Should You Draft Amari Cooper and Other Rookie WRs in Early My Fantasy League MFL10s?

Justin Winn wrote an article earlier this year on whether you should draft rookie RBs, like Todd Gurley, in MFL10s. I think the same should be asked of rookie receiving options. I decided to look at how rookie wide receiver and tight end MFL10 ADPs fluctuated over the off-season last year to see if there may be hidden pockets of value in this year’s rookie receiving class.

It’s All About Making It Into The First Round

2014_1st_rd_recs

 

*Vertical black line is the first day of the 2014 NFL draft.

You can see that Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks were huge values early in the offseason, while the clear number 1/2 prospects – Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans – saw little ADP appreciation during the offseason. Eric Ebron was an extraordinarily high selection for a tight end, but drafters’ enthusiasm quickly evaporated as camp reports foretold what we should have already known: rookie tight ends are rarely productive.

Odell Beckham’s rise and fall puts him out of line with Benjamin and Cooks. However, I believe his rise would have been in line with those other first-round picks if he hadn’t suffered a couple hamstring injuries that took him out of camp and off of drafters’ radars.

The lesson seems to be that there is value in drafting a rookie WR early if they can get into the first round of the NFL draft and are not already valued at an overall ADP of 100 or better.

2014_2nd_rd_recs

The second-round receivers’ ADP changes are much more muddled. It makes sense that drafters do not have much confidence that second-round will become meaningful fantasy football players in their rookie seasons. Even the receiver with the biggest ADP appreciation, Jordan Matthews, still finished the offseason with an overall ADP only in the 120 range.

Many of the second-round receivers that didn’t see an ADP rise were productive in their rookie years and were bargains at their final ADP. That said, I’m not entirely confident that this phenomenon will repeat this year. I’m more focused on getting a bargain now versus later ADP. Last year’s rookie class had unprecedented production, and unless you believe that this year’s rookie receivers will again greatly exceed average drafters’ expectations, I’d stay away from receivers likely to fall into the second round of the NFL draft.

Who Should You Target Right Now?

2015_pot_1st_rd_recs

Here are all of 2015’s rookie receivers that currently have an ADP better than 200. Unsurprisingly, these receivers are projected as first-round picks, or early second-round selections at worst. Amari Cooper and Kevin White’s respective ADPs look fairly similar to Watkins and Evan’s last year, except this year looks like more of a 1a/1b ranking, rather than a clear 1/2. If what we saw last year tells us anything about the future ADP trajectories of the highest prospects, neither Cooper nor White represent much of a bargain versus where they will be drafted later this offseason. Their ADP’s already incorporate the assumption that they will be drafted early and log significant playing time this season.

This year differs fairly significantly in terms of how the number 3/4 prospects are valued early in the offseason. No receivers other than Watkins and Evans had an ADP better than 150 at this time last year. While DeVante Parker and Dorial Green-Beckham’s ADPs could move into the top-100 later this offseason, their relatively high current price doesn’t give them the same risk/reward profile as Benjamin and Cooks last year. Green-Beckham could be especially risky considering that he is often projected into the second round.

Of this group, Jaelen Strong looks like the clear choice if you want to spend minimal draft capital, and have significant ADP upside. Not only is he routinely projected into the first round, John Moore believes he could be the top wide receiver in the 2015 draft.

2015_pot_late_1st_rd_recs

Looking a bit further down in ADP, there are a few receiving options that could represent strong bargains. I do not see Maxx Williams, like nearly all rookie tight ends, as a good bargain, especially in light of his somewhat disappointing combine that caused his ADP to sink like a rock. Devin Smith could make it into the first round, but his 4.42 40-yard dash time was disappointing considering his small size.

Sammie Coates and Breshad Perriman are the most interesting of the very late-round rookies to me. If either receiver can build buzz over the next few weeks and make it into the first round of the NFL draft, you should see his ADP rocket up. Both prospects have the size that RotoViz generally prefers. Coates is a better version of Stephen Hill that destroyed the combine, and Perriman could be the discount Kevin White.

With so few reliable options available past the 12th round of early MFL10 drafts, I believe rookie receivers offer some of the best potential for ADP appreciation. In particular, I’d target Jaelen Strong in the 13th-15th rounds, and Sammie Coates and Breshad Perriman thereafter. By targeting the right rookie receivers in early MFL10 drafts, you could acquire an eventual top-100, or even top-75 pick for almost nothing.