After more than five months, hundreds of articles, and a grueling 16-round IDP startup, it was finally time for the members of the Fleaflicker RotoViz Dynasty League to gather for the 2014 Rookie Draft.
Mock drafts are one thing. Real drafts are an entirely different animal. How do participants draft when real wins are on the line? Do owners really have the necessary conviction to pass on “overrated” players like Odell Beckham, Carlos Hyde, and Kelvin Benjamin? Will anyone pull the trigger on RotoViz Reach candidates like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Allen Robinson, or Andre Williams?Quick note: This is a 14-team league run by the incomparable Matthew Freedman. Please check out his original article on our rules and rationales. Because of trades, a draft lottery based on the Fibonacci sequence, and the recruitment of a few new owners, the draft order doesn’t necessarily reflect who won and who lost in 2013. Several participants, including last year’s champion Ryan Lessard, do not have a pick in the first round.
1.01 Scott Smith – Mike Evans
After winning the RotoViz wide receiver bracket, Evans was the No. 1 player in our Composite Rookie rankings by a fairly wide margin. Evans ran well at the Combine and eliminated the speed concern. If any issues remain, they would be connected to his actual on-field performance. When Evans and Jordan Matthews faced common opponents, Matthews won both the raw and market share battles in an absolute landslide. Marqise Lee also dominated three times as many games in college.
My Favorite Stat: Evans led the 2014 class with a catch radius score of 222.7. Anything above 207 is excellent.
1.02 Davis Mattek – Jordan Matthews
It will surprise no one that Matthews went No. 2 overall to Mr. Mattek. Davis has explained that only structural bias keeps Matthews from being the first rookie off the board. He also looks identical to Sammy Watkins when you place them side-by-side. If you want to be talked out of Matthews, it’s possible he’ll be significantly overvalued even if he’s as good as we think.
My Favorite Stat: 29 games dominated. Or the same number as Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Kelvin Benjamin, and Josh Huff combined. Plus 2.
1.03 Coleman Kelly – Bishop Sankey
If there’s a true star in this draft, I’d be surprised if it isn’t Sankey. Although media scouts have questioned the former Husky’s tackle-breaking and second level vision, his comps include Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Ray Rice. While becoming the first back off the board only really means the scouting department from a single team agreed, landing on a Tennessee team with a vacancy at running back crushed any sleeper appeal that might have remained.
My Favorite Stat: 644 and zero. Sankey’s number of carries the last three years and the number of practices he missed.
1.04 Ryan Rouillard – Davante Adams
During our Randall Cobb discussion the other day, I suggested Adams was a safer and higher upside way to play the Packers receiving situation.
@FF_Contrarian Davante Adams is safer and higher upside than Cobb? For serious?
— Eye of the Gator (@EyeoftheGator) June 5, 2014
If you’ve read Rouillard’s column comparing Adams to Michael Crabtree, then you’re probably pretty serious about Aaron Rodgers’ new toy as well. Adams defeated Jordan Matthews during the WR bracket competition. He was also a foundation piece in the RotoViz Reach portfolio.
My Favorite Stat: Adams scored 38 touchdowns in two seasons with Fresno State. But that was all volume right?
You’ll want to read the whole thing and then decide if you still think Randall Cobb is a better play.
1.05 Ryan Rouillard – Sammy Watkins
It makes for a tempting headline, but it’s likely Rouillard only selected Adams before Watkins because he held back-to-back picks. Even though most RotoViz writers believe the enthusiasm surrounding Watkins contains an arbitrary element, he was also our No. 2 overall prospect. While his various market share results are not as strong as his raw numbers, he broke out as an 18-year-old freshman. That’s a very important and frequently overlooked aspect of his projection.
My Favorite Stat: 34/126/4.34. Those are his numbers in the vertical, broad, and short shuttle. Is he really more athletic than Marqise Lee?
1.06 Jon Moore – Brandin Cooks
RotoViz has gotten what I would consider an undeserved reputation for irrationally disliking small receivers.1 Despite a field that included Watkins, Matthews, and Adams, it was a 5’10”, 189-pound mighty mite who faced off with Mike Evans in the finals of the WR bracket. But if you’re going to be small, it’s important to be blazing fast. Cooks possesses that speed, and a great landing spot leaves him primed to put up a big rookie season. The man who owns one of the best Phenom Scores ever also shares a Fantasy Footprint with Percy Harvin.
My Favorite Stat: A 4.33 forty combined with a 10.52 Agility Score. Perhaps an unholy hybrid of T.Y. Hilton and Wes Welker?
1.07 Jake Myers – Jeremy Hill
A much better prospect than Carlos Hyde – he owns the edge in explosiveness, tackle-breaking acumen, and short yardage success rate – Hill also landed in a great situation with Cincinnati. Early OTA scuttlebutt has pushed him into the conversation as the top rookie back.
