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5 Most Controversial Picks from the Dynasty Startup Mock

What were the most controversial selections from our recently finished dynasty startup mock? Here are five questions I had when perusing the picks.

If Eric Ebron is a Buy Low, Why is Everyone Selling?

I voted Ben Gretch’s pick of Eric Ebron as No. 1 in our buy-low roundup. Ebron didn’t immediately become Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez, but he was the fifth-most efficient TE in 2015. When you consider that he was a tremendous prospect, is still younger than guys like Josh Doctson, is following the normal trend of minimal TE production in his first two years, and has a gaping hole of opportunity . . . you’d expect drafters to be fighting to acquire him.

Here are a few of the players selected ahead of him in our startup mock:

Ameer Abdullah: Awful as a rookie and facing a true squeeze from Theo Riddick on one side and Zach Zenner on the other. Looks like a pedestrian back in a poor offense who will see almost entirely low value touches.

Delanie Walker: Awesome but about to enter his age-32 season.

DeMarco Murray: 28 years old and coming off of a trainwreck season for the ages.

Theo Riddick: A guy who better hope my Abdullah blurb is deadly accurate.

Matt Jones: Two-down backup to whomever Washington adds to be the 2016 starter.

Calvin Johnson: Retired.1

Tevin Coleman: Two-down backup to Devonta Freeman.

You may disagree with my thesis on any or even most of the above players, but an Ebron breakout is both more likely and more valuable than our mock indicates.

Do the Carolina Panthers still need to force the ball to Kelvin Benjamin?

This is ground we’ve been over before,2 but Kelvin Benjamin‘s selection as WR23 – ahead of players like Stefon Diggs, Tyler Lockett, Eric Decker, Breshad Perriman, and John Brown – brings it boiling back to the surface.

To be sure, I think Benjamin’s raw numbers are more important than his efficiency numbers for projecting his future usage, and his future usage is likely more important than his future efficiency. But still . . .

Newton AYA 14 and 15


Fortunately for Benjamin, this is probably misleading. Cam Newton performed much better in 2015. For example, he averaged 6.5 AYA when throwing to Jerricho Cotchery in 2014 (in line with Benjamin’s numbers), and 9.3 throwing to Cotchery in 2015 (a yard better than Funchess’ numbers).

But even if Benjamin’s efficiency improves, the volume is going to disintegrate. Right?

Benjamin win loss splits

Here we see that Benjamin benefited dramatically from losses, scoring five points per game more in those contests. However, that could also be pretty fluky. We’re really looking for volume, and his full-season target level drops from only 150 to 140 if we assume the Panthers 2016 season will mostly play out with them in the lead.

For those of us who are pro-Funchess and want to blame Benjamin’s 2015 production on garbage time, it’s worth pointing out that the 2015 Panthers didn’t trust Funchess in general, but they especially didn’t trust him in their most competitive games.

Funchess blowouts

As always, it’s important to calibrate our expectations. Benjamin’s age is a running joke, but sometimes that joke can serve to obscure instead of illuminate. Funchess just finished his 31-473-5 rookie season at a younger age than that of Benjamin when the former Seminole put up his 30-495-4 campaign at Florida State.3

Funchess is probably almost beside the point when it comes to Benjamin, however. With Corey Brown continuing to establish himself as a viable NFL receiver, Ted Ginn re-emerging as an elite deep threat, and Greg Olsen locked in as the second-best tight end in the game, is there room for Benjamin-as-star on a team oriented around defense and ball control?

How can you draft Melvin Gordon as though 2015 didn’t happen?

This was my pick and it was brought up in internal email as the most controversial pick to that point. I selected Melvin Gordon with Adrian Peterson, Jeremy Hill, Eddie Lacy, Doug Martin, Gio Bernard, Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson, LeSean McCoy, and Karlos Williams still available.

There are two big concerns about Gordon.

1) He’s terrible. Averaging a Trent Richardson-like 3.5 yards per carry and failing to find the end zone, he tied with Javorius Allen as the least efficient RB in the NFL according to the Fantasy Efficiency app.

2) His upside is capped with Danny Woodhead in town as an elite pass-catching RB.

I don’t think either of these concerns is without merit, but Gordon did post some stealth numbers of note. His forced missed tackles per touch ratio was better than that of Todd Gurley, and he caught 33 passes despite playing fewer than 500 snaps.

