Josh Downs Dynasty Fantasy Football Value

Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina

Height: 5’9
Weight: 171
BMI: 25.2
Age: 21.6
NFL Draft Projection: Round 2
Draft Sharks Model Score: 8.13
Analytics Score: 0.69
Film Score: 0.543
Production Score: 0.76
Player Comp: Jamison Crowder

Josh Downs Dynasty Fantasy Football Value:

Downs’ college production rivals any WR in this year’s class. He racked up 195 catches, 2,364 yards, and 19 TDs over the past two seasons with stronger market shares than expected first-rounders Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Quentin Johnston.

NFL Projection

I was a bit underwhelmed by Downs’ tape, though. He creates separation on short routes and has the speed and agility to add value after the catch. But he struggles with contact, has a relatively small catch radius, and lacks elite downfield speed. Those concerns were confirmed at the Combine, where Downs checked in at just 5’9 and 171 pounds and clocked a middling 4.48-second 40 time.

Limited Upside

Downs projects as a quality slot receiver at the next level and a potential PPR fantasy football asset. But he seems unlikely to develop into a real difference maker for fantasy squads.

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Josh Downs’ values:

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Josh Downs Combine Results:

Wingspan: n/a
Arm length:
Hand size:
40-yard dash:
4.48 seconds
10-yard split: 1.49 seconds
Bench press:
Broad jump:
3-cone drill:
20-yard shuttle: DNP

Percentiles vs. Combine wide receivers since 1999, per MockDraftable.

Josh Downs Stats:

year games Tgts Rec Yds ypr tds
2020 10 10 7 119 17.0 3
2021 13 148 101 1335 13.2 8
2022 11 120 94 1029 10.9 11

Downs dabbled in basketball and track and field early in his career at North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, finishing third in the state in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump. But he really excelled on the football field, racking up 187 catches, 3,019 yards, and 32 TDs over his final three seasons.

The unanimous four-star prospect chose North Carolina over offers from Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, among 10+ others.

Big Finish to Quiet Freshman Season

Downs played just 74 snaps as a true freshman in a 2020 WR corps led by Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. But he closed that season with a big 91-yard, 2-TD outing in UNC’s Orange Bowl loss to Texas A&M, despite running just 14 pass routes.

Dominant Sophomore Campaign

That foreshadowed a breakout sophomore season.

With Brown and Newsome off to the NFL, Downs emerged as QB Sam Howell’s clear top target, setting school records with 101 catches and 1,335 receiving yards.

Both marks ranked top-11 in the country.

Downs’ market shares were huge:

The reception and receiving yards shares topped the sophomore-year marks posted by Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Quentin Johnston.

Downs’ 83.4 Pro Football Focus receiving grade ranked 29th among 334 qualifying WRs. His 2.80 yards per route run (YPRR) was good for 32nd.

Downs played 96% of his snaps in the slot, with an 8.5-yard average depth of target. He averaged a healthy 13.2 yards per catch, though, thanks in large part to a strong 7.5 yards-after-catch average.

Career Highs as a Junior

Downs traded NFLer Sam Howell for future NFLer Drake Maye this past year.

(Maye is considered one of the top QB prospects in the 2024 class.)

Downs missed three games last season, suffering a lower-body injury early in the year and then opting out of the Holiday Bowl. But he still led North Carolina in all major receiving categories and set new personal bests with 8.5 catches and 1.0 TDs per game.  

The market shares in his 11 games:

Downs’ 86.5 PFF receiving grade was a career best and ranked fifth among 377 qualifying WRs. His YPRR dipped to 2.17, though, 97th among those 377 qualifying WRs.

Better in the Slot

Downs moved out of the slot for 21.9% of his snaps. He averaged a mediocre 1.99 YPRR on the outside. He remained excellent from the slot, averaging 2.21 YPRR and ranking second among 198 qualifiers in PFF receiving grade.

It’s also worth noting that Downs was excellent in the return game over the past two seasons, averaging 11.1 yards across 26 punt returns.

Josh Downs Highlights:

Games watched: Florida State (2021), Miami (2021), Florida A&M, Notre Dame

Short-Range Maven

Downs is at his best working near the line of scrimmage. He has quick feet and good burst out of breaks to create separation against man coverage.

Josh Downs (North Carolina WR) vs Florida State (2021)
Josh Downs (North Carolina WR) vs Florida A&M (2022)

He also has natural feel against zone defenses, settling down in soft spots to give his QB an open target.

After-Catch Ability

Downs is not a tackle breaker after the catch but creates yards with his change-of-direction ability, acceleration, and speed.

Josh Downs (North Carolina WR) vs Florida State (2021)
Josh Downs (North Carolina WR) vs Miami (2021)

Contested-Catch Winner?

Downs shows better contested-catch ability than you might expect from a 5’9, 171-pounder. He converted 17 of 31 contested opportunities (54.8%) over the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus.

North Carolina OL/Offense vs Notre Dame Defense (2022)

Size Limitations

But his diminutive frame limits him at times.

North Carolina clearly worked to keep Downs away from press coverage, lining him up in the slot and often using him in motion.

Downs can get knocked off his route by contact and has a relatively small catch radius, curbing his downfield effectiveness.

His size will only be more of a barrier in the NFL – and figures to keep Downs in the slot for the vast majority of his routes.

Looking for more on this year's rookie WR class? Check out:

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Jordan Addison

Quentin Johnston

More Dynasty Fantasy Football Analysis:

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