2024 Dynasty Rookie WR Sleepers: Jermaine Burton, Javon Baker, Jacob Cowing are Late-Round Fantasy Gems

Late-round studs can provide a spark to your dynasty roster.

With an extremely deep 2024 rookie wide receiver class, numerous interesting prospects were able to fall to favorable landing spots late in the NFL draft and most likely in your rookie drafts as well. “Sleepers,” overlooked players available at what might be their lowest lifetime value, are particularly enticing acquisitions.

This 2024 rookie draft class features countless “underrated” wide receivers. However, certain names might be slightly overrated.

2024 Fantasy Football Rookie WR WINNERS: Marvin Harrison, Keon Coleman, Ladd McConkey, Xavier Worthy

Late-round fantasy football sleepers can make or break your dynasty roster. Let’s explore three rookie wide receivers who deserve more attention and can be acquired for a relatively low cost.

JERMAINE BURTON, WR, CINCINNATI BENGALS

The Cincinnati Bengals selected wide receiver Jermaine Burton out of the University of Alabama in the third round. He began his career at the University of Georgia, where he recorded 404 receiving yards on just 27 receptions (15 yards per reception) and three receiving touchdowns—which was solid for the newly established freshman at the time. 

The following season, he recorded similar numbers but showed improvement: 497 receiving yards on 26 receptions (19.1 yards per reception) and five receiving touchdowns. His QB’s rating when targeted went from 57.4 as a freshman to 144.4 as a sophomore.

Burton moved from Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs to Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. In his final collegiate season, Burton recorded 798 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns—most impressively, he accomplished that feat on just 39 receptions.

When it comes to going up and grabbing the deep ball downfield, Burton is one of the best, if not the best, in this class. Burton has an incredibly keen eye for finding the ball in traffic and makes adjustments while catching the ball look easy.

As that “X” receiver, Burton uses his 4.45 speed (81st-percentile) and 91st-percentile speed score to beat the man on the outside. That quickness, combined with his contested catch ability and big play threat, is exactly what Joe Burrow needs to take the pressure off his favorite target, Ja’Marr Chase.

Rome Odunze, who has been deemed the “contested catch king” by many, had 17.9 yards per reception (YPR) and an average depth of target (ADoT) of 15.6 in 2023. Zooming in on Burton, you find he put up 20.5 yards per reception with an average depth of target of 20.2 last season.

In fact, Burton did produce a higher average depth of target, yards per reception, and air yards per catch than all of the “Big Three” receivers (Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Odunze) in 2023. Burton seems to be in his own tier regarding air yards per catch as well:

In terms of catching passes of 10-plus yards downfield, Burton is in elite company compared to other prospects over the past decade or so. Burton was bizarrely close to the Dallas Cowboys’ super-star receiver, CeeDee Lamb, in this metric.

Not only that, but Burton also led the entire 2024 rookie wide receiver class in red-zone target rate. Burton’s red-zone target rate was only slightly below that of Drake London, the 8th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

I am absolutely interested in grabbing Jermaine Burton in rookie drafts before he gets selected in the third round before my next pick. With Tyler Boyd being traded to the Tennessee Titans and rumors swirling of a Tee Higgins trade, I love acquiring Burton for what he’s worth right now before he gains any more value.

JAVON BAKER, WR, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The Patriots look to create a new dynasty during the post-Belichick era – they kick-started that by selecting one of my favorite quarterback prospects in this draft, Drake Maye. To complement the young, developing gun-slinger, they needed a legitimate threat on the outside. In the fourth round of the 2024 NFL draft, Javon Baker got the call to head to New England.

With an 86th-percentile catch radius, Baker has elite ball-tracking skills, often allowing him to win downfield and over the top. At six-foot-one and 202 pounds, Baker uses his league-ready physicality to effectively gain leverage over the opposing corner.

In his final collegiate season, Baker produced 7 receiving touchdowns and 1,139 receiving yards on just 52 receptions (good for an otherworldly 21.9 yards per reception). It makes sense why he had a 34% college target share, which is in the 97th percentile of prospects—Baker gets open far more often than not.

Baker also possesses outstanding, crisp route-running ability and quickness off the line of scrimmage. When you exclude screens, Baker had the 4th-highest career yards per route run (YPRR) of the entire 2024 wide receiver class.

Baker boasts tremendous big-play upside and has proved that on the field, considering he had the highest yards per reception in 2023 out of any receiver in this 2024 rookie class. Another skill set Baker has is his exceptional prowess versus both man and zone coverage.

