Heeeey everyone, apologies once again that the posts have been a bit far and few between this summer. We have been working, I can assure you but not posting as much but as we get closer to training camp, more and more stuff will be out there on the site and on Twitter.
One thing that has been confusing, nay, annoying me a bit lately though, is the topic of this post. Rookies going way way way way too early in drafts. Looking at where some of these guys are going, you would think there were all crafted in the same mould as Zeke Elliott but trust me when I say this guys, they are not!
First off, I want to clarify that the rookie side of things is completely different in a dynasty league. Dynasties need the mix of youth and experience in order to build a period of success over a number of years. Redraft, by very nature of it’s name, resets every year so all you want to focus on is chance for success that year and value.
Based on this, and using the information on fantasyfootballcalculator.com I want to highlight where rookies are currently going, against other players around them.
2.08 Leonard Fournette
Now, this first one is admittedly a bit tricky because Fournette is one guy who has the immediate comparisons to Elliott but arrives in a much worse situation. Don’t think anyone can argue that the Jags O-line pales in comparison to that of Dallas and although I think the potential is there, Fournette is currently around the same place as Todd Gurley, TY Hilton and before guys like Dez Bryant, Amari Cooper and Isaiah Crowell. The measurables are there and there has been zero noise from Jacksonville and the national media which for me is only a good thing. If you are expecting Zeke like numbers, don’t be fooled. I think Fournette could be good but he will have a much steeper learning curve compared to Elliott. Optimum outlook for me this year would be a mid level RB2, top 24ish running back. Which when you say that you can own studs like Cooper or Hilton, just doesn’t make sense. The one thing I will say, which will obviously counter my own point is that Fournette really doesn’t have much competition on his own team. Somewhat failed free agent Chris Ivory and presumed third down back TJ Yeldon are not taking this guys touches which could be anywhere between 250-300 in 2017.
3.07 Joe Mixon
No one denies the talent. Virtually no one could dispute that Joe Mixon was the most talented running back in this draft class. But for an unproven rookie with history of off the field issues, this is way too steep a price to pay. DeAndre Hopkins, Terrelle Pryor, Carlos Hyde and Sammy Watkins are all going around this range and all have proven that they can produce on an NFL field. Word out of Cincinnati is positive and he has drawn rave reviews from his coach on a number of occasions but don’t sleep on Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard. Although frustrating at times, Hill has produced and would almost certainly be the goal line back. His TD numbers (29) over the last few years would back that up. Bernard is one of the best 3rd down backs in the league and if he wasn’t coming back from a serious injury, Mixon would be 3rd on the depth chart and have to push a lot harder just to get on the field on third down situations, let alone take over the starting role. Taking Mixon as the 15th RB off the board and as one of your presumed starting guys, is madness to me and there is certainly no guarantee that he offers any kind of sustained production over the course of the year. Love the potential but no way am I taking him at this spot.
3.12 Christian McCaffrey
Your 17th RB so far, Christian McCaffrey. Watching McCaffrey play is a delight to behold and the guy is a stud. Think Reggie Bush. But white. And better. HOWEVER, I hate that he went to Carolina. I get why they picked him. Its obvious. For me, if he landed virtually anywhere else, or even just with a QB with an accurate arm, I would be a lot higher than I am now. The only knock on McCaffrey is that he doesn’t have the prototypical size and build to be a between the tackles kind of running back. I don’t necessarily think that matters to much as they probably won’t ask him to do that too early in his career but they happen to have a guy who already does that, Jonathan Stewart. Again another proven guy, who might be slightly older than you would want for your starting RB but I am much happier drafting Stewart at 9.01 instead of McCaffrey at 3.12. Production will be more varied with McCaffrey and don’t get me wrong, he will be a stud and barring injury, be a special player but not this year. I see him as a flex candidate each week depending on match ups and how well the Carolina offense changes to a new philosophy. Drafting him as your RB2 though, again way to steep for me and much better value from his teammate who for all intents and purposes will be starting ahead of him all year.
