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Glitch In The Matrix: Kelvin Benjamin Deja Vu

Kelvin Benjamin‘s 2014 output is the type of thing you pray for when selecting rookie prospects in redraft leagues. Prior to the RotoViz team using things like draft capital, college performance, opportunity and supporting cast to pump him up as a big time sleeper, Benjamin was being overlooked and had an ADP of WR63. Currently, Washington Redskins rookie Josh Doctson is being drafted at WR62 and it appears history may be repeating itself.

DRAFT PEDIGREE LEADS TO EARLY OPPORTUNITY 

In his piece “Two Reasons Kelvin Benjamin Is a Steal,” Jon Moore explained that 1st round WRs are most likely to immediately contribute.

We talk a lot about how draft position is the most significant variable in receiver projection models, but here’s a table showing all receivers from the 2006-2013 drafts that demonstrates the importance.  Note that FP/G is fantasy points per game and “duds” are classified as players who scored less than 2 FP/G during their rookie season.

Query Results Table
Rk Player Year Age Draft Tm Lg G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G Ctch% Y/Tgt
1 A.J. Green 2011 23 1-4 CIN NFL 15 15 115 65 1057 16.26 7 70.5 56.5% 9.19
2 Kelvin Benjamin 2014 23 1-28 CAR NFL 16 15 145 73 1008 13.81 9 63.0 50.3% 6.95
3 Dwayne Bowe 2007 23 1-23 KAN NFL 16 15 116 70 995 14.21 5 62.2 60.3% 8.58
4 Kendall Wright 2012 23 1-20 TEN NFL 15 5 104 64 626 9.78 4 41.7 61.5% 6.02
5 Anthony Gonzalez 2007 23 1-32 IND NFL 13 9 51 37 576 15.57 3 44.3 72.5% 11.29
6 Michael Floyd 2012 23 1-13 ARI NFL 16 3 86 45 562 12.49 2 35.1 52.3% 6.53
7 Mark Clayton 2005 23 1-22 BAL NFL 14 10 87 44 471 10.70 2 33.6 50.6% 5.41
8 Roddy White 2005 24 1-27 ATL NFL 16 8 69 29 446 15.38 3 27.9 42.0% 6.46
9 Robert Meachem 2008 24 1-27 NOR NFL 14 3 20 12 289 24.08 3 20.6 60.0% 14.45
10 Demaryius Thomas 2010 23 1-22 DEN NFL 10 2 39 22 283 12.86 2 28.3 56.4% 7.26
11 A.J. Jenkins 2012 23 1-30 SFO NFL 3 0 1 0 0 0 0.0 0.0% 0.00

While the Box Score Scout believes Roddy White is the best comparable player from this group

JoshDoctsonComps

I’d make the case that it’s tough to assume they’ll have similar early career paths when White played on an unconventional NFL offense. The team only passed 431 times and completed 53 passes of their passes.

THE ABILITY TO SCORE TOUCHDOWNS TRANSLATES

Another point that Jon made about Benjamin is that he was part of an elite group that scored 10+ touchdowns in their final season. Here is the list he presented.

WRDraftOverall PickF TDSpeed ScoreRookie FP/G
Kelvin Benjamin20142815106.3
Hakeem Nicks20092912102.58.13
Dwayne Bowe20072312106.88.09
Justin Blackmon2012518102.87.55
Calvin Johnson2007215133.57.32
Jeremy Maclin200919131016.71
Michael Crabtree20091019101.26.68
Tavon Austin201381298.16.53
Kendall Wright2012201496.45.67
Santonio Holmes200625111055.67
DeAndre Hopkins2013271898.15.64
Robert Meachem20072711115.23.92
Sammy Watkins2014412109.6
Mike Evans2014712109.7
Brandin Cooks20142016107.5

While the far-right column is presented in terms of standard scoring, updating that would include 11.8 for Mike Evans,1 9.7 for Benjamin, 8.6 for Brandin Cooks, and 8.4 for Sammy Watkins. In other words, Jon nailed it, and his argument has gotten stronger with more supporting data.

Josh Doctson is also a part of this list, scoring 14 times in his final campaign. In fact he was so good at scoring touchdowns in the ACC, only four players had more multi-TD games than him over the last 10 years.

Rk Player From To School W L T Count
1 Michael Crabtree 2007 2008 Texas Tech 11 2 0 13
2 Justin Blackmon 2010 2011 Oklahoma State 11 1 0 12
3 Ryan Broyles 2008 2011 Oklahoma 11 0 0 11
4 Dez Bryant 2007 2009 Oklahoma State 9 1 0 10
5 Josh Doctson 2014 2015 Texas Christian 10 0 0 10

If we’re looking for a rookie WR to be fantasy relevant, we’re basically looking for a statistical outlier. Since TDs are a higher variance stat than receptions or catches, it makes more sense to target a rookie who is proficient at scoring TDs.

CONCLUSION

There is one point that I can’t refute and that’s Benjamin only had to pass Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant on the Panthers depth chart, while Doctson has to beat out two former WR1s to see targets. No doubt the competition is much tougher for him and even last year’s rookie Jamison Crowder has flashed at times.

However history has shown us that the draft capital matters, and according to the AYA App Garcon may not even be a big threat.

kirkcousinsaya

DeSean Jackson looks like he’s still an effective player but unfortunately has been battling injuries over the last two seasons. A case could also be made that a healthy D-Jax is just an exceptional No. 2 receiver at age 29 as he’s only caught 60 passes once since 2009.

No matter what you believe will happen in Washington by the time Week 1 rolls around, it’s baffling to me that a player with this much upside is being selected after proven disappointments like Mike Wallace, running backs without a role like Paul Perkins, and Steven fucking Hauschka.

Even if you end up with an absolute dud, it’s probably worth taking a homerun cut when the kickers are starting to fly off the board.

  1. Which was WR12 in standard PPG that season thanks to 12 touchdowns as a rookie.  (back)

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