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Cordarrelle Patterson Comparables
Photo via NashvilleCorps/Flickr

The whole idea behind using an algorithm to project wide receivers to the NFL is that you can reduce error rates by looking at a player’s college record.  College production isn’t a perfect predictor of pro success, it’s just the best one we’ve got and can probably beat a scouting model in a head to head competition.  This fits with research done over the years in a number of fields where simple algorithms engage in a competition with human expert judgment and the best that expert human judgment can usually do is a tie.  Having offered that context for thinking about algorithmic projections, and the obvious caveat that it won’t be right in every case – it’s just likely to beat an alternate method of picking wide receivers – I have below the Cordarrelle Patterson comparables.  If it sounds like I’m qualifying before I even get there, it’s because I am.  I couldn’t find any good comps for Patterson because his production numbers are underwhelming.

I think if I were trying to explain how a projection system that focused on college production would arrive its underlying logic, I would say that if a football player is going to go to a league and play against players that are all really good, he should have dominated when he was playing in a league where just some of the players are really good.  Because a common objection here is usually related to quarterback or college scheme, I will reiterate that we’re adjusting for those factors by looking at Market Share numbers in the msYDS and msTD columns.

I think in order for Patterson to look like a more promising first round pick, his Market Share numbers probably should be double what they were in 2012.  Julio Jones is the player that Patterson is most often compared to and Jones’ numbers were a lot closer to being double Patterson’s on the Market Share measures.  Another objection that Patterson fans might offer is that he played only one year of BCS football, but even then we could look at Julio Jones’ freshman season (when he was 2 years younger than Patterson was this year) and see that Jones also accounted for a greater share of Alabama passing as a freshman than Patterson did for Tennessee this year.

Having said all of that, these are the closest comps that I could find for Cordarrelle Patterson.  It’s not the case that Patterson’s low production means that he can’t be a good pro.  It’s just that if you were an NFL team playing the averages, you would look for more college production in order to use a first round pick on a wide receiver.  From a fantasy football standpoint, it’s probably a similar calculation.  There will be enough bargains later in rookie drafts that you don’t have to worry about whether you’re right or wrong on Patterson if his draft cost is more.  Warren Buffett has said that his success as an investor is tied to the fact that he knows he doesn’t have to swing at every pitch.  I think that’s going to be my thinking when I look at Patterson in fantasy drafts.  If he’s great, that’s fine and I missed out on him.  But I’m going to wait for my pitch to swing at.

*SOS is a standardized measure of schedule strength

Cordarrelle Patterson-Tennessee 2012 216 4.42 0.75 12 21% 15% 64.83 0.42 16.91 25.67
David Gettis-Baylor 2009 217 4.43 0.64 11 26% 27% 60.82 0.27 13.12 0
Louis Murphy-Florida 2008 203 4.32 0.96 14 22% 22% 46.79 0.5 17.24 0.5
Reggie Brown-Georgia 2004 196 4.45 0.36 12 29% 25% 71.67 0.5 16.23 2.92
Legedu Naanee-Boise State 2006 225 4.41 -1.19 13 20% 26% 41.62 0.46 15.46 6.92

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