Why Broncos WR K.J. Hamler Isn’t An Appealing Dynasty Rookie Prospect

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K.J. Hamler Dynasty Rookie Analysis

  • Position: WR | School: Penn State
  • Height: 5’9″ | Weight: 178 pounds
  • 2020 Age: 21 | Class: Redshirt Sophomore
  • Recruitment Stars: 4
  • Draft Position: 2.46 (Broncos)

K.J. Hamler’s Fantasy Fit with Broncos

Because of his playmaking ability and deep speed, Hamler is likely to have a couple week-winning performances in 2020 — but he’s also going to be competing for targets with wide receiver Courtland Sutton, tight end Noah Fant and even running backs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay.

As a field-stretching complement, Hamler as a rookie will likely be investable only in best ball and daily fantasy.

K.J. Hamler: Dynasty Analysis

I’m dubious about Hamler. He feels like this generation’s Deon Butler. Oh, you don’t remember who that is?

That’s my point.

Hamler is a slot-only receiver with raw routes and the distinct inability to beat press coverage. If a defender gets his hands on Hamler before he builds up speed, he’s neutralized. Essentially, he’s a scheme- and usage-dependent producer, and he didn’t have a wealth of production in his two years of playing time at Penn State (per Pro Football Focus).

  • 2018 (13 games): 42-754-5 receiving on 74 targets, 4-44-1 rushing
  • 2019 (13 games): 56-904-8 receiving on 92 targets, 13-43-0 rushing

Hamler is a competent kick returner (23.5 yards per attempt for his career), and it’s notable that he led the Nittany Lions in receiving in both his seasons.

But despite his versatility as a receiver, runner and returner, he’s a limited player.

And here’s the big problem: We don’t have a 40 time for him because he didn’t run at the combine. Everyone assumes that he’s fast — but people made that same assumption about Jalen Reagor too. As a recruit, he ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, which is good, but he ran it at 156 pounds.

Now that he’s 22 pounds heavier — and still small for an NFL receiver — we don’t know for sure how fast he is.

And as a senior in high school, Hamler suffered a season-ending ACL tear, which caused him to redshirt his first year at Penn State.

So — in summation — Hamler is a production-deficient, scheme-reliant slot-bound receiver with uncertain athleticism and a problematic injury history.

I can see why the Broncos drafted him in Round 2. Frankly, with that kind of profile, I’m surprised he didn’t go in Round 1.

In all seriousness, Hamler is not untalented. Last year, Hamler had at least a step of separation on 64% of his targets of 10-plus yards, good for the fourth-highest rate in the country. And since 2018, he has the fourth-most plays of 15-plus yards in the slot with 41 (per PFF).

Although I don’t like to credit receivers with elite speed when we don’t have a verified 40 time, it’s undeniable that Hamler ran by a lot of defensive backs in college. He’s a dynamic athlete.

And in 2019, Hamler was quite comparable to first-round wide receiver Henry Ruggs III against man coverage, judging by their positive play rates (per the 2020 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook).

  • K.J. Hamler: 59%
  • Henry Ruggs III: 58%
  • Jalen Reagor: 32%

In fact, over the past two years, Hamler and Ruggs have had somewhat similar production.

  • K.J. Hamler (26 games): 96-1,658-13 receiving on 166 targets, 17-87-1 rushing
  • Henry Ruggs III (26 games): 86-1,487-18 receiving on 123 targets, 2-75-1 rushing

Ruggs is clearly the more explosive player — but he also has one more year of college experience.

They’re both 21 years old. They’re both speedsters. They’re both likely to be top-50 picks. They were both highly recruited high-school stars.

If you really like Ruggs but aren’t able to get him in your rookie drafts, take Hamler at a significant discount. He’s likely to fail — but he’s the arbitrage Ruggs.

NFL Prospect Comp: Ted Ginn but younger, shorter, less explosive as a return man and less invested with draft capital

More Dynasty Analysis For Freedman’s Top Rookies

  1. RB D’Andre Swift
  2. RB Jonathan Taylor
  3. WR Jerry Jeudy
  4. WR CeeDee Lamb
  5. WR Justin Jefferson

Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, part of The Action Network.

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