Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Joe Reed, WR LAC

John Hesterman

The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profile and where they fit.

Name: Joe Reed

Position: Wide receiver

Pro Team: Los Angeles Chargers

College Team: Virginia Cavaliers

Draft Status: Round five, 151st overall

Video Highlights

Combine Review

  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 224 lbs.
  • Arms: 31 3/8″
  • Hands: 9 3/4”
  • 40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 38”
  • Broad Jump: 123”
  • Bench Press: 21 reps


  • Speed and athleticism to transition to NFL
  • Elite dangerous kick returner
  • Reliable hands
  • Legitimate threat after the catch if wiggle room is present
  • Tracks the ball well
  • More than just a vertical, deep threat
  • Versatile weapon
  • Possesses good vision


  • Simplistic route tree capability
  • Routes get disrupted easily
  • Not as physical as one would expect with his size
  • Loses speed coming out of breaks
  • Sells his breaks before making them
  • Lack of route tree will lock him mostly into slot role


Joe Reed was not drafted high enough to insinuate that he will immediately be a starter, or even be scripted in as a role player. He will need to focus on his route running if he wants to earn some playing time as a receiver.

His versatility makes him an intriguing option and more than likely led the Chargers’ front office into adding him to this offense. Reed is a converted running back who employs the vision of a back into every possession. He is flat dangerous with the ball in his hands and a little bit of space to work. This versatility will be the key to getting on the field, possibly in a variety of ways.

Much like his college career, his explosive kick returning may be the key to unlocking some meaningful offensive reps. Reed totaled more than 700 kick return yards in three of his four-year college career and averaged 28.7 yards per return.


There is a lot to unpack in this new-look offense. Philip Rivers has moved on to Indianapolis. There is speculation about whether or not first-round pick Justin Herbert will begin the season under center or it’s veteran Tyrod Taylor’s job to lose. Melvin Gordon took his talents from Los Angeles to Denver to presumably head their backfield.

What we do know is Reed’s skill-set and play-style proclivities fit the slot-receiver role more so than an outside role. Keenan Allen has the slot role sewn up and remains one of the better receivers in the game at that position. Mike Williams will once again be manning the outside role with Hunter Henry and Austin Ekeler also lining up in multiple places.

There is not a clear path for Reed to get targets early on in an offense that may not be passing as much as previous seasons. Reed may have some participation on special teams but remains firmly behind Desmond King for kick and punt return duties. Over the last two seasons, King has handled 44 punt returns with two touchdowns and 38 kick returns for 853 return yards.

The threats here are simply opportunity based. Reed is behind King for special teams play, and behind Allen for the slot receiver position in an offense that may be throwing less than when Rivers was under center.

Short Term Expectations

As with many later-round rookies, expectations should remain limited for a few reasons. The shortened off-season program is the first. There is little opportunity thus far to impress coaches, learn the playbook and build chemistry with the quarterbacks and other receivers. Even if those things were not present, he will have to fight to earn some time in the formation.

The other facet that immediately hinders Reed’s short-term outlook is the questions around the quarterback. Taylor seems to have the nod to be the starter but has not been able to support multiple wide receivers for fantasy production over the course of his career. If Herbert were to come in and start at some point, he has a lot to learn and prove and will most likely rely on Allen and Henry across the middle and Ekeler for dump-offs.

To sum up, Reed’s path to relevance is not yet paved, despite some obvious talent.

Long Term Expectations

One of the things that is severely overlooked is that Reed would have had a much better collegiate career with better quarterback play. Anything less than awful would have been an upgrade. Reed masked some bad throws with his athleticism and talent. He has shown enough to prove that he is an NFL-caliber athlete who needs two things; refinement and opportunity.

His entrance to opportunity may come on the heels of special teams contributions and hopefully leads to more meaningful snaps from the slot. His versatility could be utilized in some gadget-packages designed to get the ball in his hands with space.

There is a sense of expendability that comes with a fifth-round pick. Reed will have to buckle down and work hard to learn the playbook, sharpen his route running tree, and earn some trust from teammates and coaches. As it stands, Reed represents the ‘next man up’ from a slot role perspective.

NFL Player Comparison

The first player who comes to mind from the versatile side of Reed’s play is Deebo Samuel. Reed is a little taller and heavier, but their speed is comparable. The 49ers started scripting gadget-plays for Samuel last season, and the success rate was incredible. Reed has some of that same versatility that makes him a weapon anytime he touches the ball, but lacks the draft capital to ensure he gets those opportunities early on.

Projected Rookie Draft Range

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Reed comes in as the 21st rookie receiver off the board according to the DLF Rookie Rankings, making him a low-cost option best served for the bottom of benches or a taxi squad initially.

Overall, this would land him outside the top 200 for startup draft purposes, making him a speculative last-pick stash, or waiver-wire hopeful if he can get some meaningful playing time.

john hesterman