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Targeting Tre Mason, Trade Winners, and Tight Ends

Tre Mason

His value will rightfully plummet with the Rams’ selection of Todd Gurley, but I think there’s a case for trying to acquire him cheaply. Still recovering from an ACL injury, Gurley is unlikely to play in the first month of the season. Once he’s cleared to play, he’ll still have to demonstrate his ability to execute the playbook and handle pass protection (remember, pass protection is the reason Fisher gave for not playing Mason early last season). Mason seems assured of four starts, and maybe more. The Rams could put Gurley on the Physically Unable to Perform list, making him inactive for the first six weeks of the season. Even if they keep him on the active roster, they have a bye in Week 6. I think there’s a good chance the Rams hold Gurley out until after the bye week. If Gurley dominates the Rams’ backfield thereafter – not a guarantee, despite Gurley’s draft status – Mason will still have some value as Gurley’s backup.

The Lions

I like what Detroit did last night. Selecting an offensive lineman (Laken Tomlinson) isn’t a “sexy” pick. But with Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims gone, it was definitely a position of need. The Lions also turned one draft pick into four assets: three other picks and a player. Let’s take a look at the Trade Calculator, and examine just the current year implications.

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Team A is the Broncos, giving up picks 28 and 143 in this year’s draft. Team B is the Lions, giving up pick 23. The Broncos get a mild win on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart. Projected median games started is basically a wash. But in projected Career Approximate Value, Detroit cleaned up, boosting the expected return of their original draft pick by 25 percent.

Oh, and that doesn’t account for the additional pick next year and the addition of a decent lineman in Manuel Ramirez. 

The 49ers

If I like what Detroit did, I really like what San Francisco did. They gave up the 15th overall pick in exchange for numbers 17 and 117, and a 2016 pick. From the Trade Calculator.

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Team A is the Chargers, who barely eke out a win on the Jimmy Johnson chart. But San Francisco wins this trade handily by every other measure. Again, this doesn’t even account for the value of the 2016 pick San Francisco acquired.

For fantasy purposes, I’d rather have Melvin Gordon than Gurley this year. He’s healthy and almost certainly the starter on a decent team. But for real life purposes, San Diego made a mistake.

Option Call

The Cardinals picked up Michael Floyd’s fifth year option. That only guarantees his contract for injury, but it’s still a sign the Cardinals value him. If he plays poorly (in their estimation) they can release or trade him. If he plays well, they have leverage for re-signing or trading him. Of course, they are absolutely locked in to Larry Fitzgerald for two more years, so if Floyd does play well, it might be difficult for Arizona to sign him long term.

Tight End Projections

I encourage you to read this paper about predicting draft and career success at the tight end position. The analysis identifies the most predictive variables for NFL starts, career score, and career score/game.1

Player Proj Starts Proj Career Score
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 56.3* 2482.1**
Jesse James 56.3 4849.3
Clive Walford 56.3 840
Maxx Williams 56.3 840
Eric Ebron 56.3 4849.3
Jace Amaro 56.3 1861.6
Mycole Pruitt 22.8 1114.8
Brian Parker 22.8 880.2

Estimated based on broad jump >112. ** Averaged score based on broad jump > or < 120.

This methodology expects the top three prospects from last year and this year to have lengthy careers, as evidenced by the high number of projected starts.

Jesse James comes out a winner. Good call, Jon Moore. James projects favorably compared to Ebron, and will cost a fraction less in dynasty leagues. Also likely to be cheap to acquire, Mycole Pruitt gets the third highest career score. The uber-athletic Pruitt makes an intriguing dynasty target to monitor. The very low career receiving projections for Clive Walford and Maxx Williams could be a concern from a fantasy football perspective.

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  1. Career score is essentially a receiving production measure; higher is better.  (back)
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