What the Hell People? Draft Kenny Britt Sooner!

Kenny Britt is currently being drafted as the WR51 in best-ball leagues. In the first mock draft conducted by ESPN’s fantasy football experts (10-team, standard format), Britt went as the WR55. His Expert Consensus Ranking is more respectable, at WR44 in standard and WR46 in PPR formats. But seriously people…what gives?!

Britt finished last year as the PPR WR26, including WR24 on a per-game basis (minimum 8 games played), and I see no reason for that to decline. Britt is easily my number one biggest bargain of 2017. In fact, if he plays all 16 games in 2017, I believe he ends up as a back-end WR2. Here’s why.

He’s Really Freaking Good

Here’s something interesting.

BrittAlshon

The only major difference between Britt and Alshon Jeffery the past three years is volume (333 targets for Jeffery to 267 for Britt). And we don’t doubt Alshon Jeffery. Why are people sleeping on Britt?

Let’s ignore volume for a moment and just focus on Kenny Britt, the player. Over his career Britt has played with the following QBs: Kerry Collins, Matt Hasselbeck, Vince Young, Jake Locker, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Nick Foles, Austin Davis, Jared Goff, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The career AYA of those QBs combined? A “whopping” 6.1. Pretty much a murderer’s row of QBs, amirite?

In spite of that mediocre-at-best QB play, Kenny Britt has made these QBs look good when targeting him.

You read that right. The QBs Britt has played with have had a 2.03 higher AYA when targeting Britt compared to targeting everyone else they’ve thrown to. And we’re not talking a small sample size either. The 565 targets from these QBs is five full seasons using Britt’s 2016 target numbers.

For a little more perspective — last year Case Keenum targeted Britt 64 times, while Jared Goff targeted Britt 47 times. Their combined AYA when targeting Britt was 8.7. When targeting every other Ram…a paltry 4.3. Ouch. This isn’t just my finding. Scott Barrett found similar, rating Kenny Britt as the No. 2 overall WR in terms of positive QB impact last year. He was also WR14 in yards per route run, which has a strong correlation with targets, especially for the top-20 WRs in this category.

When we also adjust for depth of target, Britt was a borderline WR2/3 last year. Every efficiency metric shows Britt was fantastic, and over the course of his career he’s had a +2.0 AYA impact on his QBs. And again, that was with terrible QB play.

Which brings me to point number two.

Britt’s QB Situation is Improved

The current crop of QBs in Cleveland are Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, and DeShone Kizer. The first two are pretty easy to handle. Brock Osweiler’s career AYA is 5.7, while Kessler’s is 7.2 (albeit in only 8 games started).

The harder part is gauging DeShone Kizer, who could certainly see the field in 2017. The way I’m going to handle this is by defaulting to my QB prospect success model. Despite being drafted 52nd overall, my model gives Kizer a 39.2 percent chance of at least one successful season in the NFL. My model gave 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff a 38.6 percent chance, nearly identical to Kizer, but slightly lower. However, Goff has already wasted a year, so the chances are now even lower. It’s a better than even money bet, according to my model, that Kizer will have a higher AYA than Goff. If Kizer was drafted first overall like Goff, the model would give him slightly better than a 50 percent chance of success, showing outside of draft position, Kizer has better statistics and measurable that correlate with NFL success than Goff.

Put simply, there’s almost no way the QB play around Kenny Britt can be any worse than last year.

The Team Situation is Improved

By scoring margin, the Browns were a bit unlucky in 2017. Cleveland finished 1.7 wins below expectation based on their points for and against. Any positive regression to the mean could lead to better game scripts. And with the plethora of early draft picks, it’s certainly possible this Browns team improves and generates more scoring opportunities than last year.

That could mean more passing touchdowns for the Browns than their 15 last year. The Rams only threw 14 touchdowns last year and Kenny Britt caught five of them. In fact, the Browns actually outscored the Rams last year by a 264 to 224 margin. Forty points. That’s like four TDs and four FGs. So it’s likely there will be more TD opportunity for Britt in 2017 as well.

