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Historical Comps for Tajae Sharpe’s Rookie Season

How does Tajae Sharpe’s rookie season compare to other recent rookies, and how do those comps inform our expectations going forward?

If you’ve been around RotoViz for any length of time, you know we like making range of outcome-based projections. And we’ve got a fantastic Screener to facilitate that. My goal is to set some expectations for the 2016 rookie wide receivers.

To do that, I set the Screener to find rookies from 2010 – 2016, and selected some basic production and usage numbers as variables. I also included draft pick. The influence of draft pick on a player’s opportunity declines over time, but it’s still relevant heading into a player’s second season. Then I asked the Screener to find seasons comparable to my target player.1 Up first, Tajae Sharpe.

The Comps

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For a fifth-round pick, those are decent per-game comps. Ace Sanders had promise before suspensions ended his career. Brandon LaFell has posted double-digit per-game PPR totals in three of seven seasons. Jeremy Kerley has had situational utility, averaging over nine points per game in three of six seasons. Jamison Crowder averaged over 12 points per game in his sophomore season. Davante Adams has improved each season, averaging over 15 points per game in 2016.

As second-year players, this group averaged about eight points per game, and for their subsequent careers have averaged just under 10 points per game. That suggests Sharpe could have long term utility, but may not be likely to be a difference maker.

Pros

I think it’s helpful to remember that Sharpe won a starting job out of training camp, and made Dorial Green-Beckham expendable.

Another item to note is that, since 2010, among all rookies drafted after pick 110 (or undrafted), Sharpe (17 percent) is tied for the third-highest target market share. The others? Stefon Diggs (19 percent), Allen Hurns (18 percent), and Doug Baldwin (17 percent). That’s good company, and he’s also connected to one of the better young QBs in the game. His overall involvement, given his draft pedigree, is encouraging.

Cons

Sharpe did well to get a significant role as a rookie. But neither his draft status nor his rookie performance lend him great job security.

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His season-long trend is also discouraging, and paints the picture of a player falling out of favor.

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Outlook

Kendall Wright is gone, and Harry Douglas might as well be. That frees up about 60 targets, so there’s a chance for an increased workload. On the other hand, any sort of significant acquisition in either free agency or the draft would torpedo Sharpe’s fantasy value. Our recent free agency mock, for example, sent Eric Decker to the Titans. Odds are against that specific transaction happening of course, but I think you could go quite far down the list of free agent WRs before you were sure Sharpe would keep his starting gig.

In deeper dynasty leagues I think Sharpe is worth holding. As of now he’s the Titans WR2, and he’s probably out-performed his draft-level expectations. A Jamison Crowder-like sophomore season is possible if no competition is brought in. On the flip side, if he flames out, there’s not much harm done.

  1. The app provides 20 comparables, but I’m limiting myself to the top five. I’m also excluding fellow 2016 rookies from the comps.  (back)

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