This Michael Pittman Jr. fantasy rookie article was written in two parts, a pre-draft profile written by Matt Hicks and a post-NFL Draft article written by Aaron Schill.
Michael Pittman Jr. Fantasy Forecast
Heading into the NFL Draft, one of the nice rookie landing spots that I was looking at for a wide receiver to land on was Indianapolis. With TY Hilton entering his 9th season in the NFL and is 30 years old coming off an injury-riddled season. Parris Campbell was active in just seven games in 2019 and saw 24 total targets on the season. Devin Funchess played in just one game in 2019 and is now with the Packers. Needless to say, the Colts are in need of a pass-catcher and with Philip Rivers in town, the opportunity is definitely there for rookie Michael Pittman Jr. to step in and produce in year one.
The Indianapolis Colts selected Pittman Jr. with the 34th overall pick in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. In a rookie class where 35 wide receivers were taken, Pittman Jr. was the 8th wide receiver off the board. Given the depth of this draft class at the position, it’s worth noting that the Colts spent a fairly high draft pick on him. Colts owner Jim Irsay on Pittman Jr. “Well, there’s no question that this guy has some Reggie Wayne qualities. He is a big target with outstanding hands, runs well.” The Reggie Wayne qualities might be a bit of a stretch, but Pittman Jr. is a very talented wide receiver.
At 6’4 223 pounds, Pittman Jr. is a big, possession wide receiver with deceptive speed. He can win contested catches and should be a nice option for Phillip Rivers to go to. With plenty of targets up for grabs in an offense that should be a fairly high-powered one, Pittman Jr. has the opportunity to produce early on in his career. He may not even end up being someone that gets drafted in your redraft leagues but could be a late-round flier or a waiver wire guy. He’s someone worth keeping an eye on and could end up being utilized early on given the need of pass-catchers with a quarterback like Rivers who likes to air it out. In dynasty rookie drafts, Pittman Jr. is likely someone that will go in the second round. With so much talent in this 2020 rookie class, someone like Pittman Jr. will be a nice value in the second round, and given the depth at the wide receiver position, he’ll probably be around the 10th wide receiver off the board.
Quick Link: Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Check out Michael Pittman Jr.’s fantasy value in our 2020 rookie rankings
Michael Pittman Jr. Pre-Draft Profile
Pittman Jr. is one of my top sleeper candidates for the 2020 NFL draft season. He broke out in his senior season for USC, which is late but he overcame significant challenges to do so. He recorded 1,275 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for the Trojans in 2019, despite the carousel of quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Pittman caught passes from JT Daniels and Matt Fink, both who went down with an injury, before helping true freshmen Kedon Slovis standout. He also did this while outproducing both Tyler Vaughns and Amon Ra St. Brown, who are widely considered to be better NFL prospects than him.
- 223 lbs.
- Age: 22
Football is the family business for the Pittmans. Michael Pittman Sr. played eleven seasons in the NFL as a running back. Pittman Sr. was a Pro-Bowl selection, first-team All-Pro, and won a Super Bowl championship. Michael’s younger brother Mycah Pittman was a 4 STAR recruit, according to 247 sports and currently plays for Oregon.
NFL Combine Recap
- 40 Yard Dash: 4.52s
- Vertical Jump: 36 1/2″
- Broad Jump: 121″
- 3-Cone Drill: 6.96s
- 20 Yard Shuttle: 4.14s
- Bench Press: 13 reps
Pittman Jr.’s combine resembled the rest of his draft profile: all-around good, without any particularly outstanding components. His best measurements were his 4.14s 20-yard shuttle (69th percentile) and 36 1/2″ vertical jump (64th percentile). He also tested in the 45th percentile in the 40-yard dash and 49th percentile in the 3-cone drill. NFL teams that are interested in Pittman Jr. are likely much more interested in what he put on tape than what he did in Indianapolis.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Pittman Jr. has a pro-ready floor that is built upon his ability to perform in a variety of ways. He has strong, consistent hands that allow him to snatch the ball quickly out of the air and hold on through contact. He puts his body in a position to win in most contested-catch situations and is the textbook example for how to climb the ladder to high point the ball over defensive backs. His agility won’t blow you away, but he is able to leverage his athleticism to move around the field fluidly and find creative ways to create space and win. He is slow off of the line of scrimmage but uses his long strides well to build momentum and accelerate well in a straight line downfield; making him dangerous on go-routes. His contact balance and ability to sustain speed with the ball in his hand gives him some yards after catch (YAC) potential. Pittman Jr. is also a willing blocker that wasn’t afraid to lay an aggressive block on the PAC-12 defenders he was able to push around; blocking might not sound flashy for fantasy football purposes but it gets you on the field.
Pittman Jr. is solid against off coverage but gets jammed too often on press coverage; which he is likely to face often in the NFL. He is a solid route runner but runs a simple tree that focused on getting open on vertical routes, corners, and comebacks. He moves well for a big man but lacks the type of athleticism that is truly game-changing. Pittman Jr. comes with a good floor but I do not project him to have a high ceiling.
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
Pittman Jr.’s 2019 breakout likely correlated with the opportunity he was given in new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s air raid offense. He flourished when given one on one opportunities and when he was able to scheme into space downfield. I like him best in offenses that employ some elements of vertical or spread offenses, especially if he is given the opportunity to play along the boundary with other targets drawing top coverage. Green Bay under Matt LaFleur and Nathaniel Hackett could be a good fit here. The creative-minded LaFleur can find ways for Pittman Jr. to find space downfield while Adams draws the attention of the opposition’s top defensive backs. The Jets could also find Pittman Jr. a good fit, but we know that no fantasy player is very desirable in an Adam Gase offense. He could also excel in Bruce Arian’s vertical attack but that would leave him in a crowded group with Evans and Godwin.
Pre-Draft Dynasty Thoughts
He may make a quick impact in the NFL, but I see the size of that impact as limited. His pro-ready skillset may allow him to immediately plugin as a WR2 for a struggling offense or WR3 for a high octane offense. If that is the case, he could be mid to low end WR3 for fantasy football purposes in year one. Looking down the road, though, I’m not convinced he has the skillset to consistently produce as a WR2 or higher for fantasy football purposes. He will always been a solid, consistent player to have on your roster but is not somebody who I expect to win you fantasy football championships.
Matt is a seasoned fantasy football analyst that writes dynasty and devy fantasy football content year-round. In addition to writing for Gridiron Experts, he writes and hosts a podcast for The Dynasty Draft Room and publishes all of his work at patreon.com/theffeducator