This CeeDee Lamb Fantasy Rookie article was written in two parts, a pre-draft profile written by Matt Hicks and a post-NFL Draft article written by Anthony Cervino.
CeeDee Lamb Fantasy Forecast
With the 17th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb. Now, how many of us really thought those words would ever come from the mouth of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? As a Cowboys fan and as an unbiased NFL personality, I certainly did not. Not only did many of the NFL Draft media-elite slate Lamb as their top incoming prospect wideout, but with other wide receiver-needy teams in front of Dallas that included the Broncos, 49ers, Jets, and Raiders, there was no way Lamb would have fallen to pick No. 17. However, he ultimately did just that as San Francisco selected DT Kavon Kinlaw, Las Vegas took Henry Ruggs as the top receiver off the board, and shortly thereafter, Denver picked Jerry Jeudy as the second wideout off the board on day one, leaving Lamb there for the taking.
Although the Cowboys had glaring needs on the defensive side of the football, they elected to pick the best player available from their draft board. And per reports, Dallas had Lamb as the sixth-best prospect on their board. Hard to pass up considering the Falcons, who reached for cornerback A.J. Terrell one pick ahead of the Cowboys, elected to pass on Lamb, which would have made one of their strengths even stronger. Instead, Atlanta addressed a need with a corner who likely would have fallen to the latter portion of day-one or even to the early part of the second round.
While I can’t necessarily kill the Falcons for their choice, a player with Lamb’s ceiling doesn’t always fall and Dallas took full advantage of it. On top of it all, the Cowboys knew that if they passed on Lamb, there was a great chance that the Eagles would have swooped in — pardon the pun — and took him. And after they pulled that with Dallas Goedert a few years ago — the Eagles, who were rich at tight end with Zach Ertz, traded up to one spot ahead of the Cowboys to select Goedert, which was a big need for the Dallas –I doubt that Jerry Jones would have wanted Howie Roseman to stick it to him for the second time in three years. Perhaps, this was also a little payback considering the Eagles ended up with Jalen Reagor and a ton of criticism even though Justin Jefferson was still available.
While the Cowboys already employ a pair of 1000-yard wideouts — Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup — Lamb, a luxury selection, will fit in just fine. Some will sway that the Cowboys won’t be able to support production for all three of these upside receivers. I say why not? Although Cooper and Gallup finished with 79/1189/8 on 119 targets and 66/1107/6 on 113-target stat lines respectively, the recently departed Randall Cobb nearly topped the 1000-yard receiving mark last year as well, exiting with a 55/828/3 line along with his 83 vacated targets. Is it that hard to imagine three 1000-yard wideouts on the Cowboys in 2020 in a Mike McCarthy system? Absolutely not. At one time in Green Bay, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and the aforementioned Cobb all shared the field and a wide receiver room together. This is a similar scenario. Expect Cooper and Gallup to open up the year as the WR1 and the WR2 with Lamb sliding in as the No. 3, but if the rookie is indeed the real deal, it wouldn’t shock me at all if he out-produced Gallup, especially down the stretch. Lamb will surely start in three-wide sets and could even push Cooper into the slot at times. This will be fun to watch.
For his immediate fantasy football value, I wouldn’t overly reach for Lamb. Not only is he going to open 2020 as the WR3 with a pair of bonafide studs in front of him on the pecking order, but he may also have to contend with Ezekiel Elliott, an up and coming and athletic tight end in Blake Jarwin and possibly even the versatile Tony Pollard for targets. Are there enough targets to go around? Well, considering the Dallas defense could, more so, will be an immense handicap, I expect the Cowboys to be a part of shootouts more times than not. So tentatively, I say yes. Still, barring an injury to Cooper or Gallup, I wouldn’t draft Lamb too aggressively in redraft formats. He is more of a best-ball and dynasty darling out the gate. We need to be patient with CeeDee Lamb Fantasy his first season.
Speaking of dynasty formats, let’s talk about those start-up and rookie drafts and where Lamb should fall. Despite the overly used “too many mouths to feed” cliche, I will still rank Lamb as my rookie WR2 and overall fifth-best rookie entering 2020 despite the landing spot. If Lamb works out and lives up to his DeAndre Hopkins comps, he could be the Dallas WR1 sooner rather than later. Sure, the Cowboys signed Cooper to a five-year $100 million deal at the top of free agency, but per Spotrac, they have an out in 2022. Not to mention the fact that the Cowboys will eventually have to pay Gallup, who is entering the third year on his rookie deal. And considering all the money they have tied up in a handful of players, perhaps Jerry Jones was thinking ahead with the Lamb selection. And as dynasty owners, we should too.
