Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Danny Gray, WR SF

Peter Lawrence

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: Danny Gray

Position: Wide Receiver

Pro Team: San Francisco 49ers

College Team: Southern Methodist University

Draft Status: Round three, 105th overall

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

COMBINE REVIEW

Gray’s 4.33-second 40-yard dash bumped his draft stock. For a player who shows quick acceleration on film, he did poorly on his 10-yard split of 1.57 seconds (50th-percentile) and vertical jump of 34 inches (33rd percentile). His 126-inch broad (84th percentile) did show some of that quick-twitch muscle in his legs.

Originally slated to play for Missouri out of high school, Gray never suited up for the team and instead went the JUCO route playing for the Blinn College Buccaneers. He spent two years at the JUCO level before going up to SMU.

STRENGTHS

  • Explosive athlete
  • Quickness to separate early in route underneath and speed to take the top off
  • Maintains speed in and out of his breaks
  • Fits the 49ers mold to gain yards after catch
  • Flashes big catchability, can toe-tap and make the catch with the big hit looming
  • Works to block downfield to open lanes for teammates
  • Twitched-up athlete with beautiful long stride ability in the open field
  • Good ability to adjust to the deep ball

WEAKNESSES

  • Does not have the size or strength to battle more physical corners
  • Ran limited route tree at SMU – needs to clean up routes
  • Disappeared against Navy, question marks against NFL competition
  • Body catches too often
  • Had focus drops on would-be touchdowns

OPPORTUNITIES

First and foremost, Gray is not a possible replacement for Deebo Samuel. Gray does, however, fit the 49er mold as a player who can get yards after the catch on crossing routes. He is a threat to turn a simple crossing route upfield for big gains.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense does a great job at disguising their offense with motion and formations. Gray will enter an offense that will likely start the season with its three top options for targets still in the lineup. With Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk still on the team, it will be hard for Gray to come in and command targets. Jauan Jennings will likely be the fourth receiving option, relegating Gray to very limited work.

THREATS

Over at ESPN, Gray is listed behind Samuel on the depth chart. They have him behind Samuel, Aiyuk, and Jennings at the receiver position. Since it is the Kyle Shanahan offense, don’t forget about Kyle Juszczyk either.

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

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Statistics from Pro Football Reference.

I would not expect much out of Gray in the short term. If Samuel is traded (and that would be a huge mistake for the 49ers, in my opinion), then you might see some value but don’t expect Gray to match that production. He will be stuck behind the other options in the short term.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

Long-term, Gray will need one of the big three from Samuel, Kittle, and Aiyuk to move on. All three are proven commodities and better talents. Aiyuk could continue to bench himself with alleged poor practice habits and give Gray breathing room to compete.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

Gray reminds me of a former Seattle Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson. Both in the six-foot, 180-190-pound range, Gray measured in six pounds heavier at his Scouting Combine with a faster 40-yard dash.

I think Gray could have a similar career to Richardson. To me, Gray will always be more important to an NFL team than for fantasy owners. His ability to open up passing lanes for other players and at times take the top off defenses will make for boom-bust weeks.

PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

Currently, Gray is being drafted as the WR21 with an ADP of pick 44.30 in DLF May rookie Mock Drafts. Undrafted Clemson WR Justyn Ross, who ended up with the Chiefs, is currently going a few picks ahead of Gray, while he is being selected around TEs like Cade Otton and Jeremy Ruckert.

Gray is just fine as a fourth-round selection. I think you’ll find more value in selecting one of the QBs like Desmond Ridder or Sam Howell. If you can flip these later-round picks to move up earlier in your rookie draft or in packages for 2023 picks, go for it.

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peter lawrence
Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Danny Gray, WR SF