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The Shockingly Undervalued Rookie WR Who Could Be an MFL10 Monster

In best ball leagues, you want to maximize opportunity and variance. There is no bench in best ball, so every player you draft without a defined role is costing you valuable points until he gets on the field (IF he gets on the field). In addition, since there is no bench, you never lose any of the big weeks your players score. . . This inefficiency applies primarily to WRs with a more vertical skill set as that is one of the few instances where production is volatile on a per snap basis and not simply determined by playing time, which I think ADP generally values correctly. – A.J. Bessette and Greg Meade, Using Monte Carlo Simulation to Win Your Best Ball League Player Selection

This offseason I’ll be presenting a variety of best ball lessons and offering specific player suggestions to take advantage. In each case I couldn’t recommend the research by the authors I’m citing any more highly and I recommend subscribing to RotoViz through their articles. You won’t regret having done so.

Will Fuller is Going to be an MFL10 Winner as a Rookie

Just so we know where we’re all going, I think these are hurdles we need to clear in order to prove that this thesis, at least from a probabilistic perspective, is true.

  1. Will Fuller is good.
  2. Fuller will have opportunity.
  3. Fuller is a better fit for best ball leagues than standard formats.
  4. Fuller’s ADP doesn’t completely price in his value.

Is the Notre Dame star an elite prospect?

Fuller is a draft enigma in that he’s a tremendous prospect and yet a lot of folks don’t seem terribly interested. He went at No. 19 in our original rookie mock behind all 5 of the Most Overvalued Prospects but also somewhat bizarrely behind combine non-invitee Michael Thomas1 and practice squad types in Aaron Burbridge and Tajae Sharpe.

This is weird because there has never been any point in the draft process where you could make an evidence-based argument for Fuller below any receivers not named Corey Coleman, Leonte Carroo, or Tyler Boyd.2

For example, Fuller posted a 62-1258-14 line last year and because Notre Dame threw it barely 380 times, that means he averaged 3.3 yards per team attempt and a touchdown on 3.7 percent of the team’s attempts. To put that in context, everyone’s favorite small receiver, Sterling Shepard, averaged 2.9 and 2.5 in those same categories. Future megastar Kevin White managed 2.8 and 1.9 before going No. 7 overall last year. Just imagine the numbers we’d be talking about if he hadn’t dropped so many passes.3

Fuller also isn’t a one-year wonder, having posted a 76-1094-15 line the previous season. Due to his age, production, and vertical ability, Fuller posted the third best success score in Kevin Cole’s hit/miss model, trailing only Coleman and Carroo.4

Keep in mind that all of this was true before Fuller performed at the combine.

Does the 4.32 mean anything?

In general, forty times are overrated in evaluating prospects – except for how they affect draft position and therefore opportunity – but the 40 shows up as a significant variable for small receivers in both the pre-draft model and also once you factor in draft position.5

Not surprisingly, it helps to be really fast. I’m always a little surprised when I see Shepard mentioned as a combine winner. The gap between his 40 time and that of combine loser Boyd is almost half the gap between Fuller and Shepard. When you consider that Fuller was already a much better prospect going in, that gap becomes even more impressive.

The 40 time is also important in that it more or less confirms what we can conclude from Fuller’s 20.3 yards per reception last season. He’s a vertical blazer and exactly the type of receiver you want in MFL10s.

Will he be drafted early enough for 2016 value?

There’s a pretty good case to be made for Boyd and Carroo as the two best receiving prospects in this draft, but they’re probably final round picks in pre-draft MFL10s because their landing spots could really limit rookie year value. This is especially true for Carroo who has extreme character concerns.

Conversely, Fuller’s draft slot should be a positive. He was the big riser in the Episode 6 of the RotoViz Scouting Index. This was also before the combine and during the time when Mike Mayock was comparing him to Marvin Harrison. Following the forty, he’s started to appear late in the first round of expert industry mocks. I could obviously be wrong, but signs are starting to point to the early second round as his worst case scenario, whereas it’s well within reason that a team in the teens will see him as another Brandin Cooks.

His likely draft position doesn’t guarantee opportunity – he could end up in a situation like Phillip Dorsett, for example, although he’s a night-and-day better prospect than Dorsett – but it increases the likelihood for immediate targets.

Is his value priced-in?

Here’s a look at the three rookie receivers relevant for early MFL10s.6

Fuller Doctson Coleman

As was the case with his slide in our pre-combine rookie mock, I’m at a loss to explain why his ADP would fall after the combine.

Doctson “destroyed” the combine to the tune of a 93rd percentile SPARQ, but, considering his specific profile as a prospect, he failed to do the two things you would’ve liked to see (namely weigh in the 210-pound range or run a sub-4.4 forty).

All else equal, Coleman is definitely the rookie you want in MFL10s, but his ADP places him just at the edge of value according to my current board.

By contrast, I’ve gotten Fuller in every league so far and will have to make a concerted effort to avoid him in some leagues for the purposes of diversification. Of course, it probably makes sense to buy while I have the chance.

What will happen to Fuller’s ADP after the draft?

We find seven rookies among the top-20 risers, which is pretty huge. The average early ADP for the rookie risers was 166, with none better than 100. Buying rookies pre-draft is a good idea, but don’t reach for the big names. – Kevin Cole, How Will MFL10 ADP Change Throughout the Offseason.

I would put Treadwell, Doctson, and Coleman in the big name department. Fuller is not only going to rise, he’s going to explode when a team drafts him to be their field-stretching No. 2. Load up now.


From the MFL10 series: 

Buy Niche Players, Sell Handcuffs: An Undervalued RB to Target

From the sleepers, breakouts, and controversy series:

Josh Doctson, Michael Thomas, and the 5 Most Overvalued Prospects
This Combine Riser Could Be the 2016 David Johnson
The 5 Most Controversial Dynasty Startup Selections
Stars, Sleepers, and Busts: 13 RBs in the Prospect Lab

  1. to be fair, Thomas was a ridiculous snub and indication that the combine selection process is utter bullshit  (back)
  2. The fact that Carroo and Boyd are also not particularly trendy gives you a sense of just how little respect evaluators still have for production.  (back)
  3. The great thing about production-based models are that the drops are already factored in!  (back)
  4. Compared to that trio, Laquan Treadwell, Josh Docston, and Michael Thomas are waaay back.  (back)
  5. It also showed up as having an impact on small receiver outcomes in Cole’s regression tree.  (back)
  6. Treadwell isn’t relevant because his ADP more than prices in his range of likely performances.  (back)

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