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4 Rookies to Avoid in 2016

Kevin Cole has been pumping out some amazing regression tree analysis on a variety of topics especially his work on what makes a successful wide receiver prospect. Yesterday I gave you four under the radar WRs to consider. Today I look at the other end of the spectrum. Here are four highly ranked WRs to reconsider.

I am including the regression tree below as a reference. This is what I will use to base the “chance of success” on.


Josh Doctson, TCU
Tree Node: 5.8 Percent
RSI Rank: 2

Josh Doctson23.10.2413267.8

The number two WR on the latest RotoViz Scouting Index, Josh Doctson had a spectacular final season, racking up over 1,300 yards and 14 TDs. Unfortunately, he did it at 23 years old. As you can see, he misses the most important filter of a 0.29 career market share of receiving yards. But while he did have over 933 yards in his final season, his receptions per game followed by his age bury him in the 5.8 percent node on the left side of the tree. This fits right in line with Jon Moore’s work on age related production, which was also negative for Doctson. As awesome as his combine performance was, I think fantasy players may be better off taking WRs like Corey Coleman and Laquon Treadwell.

Michael Thomas, OSU
Tree Node: 2.6 Percent
RSI Rank: 5

Michael Thomas22.80.187814.3

For the life of me, I will never understand the appeal of Michael Thomas. I’m convinced that the NFL meant to send his combine invite to the good Mike Thomas from SMU, and they just made a mistake. OSU Thomas’ production is awful. His career market share of yards is under 0.20. He has never had a season with over 800 yards receiving. He isn’t even young. I know that some people in the film community like him, but he is a complete zero statistically, as Shawn Siegele has already pointed out.

Tyler Boyd, PITT
Tree Node: 3.8 Percent
RSI Rank: 7

Tyler Boyd21.20.430.410.291

This one hits right in the heart, because I really love Tyler Boyd as a prospect. He has shouldered a tremendous offensive load at Pittsburgh, and his age-adjusted production is elite. However he doesn’t perform well under this analysis. Simply put, his final season was extremely inefficient. He just missed the final year market share of receiving yards cutoff on the right side of the tree, and tumbled all the way down to the 3.8 percent node due to per catch inefficiency and a high volume of receptions.

Of course, Boyd’s sophomore season would have put him in the node with the highest rate of success, so this will be an interesting test case of final season vs best season production as well as versatile production, since Boyd was very productive as a rusher and returner. Where his price ends up in rookie drafts will say a lot about how much of him I end up with.

Sterling Shepard, OKL
Tree Node: 5.8 Percent
RSI Rank: 8

Sterling Shepard22.90.2812886.6

Sterling Shepard had a very productive season in terms of raw numbers for the Sooners, but much like Doctson, he is simply too old. Shepard just missed the career market share threshold, and then finds himself in the same node as Doctson due to a high number of receptions per game, and an age of about 23. I should also note that even if he had the extra 0.011 career market share to get to the right side of the tree, he would end up in the least productive node due to his final season market share (0.32), yards per reception (15), and total receptions (86). No matter how you slice it, it is hard to select Shepard without some doubts.


There are probably arguments that exist in favor of these WRs, but collegiate production and age is everything. For one reason or another, these four do not look like strong investments in that framework. When we consider that all four are predicted top eight WRs in the most current RSI, and that they all have top 70 dynasty startup ADP, I think that there are probably better options in drafts, both rookie and startup alike.

Shepard Doctson Boyd Thomas startup adp

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