5.07 Dalvin Cook
Cook comes in with a situation not too dissimilar to Leonard Fournette. In that the talent on the team already, pretty much sucks. That being said, rookies take time to acclimate to the pro game and Cook dropped in the draft due to his stinker at the NFL Combine. Which isn’t the be all and end all but hopefully his football tape shines through. Going one spot after Cook is Eddie Lacy, who has had weight issues but when healthy, has proven to produce at an RB1 level. Julian Edelman, Ameer Abdullah and Greg Olsen all going around there who I would prefer over Cook. Minnesota don’t have a great O-line either and although they have improved it, it won’t rank amongst the league’s best by any stretch of the imagination. Add that they paid Latavius Murray a butt load of money in the offseason to be the presumed early down/goal line back (where has also has proven success) and Jerrick McKinnon who was the 3rd down back last year. Again he is going to have to seriously outplay these guys to win a starting spot, or even get on the field. Cook I think has the best chance of his peers to take over the starting job (I have literally zero belief in Murray as a starting back) but Minnesota has a surprising amount of mouths to feed and Cook might be, ironically considering his name, left hungry.
7.07 Samaje Perine
Perine is an intriguing figure for me. He has all the intangibles and landed in a great spot to force his way in to the starting line up ousting ‘Fat Rob’ Kelley. Kelley, showed flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity and he has said that he will be fighting for his job. When your job is on the line, people tend to work harder so this can factor in. Eventually however I think Perine lands the starting job and he has a good offensive line and a good offense to take some of the pressure off him. I don’t think he really competes for the third down role so the hammer on first and second downs makes more sense for him. Based on what I have learned so far this summer, he has the best chance to take the starting job from the guy above him. Fournette is his team’s starter so next up would be Perine. Looking at his ADP though, you have guys like Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Bilal Powell and Willie Snead. All better options in my mind but if I was going to take a rookie RB, 7.07 for this guy seems about as fair as I can see given the potential workload and positive situation. Around this round you should have more established guys ahead of him and be looking for him to take over after the first few weeks of the season. If not, then you already have your starters in place and you won’t kick yourself for taking him so early.
8.05 Kareem Hunt
One thing to note, is that the bulk of these rookies, are all extremely talented guys and will more than likely usurp the guys above them on their depth charts. Kareem Hunt is one of those guys. Spencer Ware had all the hype and although he mildly disappointed in the fantasy world, he was a heck of a football player and got LeVeon Bell type work load in Kansas City. He produced but not at the level that his ADP would have suggested. You will be pleased to know that this year is no exception and Ware is currently going at 3.12 which is WAAAAY too early for him. If I can take him in the 5th or 6th then I would happily draft him and play him in my flex spot when they play crappy teams. Back to Hunt, yes you will hear that he will beat out Ware at some point, but when? Quarter point? Half way? December? Can you risk that when you could easily take Jeremy Maclin, Pierre Garcon or Randall Cobb? All who are more than likely going to secure more points than Hunt can, Hunter Henry at the 8.08 will more than likely score more TDs.. Best case scenario for Hunt this year would be a committee with Ware. Like the player, like all the good things going for him as the potential feature back for the Chiefs but not this year.
9.08 Corey Davis
Corey Davis is a talented guy. So talented in fact he got taken in the first round of the NFL draft without doing any workouts or team visits because he was injured. Rarely, so rarely do you find a WR that produces big fantasy relevant numbers in their first year. Along with TE, WR tends to be a position that takes time as players realise that all the guys playing are just as big and just as fast as they are. Nuances like route running and ‘suddenness’ become all the more important. Case in point, Laquon Treadwell. Drafted with a similar pedigree in the first round and he caught, 1 pass maybe? Barely saw the field on a Minnesota team that mostly stunk for the bulk of the season. Davis also has the disadvantage of having more guys above him on the depth chart on a run heavy team. He has the potential to be a game changer but the Titans are showing no desire to move to a more pass happy attack with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield so targets are going to be tough to come by. Add in veteran Eric Decker and starters Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker, Davis could find himself 4th or 5th in the pecking order. This position though, is okay with me as you will have plenty of starters ahead of him but you could also pick up John Brown, Cameron Meredith, Kyle Rudolph and Dak Prescott around this time too.
