Each week throughout the season, I’ll cover at least two rookies in the Rookie Report Card and try to always include the biggest performers from that particular week. On top of reviewing my expectations for each player coming into the league and how well he’s lived up to those expectations at the NFL level to this point, I’ll grade the player in three categories. Those categories are performance to date, rookie season potential and long-term upside.
The series continues as we take a look at wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Kyle Philips.
Jahan Dotson, WR WAS
Week one stats: Three receptions, 40 yards, two touchdowns (five targets), one carry, -10 rushing yards
Anybody who spent any time watching Dotson at Penn State knows two things for certain. First, he has intimidating speed. Second, for a guy who is only 5’-11”, 178 pounds, he is surprisingly good at high-pointing the football to make big plays down the field and in the red zone.
Let’s begin with that blazing speed.
Honestly, I was shocked when Dotson was clocked at 4.43 seconds at the scouting combine. It sounds ridiculous but I was convinced he would post a time in the low 4.3s. His game speed is incredible. As I wrote above, he possesses intimidating speed capable of putting opposing corners on their heels in the first few steps off the line of scrimmage which creates opportunities for him at all three levels.
That speed, along with the ability to change directions in a blink made him a weapon all over the field in college. His burst after changing directions helps create separation on smash routes underneath just as much as it does on a go route down the sideline – not to mention the ability to shake as well as run away from defenders after the catch.
All that speed and quickness is common for a guy of Dotson’s stature. His leaping ability is not, however. There were countless eye-popping plays with the Nittany Lions. His graceful lunging catch against Michigan State in the snow down the right sideline, the jump ball against Ohio State the year before that was only outdone by the one-handed “above the rim” catch for a score a play later, and the toe-tapping acrobatic grab in the back of the end zone against Indiana are all examples of plays that come to mind when I think of what Dotson can do outside his frame as a playmaker.
The naysayers point to Dotson’s slight frame and inability to break tackles as reasons he may not be successful at the next level. Some also say he will struggle against physical corners and that he shy’s away from going across the middle. Those people are looking for reasons to knock him down – which is something few Big Ten defenders were able to do in the last few seasons.
After being drafted 16th overall by the Commanders, most dynasty managers considered Dotson a fine pick in the late first or early second round in the weeks following the NFL Draft, but there weren’t many dying to pick the Robin to Terry McLaurin’s Batman. That mindset shifted slightly as the summer went on, however.
A week hasn’t gone by over the summer without whispers of big plays from Dotson out of Commanders Camp. Beat reporters have talked for months that he had supplanted Curtis Samuel in two receiver sets but due to the depth of the 2022 rookie class, he settled in 12th in rookie ADP collected from myfantasyleague.com in August.
Through one NFL game, that appears to be a steal.
Dotson was a full-time player in his debut against the Jaguars. He played 68 snaps (one fewer than McLaurin and 13 more than Samuel), catching three passes for 40 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Second on the team in targets with five, he made the most of his opportunities.
His first score came on a post route from the seven-yard line where he simply got his defender on his heels with a stutter move at the goal line and blew past him for an easy catch in the back of the end zone. The route showed good patience to set up his defender and burst to get separation. Dotson’s second touchdown came with a little more of the flash and body control I talked about earlier.
Trailing by two in the fourth quarter he got single coverage down the left sideline and with the defender draped all over him and right in his face, he adjusted perfectly to make the diving catch despite the contact. The 24-yard score proved to be the game-winner.
Through one game, Dotson appears to be on a trajectory to dynasty stardom. Sure he made just three catches on five targets but two went for touchdowns and of his 40 routes, he created separation routinely. Some may suggest that Samuel’s big game might be an indication that Dotson is the third option in the offense but Samuel manning the slot and being productive will do nothing but help Dotson get single coverage down the field.
Dynasty managers may have to endure some ups and downs this season but with his big play ability and run-after-the-catch prowess, nobody should be surprised if Dotson reaches his WR2 upside sooner rather than later.
Kyle Philips, WR TEN
Week one stats: Six receptions, 66 yards (nine targets)
When I watched Philips in the spring while preparing for the NFL Draft, he impressed me. A traditional slot receiver with the ability to uncover underneath and sneaky quickness to work up the seam and on deep crosses and slot fades, he posted big numbers while at UCLA – leading the Pac-12 with 62.7 receiving yards per game while piling up 59 catches and ten touchdowns in his final season on campus.
Despite the production and solid tape, however, many were concerned that sneaky quickness wouldn’t translate to the next level and questioned if his route running was strong enough to be a full-time player on Sundays. When Philips posted a very pedestrian 4.58-second 40-yard dash (25th among wideouts) at the combine, most dynasty managers wrote him off. I’m embarrassed to say that I was actually was one of those dynasty managers.
Since landing with the Titans in the fifth round as the 23rd wide receiver off the board, we’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from the Tennessee coaching staff as well as beat writers surrounding the team. By early August there was news Philips was practicing with the first team offense. Then he played just 27 snaps in the preseason. Comparatively speaking, fellow rookie Treylon Burks – whose been the recipient of very few positive reviews since being selected in the first round – played a whopping 80 snaps in August.
It was clear coming into week one that Philips was going to get playing time and he made the most of his opportunity. He played the third most snaps among Tennessee receivers (31) but was targeted on nine of 21 routes run, converting that to six catches for 66 yards. Open all day, he made multiple big plays for the Titans.
The first came on special teams, a 46-yard punt return in the first quarter where he showed just how elusive he can be with the ball in his hands. In the third quarter, he added a diving grab on a deep-over route out of the slot which featured an excellent release against press coverage to keep the defensive back off him and incredible hand/eye coordination to make the catch with the defender in front of him. For good measure, he added a 21-yard snag on a left sideline corner route in the closing seconds of the game to set his team up for a game-winning field goal opportunity.
Although his muffed punt in the fourth quarter was a critical mistake in the game and certainly took away from his overall performance, it’s difficult to argue with the Titans’ coaching staff’s decision to make the rookie a main part of their game plan.
After hearing all the news throughout training camp and seeing him play in week one, I regret overlooking him in all my rookie drafts this off-season – particularly after liking what I saw from him at UCLA. He appears to be a starting caliber slot receiver in an offense starving for playmakers. Although his upside is likely capped by his lack of size and speed, there’s no reason he can’t be one of the many receivers to post a 40 in the 4.5s and become a regular contributor to dynasty managers. His ability to uncover is similar to Hunter Renfrow which makes him a very appealing trade target for those looking for cheap potential.
Currently the WR102 in dynasty ADP at 237 overall, the former fourth-round rookie pick is sure to move up drastically by this time next month. It’s doubtful at this point anybody would trade him for a future third so if you want him, you’d probably have to get him added to a bigger deal. In a PPR league though, it’s worth looking into.
- Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Wide Receivers, Part Two - March 22, 2023
- 2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Offensive Player Dynasty Review - March 10, 2023
- Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Wide Receivers, Part One - February 25, 2023