D’Wayne Eskridge 2021 Fantasy & Dynasty Outlook with Seahawks

D’Wayne Eskridge 2021 Fantasy & Dynasty Outlook with Seahawks article feature image
Credit:

David Banks/Getty Images. Pictured: D’Wayne Eskridge

D’Wayne Eskridge Fantasy Profile

Position
WR
School
Western Michigan
Height
5’9″
Weight
190
40-Yard Dash
4.41
2021 Age
24
Class
Redshirt Senior
Recruit. Stars
3

D’Wayne Eskridge Fantasy Fit with Seahawks

It often pays to be skeptical, and a pessimist could easily dismiss Eskridge’s odds of becoming a fantasy contributor in Seattle.

With the Seahawks, Eskridge will play behind established wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who will continue to dominate targets in the offense. New tight end Gerald Everett will also demand his fair share of opportunities.

In Seattle, Eskridge will likely be no better than the No. 4 receiver, and that could be the case for years. Plus, the Seahawks have been a run-focused team for much of the past decade, and that could limit Eskridge’s target ceiling even more.

But the good news is that Eskridge — especially with his Round 2 draft capital — is likely to start right away as a rookie, and with Metcalf and Lockett occupying the defense, he should face remarkably soft coverage, which his speed should enable him to exploit, at least occasionally.

And his selection might augur a change in offensive philosophy. Even with Metcalf and Lockett, and even though the Seahawks are seemingly committed to running the ball, they still opted to take Eskridge in Round 2 — and that might mean that they are preparing — truly preparing — to let quarterback Russell Wilson to cook in 2021.

Keep in mind that because of the Jamal Adams trade last year, the Seahawks entered 2021 with drastically reduced draft capital — and they still elected to take a receiver instead of trading down or addressing an actual need on the roster.

Eskridge has elite deep speed, he should be a starter in Week 1 — and there’s a chance he might see more targets than expected from one of the best deep-ball passers in the league. He will likely be a volatile producer, but that simply makes him more attractive as a deep flyer in best ball.

In dynasty, Eskridge will likely settle in Round 2 as an upside option.


Dynasty Fantasy Analysis

I’m skeptical about Eskridge, perhaps unjustly. I look at him and see a small-and-old receiver who didn’t dominate in his offense until his redshirt senior season, and I wonder why some people are excited about him.

But he has some factors in his favor.

First is draft capital.

Secondly, he has a good athletic profile. He flashed near-elite speed at his pro day …

… and some of his closest physical comps are strong (or at least adequate) players or prospects (per MockDraftable and RotoViz Workout Screener).

  • Jaylen Waddle: No. 2, MockDraftable
  • Kenny Stills: No. 3, MockDraftable
  • Mecole Hardman: No. 4, MockDraftable
  • Jamison Crowder: No. 1, RotoViz
  • Elijah Moore: No. 2, RotoViz
  • Andy Isabella: No. 4, RotoViz

Even though he was a three-star recruit who landed at a non-major football program, Eskridge has the athleticism to play in the NFL. In high school, he won a state title in the 100-meter dash and two titles in the 200-meter dash. The dude has track star speed.

Third, Eskridge has enough ancillary college production to suggest that his skill set is transferrable to the professional ranks. Many of the small receivers who have NFL success manage to contribute as runners and returns (as well as receivers) in college, and although Eskridge didn’t have overwhelming ancillary production with the Broncos, he had enough.

  • Rushing (2016-20): 12-116-0
  • Kick Returning (2020): 17-467-1

On top of that, in his injury-shortened redshirt junior season, Eskridge opened the season as a starting cornerback before switching back to receiver after a couple of games. In his short stint as a defensive back, he racked up 12 tackles and four pass breakups.

Eskridge is a football player.

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Fourth, he might be more than just a slot receiver. Because of his size, the Seahawks will likely view him as a slot-only player, but he last year he saw 70% of his snaps on the perimeter while expanding his route tree to include 13 unique routes (per SIS, 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook). He might not be as limited on the field as evaluators think: On the SIS wide receiver leaderboard, Eskridge is No. 1 with 3.1 receiving total points per game when split out wide.

Fifth, his production profile is perhaps better than it first appears. As a freshman he was just a depth receiver with  17-121-1 receiving in 12 games, but as a sophomore he was No. 1 on the team in receiving yards. Granted, his 40-506-3 receiving line in 12 games is nothing special, and he was No. 3 in reception and touchdowns, but it’s impressive that he leveraged his limited opportunities into a team-high mark.

As a junior he was the No. 2 receiver with a respectable 38-776-3 receiving, and then — after his 2019 medical redshirt junior season (he broke his clavicle in the fourth game) — Eskridge exploded as a senior. Although he played just six games because of Western Michigan’s truncated schedule, Eskridge was 33-768-8 receiving and 2-43-0 rushing, regularly dusting defenders whenever he touched the ball.

Throughout his career — and least year in particular — Eskridge was an after-the-catch assassin. In 2020, Eskridge had an outrageous 14.4 yards after catch (YAC) per reception. For context, the playmaking Jaylen Waddle had 10.3 YAC per catch — and even Waddle’s YAC production was elite (per SIS).

Eskridge’s career YAC is right up there with Waddle’s.

Career Yards After Catch per Reception

  • Jaylen Waddle: 9.9
  • D’Wayne Eskridge: 9.6

And his 2020 production puts him near the top of many categories in the SIS wide receiver leaderboard:

  • Yards After Catch per Reception: 14.4 (No. 1)
  • Yards per Target: 14.8 (No. 1)
  • Target Share: 35% (No. 2)
  • Yards per Route: 2.3 (No. 3)

As a redshirt senior, Eskridge really was one of the most dominant players in college football.

His production came in the MAC, so his level of competition wasn’t great: That’s definitely a knock against him. But his performance at the Senior Bowl suggested that he has the skills to beat NFL-caliber cornerbacks.

The concerns with Eskridge are predictable. He’s small, so evaluators believe he might be limited in the NFL, and he has a limited route tree — because in the MAC he basically just ran by defenders. And as a route runner, he’s less of a technician and more of a track star running in a particular direction.

The concerns with him are valid.

But his athletic profile, peak receiving production, adequate ancillary production and expected draft capital still make him an intriguing flyer in dynasty leagues.

Like most fast-and-small receivers selected in the middle rounds, he’ll probably do little in the NFL.

But maybe he’ll be the exception.

NFL Prospect Comp: Devin Duvernay with less college prestige


Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.

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