Ricky Pearsall 2024 Fantasy Outlook and Dynasty Value: Future Upside as Surprising 1st Rd Pick

49ers WR Ricky Pearsall 2024 fantasy outlook and dynasty value.
Slick Rick's skill set gives him massive dynasty upside.

The San Francisco 49ers shocked the NFL world on Thursday night by choosing Florida WR Ricky Pearsall with the 31st overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

But should it be surprising when an elite route runner with the strongest hands in his class joins forces with one of the league’s top offensive minds? Especially considering the rumors circulating about the 49ers’ interest in trading both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

Let’s explore why the 49ers opted for the Florida wide receiver and analyze his 2024 fantasy outlook and dynasty value.

RICKY PEARSALL SCOUTING REPORT: ELITE ROUTE RUNNER + STICKY HANDS

Ricky Pearsall, lauded as one of the premier route runners with the most reliable hands (five drops over his final three collegiate seasons) in his class, has a translatable skillset that will make him a high-impact NFL wideout. His exceptional focus and adept tracking skills are evident in his ability to contort mid-air for spectacular grabs, epitomized by his awe-inspiring one-handed catch against Charlotte, deemed college football’s best catch in 2023.

Demonstrating versatility, he comfortably executes over-the-shoulder catches on slot fades and corners while creating separation with lightning-quick cuts, maintaining speed throughout his breaks. Despite his unassuming stature, Pearsall leverages his deceptively robust physique and astute field awareness to outmaneuver defenders, often shielding them on slants and downfield routes.

As a two-year starter at Florida, Pearsall thrived in head coach Billy Napier’s offense, predominantly operating from the slot, where he found success on 62.0 percent of his routes. After playing for Arizona State, he seamlessly transitioned into a leading role at Gainesville, culminating in a standout 2023 season.

While occasionally challenged by physical press coverage, Pearsall compensates with sticky hands and fearlessness in contested situations. Although not a top deep threat, his reliability, route precision, and adeptness in the quick game position him as a favored target for NFL quarterbacks, capable of contributing both inside and outside while excelling in punt return duties.

However, despite his accolades, Pearsall’s profile is not without scrutiny. An analysis of his career reveals a reliance on slot usage and favorable quarterback play, underscoring concerns regarding his performance against press coverage and off-target throws. Oh, and he’ll be 24 years old by the time Week 1 kicks off.

While touted as more than a slot receiver, statistical evidence suggests otherwise, indicating a pronounced discrepancy in efficiency between slot and wide alignments. Despite these caveats, Pearsall’s undeniable talent and adaptability suggest a player with the potential to make a significant NFL impact.

LANDING SPOT: DAY ONE STARTER IN IDEAL SCHEME

There was a lot of smoke about Brandon Aiyuk and/or Deebo Samuel being dealt during the draft. It made even more sense at the end of the first round when the team added Pearsall. Not only did they add Pearsall, but they also drafted slot maven Jacob Cowing out of Arizona.

With Aiyuk set to hit free agency at the end of this season, expect Pearsall to step in as the team’s WR1 or WR2 as early as next season. However, for redraft purposes, it will be tough for the rookie to begin at the top of the team’s target totem pole, with Aiyuk, Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey all demanding healthy target shares.

On the bright side, Pearsall will start right away for a team that consistently deploys three wide receiver sets. Last season, the team utilized three wide receiver sets 75.4% of the time and two wide receiver sets 23.5% of the time. Ultimately, the snaps will be there, but barring injury to one or two of the pass-catching weapons, it’ll be tough for Pearsall to make significant noise as a rookie.

Still, Pearsall’s elite skill set and Kyle Shanahan’s scheme make this a perfect match.

RICKY PEARSALL 2024 FANTASY OUTLOOK & DYNASTY VALUE

Pearsall gained steam throughout the draft process and it clearly was real as he came off the board at the end of the first round.

Right away, it’ll be tough for Pearsall to make a year-one fantasy impact with both veteran receivers on the roster. One could argue that he currently sits fifth on Purdy’s target totem pole. On the bright side, he’ll start in three-receiver sets, and he’s arguably the best route runner on the team. With Aiyuk and Samuel staying home, Pearsall sits at WR67 (+3 vs ECR) on The Wolf’s 2024 Fantasy Rankings.

On the flip side, Pearsall’s ceiling in dynasty is real. Aiyuk will likely be gone at the end of the season, and Samuel’s skill set doesn’t really impact Pearsall. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone if both receivers are not in San Fran next season. Thus, Pearsall is our WR8 on our 2024 Dynsty Rookie Rankings.

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