The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty managers, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In our Dynasty Rookie Post-Draft Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit. The basis of the rookie profile involves the usage of STORM analysis, focusing on five key components: Situation, Talent, Opportunity, Risk, and Market.
Name: Cedric Tillman
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: Cleveland Browns
College Team: Tennessee
Draft Status: Round three, 74th overall
The Browns were bereft of draft capital after last off-season’s blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson, making Cedric Tillman their first selection of 2023 at 74th overall. The Browns have done everything they can to make life easier for Watson, trading for Elijah Moore before selecting the former Volunteer.
Cleveland is set at the top of the depth chart, with Amari Cooper still quietly doing his thing annually. Beyond him, however, there is ample opportunity for someone else to step up. Elijah Moore has been more hype than production early in his career, and while Donovan Peoples-Jones had a productive 2022, the Browns do not seem to view him as a critical part of their offense. Tillman will have every opportunity to work his way into the mix early in his career.
Cedric Tillman Combine Results:
Arm: 32 ¾”
40-Yard Dash: 4.54
10-Yard Split: 1.53
Vertical Jump: 37″
Broad Jump: 10′ 8″
Tillman’s enormous appeal is his size. He is a natural on the outside, quickly working the boundary and displaying the physicality to match up with even the most aggressive corners. He is certainly not a zero athletically, but his testing numbers will not jump off the page.
Tillman was a monster in 2021, leading Josh Heupel’s outfit with 1,081 receiving yards and a dozen scores. Had he not battled injuries for much of 2022, he may have gone much higher in the draft. Tillman’s competitive and sometimes combative style should endear him to the coaching staff, and his ball skills could make him an elite weapon in scoring areas. He wins in a lot of ways which translate directly to fantasy goodness.
The aforementioned Amari Cooper is firmly entrenched as the alpha on this depth chart, and thanks to the fact he entered the NFL at 13 years of age, he only turns 29 this summer. However, there is a huge need for complementary weapons in this offense. While we generally view Elijah Moore as a good player underutilized in New York, he is not guaranteed to pop in Cleveland. He and Tillman also fill entirely different roles; there is not much overlap in their skillset.
Tillman is a mature receiver with a direct line to opportunity. Despite lacking the draft capital or name-brand value of many of his fellow rookie receivers, it would hardly be a surprise if he is one of the most productive from this class as a rookie, as he establishes himself as a quality dynasty asset.
Data Courtesy of Sports Reference.
While we prefer to approach each player with the optimism they are ready for prime time, each prospect comes with risk. Tillman is not a sudden athlete, and he could struggle to create separation at the NFL level. The NFL is a game of tight windows, and we have seen plenty of bigger receivers fail to hit due to their inability to play with pace.
There is also a risk Tillman is merely a quality real-life player who fails to make a fantasy impact. We often view everything through a fantasy lens, but many players offer real-life value without being worthy of a roster spot. Tillman could prove to be a physical, competitive receiver who develops into more of a possession weapon as opposed to someone who warrants 8-10 targets per game. It would make us glum, but such factors are at play when discussing second-tier fantasy prospects.
Tillman is currently sitting on the Round 2 fringe in many rookie drafts. His draft range figures vary wildly; Round 3 receivers will generally draw a wide variety of opinions. As you can see in the above, a few day-three runners have become preferred options to Tillman.
Tillman checks in at WR70 in the DLF Top 250, a number that seems criminally low, given the talent and draft capital Tillman has on his side. I would much prefer to take a stab at Tillman over some of the pedestrian veterans going ahead of him, names such as Curtis Samuel, Tyler Boyd, and Nico Collins. Any camp hype or a solid start in 2023 will have Tillman’s stock soaring.
Data Courtesy of DLF Dynasty Trade Analyzer.
Overall, Tillman lacks the upside of some of the high-end prospects we have seen in recent years yet offers a tidy floor given his skillset. He is a bit older than we like our rookies (23 already), but he enters a situation rife with opportunity. I would place a bet on Tillman outproducing his early ADP. The big wild card is Deshaun Watson. Following a long layoff, Watson was pretty abysmal in 2022. If he can return his Houston form, there will be unexpected production within this offense, with Tillman, a prime candidate to surprise.
- The Devy Fantasy Football Top 100: 25-21 - June 5, 2023
- The Devy Fantasy Football Top 100: 30-26 - May 29, 2023
- The Devy Fantasy Football Top 100: 35-31 - May 22, 2023