In Part 1 we debated going for the championship in Year 1 and looked at the role of WRs after 2016’s RB Revival. In Part 2 we’ll examine the draft’s most controversial picks before concluding with our own roster evaluations in Part 3.
Does Stefon Diggs Have the Ceiling to Go No. 13 Overall?
I’ll start with my own controversial selection of Stefon Diggs. Frequent readers know Diggs was my No. 1 buy-low early in the 2016 offseason and my No. 1 WR breakout candidate. That can be tricky as bias inevitably starts to creep into the equation in situations like these.
Diggs responded with a 16-catch, 285-yard flurry in the opening two games and managed a three-game stretch with 20-plus fantasy points in mid-season. Ultimately, groin and knee injuries limited him, and he finished only WR13 on a per game basis.
Diggs is now on a stretch of five consecutive elite seasons when compared to his age- and experience-based expectation. At least that’s the case when you look at market share and per play efficiency instead of raw stats. He’s been held hostage by poor passing offenses in Maryland and Minnesota, but having recently turned 23, he likely has a brighter future ahead in the volume category.
Who I Should Have Picked Instead: DeAndre Hopkins has also been on a superstar trajectory throughout his development, or at least he was before a bizarre, soul-crushing 2016 co-authored by Brock Osweiler. Still, you don’t blink in Round 2 when given a shot at a 24-year-old with a 1,500-yard, 11-TD season on his resume.
Should Any RB Go in the Top 3?
Charles Kleinheksel selected David Johnson No. 3 overall and listed him among his controversial picks with Julio Jones and Antonio Brown still available. Johnson has moved to No. 1 overall on my board, so I don’t view it in that light. In fact, in 2017 I would probably employ Zero RB at every spot except for No. 1. Worst case, I see him slotting in appropriately behind the two young superstar receivers. But the presence of Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott in the first five picks did raise some eyebrows.
Two RBs going in the top five picks was a big surprise. I expected to be staring down a J. Jones vs. Johnson decision at 1.06. – Matt Wispe
Three RBs in the first eight picks! Not that there was anything wrong with any of these picks. I just thought for sure a Rotoviz draft would just be like the Running of the Bulls for WRs (in fairness, it still pretty much was). – Jason Lewis
Elliott was among the biggest outperformers in rushing fantasy points over expectation (ruFPOE),1 which fit with our pre-draft research – and everyone else’s – that he was a phenomenal prospect. Of course, RB efficiency isn’t sticky as Todd Gurley’s 2016 owners can attest.2 It probably adds additional danger that Elliott’s 2016 performance fits so closely with the conventional wisdom about his skill and the Cowboys offensive line. All of that said, while I won’t be drafting Elliott in 2017, it’s a perfectly justifiable selection in all formats.
How High Can You Take a Possession Receiver Who Won’t Stay Healthy?
Keenan Allen at ninth overall, and Alshon Jeffery at 16th, are probably my most controversial picks, with both coming off multiple injury-shortened seasons. I consider both to still be in the very top tier of fantasy wide receivers, and the injury risk (if there even is one) is easily worth it. – 14Team Mocker
Allen jumps off the page immediately to me at WR6. I love Allen, but that seems a bit rich given the influx of talent and receiving options Philip Rivers has at his dispersal. – Tyler Buecher
Is Allen really just a glorified version of Jarvis Landry? And does it matter if he is? Allen hasn’t averaged over 11.0 yards per reception since his rookie year, but his volume led to gaudy pre-2016 projections in the Sim Score app, as well as encouraging numbers in RotoDoc’s machine-learning projections that included Air Yards. Moreover, Allen’s injuries have been different enough to give the appearance of bad luck as opposed to chronic or career-altering.
I would probably be more concerned with the selection of Jeffery over Hopkins and Michael Thomas. After his combination of production and ADP made him a league-winner in 2013,3 Jeffery has struggled with injuries and work ethic concerns. About to turn 27, he has fewer years in remaining in the peak window and needs a strong 2017 to rehabilitate his value heading into the time frame where his worth on the trade market will necessarily decline.
Is Donte Moncrief the Quintessential High-Vol Player?
In Part 1, we talked a lot about Ryan Rouillard’s 2014 hypothesis on dynasty player prices and how they were similar to stock options. He almost seems to be talking about Moncrief when he says:
The high implied vol option is comparatively insensitive to the price of the underlying stock. It’s worth more than the low implied vol option at every stock price because more of its value is coming from that implied vol… Investing in high-vol players rewards you on the upswing when the player’s price explodes as his lofty potential is being reached. It also protects you on the downside if a player underperforms, since others in your league are still aware of the talent that player possesses and they’d be willing to pay you for that if you chose to sell.
For Moncrief, it’s interesting to question the origin of his high-vol status. He was a third-round reality pick who hasn’t delivered a 200-point fantasy season in his first three years.4 It’s also worth considering if the gap between Moncrief’s intrinsic value and implied volatility almost has to close in Year 4.
