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ADP Arbitrage: Using the Blind Resume and Getting a Discount

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As I’ve been mining the ADP Arbitrage App, I’ve unearthed some interesting situations where players with remarkably similar profiles have vastly different ADPs. I covered one yesterday; here’s another.

The Candidates

NAME SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
SUBJECT 2013 27 199 16 8.81 4.56 58.12 0.31 -0.1 6.6 30
COMPARABLES SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
COMP 2013 30 198 15 7.07 4.53 53.6 0.27 -0.03 7.58 58

Our subject receiver is often described as a “one trick pony.” In his first year with a new team, 2013 was considered a disappointment. In 2014, a new offensive coordinator may make better use of his skills, but also looks to be implementing a more run-heavy system which could sap targets from this relatively inefficient receiver.

Our comparable player is older, but is considered to have a more well rounded game and arguably has a longer history of steady production. Last season was his first with a new team as well, and also started out in a disappointing manner. However, a mid-season quarterback change seemed to help things, and he performed closer to his career averages as the season progressed. Our comp also comes at a tremendous discount–over five rounds of ADP.

The Reveal

NAME SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
Mike Wallace 2013 27 199 16 8.81 4.56 58.12 0.31 -0.1 6.6 30
COMP SEAS AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
Greg Jennings 2013 30 198 15 7.07 4.53 53.6 0.27 -0.03 7.58 58

The Case Against Wallace

This comparable situation really intrigues me. RotoViz was not a fan of 2013 Wallace, mostly because of the high cost to acquire him. That cost has come down quite a bit, and we’ve been rather bullish on him this year. He’s been labeled one of this season’s most undervalued players, and also a solid mid-round target. Perhaps most interestingly, he’s been labeled the “Discount Cordarelle Patterson.” Given the disparity in hype surrounding Patterson and Wallace, it’s easy to see that Wallace might very well be undervalued. Certainly a positional finish above his WR30 ADP is possible. Last season Wallace posted career highs in targets and receptions per game, and also percentage of team targets.

But his yards per target, catch rate, and touchdown rate were all career lows. So the gamble is this: Were Wallace’s poor production measures an aberration, or a sign of decline? If the former, and he reverts to something like his career averages, he could have a fantastic season.

On the other hand, only eight of his 25 comparable players improved in the season following one like Wallace’s 2013. And many of the arguments we made against him last year are still true: speed receivers tend not to improve with age, and his yards per target and yards per reception measures were in decline before he went to Miami. Perhaps the best argument for Wallace this season is a new offensive scheme. But then, last year also represented a new offensive scheme and that turned out to be disappointing. I happen to think Bill Lazor’s offense will be better than whatever Miami ran last year. But it’s also true that Lazor’s last team, the Eagles, were 3.5 percent run heavy, while last year’s Dolphins were 7 percent pass heavy. That’s a potentially huge swing in available pass targets.

The Case for Jennings

Jennings’ production with Cassel under center last year was actually quite good.

jennings
The Kerrane brothers laid out the arguments in favor of (and against) Jennings
 here, so check that out for more detail. Despite being older, the WR App is also much more enthusiastic about Jennings, noting that over half1 of his comps produced better seasons after one like Jennings’ 2013. Jennings’ age is something that might argue against him in a start-up league, but for this season it may not be an issue. Like Wallace, Jennings also gets a new OC this season. But unlike Wallace, Jennings’ new coordinator has a better reputation and track record in the passing game.

Conclusion

Both players come with risk, in the form of age and apparent decline, new offensive schemes, and non-elite quarterback play. Wallace might have more “big game” potential than Jennings. There are reasons to like Wallace, perhaps as an arbitrage play on higher-drafted receivers. But there are also several other desirable targets in his ADP range, like Reggie Wayne, Eric Decker, and Kelvin Benjamin.

Jennings may be safer, and is almost certain to outproduce his own ADP. And he’s got a reasonable chance to produce at the level of Wallace’s ADP: Strictly based on past production and age/size profiles, the WR App much prefers Jennings, giving him the same floor as Wallace, but higher median and high projections. And there’s no denying that discount. It’s huge. Jennings is so cheap that there really aren’t any desirable targets being selected after him. In other words, you’re not passing up anything to take him. But your upside is potentially better than Wallace’s. Draft Jennings.

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