We re-introduced the rookie wide receiver opportunity scores a few weeks ago, a concept developed last offseason to determine the best landing spots for the incoming class of rookies based on the relationship of pre-draft ADP between teams’ quarterbacks and receiver corps.
Now that it’s NFL draft eve, let’s recalculate the scores based on the most current ADPs. In addition, we’ve adding a couple wrinkles to the formula to better forecast wide receiver opportunity and project teams without pre-draft quarterback ADPs.
The first adjustment is to treat tight ends differently from wide receivers in the formula, which previously weighted all receiver ADPs equally. Often teams’ tight ends have either very poor ADPs or none at all, but that doesn’t mean the position won’t collectively accumulate stats throughout the season; it may just be that none individually will meet a draftable threshold. Dropping the effect of highly drafted tight ends in the formula moves teams with studs at the position like Cincinnati and Washington up the ranks, which more accurately reflects the opportunity available at the wide receiver position.
Second, we added the lowest possible quarterback ADPs for the four teams without current ADPs at the position: the Rams, Broncos, 49ers and Browns. Now, every team is represented going into the draft.
Let’s revisit the historical results of the relationship.
What we’re looking to quantify is the distance of teams from the trend line, which should help us identify which teams have either undervalued receivers or an overvalued quarterback (below the line), or vice versa (above the line).
Here are the most current results, which point not only to the most opportunistic landing spots for rookie wide receivers, but also give us an idea of who are the most undervalued veterans that drafters are unfairly ignoring.
One of the broad themes at the top of the receiver opportunity scores is a vacuum next to a dominate WR1 on many teams. The Giants, Cowboys, Bills, Bengals and Falcons all have locked-in top wideouts, but not much to complement them. Rookie receivers that land on those teams won’t have the opportunity to be immediate superstars, but should be able to contribute and be fantasy relevant very early in the season.
The Rams are new additions to the list now that we’ve made the adjustment to account for all teams. Even if you assume the the eventual Rams quarterback has the lowest possible ADP, the team’s receivers still look tremendously undervalued. The only Rams’ wide receiver or tight end currently drafted in MFL10s is Tavon Austin, and even he isn’t going until the ninth round.
The Rams are likely going with a quarterback with the first pick in the draft, but don’t have another selection until the fourth round, after trading away their second and third round picks as part of the deal to acquire the No. 1 overall selection. It would certainly be logical for the Rams to fill one of there biggest needs with at least one of their two fourth rounds picks by selecting a receiver or tight end. If they don’t, you might have to start sniffing around at the remain receivers on the roster. You can’t get very excited about Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Wes Welker, and Nick Toon, but it’s certainly possible that one of them will have a useful 2016 given the opportunity available.
The Vikings are frequently being mocked to take a wide receiver with their first-round selection, No. 23 overall. If they do, that receiver will have ample opportunity to make an impact in year one, with only Stefon Diggs being drafted currently in MFL10s. Diggs was impressive as a rookie, but he was also a fifth round selection. It wouldn’t surprise me if Vikings treat whomever they draft at the position this year as their preferred WR1, if they use a high-capital pick on him.
As you watch the draft this week, keep the opportunity scores nearby to get a quick read on how much first-year opportunity the rookie wide receivers will likely have based on where they land.