Fantasy Football: Fade Marvin Harrison Jr. at your own peril

If ever a receiving prospect appeared to be laboratory-built for success in the NFL, it’s Marvin Harrison Jr. He arrives in the league as an uncommonly polished route-runner coming off consecutive 1,200-yard seasons at Ohio State.

Harrison has ideal size (6-foot-3), excellent hands, suddenness and separation ability. He excels in contested situations, yet also excels at creating uncontested situations.

Over the past two seasons, Harrison has cooked the best defenses in college football — including Georgia in 2022 (5-106-2) and Michigan last year (5-118-1) — so there are zero quality-of-competition concerns to be found on the scouting report.

Harrison has also averaged better than 3.0 yards per route run in back-to-back years, which is outrageous. Basically, he’s a player with no glaring weaknesses and an abundance of obvious strengths. He was always going to be the top fantasy option in the 2024 rookie class, regardless of landing spot.

This is a case in which both film and stat nerds agree on the greatness of the player, too. Good luck finding any serious MHJ doubters. He’s clearly a huge talent.

As the most bullish ranker on Harrison within the Yahoo fantasy team, it falls to me to make the case that he can, in fact, deliver first-round fantasy value in his first pro season. I’m certainly not about to declare that Harrison is likely to finish as the overall WR1, but I do actually think it’s within his range of potential outcomes. Perhaps more importantly, there’s very little chance that a healthy MHJ will finish outside the top 20 receivers in 2024.

In addition to being the pre-draft consensus No. 1 receiver in this year’s rookie class — and the consensus top receiver in college football the season before — Harrison also happened to find his way to one of the best possible destinations for immediate production. He’s now paired with two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray in an Arizona offense with a huge number of vacated targets. Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore relocated in the offseason, leaving over 160 opportunities up for grabs.

If you can’t see a path to a monster fantasy season for MHJ as a rookie, then you really have an unfortunate lack of imagination. You also happen to be dismissing the recent history of his position. In four of the past five seasons, dating back to A.J. Brown’s excellent 2019, at least one rookie wide receiver has delivered a top-10 positional finish. Harrison is a great bet to make it five in six years.

To the credit of fantasy drafters everywhere, MHJ isn’t falling far in terms of early ADP. He’s generally landing in the late second round, in the neighborhood of Davante Adams, Chris Olave and Drake London.

Personally, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if you wanted to draft him in the late first round in full PPR. Again, Harrison is the best receiving prospect of the past two years, and he found his way to a potentially rich offensive environment. He’s looking at 150-plus targets as a rookie, with a realistic chance to meet or exceed his recent collegiate production. It won’t be much of a surprise if he delivers a 90-1,300-10 season, assuming good health.

We’re way past the era in which rookie receivers were automatic fades. If you’re still drafting that way in 2024, you’re closing the door on a group of likely difference-makers.