I find it interesting that Baker produced 3.42 yards per route run versus man coverage and 3.53 yards per route run versus zone coverage in 2023. The reason this is significant to me is because Baker’s metrics were more efficient than both Marvin Harrison Jr. (3.0 YPRR Man, 3.51 YPRR Zone) and Malik Nabers (3.15 YPRR Man, 3.32 YPRR Zone) – the unanimous top-two receivers in this 2024 rookie class.

The list is not long either for the number of wide receivers who posted higher than three yards per route run versus both man and zone coverage. According to Fusue, only six Power-5 receiver prospects from this class exceeded those numbers in 2022 or 2023, including Javon Baker.

Regarding of the landing spot, it could not have been more ideal for Baker. When you combine the fact that Baker will have an elite quarterback prospect from this draft throwing to him with the amount of opportunity available in the New England wide receiver room, it looks to be the makings of a solid situation for young receiver.

There is no “alpha” receiver on the Patriots, and although there is belief that it may be Demario Douglas, keep in mind that the Patriots used nearly half of their draft picks this year on pass catchers, such as Baker, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jaheim Bell.

The more I dig into Baker’s profile, the more I believe he might be Drake Maye’s WR1 of the future.

JACOB COWING, WR, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

During the 2024 NFL Draft, the 49ers made a surprising move by selecting Ricky Pearsall with their first-round pick. In the RSJ 2024 Dynasty Rookie Draft Roundtable, I outlined my reasoning for the distaste of this pick. Overall, his prospect profile is completely underwhelming. 

Pearsall never exceeded 1,000 receiving yards or more than five receiving touchdowns in a single collegiate season and had his best year as a fifth-year senior for the Florida Gators.

Pearsall owned a college dominator rating of 26.8% in college, which is in the 44th percentile of prospects. Additionally, he broke out at the late age of 21 (36th percentile) and had a decent 22.8% college target share – but even that is only in the 64th percentile.

San Francisco did select one of my favorite wide receiver sleepers in this class, Jacob Cowing, with their fourth-round pick. For starters, Cowing produced 4,461 receiving yards and 33 receiving touchdowns over his entire collegiate career, nearly double that of Pearsall’s 2,292 receiving yards and more than double the receiving touchdowns (14).

Cowing’s prospect profile is intriguing. He boasted a 36.8% college target share (99th percentile), a 61.4% college dominator rating (99th percentile), and broke out at the young age of 18.6-years-old (95th percentile). The majority of his production came during his final three seasons—where Cowing had 3,220 receiving yards and 27 receiving touchdowns between UTEP and Arizona.

It’s not crazy to think Cowing can be an elite receiver out of the slot at the NFL level. Despite his smaller stature, Cowing consistently breaks tackles and finds ways to gain yards after the catch.

Displayed by his 4.38 40-yard dash speed (96th percentile), Cowing has no issues making the play in run-after-catch scenarios and does have tremendous upside in the short-to-intermediate pass game. Cowing creates separation from his defenders using speed variations and polished, high-end route-running techniques.

Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers are clearly the top two receivers in this class, highlighted by their No. 1 and No. 2 ranking in career yards per route run amongst Power-5 receivers in this class. But it does get interesting when you compare them to Cowing, considering he was not far behind with the fourth-highest career yards per route run amongst P-5 wide-outs (per PFF).

When comparing Cowing to the wide receiver prospects from the last two NFL drafts, his production stands out as particularly intriguing. Cowing posted similar numbers in the yards per team pass attempt metric as Nabers did while also out-pacing Odunze in both first downs per route run and yards per team pass attempt.

Taking a deeper dive into how Cowing’s production matches up with the wide receiver prospects from the last two draft classes, you will find it remarkably close to the likes of Jordan Addison, Tank Dell, and Josh Downs.

At the moment, very few eyes are on Cowing – as Ricky Pearsall’s draft capital casts an enormous shadow on his market value. With his low value, it seems like the perfect time to strike, as Cowing looks to be one of the biggest steals in this 2024 class. In Dynasty leagues, Cowing is being left on waivers after most rookie drafts—go and get him.

OVERVIEW

There is a degree of risk in every rookie, but the reward of having a player “hit” is ultimately what we’re searching for.

With how valuable Jermaine Burton, Javon Baker, and Jacob Cowing are right now, the potential reward outweighs the cost of obtaining one of these prospects. Every one of these players has a chance to increase in value given their current situations – why not take a shot at some promising sleepers?

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