3 Candidates To Be This Year’s Allen Hurns

This is part of a series that identifies key traits of the best/worst picks of 2015, and finds three candidates to be this year’s version of those players. 

What was Allen Hurns last season?

We know now that he was the third best wide receiver pick, and the ninth best overall pick, in Myfantasyleague.com MFL10s, as determined by win rate.1

But what was he a year ago, before we knew that? What were the key descriptors one would have used to describe Hurns last June?

  • WR2 on his team, with minimal positional competition
  • On a competent passing offense
  • Consistently expected to be in negative game scripts
  • Late average draft position (17.05 or 197th overall for all 2015 MFL10s)

Which wide receivers with depressed, late round average draft positions closely fit that description this year?



There are almost always two wide receivers on each team that play a bulk of the team’s snaps, and provide fantasy relevancy. No team had three wide receivers in the top 36 fantasy performers last season. There are usually a few tremendous, overlooked values among the group of WR2s on the lesser offenses in the league.

One of them this year plays for Buffalo.

The 41st overall pick in the 2013 draft, and fifth wide receiver off the board behind Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Justin Hunter, is still only 24 years old. Less than two months older than Hopkins, the Bills’ Robert Woods is also only two months older than Kevin White, and he’s over a year younger than Kelvin Benjamin.

With a Dominator Rating above 30 percent and a barely legal Breakout Age, the production through his first three seasons is unsurprisingly impressive. Here is every wide receiver in the last twenty years to have 130 receptions, 1,500 receiving yards, and 10 receiving touchdowns, before their age-24 season:2

Robert Woods comps

While Woods’ Sim Scores aren’t quite as lofty as the short list of recent players that have outperformed his early career, you may recognize one of the names towards the bottom (not Kendall Wright, we’ll get to him later):

Robert Woods sims

It’s actually a bit of a surprise that Woods didn’t have a more dramatic price spike following the news of supreme alpha Sammy Watkins having a screw placed in his broken foot. This comes after a year where Watkins missed three games from a pulled hamstring, which combined with his foot, should forever get him labeled as “soft” by guys sitting on their couch complaining of back pain from their desk chair.

Robert WoodsNo, Woods is still being pretty largely ignored, though he’s not being ignored quite like the other wide receivers on Buffalo’s roster, which is just a who’s who of guys you liked a long time ago, shortly before you hated them. There’s Leonard Hankerson, Greg Salas, Greg Little, Marqise Goodwin, Jarrett Boykin, and a rookie we can just assume will piss us off like all those guys did, named Kolby Listenbee. There’s something about halfway down this article where Listenbee is mentioned as being a very accomplished college athlete… at track and field.

That clown car of sadness probably won’t be challenging Woods for starter snaps, and Buffalo writers talk about Woods being the starter as a foregone conclusion. The snap count from last year, the first with head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, backs that up as well.

Woods’ 774 offensive snaps were the most of any receiver on the team, 26.4 percent more than Chris Hogan, who has left in free agency for New England, and 223 percent more than the next closest receiver, Percy Harvin, who is now retired. Or dead. I think. Goodwin, Salas, and Hankerson, meanwhile, combined for an impressively unnoticeable 99 snaps last season.


Despite Roman’s commitment to losing running the ball, the Bills were profoundly efficient when they did air it out last season. We have something of a torrid love affair with Tyrod Taylor, as Charles Kleinheksel espoused in January when he called him his favorite Dynasty buy low:

On a per-attempt basis Taylor was 2015’s fifth-most efficient passer. As a rusher, Taylor was 2015’s most efficient runner, and as a fantasy point-producer, he was a QB1 on a per-game basis.

