We know that Rookie Derangement Syndrome is always an epidemic around this time of the year. However, not all rookies are given the same kind of treatment and some of them are still undervalued.
Having completed my first batch of projections in the Projection Machine, there were four rookies that stood out to me as potential redraft values. I will go through them based on their current Best Ball ADP.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Vikings
Current ADP: WR41 (81.87 Overall)
Treadwell is the kind of player we would usually expect to be overvalued right? He was a top prospect all year at WR before being drafted in the first round by Minnesota, a team that was dead last in 2015 pass attempts. However, people seem to be undervaluing the opportunity that he could be presented with as a Viking.
I could make this really complicated for you. I could talk about how although this is a team that has been run-heavy under Norv Turner, that would probably change if anything ever happened to Adrian Peterson. I could talk about how they were already pulling Peterson off the field in key situations last year, and they could be getting more pass-heavy anyway. I could talk about how even with their current pass volume, there isn’t anyone outside of Stefon Diggs that intimidates me as competition for targets.
But I don’t have to do that, because even in it’s simplest form, Treadwell looks every bit a value for 2016. For starters, he is incredibly young and was a first round pick. That alone gives him a high probability of early success. Now consider that his WR41 ADP is later than that of Amari Cooper(WR20), Nelson Agholor(WR30), and Kevin White(WR38) from a year ago, and is fairly close to where Breshad Perriman(WR45) was selected.1 It is also later than Sammy Watkins (WR31), Mike Evans (WR37), and Kelvin Benjamin (WR39) from the 2014 class. Treadwell is going later than his contemporaries of the past couple of seasons, and I will happily take young talent at that value this year.
C.J. Prosise, RB, Seahawks
Current ADP: RB37 (107.44 Overall)
I plan on drafting RBs early and often this season, but if Prosise’s ADP stays this low I may have to reconsider. Justin Winn recently gave four awesome reasons to select Prosise over teammate Thomas Rawls, and I wholeheartedly agree. Take a look at how his profile matches up with all of the other RBs in Seattle.
Is there any doubt that Prosise is the best prospect of this group? Especially when we consider that Christine Michael’s draft position is from three years ago and this is already his second stint with the Seahawks. None of them have the same athletic/draft profile as Prosise, and none are anywhere near as accomplished of a receiver. Now take a look at how he compares with Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch was always, you know, a RB,2 and went in the top half of the first round of the NFL draft. However, it is remarkable how similar the pair profile as otherwise. I’m not saying that Prosise is Lynch, or that he is destined to receive the same workload, but is there a runner on this team with more upside than him? Probably not. And since we know Lynch was so successful in this offense and that this team will probably be very good again in 2016 (current Vegas win total of 10.5), there is no reason he should still be going outside of the top 36 RBs, as well as top 100 picks overall.
Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
Current ADP: WR52 (115.78 Overall)
I don’t love Thomas. In fact, it seems like most of us at RotoViz don’t, as he was just the 11th WR in our pre-draft rookie rankings. However, his talent and long term upside matters a lot less to me when he is playing with Drew Brees. Brees has averaged over 41 pass attempts per game for the last six seasons, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. They have the young and dynamic Brandin Cooks, new tight end toy in Coby Fleener, and surprise 2015 standout Willie Snead. However, I still like Thomas to produce as a rookie.
For starters, the Saints are one of the most evenly distributed passing offenses in football. Here is the target and production breakdown for the team since 2010, as well as the expected production based off of their six year pass attempts average.
|Position||MS Tar||YPT||TDRT||Exp Tar||Exp Yds||Exp TD|
Some of this is obviously weighted by the presence of Jimmy Graham, but the production is very well spread out among the Saints’ top options. If we use the six year catch rate for the WR3 of 0.66, we can expect the Saints’ WR3 to accumulate 141 fantasy points in 2016, which would have been good for WR49 last season. That means you are drafting Thomas at about his floor right now (unless you think Brandon Coleman gets in his way). But what if he functions as the WR2 this season? Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate was quoted as saying Thomas is “going to be to asked to fill a lot of the things that Marques Colston used to do for this offense”. That sounds like a pretty major role to me. There is also this to consider.
We trash Thomas a lot for his 40 time and collegiate production,3 but his final year production was about the same as Snead’s and at a Power Five school. He is also outrageously more athletic than Snead. If Thomas can nail down timing with Brees, and by all account he has so far, he could surpass him this season. That would make Thomas a steal.
Will Fuller, WR, Texans
Current ADP: WR67 (166.14 Overall)
The argument for Fuller is somewhat similar for Treadwell, except his ADP is even more ridiculous. At WR67, I’m starting to question whether or not people are aware he was the second WR taken in the NFL Draft. Ahead of Treadwell. Ahead of Josh Doctson. Ahead of Thomas. And yet, he’s going after them all.
Why? It can’t be Houston’s top 10 pass volume from a year ago. It can’t be the solidification of the QB position with Brock Osweiler. It can’t be his outstanding collegiate production, or his prodigious comparable players. It certainly can’t be his drops. Is it his competition?
Fuller was bested in career market share by Jaelen Strong, but was every bit as good in their final seasons, and had a much better yards per reception. It should also be noted that Strong has since lost 20 pounds, and that the Texans were so confident in his growth that they took a player at the same position in Fuller almost 50 picks earlier the following year. Braxton Miller has played WR for literally one season and should not be seen as a threat to Fuller at all.
Not pictured is veteran Cecil Shorts, who had a robust 6.45 yards per target last season, as well as a 0.03 TD rate. Did I mention that those were his best numbers in those categories of the last three years? The idea that he could compete with Fuller is about as ridiculous as a career businessman and reality TV star running for President.4 I’m taking Fuller in all drafts at his current price.