Moncrief at pick 19, one slot ahead of Thomas. In fact, I think I might argue there were at least seven or eight other WRs I would have taken over Moncrief there, but Thomas in particular seemed to check all of the boxes regardless of what strategy you were taking. – Jason
Neither Donte Moncrief nor Julian Edelman has any business sniffing the 2nd round. – 14TeamMocker
I argued against Moncrief before the season and pointed out that the Andrew Luck halo effect doesn’t seem to actually manifest itself in extra scoring for his receivers. On the other hand, Moncrief is still extremely young – according to the Rookie Age Database, he’s only a few months older than Dede Westbrook and a couple months younger than Cooper Kupp – and extremely athletic. He also faces little competition for targets in an offense that will need to score to be competitive.5
Have Gordon and Gurley Switched, and Should They Both Be Higher?
Tim Talmadge discusses his rationale for selecting the young runners at the second-third turn.
Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were tough calls for me because of the WRs that were still available so I could see those being somewhat controversial. Both backs have elite ceilings and are under 24 years old.
While it was undoubtedly a tough call to pass on a few of the remaining receivers, I listed the drops of Gurley and Gordon as my biggest draft surprise.6 Even as much as I love Edelman and Jordy Nelson, it’s surprising to see two WRs over 30 going before young backs of this pedigree.
2016 was the second consecutive season where one of our top Zero RB targets outscored Adrian Peterson’s historic 2012 campaign during the fantasy regular season.7 This tends to be overlooked because Gordon was injured in Week 14, but he was still the driver of much 2016 success.8 We would likely see the 2016 season very differently had the random injuries to Gordon, David Johnson (Week 17), and Le’Veon Bell (AFC Championship game) happened in an altered order.
This has ramifications in a variety of directions.
- Even if you don’t buy compelling evidence suggesting the RB Uprising is a mirage, should you chase RBs if you can reliably use an evidence-based approach to hit in the later rounds?
- Does it make sense for the No. 15 pick in the 2015 draft to still go behind the No. 10 pick based on what we saw in 2016?
- Given Gurley’s 2015 and Gordon’s 2016, why did they last so long?
What Should We Make of Spencer Ware’s Late Season Fade?
While I didn’t initially think of the pick as overly surprising, my selection of Spencer Ware in Round 5 was met with some level of criticism. Ware wasn’t overly impressive during his first season in the lead role, but his opportunity appears to be set for at least 2017. Taking my RB1 in Round 5, I thought I could do worse than a 25 year old lead RB. – Matt
Ware was one of 2016’s best stories over the first half. A 2013 late round pick who spent most of his rookie year on the street, Ware looked powerful as a runner and explosive as a receiver. If you squinted really hard,9 you could see a Priest Holmes clone filling in for Jamaal Charles. As nagging injuries to Ware took their own toll, he crashed back to earth in the second half.
On the other hand, Ware has separated himself from Charcandrick West. His 2016 production and 2017 contract virtually guarantee some type of future role with the Chiefs.
Finally, a couple of quick hits to finish.
Past and Future Arizona WRs are Difficult to Value …
I don’t think my draft had a lot of shock value as far as controversies, but John Brown will be an interesting player to monitor over the offseason. I selected him at 7.02 (74th overall) as the WR49. I did not expect to get him at the beginning of WR5 value. – Tyler
My worst pick was probably Michael Floyd, but the thought of him playing with Brady for a few years pulled me back in. – Tim
… And Just How Bad is Laquon Treadwell?
Laquon Treadwell in the sixth round is a pick I would end up loving or hating in another year. After a quiet (like, whisper quiet) rookie campaign, it can be easy to forget that Treadwell’s startup ADP was 24th overall in February 2016. At 68th overall in this exercise, he represents a potential home run value, however upon reflection it still feels risky. – Curtis Patrick
Part 3 will go in-depth to evaluate seven of the 12 rosters. Until then, check out our strategy debate in Part 1, take in Tyler Buecher’s look at drafting from the 1.02, and find out who’s rising and falling in the Dynasty Stock Market.
- Elliott averaged 4.9 ruFPOE per game. LeSean McCoy managed 4.4. The next highest fantasy-relevant back was Tevin Coleman at 2.4. (back)
- Gurley led all full-time RBs in 2015 with 2.8 ruFPOE. He finished dead last among full-time RBs in 2016 at -2.1. (back)
- And one of my favorite players. (back)
- While the exact threshold isn’t important, failing to break out in your first three seasons is unequivocally a bad sign. (back)
- Although teammate Phillip Dorsett and other athletic busts like Dorial Green-Beckham can attest to how little competition matters if your biggest issue is your own skill level. (back)
- Gordon was the other player I considered at No. 13 overall. (back)
- Devonta Freeman landed on our top-five list in 2015 and Gordon in 2016. The San Diego star was my favorite breakout RB and highest-owned player. (back)
- Before you can win in the playoffs, you have to make the playoffs. (back)
- and maybe closed one eye (back)
- Several of the projected starters in Royce Freeman and Nick Chubb returned to school. (back)
- His 2017 contract is favorable if he’s healthy, irrelevant if he’s not. (back)