All of them. Just stop it. There have been a handful of rookie contributors at the TE position over the years. Very rare. In fact, of the handful of players that had top 12 fantasy seasons, 1 of them happened to get drafted by New England and I can bet that you can guess his name (hint: it starts with a G and rhymes with Bronkowski). OJ Howard is the highest so far going at 10.09 so you may think that reasonable, going as the 11th TE off the board ahead of guys like Zach Ertz, Jack Doyle, Eric Ebron and his own teammate Cameron Brate is sheer madness. In a 10 team league you shouldn’t draft a single rookie TE and only in a 12 team league would I look at one of those guys as a high upside type guy presuming that you already have a starter in place To be fair, Evan Engram and David Njoku are going as 14.06 and 14.07 (TE 21 and 22 respectively) which is sort of okay. My question then however though would be why the hell are you drafting two tight ends!? Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these guys will be great players, but do not expect any type of top level production from these guys this year.
11.03 Mike Williams and 12.04 John Ross
So going around Mike Williams and John Ross currently are Adam Thielen, Mike Wallace, Jack Doyle, Jordan Matthews and Duke Johnson. I would easily have Doyle scoring more TDs than either of them. Same with projected yards for guys like Thielen and Wallace. Mike Williams is apparently already ‘battling’ through a few injuries and John Ross isn’t exactly made of Kevlar. Why would you risk this pick when you have guys that I have mentioned already who are higher up their respective depth charts. Both guys probably have a good shot at landing the number 2 WR spot on their teams but the risk with their health is far too risky for me, especially when I can get known commodities around the same time.
So I thought it would be good to back up the above with a few bits of research that I found. An interesting article I found shows how many players recorded a top 12 fantasy position in their rookie seasons between 2010-2015
Position – number of rookies drafted in fantasy leagues – top 12 finishes – percentage of top 12 finishes
QB – 29 – 4 – 5%
RB – 61 – 13 – 9%
WR – 80 – 12 – 5%
TE – 22 – 1 – 1%
There are outliers of course, with every major sport, statistic etc there are always outliers. Of the 4 top 12 finishes for QB’s, three of those happened in 2012. Those guys were Robert Griffin, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Last year, Ezekiel Elliott and Jordan Howard ranked at 2 and 9 respectively. Zeke isn’t the best example as he went 1.06 but the hype was obviously backed up. Do you know what Jordan Howard’s ADP was? He didn’t have one. On average he wasn’t even drafted. Guys like him succeed each and every year and rise from the proverbial ashes (or depth charts). In his 2014 rookie year, Odell Beckham notched up an incredible 91 catches for 1305 yards, 12 TDs in just 12 games, well worth his 2nd round investment. On the flip side Antonio Brown recorded a measly 16 catches and 167 yards in his rookie year and didn’t really become the player we see today till his 4th season. Both I am sure would be considered generational talents but they all follow different paths to stardom.
I guess what I am saying here is that the Zeke effect is in full swing and I think there is a lot of hype surrounding this years draft class. The numbers don’t lie and we are talking single digit percentages that actually contribute to a fantasy line up right away. Again these guys are great and all have the potential to succeed but it’s like starting a new job, would you expect to be great right away? Doesn’t matter if you have done it before or for all of your life, professional sports is a monster and you see guys year after year fail to meet expectations. I am not saying don’t pick these guys at all but temper your expectation and hopefully they fall your way. If McCaffrey is available in the 5th then I am taking him. No questions asked but all of these guys, at their current ADP do not represent good value and getting great value each round means you are more likely to win your fantasy league.
Peace out, Jay.