This is part of a bi-monthly series called Dynasty Stock Market. The first January article, reflecting on last offseason’s pieces, can be found here.
Twelve Rotoviz writers gathered to do a non-rookie startup mock draft, in order to gauge some initial value changes of the season’s most pleasantly surprising, and disappointing, performances.
Here are some of the picks that stick out:
- IN – DAVID JOHNSON, EZEKIEL ELLIOTT, KEENAN ALLEN, T.Y. HILTON
- OUT – DEANDRE HOPKINS, TODD GURLEY, DEZ BRYANT, ROB GRONKOWSKI
Compared to the first round of the startup mock from a year ago, not even the year of the running back revival could sway the positional breakdown much. Nine wide receivers, two running backs, and one tight end made up the first round last year, with nine wide receivers and three running backs this year.
Todd Gurley plunged from 1.05 to 2.12, and DeAndre Hopkins slid from 1.03 to 2.05, which illustrates something interesting.
Gurley was the overall RB15 this year, while Hopkins was the WR27, yet the disappointment with Gurley seems to be magnified beyond that of Hopkins. While wide receivers are less likely to suffer devastating injuries, be susceptible to the pitfalls of negative gameflow, and play at a high level until a later age, this seems like an overreaction on Gurley, in juxtaposition to an underreaction on Hopkins.
The other major declines in premium value were Dez Bryant, falling from 1.07 to 2.06, and Rob Gronkowski, falling from 1.09 to 2.11.
Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have become very interesting assets at they get older, with Brown turning 29 in June, and Jones turning 28 in February. Taken at 1.02 and 1.04 last year, they went at 1.06 and 1.07 this year, after finishing the season as the overall WR1 and WR6. Ben Roethlisberger turns 35 in March, and Matt Ryan turns 32 in May, neither of which should raise major longevity concerns. (Though Roethlisberger could be telling the truth about contemplating retirement.)
A.J. Green also turns 29 in July, and T.Y. Hilton turns 28 in November, yet both find themselves at the first/secound round turn this year, after going lower than that last season. The young wide receivers did some shuffling, but largely either kept their value or gained a bit, with Mike Evans going from 1.06 to 1.02, Allen Robinson going from 1.08 to 1.10, Sammy Watkins going from 1.12 to 1.11, and Amari Cooper jumping from 1.11 to 1.05.
Trying to take advantage of the rising value of the young, elite receivers, and the declining value of the older ones, will dictate the outcome of Dynasty leagues for the next few years. Shrewd owners will need to constantly identify the undervalued (think Hilton coming into this year), and overvalued (think Hopkins coming into this year), in order to keep their franchise competitive annually.
The wide receivers in the second round even further intensify the age conundrum, with Stefon Diggs, Donte Moncrief, and Michael Thomas all surging in value to 2.02, 2.07, and 2.08; while Julian Edelman, who turns 31 in May, and Jordy Nelson, who turns 32 in May, both sneak into the round at 2.10 and 2.11.
Edelman and Nelson were both sells for me last season, and their retention of value is shocking. Brandon Marshall lasted until 7.04, and Larry Fitzgerald fell all the way to 9.01, which offers a glimpse of where Edelman and Nelson’s values are heading. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and the likelihood that plunge takes place in fewer than 12 months makes holding either one frightening.
Diggs finished as WR13 in points per game, after a rookie season and prospect profile that gave him a high likelihood of long-term success. Thomas was an older prospect, which is probably why his draft capital wasn’t loftier, but turned in a season as the PPG WR7, blasting the best rookie receiver of 2015, Cooper, who was PPG WR28. Their values are justifiable, albeit optimistic. Moncrief, however, is pretty crazy, for all the same reasons his value last offseason was crazy, especially with 2016’s PPG WR49 performance on top of it.
Compared to career résumés like Jarvis Landry, who went at 3.02, or Golden Tate, who went 4.05, the case for Moncrief going so high seems extremely difficult to make.
RUNNING BACK LOTTERY
Starting with Gurley and Melvin Gordon at the 2.12/3.01 turn, the current enigmatic running back landscape shows values for the position are all over the place.
|Player||Pick||Age on 12/31/16||Years Left On Deal|
The list highlights how this draft reflects an extreme uncertainty about the position, with so many backfields in flux, and a tremendously strong running back prospect group.
After Paul Perkins it gets into a much more speculative tier with guys like DeAndre Washington, Devontae Booker, and T.J. Yeldon. This is also obviously one draft, and when you get down to that point, the variance of guys taken in the range is tremendous, depending on your particular league and draft.
Doug Martin is expected to be cut following his suspension, which explains why his value is in free fall, but why is it below Jamaal Charles‘? Charles is also expected to be cut, is significantly older than Martin, and is coming off a serious injury, which Martin isn’t. Also, if people expect Martin to be cut, shouldn’t Charles Sims‘ value be higher on the likelihood he becomes the starter?
Every running back is discounted out of fear that they will lose their job through the draft, when the number that actually will is very small. While the specific players who lose their job is difficult to predict, it’s easy to stockpile cheap veteran starters, and have most or all of them retain their job and value.
Drafters are obviously predicting Perkins takes the role of starter in New York, either through Rashad Jennings getting cut on the last year of his deal, or simply through performance. Jennings is an example of a veteran running back who could retain his job, and you barely have to pay anything for him. Jonathan Stewart is another example, on the last year of his contract, as well as Ryan Mathews.
One name above that really sticks out is C.J. Anderson. After being the RB3 Week 1 last season, he looked primed to make us look really, really smart, before getting injured. Neither Devontae Booker nor Kapri Bibbs looked the part when filling in for him, and even with the departure of Gary Kubiak, and a completely unknown quarterback situation, his dynasty value doesn’t make sense for a 25-year old getting paid like he is, with his career résumé.1
The opposite of this is what the hell is going on with Derrick Henry? This reminds me of last season when people drafted Karlos Williams so high, despite it being fairly obvious LeSean McCoy was the long-term starter. Henry’s draft profile has people paying a ridiculous premium for him to sit on the bench for the next several seasons, barring a DeMarco Murray injury. It’s not entirely clear why McCoy went so far ahead of of Murray, either, as they are seemingly nearly identical assets.
Why would Jeremy Hill be valued over Anderson and Isaiah Crowell? He was barely competent in Giovani Bernard’s absence, and then got outplayed by Rex Burkhead so badly that beat writers are saying Hill is destined to be a 2017 backup.
I’m the one who took McCoy, and it was a tough decision between him and Carlos Hyde. I understand Murray going right before Hyde, but I can’t fathom the reasoning for Jordan Howard, Henry, Tevin Coleman, Jay Ajayi, and Spencer Ware going between them.
Who would you rather have in Dynasty right now?— 14TeamMocker (@14TeamMocker) January 11, 2017
Why don’t people fear low-draft capital guys, that needed injuries in front of them to get a chance at starting, like Howard, Ajayi, and Ware, losing their jobs through free agency or the draft? Where is the fear discount for those players? Their prices reflect pure optimism and overexuberance, while Coleman and Henry still need injuries in front of them to even get that starter’s chance.
I could always keep ranting, but there’s a lot more to reflect on from this mock draft. Look out for articles in the near future from some of the participants explaining their strategy, and what stuck out to them.
Important offseason dates to remember
- February 28th – March 6th NFL Combine
- March 9th Beginning of Free Agency
- April 27th – 29th NFL Draft