If you’ve been following along lately here at RotoViz, you know that our fearless leader just took the RotoViz Screener from the best tool on the internet to the most mind-blowingly useful tool on the internet.
By adding a similarity search feature to its already unparalleled power, you really have no reason to not be using this app. I decided to put this new feature to the test, and see if I could find some wide receiver breakouts1 using the similarity search.
The similarity search feature allows you to find the most similar seasons for players given parameters that can be input by the user. On top of being able to choose your own statistics, you can select the number of years of a player’s career you want to compare to. For each of the following players, I am using the following as inputs: WT, AGE, DRAFT, reTRGS, reYPT, reTDRT, reFPOEPA, PPR. I also searched per game to avoid injuries causing good comps to be thrown out. The span of the search will be all years of the player’s career. All of the players are going into either their second or third seasons, so that is one or two seasons of data to compare with.
Donte Moncrief, WR23
Donte Moncrief is a player with a wide range of opinions, and the positive end appears to be winning the ADP battle. The similarity comps are fairly split on him, but the upper end is incredibly positive. Both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker had WR1 seasons playing together in 2012, a remarkable feat. Andrew Luck isn’t Peyton Manning, but he will probably throw the ball enough times to support at least two upper-end WRs, something his overall profile does suggest.
Vincent Jackson was the WR19 in 2008…on just 101 targets. Leonard Hankerson and Aaron Dobson have been perennial disappointments. That said, it should be noted that injuries played a role with them. Hankerson missed the entire 2014 season and six games in 2013, while Dobson only played 16 total games in his first two seasons. Overall, the similarity search is painting a strong picture. I’m buying.
Jordan Matthews, WR28
A short while ago, I wrote about Jordan Matthews as a value based on a comparison our own Matthew Freedman made to Allen Robinson, but that doesn’t seem to be the only terrific comp that exists for the third year WR. Of the four top comps that have already seen their N+1 seasons, all of them returned at least WR2 value, with both Dez Bryant and Alshon Jeffery finishing inside of the top 10. Sammy Watkins is someone I believe is a value himself heading into 2016, but his ADP is already 11 WR spots higher than Matthews. That really illuminates just how cheap the third year Eagles wideout is this season.
For Further Reading:
Jordan Matthews Combines More Athleticism and Production Than Most Breakout Candidates
The Most Efficient Receivers in the NFL
Confirmation Bias: Jordan Matthews is as Similar to Jeremy Maclin as You Want Him to Be
DeVante Parker, WR31
The screener returns comps for DeVante Parker that all had at least one WR2 season at some point in their careers, with three returning at least one top 15 season. Unfortunately, only A.J. Green’s came in his N+1 season. This provides a pretty wide range of outcomes for the Dolphin sophomore. It’s certainly fair to consider him a leading breakout candidate, especially since Green was a top comp for Parker as a prospect, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he ends up being a year away.
Tyler Lockett, WR33
You won’t find any shortage of Tyler Lockett love pieces here at RotoViz, but here is one more reason to expect him to break out in year two. Lockett shares rookie season similarities to both T.Y. Hilton and Mike Wallace. While Wallace has declined sharply in recent years, he was a WR1 the next two seasons after the one posted above. Hilton was a WR2 in 2013 and a WR1 in 2014. There’s clearly a good bit of upside here with Lockett.
Of course, things are not all sunshine and rainbows in Lockett-Land. The non-dynamic trio of Ryan Broyles, Marquise Goodwin, and Samie Parker were all awful in their N+1 seasons and, quite frankly, their entire careers. However, unless he suffers some kind of injury like Broyles did, everything seems to point towards his usage being far greater than this group ever saw, which makes me feel better about Lockett due to his positive comps. I like his odds to beat his price, but this is a nice reminder that he isn’t bust-proof.
For Further Reading:
Tyler Lockett is My New Koren Robinson: 2016 Seahawks Projections
It’s Time to Go to the Cage and Cash in Your Tyler Lockett Tickets
Buck Allen, Tyler Lockett, and 2015 Rookie Picks 19-24
Dorial Green-Beckham, WR50
To get the bad news out of the way first, I’ll lead with the fact that the top two comps for Dorial Green-Beckham were Matt Jones, who played four seasons and never fully developed after converting from QB at Arkansas. The good news is that other than 2015 classmate Devin Funchess, the next six most similar comps were exclusively elite WRs, with three finishing as WR1’s as soon as their N+1 season. This speaks to Shawn Siegele’s point about how important weight can be as an indicator of success, and to just how much upside DGB has. Now that his price has dropped due to concerns about playing time, it makes sense to gamble on this polarizing prospect.
Devin Funchess, WR55
Funchess is basically DGB-lite2, showing many of the same high-end comps. Tyrone Calico is the new face on this list, but he doesn’t provide us much usable information after Roy Williams basically ended his career with a horse-collar tackle in the summer of 2004. Right now I’m considering Funchess a similar high-upside draft selection with his ADP limiting most of the downside to selecting him.