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WR Dissonance: Keenan Allen vs. Randall Cobb


Earlier this week I took a look at some expert rankings disagreements at the running back position. Today I’ll look at the wide receiver position.

Because there are many more rankings discrepancies at the WR position, I’ll format this article a little differently. I’ll start by looking at ADP, then find the receivers about whom the experts disagree the most within each tier of receivers. In other words, if a receiver is one of the top 12 being drafted, he’s a WR1 by ADP. From those 12, I’ll look at the two with the most variable rankings.

WR1 Dissonance

Here are two receivers being drafted in the top 12 at the position about whom the experts have the biggest disagreement.

RK Player Best Worse Ave St.Dev ADP

Keenan Allen (SD/10)

9 21 14.4 3.3 12

Randall Cobb (GB/9)

6 17 10.5 2.7 10

Those standard deviations aren’t that big in a vacuum, but they’re above average for the top tier of RBs. I should point out that Pierre Garcon (St.Dev 2.8)  had a higher variance in his ranking than Cobb, but he’s recently been the subject of his own write-up, to which I’ll refer you.

Keenan Allen

A WR1  by ADP, but just outside the top 12 based on expert ranking. Team RotoViz also ranks him as this season’s number 12 wideout, but if you look closely, I ranked him lower than everyone except Jim Kloet, so keep that in mind.

Why my hesitancy? I do think Allen could post a WR1 season this year. But I also think it’s possible that each of the next 12 receivers off the board could post a similar or better season than Allen. Would you be surprised if any of the following produced at a similar level this season?

 Tier 2 ADP WRs

Vincent Jackson

Victor Cruz

Andre Johnson

Roddy White (ATL/9)

Wes Welker

Larry Fitzgerald

Cordarrelle Patterson

Michael Crabtree

Percy Harvin

Michael Floyd

DeSean Jackson

Ty Hilton

In other words, I think Allen is priced at his ceiling. Here are my reasons for concern. Earlier this offseason I talked about the impact a healthy Malcom Floyd might have on the Chargers offense. Floyd may not command a large percentage of the team’s targets, but he’ll command some percentage, which might impact Allen’s workload. Another player primed for a breakout who could eat into Allen’s workload is Ladarius Green. It’s also possible that Floyd and Green stretch the field and draw defensive attention away from Allen, which ultimately helps him. But I’m not sure we’ve collectively considered the impact these players might have on Allen.

Another concern with Allen is San Diego’s offensive philosophy. Here are their play calling splits from last season.

Season Split Rush Pass Pct Pass
First Half 217 290 57.2%
Second Half 268 247 48.0%

As Rich Hribar noted on a recent episode of RotoViz Radio, San Diego’s offseason moves (signing Donald Brown, a blocking tight end, and a guard) don’t suggest an increased focus on the pass game. Will Allen get enough targets to put up WR1 numbers?

The final, related concern that I have regarding Allen is his schedule. Last season he faced the NFC East. This season he gets the (theoretically) much tougher pass defenses of the NFC West. Let’s look at Allen’s splits from last season.

allenThe in-split is games against top 20 pass defenses. Allen was far more productive against bottom 12 pass defenses. All four NFC West teams finished as top 20 pass defenses last season, and it seems reasonable to think that all can this year as well.

Conclusion: I’m not really down on Allen, as much as I’m just not in love with his current ADP. I think he’s priced to disappoint. To finish as WR12, based on last year’s results, he’d need to score almost three fantasy points per game1 more than he did last season. But he’ll face a tougher schedule, have more competition for targets, and his team’s pass attempts trended down as last season progressed. I’ll pass. Check the ADP Arbitrage App to find a cheaper player who could put up a similar or better season.

Randall Cobb

Cobb is also ranked in our top 12 . . . and I’m once again the lowest ranker. Let’s take a look at Cobb. The Journal-Sentinel recently opined:

based on the small sample size of the opening 10 practices of camp, Cobb has looked rather common based on his 2012 level of play.

Operating mainly from the slot, as always, Cobb has made almost no eye-catching plays.

To counter-balance this negative report from training camp, we could look at Cobb’s Career Graph.

cobbBy most measures, he’s improving each year. Notably, in games played last season, he commanded 22 percent of Green Bay’s pass targets, a very healthy ratio. Also, on a per-game basis last season, Cobb (17.7) was scoring at a top 12 rate. From this view, Cobb seems appropriately priced.

Our staff is also divided on Cobb. Davis Mattek and Justin Winn have both made arguments against Cobb, while Matthew Freedman argues in favor of Cobb. The arguments on both sides are well done, leaving me stuck in the middle.

The WR Sim App gives Cobb a median projection of 14 points per game (PPR), which works out to roughly WR18 based on 2013 results. His top end projection (16 points per game) works out to WR14, so he does seem to be over-drafted based on his raw projections. The WR Sim App also gives Cobb almost identical projections as Allen, making Cobb’s superior ADP seem even shakier.

Finally, also from the Sim App, Cobb’s comparable seasons leave much to be desired.


Turning to the ADP Arbitrage App, we see that Allen also pops up as an arbitrage play on Cobb.

Randall Cobb 2013 GB 23 192 6 7.83 5.17 72.17 0.67 0.27 9.21 10
Eric Decker 2013 DEN 26 215 16 8.5 5.44 80.5 0.69 0.31 9.47 34
Keenan Allen 2013 SD 21 206 15 6.93 4.73 70.2 0.53 0.36 10.12 12
DeSean Jackson 2013 PHI 27 175 16 7.88 5.12 83.25 0.56 0.5 10.57 20
Ty Hilton 2013 IND 24 183 16 8.69 5.19 67.88 0.31 -0.02 7.81 23


As with Allen, I’ll take a pass. I believe that Cobb could post a top 12 season if he stays healthy. But I also think there are plenty of opportunities to get similar production later. Just passing on Cobb and selecting Allen instead would give you the opportunity to draft Rob Gronkowski or Andre Ellington, for example. Passing on both Cobb and Allen and waiting for T.Y. Hilton or Eric Decker opens your draft up to even more options.

  1. PPR  (back)

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