Recently Kevin Cole explained why the 2016 rookie receiver class is overvalued. Not only that, but every top rookie WR in this class also an Achilles’ heel that has me avoiding them nearly altogether in 2016 Best-Ball drafts.
Let’s take a look at the Achilles’ heel for each WR that was drafted in the first three rounds of the 2016 NFL draft.
Corey Coleman is easily the biggest stretch here. His production metrics check out great, he was drafted as the top wide receiver, and he landed on a team with ample opportunity. But will the quarterback play in Cleveland knock him down? Will it be the aging Josh McCown throwing him passes? Will Robert Griffin III drag Coleman’s stats down? Is Cody Kessler ready for NFL success? It remains to be seen if this actually is an Achilles’ heel for Coleman. Even at an inflated ADP relative to NFL draft position, Coleman’s massive upside is reason enough he’s one of the few rookies I’m targeting in MFL10s.
I really like Fuller as a prospect, as do several of my colleagues. My biggest concern with Fuller is once again, quarterback play. Here though, I believe it’s really because Brock Osweiler is a poor fit for Fuller. Fuller is known as a deep-threat, who averaged 20.4 yards per reception his final year in college. This number was relatively consistent year-to-year as well. He also profiles like a true deep-threat.
The problem is, Osweiler is horrible at throwing the deep ball. From the AYA App, look at Osweiler’s location heatmap:
He rarely throws it more than 15 yards, and when he does, it’s for pathetic numbers. Osweiler makes Alex Smith look like a deep-ball QB by comparison. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by either local media or film watchers.
Because he is a deep threat, he has massive upside on a week-to-week basis, and he’s the only WR that is undervalued relative to NFL draft position. For those reasons, I agree with Anthony Amico that Fuller is a very good late round WR target. I’m just not sure Osweiler can help him hit that upside frequently.
Doctson is a guy who put up a solid 35.2 percent market share of receiving yards and caught 1.4 touchdowns per game in his final year in college. Those production numbers seem great until you realize he is already 23 years old, and will turn 24 before the end of his rookie season. That gives him a pedestrian Phenom Index of 0.2.
Both of Doctson’s heels may need attention, because there’s a double whammy with him – he’s also landed in a crowded receiving corps where he will be at best the third option, and at worst the fifth option on his own team. He’s a guy we should avoid in Best-Ball formats altogether.
Laquon Treadwell has a lot of things going for him. He lands on a team with the third most opportunity, he produced in college at an age nearly 2.2 standard deviations younger than the average prospect, and he was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.
However, the Vikings attempted the fewest passes in the league last year, and should continue their winning ways – meaning a rush-oriented game script – in 2016. With Teddy Bridgewater throwing him the ball, he has a low-volume passer who finished 29th out of 42 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts last year in passing efficiency per attempt according to the Efficiency App. Not exactly a recipe for success, even at his ADP.
The Achilles’ heel for Shepard is, well, he sucks. Honestly, I’m racking my brain trying to figure out why the Giants took him. Here are the problems:
- He’s small – Just 5 feet 10 inches
- He’s slow (for his size) – speed score of only 96
- His college production was pedestrian – market share only 0.57 standard deviations above all college prospects since 2004
- He’s old – 0.45 standard deviations older than all rookie WRs
- The metrics hate him – Phenom Index, Playmaker Score, and Kevin Cole’s logistic regression all put him (sometimes well) outside the top 10
- He wasn’t good in the return game – 7.4 yards per punt return (YPPR), zero percent punt return touchdown rate (TDRt). Compare that to Antonio Brown (15.5 YPPR, 5.7 TDRt), Wes Welker (11.6 YPPR, 5.3 TDRt), or even T.Y. Hilton (12.5 YPPR, 4.1 TDRt).
- His PPR ADP relative to NFL draft position is unprecedented – and that was back in mid-May. It’s now late June and he’s now being drafted even sooner!
- His comps suck:
Yes, it’s nice to see Reggie Wayne and teammate Odell Beckham, Jr. on the list, but Wayne had Peyton Manning in his prime, not brother Eli Manning. And Beckham’s college market share numbers were depressed because he had target hog Jarvis Landry as a teammate. Shepard had no such competition at Oklahoma, with the recently arrested, Blinn Community College transfer Dede Westbrook as the next leading “threat” at WR for the Sooners. So outside of Wayne and Beckham, the rest of the names are a bunch of meh-to-awful.1
The only thing Shepard has going for him is opportunity, but really, how shiny can Eli polish that turd?
Scott Smith dishes the ugly on Michael Thomas. In short, he’s got one of the worst age-adjusted production metrics of any first or second round WR since 2005. He might also be just the WR3 in New Orleans.
My friend PACO and I love Boyd, but his biggest issue is that he didn’t really produce touchdowns. Boyd only produced 21 receiving touchdowns in 38 games, for a 0.55 TD per game rate. That limits his week-to-week upside, which certainly hurts in a Best-Ball format.
That said, he checks all the other boxes, so I’ll take a flier or two on him as a late round WR candidate.
Miller joins fellow rookie Will Fuller in Houston, but in this case Osweiler doesn’t really negatively impact Miller like he does Fuller. Why? Well Miller is a quarterback-turned-wide-receiver and faces an uphill battle and very long odds as a convert to the WR position. I think Jon Moore puts it best when he says “Matt Jones from Arkansas is actually the outcome you are hoping for if you select Miller.”
Carroo is a great prospect with insane comps and disposed of both Miller and Keyarris Garrett in clean sweeps before being narrowly edged out by Coleman in our RotoViz rookie WR bracket. So of course he had to land in Miami, land of the seventh worst opportunity according to Kevin Cole.
It remains to be seen how the targets get distributed between target hog Landry, DeVante Parker, and Carroo, but certainly Carroo landed in a crowded situation. Our staff composite projections from the Projection Machine have Carroo as the WR79 and he’s currently being drafted at WR75. In other words, he’ll either need an injury or to leapfrog Parker on the depth chart to have any value at all in Best-Ball leagues, and that’s not what you want from a late round receiver.
- Note: that’s the crappy Steve Smith in there. (back)