My Favorite Stat: Hill was absolutely brutal at the Combine, but he averaged a sterling 6.8 highlight yards per carry in 2014. When a scout says you “play faster in pads” and an analyst makes a coughing sound over a skeptical profanity, that’s the kind of stat you want in your back pocket.
1.08 Fantasy Gumshoe – Allen Robinson
Robinson lost a little momentum when he fell deep into Round 2 of the reality draft, but we still see Jon Moore’s top prospect as a player who should have gone 30 or 40 spots earlier. Another favorite of the RotoViz Reach bundle, Robinson’s lack of red zone prowess probably doesn’t foreshadow an inability to score NFL touchdowns. Even if Robinson starts out as the No. 3 in Jacksonville behind Marqise Lee and Cecil Shorts, he could be 2015’s Alshon Jeffery.
1.09 Davis Mattek – Johnny Manziel
He wasn’t even the top-rated quarterback in our staff pre-draft composite, but there are plenty of reasons to believe Manziel may be one of the best prospects quarterback prospects ever. During the draft Mel Kiper kept saying Manziel wasn’t Andrew Luck, but Manziel posted a better adjusted Total QBR as a redshirt freshman than Luck did in his final collegiate campaign. But so what if he isn’t Luck? I feel even safer in saying Jadeveon Clowney isn’t Derrick Thomas. Should we simply pass the pick because the prospect might not be one of the greatest players of all time at his position?
The backlash against Manziel’s “wow” plays tends to obscure his ridiculous passing efficiency numbers, tremendous deep accuracy, and very young age. Sometimes I hear people talking about the 2015 NFL Draft along with the suggestion that Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston will go 1-2. On those occasions I can’t help but think: “Have you seen those three guys play?”
Then I realize that’s probably hypocritical.
The Arizona Cardinals are likely to forever regret their decision to pass on Manziel, but Davis Mattek wasn’t going to find himself in the same position.
My Favorite Stat: The whole thing. Manziel rushed for 2169 yards and 30 touchdowns – or only 600 yards and 4 touchdowns fewer than what Christine Michael managed in four seasons – with a career passer rating of 164.
1.10 Fantasy Gumshoe – Eric Ebron
Ebron isn’t the same caliber prospect as Rob Gronkowski, but he should make an immediate impact opposite Calvin Johnson. He doesn’t quite reach the elite range as either an athlete or an on-field producer, but his combination of those traits is very encouraging.
My Favorite Stat: Ebron averaged 16.5 yards per reception and 9.9 yards per target, which means his 60% catch rate is exactly what you’d expect if his hands were fine.
1.11 Jake Myers – Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
James Todd put together an exhaustive look at tight ends this spring, and his results mirror the holy grail characteristics for receivers. Age and Dominator Rating make a huge difference. ASJ fits the young and hyper-productive mold. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being a bigger weapon than Mike Evans in the Tampa offense.
My Favorite Stat: Easily the 4.56 forty at his Pro Day.
1.12 Revlis Football – Odell Beckham
If you believe in Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo, this feels about right for Beckham. While I think it’s interesting that Beckham only scored two touchdowns against SEC competition, I’m not sure it really matters that much. Beckham lacks sub-4.4 speed, sits below 200 pounds, and didn’t rack up a lot of “games dominated,” so his likelihood of being a big touchdown threat at the NFL level was already minimal. But Beckham is solid. Solid speed, solid size, and a very solid Dominator Rating. When you consider he’s also fairly young and highly drafted, he’s a pretty safe bet to eventually emerge as a good WR3 for your fantasy squad.
My Favorite Stat: A final season DR of .35. This is better than Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans. Beckham also had a better Combine than Watkins. I have no problem if you actually prefer him to Watkins.
1.13 Ross Eagles – Donte Moncrief
Moncrief has been referred to as a Cheat Code by Jacob Myers, and we’re well positioned this week to understand just how valuable that can be. (Although if you’re trapped in a permanently looping day with Emily Blunt, you’re probably going to do your best to not solve that riddle.) With Andrew Luck tossing him the ball, Moncrief owners could be experiencing a Groundhog Day almost that exciting as early as 2015.
Why is he available? Moncrief posted a disappointing final season DR of .25. This would be tremendous for Cordarrelle Patterson but still explains why the Fantasy Douche is tying himself to the masthead. Absent injury, receivers who see a collapse in market share during their final season before declaring don’t have a particularly good track record.
1.14 Davis Mattek – Jace Amaro
Considering his otherworldly raw numbers, the advanced metrics for Amaro are a little disappointing. His Dominator Rating was only 0.22. He also failed to light the world on fire at the Combine with a 4.74 forty, a 151 Explosion Score, and 11.72 Agility Score.
On the other hand, this was his 2013 line: 106-1352-7. As a tight end.
My Favorite Stat: 22.2%. Since 2000, Amaro owns the sixth best target percentage among college tight ends.