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Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Jahan Dotson, WR WAS

Will Jahan Dotson live up to his first-round billing? What will his dynasty career look like?

Jahan Dotson

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 profiles and where they fit.

Name: Jahan Dotson

Position: Wide Receiver

Pro Team: Washington Commanders

College Team: Penn State

Draft Status: Round one, pick 16

Video Highlights

The DLF film room has one game from Dotson’s 2021 season, his performance against Auburn.

That game represents one of his best games from the 2021 season, where he had ten catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. I liked how he got involved in multiple different ways, including an end-around on the first play of the video. Even though that play resulted in a loss, it’s nice to see him getting different types of touches.

He also showed good end zone awareness on his touchdown catch, finding a way to get open as the play broke down. Additionally, he had a ridiculous jumping catch later in the video, and he even threw a 22-yard pass. Overall, he looked like a clear number one receiver in this game. I can see why Washington thought he was a first-round value, even if that seemed like a reach to most dynasty managers.

Combine Review

I wasn’t overly impressed with Dotson’s NFL Combine performance and measurables.

He’s a very short and light player, although DeVonta Smith’s success in 2021 makes me slightly less skeptical of that type of build. Given his height, I’m also not overly surprised he was just average in the jumping events. His three-cone drill was slow, but his 4.43-second 40-yard dash was a solid time. None of his combine numbers stopped the Commanders from being comfortable with trading back to 16th overall to select him, so it likely isn’t that important.

Strengths

Dotson’s main strengths are his final two college seasons and the production he put up in those years.

Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

In 2020, he burst onto the scene, averaging almost 100 yards per game with eight touchdowns and 52 receptions in nine games. Even though Penn State suffered from awful quarterback play from Sean Clifford, Dotson still excelled, leading the team in receiving yards and receptions by a wide margin.

Then, in 2021, he only improved on those 2020 numbers. He became even more of a target hog, averaging just over 7.5 receptions per game. Even with those added catches, he averaged 13.0 yards/reception and scored at a similar rate. He also saw a bit of rushing usage, adding a touchdown on the ground. While he’s not a perfect prospect, there’s no doubt he has the requisite college production against solid competition to be successful in the NFL.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, Dotson’s analytical profile is far from perfect.

Chart courtesy of DLF College Market Share App.

He has a 20.5-year-old breakout age in his junior season, and he did little to nothing in 2018 and 2019. It’s somewhat scary that second-round bust KJ Hamler completely prevented Dotson from producing in those seasons, especially in 2019. Hamler is only eight months older than Dotson, and he’s done absolutely nothing in the NFL through two seasons. Additionally, Hamler and Dotson both played their first college season in 2018, so it’s not like Hamler had more playing experience. I’m not willing to simply write Dotson off because he took a couple of years to develop, but it’s a significant red flag.

Opportunities

Dotson faces a relatively barren depth chart behind current top wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Currently, 2021 free-agent signing Curtis Samuel and third-rounder Dyami Brown represent his top competition for playing time at wide receiver. However, neither Samuel nor Brown made an impact last year due to injuries and poor play, so I don’t see either player as a significant threat.

Additionally, Washington lost three of their top six targets to free agency in Ricky Seals-Jones, DeAndre Carter, and Adam Humphries. Logan Thomas will return from his torn ACL, but Dotson has every opportunity to command a high target share, even as a rookie. Washington has also yet to agree to a long-term deal with McLaurin, so there’s a shot Dotson eventually becomes the WR1 in Washington.

Threats

Dotson’s main threats are McLaurin with his alpha wide receiver role and the poor quarterback play from Carson Wentz. If Washington re-signs McLaurin to a long-term contract, I don’t see Dotson as the type of player who will ever overtake him in the target pecking order. Unfortunately, I highly doubt Wentz can support multiple receiving weapons, as he failed to do so in 2021 in Indianapolis or for most of his career in Philadelphia. I do expect Washington to retain McLaurin, so Dotson likely needs a quarterback upgrade in 2023 to realize his fantasy potential fully.

Short-Term Expectations

Unfortunately, I have little to no short-term expectations for Dotson. I’ve used this example a few times, but I expect similar results for the Commanders’ 2022 offense to the Colts’ 2021 offense.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

As you can see, nobody outside of Michael Pittman did all that much for the Colts in 2021. While Dotson is almost certainly superior to Zach Pascal, Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas are better ancillary options than what the Colts had. Therefore, I don’t plan to rank Dotson inside my top 50 wide receivers for 2022 redraft formats, and he may even rank outside the top 60 or top 70. He simply isn’t a short-term option with McLaurin on the team and Wentz at quarterback.

