2023 Dynasty Rookie Early Look: Rashee Rice, WR SMU

Peter Howard

Rashee Rice is – at the same time – an underrated wide receiver prospect heading into the NFL Draft and someone we should have lower realistic, and marginal hopes for in terms of finding fantasy points.

College prospect profiles have come a long way since I first started collecting data on the 2014 class. Many key stats have changed, fallen out of favor, and been invented to improve our process. However, one thing remains the same. There is still no “silver bullet.”

The best way to get a reasonable expectation of what a player will or won’t do in the NFL, for fantasy football, is to understand the history of the things we look at and, much like our friends ‘The Tape Grinders’, run our eyes over how those statistics were made in the context of that player’s college career.

So, let’s take the time to put Rashee Rice in context.


Rice was rated as a three-star recruit out of Richland High School, in Texas, and played four years at SMU before declaring for the 2023 NFL draft.

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Courtesy of 247 Sports.


He isn’t going to stand out to anyone who likes popular things or at least people who don’t consider them closely.

Dynasty is always sensitive to age and experience. For the last few draft cycles, many have been focusing on “early declares” the way “breakout age” was popular before it. While both have utility, it’s always worth keeping in mind why they are useful. It’s not because of their age, or how class designation confers certain abilities, it’s because most players who elevate to the NFL level well enough to become fantasy-relevant share certain things in common: how fast they impress and earn opportunity, and how quickly they show enough in college they can have a reasonable expectation of getting as much attention from NFL as possible.

This is, of course, an oversimplification in and of itself. Some players may declare early for other reasons, or many reasons, and some stay in for just as many. But even this small observation puts us ahead.

Why do I mention this? Because Rice is a senior coming from the American conference who played for four years and is now 22 years old. He’s not going to look as good as he is if you don’t consider “why” some things matter. He’s also not going to look good if you just count yards and touchdowns either, because until 2022 Rice had never crossed the 700-yard threshold.

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Courtesy of Sports Reference.

Things don’t look a whole lot different if you consider his market share and advanced statics.

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With an aDot of 9.0 for his entire college career and a slot rate of 30%, he’s not going to have a lot of long-distance touchdowns on his tape despite playing the majority of his snaps on the outside.

However before you go writing him off, remember that his raw aDot is something he has in common with two of my more highlight-profiled receivers in 2023, Jaxon Smith-Njigba (9.3 aDot and 88% slot rate) and Josh Downs (8.7 aDot and 89% slot rate). That he was playing out wide more often with such a low aDot could be due to the scheme, quarterback, and coaching decisions.

College aDot has a decent correlation between college and the NFL we regularly see aDots change for individual players, especially in their elevation to the NFL. But slot and wide rates have a worse correlation. In other words, if the NFL likes a player they will, or at least can, place them in a different role from their college usage.


We don’t have the Scouting Combine yet, so all measurements and estimations have an asterix next to them for now. However, Rice is listed between 6’1” and 6’2” tall and between 189-203 lbs. That’s a fairly large range for anyone interested in BMI (which you shouldn’t be, to be honest).

I’d expect him to come in somewhere in the middle of that range, making him a slender build receiver with an average height for the NFL. His 40 time is probably going to weigh on a lot of people’s minds.


Danny Gray (drafted in the third round of 2022) and James Proche (sixth round in 2020) were the highest-drafted lead wide receivers on SMU most recently and played with Rice.

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Rice’s role profiles much closer to the higher-drafted Danny Gray last year, but his volume, or percentage of targets, is much closer to Proche’s. In other words, he was getting more targets while working in a role that is less prone to higher volume, on this team.

It’s also important that he outproduced both in Yards per Route Run (YRR) and Receiving Yards per Team Pass Attempt (RYTPA) in their respective years as the team’s highest-scoring wide receiver.

In context, I think Rice looks like an above-average wide receiver in a less-than-ideal situation who outpaced a third-round draft pick from the 2022 class on the same offense.

Interesting, no?


Rice has been a projected second-round draft pick since November. While it’s taken a dip since January I think, given Gray’s third-round capital last year – and Rice’s relevant success in the same offense – it’s not out of the question.

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Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database.


NFL comparisons aren’t something I do a lot because I don’t like them. However, it’s worth mentioning that Rice’s profile is somewhat unique. Finding a player with such a high wide rate, and above average YRR or RYTPA, yet an aDot under 10 brings up names like Deebo Samuel and Laviska Shenault. But both were involved in the rushing game. Rice was not.

If we limit by that factor, Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper remain on the list of comparisons, along with a not-so-illustrious list of six undrafted players who did not turn into much for fantasy like Ishmael Zamora in 2017.

If we limited to players drafted, what remains are probably Rice’s best comparisons Ardarius Stewart, third round in 2017, and Vince Mayle from the fourth round in 2015. That’s how I feel about Rice in the dynasty. He’s likely going to be Ardarius Stewart, but his upside is much more significant (Amari and Calvin-like) relative to his lively rookie draft cost.

I could, can, and might someday argue that Rice’s peak college stats are all better than Stewarts and Mayle’s – and that he has more in common with Ridley and Cooper especially given his current second-round projected capital. But the NFL is a hard place to stand out and it’s easy probably better to keep a level head this early in the process.

In many ways, Rice is the most successful “short yardage” receiver in this year’s draft, in that he excelled relative to any reasonable comparison who has gone on to do well in the NFL. However, he’s also not going to jump off the page or highlight-reel.

If nothing else, he’s a play I’d want to keep on my shortlist for the second round in rookie drafts until we see what happens in the draft.

peter howard
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2023 Dynasty Rookie Early Look: Rashee Rice, WR SMU