In this series, I’ll be taking a look at several rookies with an average draft position (ADP) in the 4th round or later in rookie drafts based on the multiple real-life and mock drafts I’ve been in this off-season. I’ve already taken a look at Daurice Fountain and Jaleel Scott. I’ll do my best to break down why I believe they’re a tremendous value at their current ADPs and why they’ll have an opportunity to outperform players drafted ahead of them.
This series is mainly focusing on players I see as great values in the later rounds of dynasty rookie drafts. But, if I had to pick one later round wide receiver for redraft purposes, I’d go with DaeSean Hamilton of the Denver Broncos. Don’t get me wrong, I still like him for dynasty, but I think he can surprise people during his rookie year and put up decent numbers this year. With the top two receiver jobs in Denver locked up by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, look for Hamilton to earn the slot role out of training camp and be the team’s de facto WR3 on opening day.
One of my favorite traits for a rookie receiver to possess is solid route running. If a quarterback can count on a player to be where he is supposed to be, when he is supposed to be there, that can only help his target volume. The level of trust a quarterback has with particular receivers has turned many unknowns into hot fantasy commodities (see Edelman, Julian) and sunk the careers of others.
According to an ESPN story, new Broncos QB Case Keenum is already feeling a connection with the former Nittany Lion: “DaeSean is just in the right place at the right time. He doesn’t act like a rookie, and he’s not playing like a rookie. To have a receiver that you can count on to be in the right place at the right time, that’s always a huge plus.” It’s the offseason, and hype and hyperbole run high this time of year, but that sure seems like legitimate glowing praise. I’ve scoured the internet and haven’t found any rave reviews from Keenum on fellow rookie Courtland Sutton, so take that for what it’s worth.
I mentioned explosion scores in my earlier profile of Daurice Fountain. Although Hamilton’s explosion score was not very good, that isn’t necessarily the strength of Hamilton’s game. Where Hamilton excels is in his route running and agility on the field. A player’s agility score is calculated by combining their 3-cone time with their 20-yard short shuttle time. A “good” time in each is sub-7-seconds for the 3-cone and a sub-4-second time on the short shuttle. With those numbers in mind, an elite agility score would be a combined total of fewer than 11 seconds. Hamilton’s 6.84 second 3-cone is outstanding and combined with his respectable 4.15-second short shuttle; you have an extremely agile athlete with a 10.99 total agility score.
Taking a look at Matt Harmon’s well-known Reception Perception, you’ll find that he is very high on Hamilton. With lots of praise for his potential and ability to succeed in the NFL, Harmon paints a picture of future success for Hamilton. With quotes like; “Hamilton is the type of route-runner who should take the quick path to NFL success”, “Reception Perception shows that no receiver in the 2018 draft class separates better than DaeSean Hamilton” and “No matter what you throw at this player, he’s going to get open more often than not” it’s not hard to start believing in Hamilton as a potential high-end fantasy asset.
Here’s a look at some practice footage of Hamilton from the Senior Bowl:
As mentioned previously, in year one (and possibly two) Hamilton should see plenty of work in the slot between Thomas and Sanders in 2018. Going forward, while looking at their contracts, chances are the Broncos will be cutting ties with both Thomas and Sanders after this season. In 2019, Thomas will be a 14-million dollar cap hit, and Sanders will be a 10-million dollar cap hit. It’s a reasonable assumption that without a restructuring of one, or both, of those deals, we’re likely to see Sutton in the X receiver role and Hamilton in the slot for years to come.
One of my main causes of concern for Hamilton in Denver is the quarterback situation. Not this year, or next, but long term. I like Case Keenum more than most people and talked him up here earlier in the year. Shane Manila took a look at him when he signed with Denver and discussed his usability as a fantasy QB. However, after only signing a two-year deal, there is plenty of concern to have regarding who will be throwing the ball to Hamilton in 2020 and beyond. Paxton Lynch doesn’t appear to be the answer, Chad Kelly has untapped potential and Keenum may either flame out or sign elsewhere. That level of long-term uncertainty is the main reason I give some pause to pushing Hamilton further up my rookie rankings and is something to keep an eye on over the next couple of years.