Truthfully, the Bills were also damn efficient when they ran the ball, and not just when riding their two workhorse profile studs:


One thing Hurns had going for him that Woods clearly doesn’t is the touchdown upside. In five seasons as offensive coordinator, Caligula Roman has never had an offense lower than ninth league-wide in rushing attempts, and he’s never had a team higher than 29th in passing attempts. While Taylor’s efficiency is impressive, he was only 13th last season in TD rate,3 and ninth in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A).4

While Blake Bortles was a dismal 23rd in ANY/A last season, he was a stout sixth in TD Rate, while throwing the ball ten times more per game than Taylor did. Buffalo also had a near even split of 23 passing touchdowns to a league-leading 19 rushing touchdowns, while Jacksonville posted a monster outlier imbalance of 35 passing touchdowns to a second-lowest-in-the-league five rushing touchdowns. That ratio won’t happen again in Jacksonville, and will never, ever happen in a Roman offense.


We were promised a Rex Ryan defense and what we got was shit.

Allowing the 18th most points, the 14th most yards, the 13th most first downs, and being the eighth most generous team in yards per play didn’t exactly spell “success” for a team that purposefully ran a low volume offense. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, Roman doesn’t really seem to care, as evidenced by the team having a 58.6 percent rate of rushing on 558 plays when leading or tied, compared to the 41.6 percent rush rate on 459 plays when the team was losing. The Bills somehow still ran the ball 36.3 percent of time when the team was losing with under four minutes to play in the game.

Las Vegas has Buffalo’s win total matching their performance last year, so we can all expect another low-volume, glorious 8-8 season. The best we can hope for is Ryan getting fired halfway through November, taking Roman with him, and the team falling into the hands of someone who realizes they need to pass more.


17.07 or 199th overall, WR70



What the fuck is going on here?


Kendall Wright‘s ADP free fall makes absolutely no sense, on any level. Unless you believe he’s getting benched in favor of both free agent acquisition Rishard Matthews and sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham (which their ADPs say you don’t), how on earth are you letting him fall below rookies Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell, or Steve Smith and Josh Gordon, who both realistically may not play a snap this year?

Wright is a former first round pick, entering the age range when wide receivers can be expected to begin their prime, and has had a marvelously productive career thus far, despite being on some of the weakest offensive personnel groupings in the league. I wrote in March why he was a fantastic Dynasty buy, poised for a significant value jump, and his price has done nothing but plummet since. Also, even though ADP says he is the WR2 on Tennessee, he led the team in snaps three of the six games he played prior to being injured.

Whatever the hell is going on, I can’t even being to understand it, but I’ll happily overexpose myself to both Wright and Marcus Mariota at these prices.


Mariota’s 16-game pace last season, if you remove the game he left injured after six attempts, is pretty damn impressive for a rookie who turned 22 years old during the season, playing on a team that Antonio Andrews led in rushing attempts, and Harry Douglas led in wide receiver targets:


Mariota Game Splits

There are only four quarterbacks in league history (Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Peyton Manning, and Robert Griffin) to record even three thousand yards passing as a rookie, who were under the age of 23 when the season ended. Mariota’s 253.27 yards per game was better than any of them.

The narrative that he beat up on bad opponents may be true, but the way the NFL scheduling works is very favorable for him. By matching him with the other teams in his conference who finished in the same place in their division for three of his games, and getting to play within his division of woeful defenses for another six, that easy schedule should be a staple in Nashville for at least the near future.


I get it, Mike Mularkey wants to run the ball. That’s why they traded for DeMarco Murray‘s beyond awful contract, and over drafted Trent Richardson Derrick Henry; here’s the thing: he can’t.

After taking over for the fired Ken Whisenhut in Week 9, Mularkey did his best to ensure the team ran slightly more, passed slightly less, and lost in a slightly less embarrassing fashion:

Mularkey Whisenhut splits

After allowing the sixth most points and the fourth most passing touchdowns, Tennessee finished with the worst record in all of football. Even with a dramatic improvement on defense, which nothing suggests should be expected, this team would still be horrible.

Mularkey is familiar with running the offense on horrible teams, and its effect on the amount of times you can rush the ball. In his last eight seasons as offensive coordinator or head coach, he’s only finished higher than eleventh league-wide in rushing attempts twice, and he’s finished 20th or worse in four of those eight years.