Long-Term Expectations

Even if the Commanders upgrade their quarterback for the 2023 season, Dotson doesn’t strike me as a WR1 candidate, either for the NFL or for fantasy football. He seems like an NFL WR2 who can grow into a low-end fantasy WR2 as his ceiling. Realistically, he will more likely serve as a WR3 option throughout his NFL career. However, there’s nothing wrong with that, as there are so many valuable wide receivers in the NFL. I certainly wouldn’t avoid him in rookie drafts just because he isn’t the most exciting player.

NFL Player Comparison

Dotson has similar size measurements to Diontae Johnson and Tyler Lockett, but he also reminds me somewhat of DeVonta Smith, as I alluded to above. Of all those players, I see the most of Lockett in his game, as he can play as a deep threat and over the middle. He can also enter the slot, similar to Lockett, while Johnson and Smith mostly played outside in their offenses.

I expect the Commanders to continue their almost exclusive use of 11 base personnel in 2022 as they deploy their starting tight end as an every-down player alongside three primary wide receivers. However, it’s unclear if they plan to use Samuel or Dotson in the slot more often. If Dotson lands on the outside, he could play more like Johnson or Smith, but he could see Lockett-type usage if he focuses on the slot. Overall, though, player comparisons aren’t perfect, mainly since NFL teams have only heavily used wide receivers of Dotson’s size for a few years. Therefore, there aren’t that many perfect comparisons for him.

Projected Rookie Draft Range

Right now, Dotson is the tenth player off the board in DLF’s 1QB rookie ADP, with a raw ADP of 10.1. It seems like he’s on a bit of an island value-wise, clearly behind Skyy Moore and Christian Watson but ahead of George Pickens and James Cook. I rank him in the same spot as the ADP data, although I value him significantly ahead of Pickens, who also landed in a difficult situation but with second-round draft capital.

Overall, I see Dotson as a reasonable selection at his current price. I’d feel content but not overly happy if I get him at tenth overall, where he’s going. I’d prefer to take him at a better value a few spots later or trade out of that particular spot for a comparable veteran player.

Latest posts by Tyler Justin Karp (see all)
Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Jahan Dotson, WR WAS
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Bstevenson77
2 months ago

Why do I keep reading articles at DLF saying that the Commanders traded up to get Dotson. They traded BACK from 11 to 16 and then drafted him.

Littlewing745
Reply to  Bstevenson77
2 months ago

Thank you! I am really shocked this keeps getting written. I actually find that is a REALLY important distinction: Olave and Williams were available to them at 11, but they booted to get more value picks because they clearly felt Dotson had more than enough talent that they wouldn’t regret not taking one of the other two. On the flip side, had they traded UP to get Dotson, they’d have been trying to avoid needing to take Burks (who should be good, but does not remotely fit their team) or one of the other WRs who they clearly felt were a dramatic drop in talent. Those are very different narratives to me: the former indicates they may believe he’s only marginally worse – or flat-out comparable – to some of the best talent in the draft, whereas the former implies he may have been the last of what was palatable in terms of talent.

Justin Mazzella
2 months ago

I think Dotson will be the most surprising breakout coming down the pike. Not because his talent is questionable, but because the community undervalues him. He didn’t garner the hype that others did coming into the draft. Even before Watson went to GB he was getting hype, while Dotson was always the more talented receiver yet stayed under radars.

His talent will carry him to production sooner or later. He had a 3.5% drop rate in his college career, his hands are massive. It’s almost serendipitous that he gets Wentz as QB, one who struggles with accuracy gets a receiver who has a wildly large catch radius. I think if they sign Terry long term, this could be an intense duo of receivers. Terry is elite in his own right, and Dotson will be one of the most reliable pair of hands in the league, fair to assume very productive in PPR. I don’t love the commanders this year but I think these receivers will surprise, especially Dotson.

Johnny D
2 months ago

And if we’ve learned anything from the AJ Brown and crowd lesson, it’s not a lock that great WR’s are re-signed by their teams. Even if both sides want it. The $$ is in charge. Hence, McClaurin may or may not stay and get signed for big $ down the road. Ya never know. Hence, bet on the talent – if you believe in it. Not sure I do yet on Dotson.

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