Projecting Scenarios

Cleveland threw 567 passes last year. A large chunk were to their top-two WRs as well. Corey Coleman had a 22.4 percent target market share in the 10 games he played, while Terrelle Pryor had a 25.2 percent market share in those same 10 games. If we allow Coleman to be the WR1 on the team (and I’m not so sure he will be), that puts Britt in comfortable territory. If we take a conservative route and allow for some improvement, we can pencil Cleveland in for maybe 525 passes. A 20 percent market share (which is lower than his 20.9 percent share on last year’s Rams team) would give Kenny Britt 105 targets. And that’s probably a worst-case scenario. Even with a blip in efficiency to account for his new settings, we’re talking a floor of 170 fantasy points, or WR45 by our staff projections and WR45 last year.

But let me make the argument that Britt is actually the WR1 on the team for a moment. Cleveland signed Britt to a $32.5M contract over a four-year period. That’s $8.125M per year. Britt just made $9.125M with the Rams over the last two years combined! In other words, Britt is making exactly $1M less per year for the next four years than he made over the previous two-year period. Britt is now the 20th-highest paid WR in total contract, 20th-highest on a per-year basis, and 32nd in total guaranteed money. They aren’t paying him to not get him the ball.

There’s also the fact that Corey Coleman wasn’t very good last year. The combination of Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, and Cody Kessler had an AYA of 5.28 when targeting Coleman in 2016. Their non-Coleman AYA combined to be 6.65. To be fair, Coleman was a rookie, but Britt had a positive AYA impact his rookie year, while Coleman didn’t. In Britt’s rookie year, Vince Young’s AYA was 6.8, but when targeting Britt, it was 8.2. Similarly, Kerry Collins had an AYA of 4.6, but 8.5 when targeting Britt. Maybe we can chalk some of Coleman’s -1.4 AYA-impact up to injury recovery, but I’m not sure that makes up all the difference from -1.4 to Britt’s +2.0 career impact, or Britt’s even larger AYA impact during his rookie year.

What would a middle-of-the-road scenario be for Britt? Let’s assume Britt is something like a WR1a to Coleman’s 1b and pulls in a 21.5 percent market share, Cleveland only matches their Vegas win total of 4.5 wins, and their pass tendency regresses down by two percent. Then we’re talking 558 pass attempts, with 120 targets going to Britt. That’s nine more than he had in 2016. Add in a slight efficiency increase due to better QB play, and better TD opportunity, and his middle of the road projection is around 206 PPR points. That would land him at WR25 in PPR league by our staff projections, and would have been good for WR22 last year.

His upside? Give him the WR1 slot outright and a 24 percent market share. Cleveland falls behind their projected win total meaning more pass attempts, and Britt has an uber-efficient year. Now we’re talking 135 targets and 237 PPR points. That’s certainly a stretch, and would land him as a high-end WR2. But that’s some pretty sick upside for the WR51 by ADP.

More Projections

Conclusion

Kenny Britt finished last year as the WR26 overall, and WR24 in PPR points per game (minimum eight games played), and the circumstances have only gotten better for him.

Under no circumstances should Britt be drafted anything worse than a mid-range WR4 in any common scoring format. It makes no sense given all the data, projections, and scenarios we have to consider. If Kenny Britt plays a full 16 games, he will beat his ADP comfortably, and more likely than not, he’ll crush his ADP by at least 24 places, putting him as a borderline WR2/3 instead of a WR4/5. If he plays eight games or more, I personally believe he ends up as a top-24 WR in PPR on a per-game basis. His season-long upside is that of a mid-to-high WR2. How can you let that upside fall to WR51? Don’t.

For more Kenny Britt love, including more amazing stats and facts about Britt, see this Twitter thread by fellow RotoViz writer Justin Woodruff.

 

RotoDoc

Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
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