Why Tee Higgins Has A High Dynasty Ceiling With Bengals
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Tee Higgins
Tee Higgins Dynasty Rookie Analysis
- Position: WR | School: Clemson
- Height: 6’4” | Weight: 216 pounds
- 40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds (pro day)
- 2020 Age: 21 | Class: Junior
- Recruitment Stars: 4-5
- Draft Position: 2.33 (Bengals)
Tee Higgins’ Fantasy Fit with Bengals
Love it. Love it. Love it.
Higgins figures to start right away, and he is slated to be the long-term replacement to wide receiver A.J. Green, who is yet to sign his franchise tag.
If Green plays with the Bengals this year, Higgins will be a volatile producer with inconsistent volume but week-winning upside that makes him intriguing for best ball and daily fantasy guaranteed prize pools.
If Green doesn’t play with the Bengals, then Higgins could step up as the immediate No. 1 wide receiver in Cincinnati and flirt with WR2 fantasy production.
Of course, I’m saying all of this as an extreme Higgins optimist. You’ve been warned.
Tee Higgins: Dynasty Analysis
I will be thrilled if I am able to get Higgins near the bottom of Round 1 in rookie drafts.
Higgins saw his draft stock drop after a mediocre pro day, but I still expect him to have a successful NFL career thanks to his difference-making ability.
It’s LOL adorable that #NFLTwitter evaluators think Higgins’ athleticism is a problem. Athleticism is extremely overrated for wide receivers, especially for big guys with a respectable amount of draft capital and good college production (Higgins is 118-2,103-25 receiving, 1-36-1 rushing over the past two years).
Based on age, size, speed, college production and draft position, here are the five NFL prospects of the past decade to whom Higgins is most comparable:
- Courtland Sutton: 2.40 (2018) – 6’3″ | 218 pounds | 4.54-second 40 time
- JuJu Smith-Schuster: 2.62 (2017) – 6’1″ | 215 pounds | 4.54-second 40 time
- Davante Adams: 2.53 (2014) – 6’1″ | 212 pounds | 4.56-second 40 time
- Allen Robinson: 2.61 (2014) – 6’2″ | 220 pounds | 4.60-second 40 time
- DeAndre Hopkins: 1.27 (2013) – 6’1″ | 214 pounds | 4.57-second 40 time
That’s not a bad cohort, no?
Clemson Head coach Dabo Swinney played receiver in college and started out at Clemson as the wide receivers coach. His eye for talent at the position is unparalleled. If a guy has the official Swinney imprimatur, he’s likely to exceed expectations in the NFL.
Of all the Clemson receivers Swinney has had a hand in recruiting, here are the six to enter the NFL as top-150 draft selections.
- 1.04 (2014): Sammy Watkins – 1,048 yards, nine touchdowns in second season
- 1.07 (2017): Mike Williams – 11 touchdowns in second season, 1,003 yards in third season
- 1.27 (2013): DeAndre Hopkins – five 1,000-yard campaigns and three All-Pro selections
- 4.108 (2010): Jacoby Ford – 625 yards, seven touchdowns as a rookie with limited playing time
- 4.118 (2014): Martavis Bryant – 1,102 yards, 14 touchdowns in first 16 NFL games
- 5.149 (2019): Hunter Renfrow – 504 yards, four touchdowns in final eight games of rookie season
I defy you to name another college program that has so reliably produced NFL-ready receivers over the past decade.
Alabama? Kevin Norwood (4.123, 2014) and ArDarius Stewart (3.79, 2017) beg to differ. Ohio State? DeVier Posey (3.68, 2012) and Devin Smith (2.37, 2015) think otherwise. USC? Patrick Turner (3.87, 2009), Damian Williams (3.77, 2010) and Marqise Lee (2.39, 2014) laugh at you.
Some tape-grinding enthusiasts think that Higgins is too soft to succeed in the NFL. They say he lacks the physicality necessary to beat NFL corners.
Maybe. I don’t know. A lack of physicality hasn’t been a problem in the past.
Over the past two years, Higgins has been a top-10 receiver with grades of 90.5 and 87.7 (per Pro Football Focus).
In perusing the 2020 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook, it’s not hard to see that Higgins compares well to the top-tier duo of Jerry Jeudy (Alabama) and CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) in key statistics, such as yards per target (YPT), yards per route (YPR), average depth of target (aDOT), expected points added per target (EPA) and positive play rate vs. man coverage (PVM) for the 2019 season.
- Jerry Jeudy: 10.6 YPT | 3.2 YPR | 10.8 aDOT | 0.53 EPA | 48% PVM
- CeeDee Lamb: 14.3 YPT | 3.9 YPR | 11.2 aDOT | 0.64 EPA | 48%PVM
- Tee Higgins: 12.8 YPT | 3.7 YPR | 14.3 aDOT | 0.68 EPA | 62% PVM
It’s overwhelmingly positive that Higgins has had so much success against man coverage, which he’s likely to see in the NFL.
Higgins has the skills to succeed as a professional perimeter receiver. He tracks the ball well and high points it in contested situations with strong hands and a big catch radius. And with the ball, he’s at worse an adequate yardage-after-the-catch producer.
Higgins is not a detail-oriented route runner — but he runs go, post and out patterns. He doesn’t need to be a nuanced technician to run those routes effectively. All he has to do is beat the smaller guy defending him — and he usually does.
With a wide receiver class this stacked, it’s tempting to look at Higgins and imagine the ways in which his athletic shortcomings will limit him. In the big picture, though, it seems foolish to anticipate anything other than NFL success for a productive 21-year-old big-bodied star-recruit Clemson receiver.
NFL Prospect Comp: Mike Williams but younger and with less draft capital
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Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, part of The Action Network.