If you could play the lottery for free, would you? Silly question, right? There’s a wide receiver sitting on 99% of dynasty waiver wires that is a free lottery ticket. This ticket is for the $400 million jackpot, by the way. Not the piddly $10 million (why bother!). The name of your lottery ticket is Dwight Jones, the newest member of the New York Jets receiving corps. “Whaa..?” you say? Read on…
“Talented But Troubled”
If you’ve never heard of Dwight Jones, you’re not alone. He’s unowned in 99% of Fleaflicker leagues. He wasn’t drafted when he came out of UNC in 2012 despite finishing 2011 with the ACC’s most receptions (79), most TDs (11 – good for 12th in the FBS), and third most yards (1,119 – 24th in the nation). He fell out of the draft due to concerns about his work ethic and some questionable judgement in off-field dealings.
If WR Dwight Jones had better route precision/played more physical in short and no lazy/char issues, he may be battling for class’s top WR.
— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) April 13, 2012
He was then lambasted by coaches and analysts for his lackadaisical attitude both at the senior bowl and during combine drills. He couldn’t participate in the Tarheels’ pro day because of an NCAA violation. Heck, he hasn’t even been on a football field in two years since he failed to report to the Texans training camp, quit on the team, and was subsequently released because he “doesn’t want to play football anymore”:
Rookie WR Dwight Jones informed Texans officials today he doesn’t want to play football anymore.
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 29, 2012
Lotto ticket, you say?
1) He’s 6’3” 230 lbs and ran a 4.51 forty. Guys with that size and speed don’t grow on trees. But, if you’re lucky enough for one to fall in your lap, they tend to be more productive than their average sized counterparts. This list is absolutely cherry-picked, but here are some successful guys to whom Jones’ size compares:
|Player||College Year||School||Draft Slot||Height||Weight||Forty|
|Dwight Jones||2011||North Carolina||UDFA||75||230||4.51|
|Demaryius Thomas||2009||Georgia Tech||22||75||224||4.38|
|Alshon Jeffery||2011||South Carolina||45||75||216||4.48|
|Dez Bryant||2009||Oklahoma State||24||74||224||4.52|
2) He has a 10.77 YPT, 50% RZTDR, .41 DR. As RotoViz readers well know, those are elite metrics. Here’s the output from the awesome College WR Career Graphs App (that I use constantly) stacking Jones up against our beastly physical comp list above:
He has a better yards-per-target AND receiving market share (Dominator Rating) than Josh Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, and Julio Jones. He’s also tied with Dez Bryant for the best (and truly dominant) 50% red zone TD rate. Can you say “upside”?
3) He’s back on an NFL roster after a family tragedy. While Jones’ questionable work ethic and character flaws certainly pre-date his departure from the Texans, there may be something else at play here. If you haven’t seen the stories, part (or all) of Jones’ decision to quit on the Texans wasn’t simply due to a lack of desire to play football. It was so that he could care for his sick infant son. From the ESPN New York Jets Blog:
In 2012, [Jones] signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent, but he walked away to care for his dying son, Deizean, who was born with lung, heart and brain disorders.
People thought he quit because he didn’t like football. That, he said, wasn’t the case at all.
“I wasn’t mentally prepared to play football,” Jones said Wednesday after his first practice.
Deizean died last June, three months before his second birthday. Jones remained out of football, but football kept calling him back. At first he was reluctant, but there was considerable interest, so he figured it was his destiny to play professional football.
And there’s this heartbreaking quote from Jones in the Daily News:
“The reason why I left Houston (was) because my son (Deizean) was sick, and he passed away. A lot of people don’t know the situation with my son and things like that. He was born real sick, a lot of medical conditions,” Jones said. “I tried to play football, but it just didn’t feel right. It was the worst feeling of my life. The feeling was God was just wanting me to spend the last moments with my son.”
Clearly Jones was faced with a gut wrenching decision to make a go of his career in the NFL or care for his ailing son. Personally, I’m glad for Jones that he chose the family path and I hope that he and his family find some peace after such a trying time in their lives.
One thing to consider beyond just his decision to leave football: if you work backwards from his son’s age at the time of his passing, it would put his birth date somewhere in September of 2011 – the beginning of Jones’ final season at UNC. As far as I can tell, no one in the NFL or media knew of Deizean’s condition at that time. Is it possible that some part of Jones’ apparent lack of effort and interest in football all the way through his final season and into the NFL process was related to his son’s health issues? We’ll never know for sure, but it certainly seems possible.
More than anything else, I’m happy for Jones to have seemingly rediscovered his passion for football. It says something to me that he was willing to come back to football after two whole years of absence. It would have been very easy to leave it all behind, but he didn’t…
Again, Jones from the ESPN NY piece:
“My son died and I feel like a part of me is gone, but it makes me stronger,” he said. “It makes me want to do it for him.”
Most lottery tickets are worthless, so buy the free ones
That’s the rub with the lottery right? I’m sure Renee Miller could tell us exactly what the cognitive effect is called, but even though intellectually we know our chances of winning are slim, we still keep taking those shots because…you never know.
Here are a few reasons why the Dwight Jones lottery ticket probably won’t pay off:
1) His character issues may very well go beyond the family situation. We’ll never know for sure but it seems like Jones has a very tough road ahead, proving to the Jets and the NFL that his heart is really in it.
|Player||College Year||School||Draft Slot||Height||Weight||Forty||BOA|
|Alshon Jeffery||2011||South Carolina||45||75||216||4.48||19|
|Dez Bryant||2009||Oklahoma State||24||74||224||4.52||20|
|Demaryius Thomas||2009||Georgia Tech||22||75||224||4.38||21|
|Dwight Jones||2011||North Carolina||UDFA||75||230||4.51||22|
*N.B. Josh Gordon technically never had a breakout college season (DR > .30) although this post by “James Todd” helps us visualize how Josh Gordon’s 19 year old season in 2011 season still puts him in that elite tier.
The success rate for players who broke out after age 22 is pretty dismal. Not a great sign for Jones.
3) He’s a relatively old prospect (now 25). Not only was he a relatively old college prospect (23 on Draft day), being away from the league those two years means he’s just now attempting to restart his NFL career at the age of 25.
4) He plays for the Jets. Nah, I’m just kiddin…sorta…Hey, at least we know Geno Smith has done pretty well despite having nothing to work with. Imagine if he actually had a quality big-bodied receiver to work with? (Sorry Stephen Hill, Matthew Freedman called it.)
The beauty of Dwight Jones is he costs you quite literally nothing. You can grab him for free off the waiver wire if it’s open. Or you can reserve your last rookie/FA pick for him. If you’ve already traded yours away, you can offer someone a player from the end of your bench for a 5th this year and a 3rd next year, and then use that 5th on Jones. There are plenty of cheap ways to get him on your roster.
If he doesn’t show anything in camp and hasn’t earned a roster spot in New York, cut him. No harm, no foul. He represents nothing but massive upside if everything breaks just right. Are the chances high that he hits that upside? Nope. But with minimal to zero investment, why not play the lottery for free?