Furthermore, it’s still my contention that Gordon was an elite prospect whose perception took a hit by virtue of sharing a draft class with Gurley. It’s also very questionable as to whether his rookie year devastates that thesis. Take a quick glance at the list of rookie RBs from the last 30 years who were drafted in the first three rounds, carried 150-plus times, caught 15-plus passes, and scored two touchdowns or fewer.

Player Year Age Att Yds Y/A TD Y/G Rec Yds
Thurman Thomas 1988 22 207 881 4.26 2 58.7 18 208
Reggie Cobb 1990 22 151 480 3.18 2 30 39 299
Roosevelt Potts 1993 22 179 711 3.97 0 44.4 26 189
Ricky Williams 1999 22 253 884 3.49 2 73.7 28 172
Shawn Bryson 2000 24 161 591 3.67 0 36.9 32 271
Michael Bennett 2001 23 172 682 3.97 2 52.5 29 226
DeMarco Murray 2011 23 164 897 5.47 2 69 26 183
Bishop Sankey 2014 22 152 569 3.74 2 35.6 18 133
Melvin Gordon 2015 22 184 641 3.48 0 45.8 33 192
T.J. Yeldon 2015 22 182 740 4.07 2 61.7 36 279

I don’t have any problem with someone saying Gordon’s more Bishop Sankey4 than Thurman Thomas, Ricky Williams, or DeMarco Murray, but Gordon did enter the NFL viewed in a similar fashion to the stars on that list.

Finally, the apparent cap on Gordon’s receptions might end up being a mirage, especially if it’s time to put Woodhead out to pasture.5

Is there any reason to believe Dorial Green-Beckham can actually play?

It’s tricky to put Dorial Green-Beckham’s rookie season in context, because on the one hand he was forced to operate under one of the worst coaching staffs in NFL history and on the other hand he only managed 67 targets on a team where the No. 1 target was a 31-year-old breakout tight end and the No. 2 target was Harry Douglas.

The rest of this you can file under: Addendum to Stefon Diggs is still a crazy value even after his value skyrocketed because his rookie season was not a fluke.6

So DGB was selected as WR25 and Diggs as WR30, even though I can’t really see any evidence-based reason that this would be so.

Here’s how Diggs and DHB performed last year.

Stefon Diggs 84 0.227 114.87 33.13 0.39
Dorial Green-Beckham 67 0.135 98.3 12.6 0.19

And here’s how they performed in college.

Diggs v DHB

In fairness, the draft comment accompanying this selection was DGAF, which is arguably on point for a 6-foot-5-inch, 237-pound touchdown-scorer. Plus he’s going to play in an “exotic smashmouth” this season, proving that Mike Mularkey shares that same philosophy.

Andrew Luck is no longer in the conversation at No. 1 overall, but should he even be in Round 2?

Andrew Luck’s median projection ranks No. 15 for 2016 according to the QB Sim Scores. He sits in a virtual dead heat with Andy Dalton. This almost certainly understates his likely performance, but it should also act as a check against irrational exuberance.

Luck has terrific upside due to the combination of rushing stats and the potential for high volume, but he’s surrounded by an inflated and unintimidating cast of receivers.7

There’s a “lock the QB position down in dynasty” meme out there, and, even if you think you’re getting a young Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, you could certainly disagree with the idea. For example, I was able to pair Drew Brees and Tom Brady near the Round 10/11 turn. The opportunity cost in that area of the draft is minimal, and the two elite QBs can provide an even greater edge by deploying them against favorable opponents. In a real league I would need to replace one or both in the somewhat near future, but the cost to do so will again be unimposing.

Meanwhile, Devonta Freeman, the wildly undervalued 2015 RB1, was selected one pick after Luck. All of which is to say the Luck pick isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s definitely controversial.

  1. I own Calvin Johnson in several important leagues and I will trade him for Eric Ebron – or someone a lot worse – in all of them.  (back)
  2. For example, FD expects Benjamin to improve as a reality player and remain a sell in dynasty.  (back)
  3. It’s also important to note that Matthew Freedman’s point is also correct. Just because it’s fair to point out that many NFL prospects and players had accomplished almost nothing at Funchess’ current age, that doesn’t mean you can automatically assume the things those players accomplished later.  (back)
  4. I’m also continuing to add Sankey in the hopes that he’s cut by Tennessee and picked up by a real NFL team.  (back)
  5. I doubt it is.  (back)
  6. I’ll go ahead and not hyphenate all of that since it’s already a struggle to read as written.  (back)
  7. I’m not trying to pile on Luck or the receivers. This article was actually written first and the other Indianapolis piece was meant to flesh out this statement.  (back)

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