13.02 or 146th overall, WR58



Here’s something people should probably be saying more often when approaching fantasy football: I have no idea.

I honestly have no clue whether Breshad PerrimanSteve SmithMike Wallace, or Kamar Aiken will lead the Ravens in targets or snaps this season, nor do I have any clue who will be second on the team in those categories. If someone tells you they do, they’re probably lying, because a large part of it hinges on the health of Smith’s Achilles and Perriman’s PCL. One of these guys, however, is likely to be a league-winner at these prices:

ravens wrs


If the Lord of Light played fantasy football, Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman would be The Prince That Was Promised. Baltimore led the league in passing attempts last year despite Joe Flacco tearing his ACL Week 11. When examining coaching tendencies, Ben Gretch concluded that shouldn’t change much any time soon:


With that kind of volume, fantasy points rain from the sky. If we combine Smith’s season with Aiken’s, after Smith was injured for the year, we see that the composite primary pass catcher on Trestman’s Ravens had 272.3 fantasy points, which would have been WR9 last year (Jarvis Landry):

Steve Aiken


The Ravens didn’t have the kind of abysmal defense that Buffalo, Jacksonville, or Tennessee did last season, but they did allow the ninth most points in the league. They were consistently lit up, allowing at least 24 points ten different times, including two games where the offensive juggernaut Browns scored 27 and 33. Cleveland only averaged 17.4 points per game, and if you remove the two games against Baltimore, that number drops all the way to 15.6.

Even with the addition of Kenneth Dixon, and giving Justin Forsett the benefit of the doubt health-wise, it doesn’t seem likely that this defense dramatically shores up, or that Trestman stops throwing even if it does. The loss of Kelechi Osemele to the Raiders in free agency also can not be overstated, as he was as close to a superstar as offensive lineman get.


late Wrs

  • I would love to believe Devin Funchess is going to set the world on fire this year, and don’t have much of an issue with his ADP of WR59. The concern is that we don’t know if he will play over Ted Ginn, who Newton relied on last season heavily. The other concern is that with such an outstanding defense, consistently positive game scripts, and a stout running game, the need for the Panthers to air it out, and their opportunities to accumulate easy passing stats in garbage time, seem likely to be minimal.
  • While blood is spilled on Narrative Street over where Jordan Matthews will line up this season, Nelson Agholor appears to be undervalued at WR55. In addition to the other concern people cite with Matthews, which is new head coach Doug Pederson’s dramatically lower play volume compared to the ousted Chip Kelly, we don’t know if Agholor will play over Rueben Randle.
  • Similar to the Ravens, in the wake of Martavis Bryant‘s suspension, there is immense opportunity for someone on the Steelers. The issue is whether it will be Markus Wheaton, who is expected to start, Sammie Coates, or Darrius Heyward-Bey. There’s also a chance that after Antonio Brown, a healthy Le’Veon Bell, and perhaps even Ladarius Green eat, there may not be a relevant amount of meat left on the carcass for anyone else.
  • Kenny Britt and/or Brian Quick look poised fo- You know what? Not doing it again. Nope.5


The other installments in this series can be found at the following links:

3 Candidates To Be This Year’s DeAngelo Williams

3 Candidates To Be This Year’s Jordan Reed

3 Candidates To Be This Year’s Knile Davis

3 Candidates To Be This Year’s Andre Johnson

  1. The percentage of teams rostering any one player that won an MFL10 league.  (back)
  2. courtesy of ProFootballReference.com  (back)
  3. The percent of passing attempts that resulted in a touchdown.  (back)
  4. Passing Yards – Sack Yards + (20 * Passing TD) – (45 * Interceptions) / (Passes Attempted + Times Sacked)   (back)
  5. Confession: I am still doing that thing where I am drafting and acquiring both of them. I have an illness. There is no cure.  (back)

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