Quick Link: Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Check out CeeDee Lamb fantasy value in our 2020 rookie rankings.
CeeDee Lamb Pre-Draft Profile
CeeDee Lamb is considered a consensus top wide receiver in this year’s NFL Draft class. Lamb stood out at the University of Oklahoma, where he posted back to back 1,000-yard seasons in his sophomore and junior campaigns. He has an extremely well-rounded game, consistently made highlight-reel plays both before and after the catch. Lamb should be considered a top-five rookie pick regardless of your league’s format.
- 198 lbs.
- Age: 20
Lamb has caught touchdown passes from two different Heisman trophy winners and one Heisman finalist. Lamb stepped onto campus as a freshman and posted 807 yards and 7 touchdowns on 46 receptions while snagging passes from Baker Mayfield. In 2018, he averaged 17.8 yards per catch on 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns from Kyler Murray. Jalen Hurts, a 2019 Heisman finalist, tossed 14 touchdowns and 1,327 yards to Lamb. Mayfield, Murray, and Hurts have unique passing styles; making Lamb’s production and versatility even more impressive.
NFL Combine Recap
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.5s
- Vertical Jump: 34 1/2″
- Broad Jump: 124″
- Bench Press: 11 reps
The combine was net neutral for Lamb. There was little anticipation that he was going to blow away any of the tests, but he did perform solid enough to justify what you see on his tape. His broad jump tested in the 74th percentile for wide receivers and his 4.5s 40-yard dash tested in the 55th percentile. Fans of Lamb were excited to see him weigh in at 198 lbs.; he plays strongly on tape but was listed at 185 in college, his new weight is what NFL teams want to see.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Lamb has a very well rounded skillset; he does most things well. He dominates contested-catch situations; he has a large catch radius and has the athleticism to jump over defenders while finding separation with aggressive but subtle handwork that reminds many of D’Andre Hopkins. Lamb also has extremely consistent hands; he rarely has mental drops, hangs onto the ball through contact, and tracks the ball very well in the air. Although his forty time won’t blow you away, he is fast. He moves quickly in the short field, accelerations well downfield in a straight line, and gets off the line of scrimmage quickly. He is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands after the catch; he is extremely elusive, has great contact balance, and has field vision that would rival the best running backs in this draft class.
His biggest weakness is separation. Lamb relies on creating separation at the catch point, which can allow defensive backs to stay in the play longer than they need to. This wasn’t an issue for his while posting up against undersized Big 12 corners, but it could be a problem when playing against bigger and more physical players in the NFL.
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
I don’t like to overuse this phrase, but: Lamb is scheme versatile. He found success in a variety of offensive variations employed by Oklahoma to adjust for the differences in passing styles for Mayfield, Murray, and Hurts. Lamb is effective in running deep routes, particular posts, corners and working the seam. This may allow him to fit into offenses that want to push the ball downfield with a big-armed quarterback; like Las Vegas or even Denver. He also can be effective in short passing games; he works well off the slant and is extremely dangerous off screens. Depending on the role he is asked to play, Lamb may present as either a red zone threat or PPR machine; both make him a valuable fantasy football asset.
The only reason I’d pump the breaks on Lamb is if he ends up in an offense that already features a top fantasy football wideout and/or an offense that fails to stay on the field consistently. Jacksonville, for instance, has a run-first approach that leaves little left over for the passing game lead by Gardener Minshew. If Lamb finds himself splitting limited targets with Chark his production may be inconsistent.
Lamb has been my top wide receiver in this draft class since last July. His ability to win in a variety of ways makes him special and scheme versatile. There are no guarantees when it comes to fantasy football, but Lamb is as close as it gets. He is a versatile athlete with proven production: 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns on just 173 receptions at Oklahoma; a career average of 19 yards per reception. I fully expect Lamb to carry that production over to the NFL.
I prioritize wideout when drafting rookies, so Lamb is my top target in this draft. He should be able to make an impact early and step in as a starter for you right away. If he finds himself on a roster where he can see at least 75 targets in his rookie season, I fully expect him to be at least a WR3 (top 36 wide receivers), but closer to a WR2. I tend to think in a three to five-year window for dynasty, though, and in that case, we should consider him to have WR1 potential for your fantasy football rosters.