. Can’t wait to see the Seahawks wide receiver trio in action now Jaxson Smith-Njigba is in the city.

7 – Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengal

Like Smith and Aiyuk, Higgins could be the No. 1 receiver for a lot of teams in the NFL. The Bengals aren’t going to trade him – I don’t blame them and I’d hate to see them do – but if they ever put him on the block, teams would be lining up to acquire his services. Higgins is a throwback style of X receiver who can separate at an above average level and win combative contested catches in the air.

The top of the 2022 NFL Draft receiver crop has been bundled into a large group for me. All three top guys drafted are very close, but I’ll give Wilson a nod at this point. He’s an excellent route runner who breaks up at a high level, even if he’s not the most conventional technician out there. The more he played last year, the more comfortable he was wiping out the coverage of men and press outside.

Plus, he’s a freaky mover after the catch. He just has so much juice. Wilson is the most obvious candidate to join the superstar receiver tier next season.

Olave didn’t have as many exciting moments during his rookie season as his old Ohio State running mate in New York. While it may have to be looked closer to see it, it was just as good. Olave is a star quality route runner who can separate on all three levels.

He didn’t get the kind of layup targets that most young wideouts do – he just dominated the in-between area of ​​the field like an explosive separator. If you are looking for the following Stephen Diggs on the position, I think this is your man.

Despite a very productive rookie season, it was clear that Waddle had a ton of meat on the bone left. He ripped it all off in Year 2. Waddle is an extremely intelligent player who adapts well in zone coverage to free himself for his quarterback over center. He also adds intense speed and playability after the catch. If he gets even better at handling physical coverage from the press/man on the outside, he’ll graduate to superstar level.

I am a big fan of Pittman’s game. He’s a smooth separator on basic NFL trails in the short and intermediate game and we’ve seen him be a big ball winner on the field. That element was missing from his game last year when the 2022 Colts played with a big roof over their heads given the state of their quarterback room. Pittman was still quite productive and one of the few positive forces in that passing game.

I know some people will think I grossly overestimated Pittman. That’s fine. We just need it Anthony Richardson to be the guy who fully unlocks his skills and shows everyone how wrong they are about this player. Pittman is a true No. 1 wideout.

I like the game of St. Brown. Reception Perception subscribers know that last year I was ahead of the consensus on him as a prospect and for fantasy football. He is the best emerging big-slot wide receiver in the game. The Lions receiver is smart, detailed and has taken a big step in its 2022 run against man-marking route. He doesn’t offer much on vertical routes – that’s fine, it’s just not his game – which is why I put him behind some perimeter receivers in these ranks. I think you can still go into Sunday fully prepared to give him 10 targets a week as the engine of your passing attack.

London didn’t show the same raw stats as Olave and Wilson, but he equally enjoyed a fantastic rookie season. He ran out as the Falcon’s true X receiver, separating on a
strong level, especially on break-in routes. I think he’s the best breakaway candidate at the wide receiver position this year and I’ll be drafting him a lot in fantasy football. The Falcons offense won’t be the team with the most runs in the NFL this year, as long as Desmond Knight is functional. The quarterback played at that level last year and showed a strong connection with London.

Dotson’s rookie season is flying by way prospect. He has aggressive and strong hands in tight cover. To put it more plainly, it sucks how good he is in contentious situations with his size. Dotson is also a fantastic route runner, especially against zone coverage, but he’s also shown excellent release moves against press coverage.

Dotson is already one of the top No. 2 receivers in the league. It’s early to consider him a 1b Terry McLaurin but if he is ‘of this year’ Devonta Smith” I won’t be shocked.

15 – Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos

Jeudy definitely didn’t live up to his billing to get into the league, is rather inconsistent and lives off his former reputation as a trail runner. However, I think he is a solid No. 2 type receiver and is a flashy major threat at the position. He has also been moved far too many times in his career by numerous coaching staff. I don’t need to think of him as a lock receiver anymore. Leave him to the flanker and release him for free against off-man cover. Then he is at his best.

Just missed the list

I struggled enormously to choose between Jeudy and Christian Watson for last place. Ultimately, I think Jeudy is the better player right now and has shown better against press/man coverage so far. Watson can take another leap if he tightens up his running route; then he’s ready to shoot this list. Elijah Moore And George Pickens were the next guys before me, but they need to develop their skills – in different ways – to beat a handful of these players. Rashod Bateman was one of my favorite prospects from the last few classes and has shown tremendous ability as a route runner. He just didn’t stay on the field.

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