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Is Kenny Golladay Really the Next Tajae Sharpe?

I don’t know where or when the notion started, but it’s one I’ve seen perpetuated with increasing frequency in the past week – that rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay is the next Tajae Sharpe.

Fantasy Twitter is in full feedback-loop mode on this one.


Is the Golladay hype getting a little out of control? Sure. Is he “the next Tajae Sharpe?” Probably not.

Let’s look at all the ways Golladay has little to nothing to do with Tajae Sharpe.


Kenny Golladay is 6-foot-4, 214 pounds. Tajae Sharpe gives up two inches and almost 20 pounds.

Though considerably bigger, Golladay ran a faster 40-yard dash than Sharpe, clocking a 4.50 to Sharpe’s 4.55. Using the Freak Score, our scaled height/weight/speed metric, we can see just how much more athletic Golladay is.

Golladay v Sharpe

The production numbers are complicated due to Golladay’s transfer from North Dakota to Northern Illinois. Sharpe was a 17-year-old freshman, so his age-adjusted production made him a fixture on Jon Moore’s most precocious WRs list. Golladay is already older than many receivers with multiple years of NFL experience, and RotoDoc’s Young WR Model fits with Moore’s work on the subject. It makes a difference.

Beyond age, the numbers are very similar, with Golladay the better TD scorer, as his Freak score would suggest.1

Kenny Golladay Tajae Sharpe
Year Yds TD msYD msTD Year Yards TD msYD msTD
2012 429 1 0.13 0.03 2012 206 0 0.1 0
2013 888 8 0.28 0.53 2013 680 4 0.36 0.44
2015 1129 10 0.39 0.45 2014 1281 7 0.34 0.26
2016 1156 8 0.43 0.40 2015 1319 5 0.43 0.28
Career 3610 27 0.3 0.31 Career 3486 16 0.31 0.25

While they are two different athletes, their college production is very similar, but the conclusions we should draw are probably distinct due to the difference age.2

Golladay also has a better draft pedigree, going in the third round of the NFL Draft, while Sharpe went in the fifth. We know that draft position matters, and the Lions rookie holds the edge here. Some of our evidence points to the superiority of Golladay, some to Sharpe, but all of the evidence points to them being dissimilar.


Is there any other reason to believe that Golladay is the next Tajae? The argument also goes that while they may not be the same type of player, they’re both over-hyped rookies headed for the bust pile.

However, this whole premise seems off from the start. Was Sharpe really a bust?

  • He put up 41 catches for 522 yards as a 21-year-old NFL rookie. His amazing college market share at such a young age was one of the reasons why RotoViz liked him as a late-round dynasty flier in the first place.
  • We have certainly witnessed far worse rookie seasons from players who were drafted much higher.
  • His final redraft ADP in 2016 was WR68 (152nd overall), according to My Fantasy League, and he finished as the WR72.

He wasn’t anything close to a league winner, however, so let’s label him a bust.

What about Golladay? I will concede that his hype is reaching a similar level to Tajae in 2016, but let’s keep some perspective here; even with the Golladay train gaining steam, he’s still just going as the WR64 in redraft – right about where Sharpe was going this time last year.

download (2)

It’s a cool visual, and you can almost see the exact moment Golladay scored two TDs in his first professional game. However, he looks to be settling into 13th- or 14th-round territory, aka, Flier Town.

Even if we assume that Sharpe was a bust in redraft, which one could make a case against, that doesn’t automatically mean he was a bad pick at the time. I’m not saying Golladay is aces, but given his draft and athletic profile, potential role in a pass-heavy offense, and still relatively-cheap cost to acquire, he may well be a good bet in 2017.

  1. The height/weight/speed numbers give a rough calculation of a WR’s professional TD-scoring capacity.  (back)
  2. Both players exhausted their collegiate eligibility, and players who rely on a fourth season of experience to enhance their draftability have historically underperformed at the NFL level.  (back)

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