I have to confess this has become my favorite part of the NFL fantasy season: evaluating prospects and building dynasty rosters. I’m currently working on projects that evaluate our previous draft coverage,1 update the holy grail components for wide receiver evaluation, and use the RB Prospect Lab to offer preliminary running back rankings.
But as I work on these projects, I’m also trading away some of my current starters in my three main dynasty leagues: Matthew Freedman’s RDL, the PFF Fantasy league, and Ross Miles’ Iron Throne league. In order to evaluate those trades, it’s helpful to get a sense of what this summer’s rookie drafts will look like and what areas might deliver excess value. Fortunately, that research has just gotten a lot easier with new RotoViz tools.
In this piece, I’m offering a projection of a 2015 Rookie First Round. These are not my rankings, but instead a guess at how players will be generally valued. Rookie draft ADP reflects the sound and fury generated by scouts and analysts combined with NFL Draft results. I’ve used CBS Sports/NFL Draft Scout as a resource to get a sense of where players are currently being projected in the reality draft. Height/weight measurements are those generally listed for the players and will be revised after we find out the real numbers at the Combine. The comps provided from the Box Score Scout do not currently include these measures but will once they become available. This piece is meant as a point of entry for your own research. We’ll have hundreds of articles on these prospects over the next seven months.
In this mock, I’m assuming half-ppr, a good dynasty format that helps balance the value of RBs and WRs. As the FF Ghost has recently detailed, this is a pressing issue.
1.01 Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia, 20.4 (age), 6-1 (height), 226 (weight).
The injury is at least a minor consideration, but Gurley is almost unparalleled as a prospect. These comps don’t emphasize his age or weight. In exploring his projections in the Prospect Lab, it looks like a healthy Gurley would have probably entered the draft with a perfect 100. More on that soon.
1.02 Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama, 20.5, 6-1, 210.
Even with concerns that he doesn’t “win in the air,” Cooper combines ridiculous upside with almost total safety. His heatmap compares very favorably to elite prospects from the recent past.
1.03 Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin, 22.0, 6-1, 215.
When LaDainian Tomlinson and Adrian Peterson both show up on your comp list, you know you’ve done something right. Billed as a bigger Jamaal Charles, that’s probably not a completely unfair comparison for someone with Gordon’s combination of speed and production.
1.04 DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville, 21.9, 6-3, 205.
The Fantasy Douche provided a look at Parker as he introduced the Box Score Scout. I strongly agree with him both on Parker’s big upside and the concern about his late breakout and small 2014 sample.
1.05. Kevin White, WR, West Virginia, 22.5, 6-1, 210.
White is already a polarizing 2015 prospect. Some see him as the best receiving prospect in the draft – including cool folks like Rumford Johnny and Daniel Jeremiah – while others are concerned about his late breakout and accumulation of stats in West Virginia’s favorable scheme. It would probably be fair to call him a rich man’s Stedman Bailey from an athleticism perspective and a poor man’s Stedman Bailey from a production perspective.
1.06. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma, 21.7, 6-6, 220.
DGB sports numerous on- and off-field red flags, but he fits the uber-athlete, touchdown-scoring mold. Something of a cross between Cordarrelle Patterson and Josh Gordon, his siren song will be impossible to resist for at least one of your leaguemates. If he turns into Andre Johnson, then you just won the draft.
1.07. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon, 21.2, 6-4, 219.
While I don’t agree with the idea that Andrew Luck should be in the conversation as the No. 1 overall pick in dynasty startups, I also don’t think we should completely ignore a mega-prospect just because he plays a less valuable dynasty position. Johnny Manziel was such a prospect, a fact now being lost in Cleveland’s epic incompetency and his own apparent desire to blitz through the Seven Deadlies faster than anyone since John Doe. By contrast, Mariota is something of a Reverse Udall. Instead of removing reason and accountability, we can add height, arm strength, and character. I expect Mariota’s fantasy stock to soar once he lands with the Bucs, Jets, or Eagles.
1.08. Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State, 20.9, 6-3, 212.
Kevin White’s name pops up atop Strong’s list of comps. While the Sun Devil doesn’t create the same type of flashy highlights, he was significantly better than White in 2013 and is quite a bit younger. He makes a compelling consolation prize for those who can’t quite maneuver into White’s area of the draft.
1.09 T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama, 21.2, 6-2, 221.
One of the many tremendous features of the Box Score Scout is the ability to find comps for any season in a player’s career. Yeldon has struggled to stay healthy since his tremendous freshman campaign, but this look at his 2012 comps helps explain why he may go earlier in the draft than some of 2014’s big stars.
Yeldon failed to build on his excellent freshman season – he was arguably Eddie Lacy’s equal – in the way many hoped, but with the full package of size, (projected) speed, and (solid) production, his name recognition will keep him in this range.
1.10 Jay Ajayi, RB, Boise State, 21.5, 6-0, 216.
You can use the RB Prospect Lab to experiment with possible Combine results and see what the results would be for certain draft prospects. This Ajayi snapshot is from my upcoming RB Prospect Rankings article.
|LADAINIAN TOMLINSON||Texas Christian||21.44||2001||221||4.46||6.84||33.55||196.18||2||0.91||100|
|STEVEN JACKSON||Oregon State||20.44||2004||231||4.55||7.03||26.92||118.85||1.46||3.38||100|
|KEVIN SMITH||Central Florida||21.05||2008||217||4.53||6.74||32.14||183.36||2.07||1.71||93|
|LEVEON BELL||Michigan State||20.88||2013||230||4.56||6.75||29.38||137.92||0.92||2.46||93|
|LATAVIUS MURRAY||Central Florida||21.54||2013||223||4.38||6.81||18||100.55||1.36||2.45||84|
|MICHAEL TURNER||Northern Illinois||21.79||2004||237||4.49||7.54||25.83||137.33||1.17||1.58||84|
Dynasty owners appear higher on Ajayi than draftniks, and the lab shows why. The Boise star is going to end up with a Ray Rice-ish projection unless he pulls a Kadeem Carey at the Combine.
1.11. Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan, 20.6, 6-5, 230.
Funchess looks like a younger, more athletic (albeit lighter) version of Kelvin Benjamin. Their respective college offenses were so different that Funchess sports the far better DR but Benjamin the significantly better raw stats. Due to the context in which he played at Michigan, it’s not surprising to find his comp list littered with tight ends.
1.12. Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana, 21.7, 6-1, 210.
A highlight machine with 54 collegiate receptions, Coleman has the makings of a three-down workhorse.
Rich Hribar examines whether his shockingly high percentage of long touchdown runs is a positive or negative.
We’re finished with Round 1 and still missing a few exciting prospects. Check back for Rounds 2-4 where we’ll project the remaining stars and get a look at a few IDP selections as well.
- it’s shockingly good even with the big Odell Beckham miss (back)