Following a strong junior season, Dillon Mitchell has decided to forgo his final year of eligibility at Oregon and enter the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1-inch, 189-pound wide receiver led the Pac-12 in yards receiving (1,184) in 2018 serving as the clear number one option for quarterback Justin Herbert. Does Mitchell profile as a viable asset in dynasty leagues?
THE EARLY YEARS
A four-star prospect from Memphis, Tennessee, Mitchell held scholarship offers from several top programs including Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, and Auburn, eventually enrolling at Oregon in January 2016. He played in six games as a freshman finishing with just two receptions.
2017 AND BEYOND
As a sophomore in 2017, Mitchell led the Ducks in receptions (42) and yards receiving (517) accounting for 22 percent of his team’s receiving yards and touchdowns. It was an uncharacteristically low-volume passing offense in Eugene but a bounce back was right around the corner. In his second season with Herbert under center, Mitchell posted a solid 0.36 Dominator Rating, surpassing the 30 percent threshold found to be predictive of future success. And while counting stats are the standard measuring stick, we have ways to add nuance to this evaluation, starting with age.
I briefly mentioned the importance of a breakout season for WR prospects. But by adding age into the equation we get a better idea of the true nature of a prospect’s dominance. By combining breakout age and final age into a single metric, and using that as a starting point, Anthony Amico formulated the following regression tree for prospect evaluation. Because of his adjusted breakout age (21.6) and career per game TD production (0.48), Mitchell falls into a cohort of past prospects with a disappointing two percent success rate.
Some of the concern from the previous result can be assuaged by Mitchell’s age unpaired from production. While 21-year-old rookie WRs have far and away the best hit rate (a 200-point or better season within their first three NFL years), 22-year-old rookies have the second-best success rate among all ages, hitting approximately 20 percent of the time.
As an early draft declaration, Mitchell also stands to enjoy the historical success rate of underclassmen compared to prospects that exhaust their collegiate eligibility before making the jump to the NFL. The gap in success rate ( a 200-point season in a prospect’s first two NFL seasons) is dramatic:
Ultimately, Mitchell’s fate is likely to be decided by his draft position. NFL Draft Scout ranks him 40th among WRs in the class and on the fringe of undrafted status. USA Today agrees, projecting him as a late-sixth-round pick. Draft equity is strongly correlated to fantasy success, so going undrafted would be devastating to Mitchell’s outlook. Barring a miraculous combine performance that boosts his draft stock, Mitchell is likely to be a low-risk, medium-reward investment in dynasty leagues as a mid-to-late-round rookie pick.