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Chase Claypool in PFF’s top 5 fantasy options from the 2020 wide receiver class

The 2020 class of receivers made noise as rookies and look to continue in 2021.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

They were a number of wide receivers from the 2020 NFL draft class who made an impression in the rookie season. Among those was Steelers second-round draft pick Chase Claypool. With the 2021 season quickly approaching, Pro Football Focus ranked the top five receivers drafted in 2020 according to their fantasy value for the upcoming season.

While this would be the appropriate spot for me to give my typical PFF disclaimer, this is speaking strictly about fantasy football which is an entirely different monster. Ranking players according to their fantasy output depends totally on scoring systems and things of that nature. Since this is the case, it is important to realize that any source speaking about fantasy football is merely just speculation from their own projected value.

As for Chase Claypool, he landed in the fifth spot on the list of the best fantasy football candidates from the 2020 NFL draft class of wide receivers. Here is the breakdown from Pro Football Focus as to why Claypool landed at this spot on the list:


Alpha wide receivers demand extremely high target rates. That’s why the likes of Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, Stefon Diggs and DeAndre Hopkins perennially lead the league in that metric.

So when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool led all rookies in target rate per route run (24.3%) — also known as threat rate — it’s insane not to take notice.

This is a telltale sign that big things are coming for the 6-foot-4 standout from Notre Dame. Since 2013, that mark ranks fifth-highest among any rookie wideout. The four players who bested it were Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr.,Kelvin Benjamin and Cordarelle Patterson.

A high-end target rate isn’t the only thing that stood out about Claypool’s rookie year, as his 11 touchdowns were an extremely rare feat — rookie or not.

Rookie WRs with double-digit TDs

Season Player Touchdowns

1998 Randy Moss 17
2016 Tyreek Hill 12
2014 Mike Evans 12
2014 Odell Beckham Jr. 12
2010 Mike Williams (TB) 11
2020 Chase Claypool 11
2018 Calvin Ridley 10

Claypool became just the seventh rookie to score double-digit touchdowns, a threshold that puts him into an esteemed company. But, again, his seasonal accolades don’t end there.

He also led the NFL in deep targets (42), finished fifth in total air yards (1,825) and tallied 5.3 yards after the catch — a mark that ranked 12th best. His combination of a top-12 season in terms of YAC/reception and aDOT (15.1), places him among another elite group of receivers that includes Calvin Ridley, Kenny Golladay, Stefon Diggs, Chris Godwin and Tyreek Hill. The only difference? It took those players more than one season to accomplish this.

Claypool’s historical comparisons are virtually off the charts, so fantasy football gamers need to be all over him. The concerns around a crowded Pittsburgh Steelers receiver room and Ben Roethlisberger’s declining arm are real but were also present last season.

Only Justin Jefferson (16.9) and Brandon Aiyuk (15.4) scored more fantasy points per game than Claypool (13.6) among first-year players. That’s amazing considering Claypool was the No. 3 receiver in the target pecking order, and Roethlisberger was one of the league’s most inaccurate quarterbacks throwing the ball 20 or more yards downfield.

Claypool commanded just a 17% target share in games with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster playing in full. Big Ben’s on-target percentage (34%) on those throws was well below league average (42%), ranking 31st out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks.

There’s a surplus of baked-in upside with Claypool’s role as the team’s primary deep threat even with an erratic/declining passer under center; take that all day at his WR29 ADP. Alphas don’t stay at WR3 price tags for very long.

If looking at the other names on the list, perhaps Claypool could have been ranked a little higher. But this is fantasy football. It appears PFF is going out of their way to project Claypool to have a good year fantasy-wise despite the fact his quarterback is Ben Roethlisberger whom they have next-to-no confidence in for 2021.

It should also be noted the Chase Claypool was the last player drafted out of the five players on the list. Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Brandon Aiyuk were all first-round draft picks while Tee Higgins was the first player selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft.

If you are both a Steelers fan and someone who plays fantasy football, I think Chase Claypool is already on your radar for the 2021 season. Even if fantasy football is not your thing, I’m still sure you are still looking for Claypool to continue to show his abilities as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.