Per the Dynasty ADP App, Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon is the eighth rookie drafted on average. That makes him the most overvalued rookie by a country mile. He shouldn’t even be a first-round rookie pick.
I’m not going to beat around the bushes. In Kevin Cole’s rookie RB post-draft success model, Dixon is only given a five percent chance of having a top 12, or RB1, PPR fantasy season in the first three seasons of his career. Note that one of the inputs of the model is receptions, which is often cited as one of Dixon’s strengths. He gets just the 12th best projection in the entire class, which means that there are nine RBs the model prefers to Dixon who are cheaper than him. I highly encourage you to read Kevin’s article to see the full results.
Should you spend a first round rookie pick on a RB with such low odds of success, especially compared to his peers? Of course not. I imagine people who are drafting Dixon also think that the model is selling him short, because the model doesn’t account for opportunity and many see Baltimore as a prime landing spot. However, I think people are mistaking uncertainty for opportunity. Let’s consider Baltimore’s other RBs:
- Justin Forsett is almost 31 years old and a mediocre receiver, so there’s no real potential for him to develop into Baltimore’s long-term three-down back. He has averaged 4.9 yards per rushing attempt for the team over the last two seasons though, which is nothing to sneeze at. He also averaged 15.1 rushing attempts per game last season, which accounted for 60.9 percent of the team’s rushing attempts when he played, per the Fantasy Efficiency App. That was the 13th highest mark in the league. Would we even view the Ravens backfield as being unsettled if Forsett hadn’t gotten injured last season?
- Javorius “Buck” Allen is also on the team. Consider how similar he and Dixon are:
Now maybe the Ravens drafted Dixon because they were unsatisfied with Allen’s rookie performance. There is a troublesome competing explanation however. What if the Ravens drafted a RB who looks just like Buck Allen because they really like Buck Allen? It should also be noted that Allen trumps Dixon in almost all of the included measures.
- The Ravens also have Trent Richardson, who should be regarded as more than a punchline. His odds of success are probably better than you think. At the very least he could carve out a receiving role which could limit Dixon’s production.
- They also have Lorenzo Taliaferro, who hasn’t done much of anything to make an impression as a pro, but had some promise as a prospect.
Can I see a scenario where Dixon emerges as a three-down starter? Sure. But I can also envision several scenarios where he has no meaningful role at all, and that does not seem to be reflected in his ADP.
So who should you draft instead of Dixon? Well, he only ranked 12th in our post-draft composite rookie rankings, so the 11 players ranked ahead of him are a good place to start. But I might also recommend trading down and trying to get multiple RBs with more favorable projections like DeAndre Washington and Tyler Ervin. The best move may be to trade out of 2016 altogether, and to trade Dixon or the pick you would use to acquire him for a 2017 first round pick or something like two 2017 second round picks.