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Temper Fantasy Football Expectations for Tee Higgins with Bengals

Tee Higgins was the first wide receiver taken in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here's why he might not be a fantasy football star in Year 1.

Former Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins didn't have to wait long to hear his name called on night two of the 2020 NFL Draft. The top pick of the second round is heading to the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted their quarterback of the future, LSU's Joe Burrow, the night prior. 

Higgins joins a Bengals team that is sneaky-loaded on offense. Superstar wide receiver A.J. Green returns presumably healthy, Tyler Boyd has come into his own over the last couple seasons, and former first-rounder John Ross showed flashes of his draft-day pedigree in 2019. 

Can Higgins make an immediate impact in a crowded receiver room and a rookie QB?

The 6-foot-4, 216-pounder has excellent ball skills, body control and can genuinely catch just about anything. He's a dynamic downfield threat, especially against undersized corners, and deserves plenty of red-zone looks—he could quickly become the go-to guy in that area for Cincinnati if defenses over-focus on Green. He scored a touchdown on about 20% of his catches in college, a number that will surely sharply drop at the NFL level, but he's a size mismatch against smaller corners and has long strides to chew up downfield yardage. 

Here's what Bengals team reporter James Rapien had to say about the fit:

Drafting Higgins in round two is eerily similar to what the Bengals did in the 2011 NFL Draft. They landed their franchise wide receiver in Green with the No. 4 pick, before taking Andy Dalton in the second-round.

They went the opposite route this year, taking their quarterback in round one. They hope the Burrow-to-Higgins connection can produce similar results. 

How does that all figure into Higgins' 2020 fantasy football value? 

Everyone expects the Bengals' offense to be better this season with Burrow's addition and Green's return. However, Cincinnati still won't field an elite offense, and there are a lot of mouths to feed. If Green is the highly-productive low-end WR1/high-end WR2 he's been in recent years and Boyd either remains in low-end WR2/high-end WR3 territory, what's left for Higgins? The answer is not a lot unless he eats into the production of the two aforementioned players.

As far as rookie wide receivers go, Higgins ranks behind the Raiders' Henry Ruggs III, the Broncos' Jerry Jeudy, the Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, the Vikings' Justin Jefferson, and maybe even the Colts' Michael Pittman Jr. He'd slot in at No. 6 just in front of Brandon Aiyuk (49ers) and Laviska Shenault (Jaguars). That puts him in WR5 territory as a bench option in 2020. 

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Some may see that as a bit low considering Higgins' name value and championship pedigree, but unless you expect the Bengals' offense to rank in the top 5 in the NFL next season, someone has to draw the short straw. Higgins should have some big weeks and is a worthy bye-week fill-in option. Just don't overpay for his name. 


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