Why buy a car for $20,000 when you can buy the same car with a crappy paint job for half the price?
That, in a crude nutshell, is one way of looking at arbitrage, a concept the the Fantasy Douche first applied to fantasy football several years ago.
The 2017 draft season presents no shortage of opportunities to buy players who have a host of things going for them – whether it be their situation, talent, or some other factor – for cheaper than a similar, more expensive player.
This time out, I answer the question – why draft Corey Davis when a more economical WR option is available later?
THE DOCTSON IS IN
Corey Davis was the darling of dynasty drafts this spring, often going as the first-overall pick after being selected by the Tennessee Titans. That enthusiasm spilled over into best ball leagues, where Davis is the 76th overall pick and 38th WR off the board.
Meanwhile, another WR will very little NFL experience and a comparable college resume is going some 50 spots later. Josh Doctson is looking to make up for his lost rookie season in Washington and could make a great arbitrage play on Corey Davis, given the discrepancy in price.
Both of these WRs have some things going for them:
- Elite fantasy QBs throwing them the ball.
- First-round draft pedigree.
And both have some minor yellow flags for 2017:
- Lack of experience.
- Both dealing with injuries.
- Undefined roles.
- Plenty of competition.
Their situations are somewhat similar, and so are their college production profiles.
Corey Davis and Josh Doctson are made from the same mold. Corey Davis is 6 – 3, 209 pounds, while Josh Doctson is 6 – 2, 206 pounds. A look at their final-season college production reveals more parallels.
Doctson can’t compete with Davis’ amazing market share numbers, but few WRs can. Otherwise, Doctson was better from a raw production point of view against tougher competition in his final year.
I’m not going to try to convince you that Doctson is the superior dynasty asset, but in 2017, there may not be as much difference in their raw production as we expect. Here’s why.
The pass-catching group in Tennessee may not be elite, but there remain many mouths to feed. The only departed pass catcher from last year is Kendall Wright, he of 43 targets in 2016.
Outside of Tajae Sharpe, I don’t see a significant role change for any of these guys in 2017. In fact, I have been snapping up all the Rishard Matthews as he continues to slip deeper into the double digit rounds. I think Matthews, Walker, and Murray can expect to see similar targets this season. Not only that, but the Titans also added Eric Decker, who will no doubt soak up all kinds of targets if healthy; he’s averaged 127 targets per season in his last three healthy campaigns.
And while they’re not a direct threat to Davis, the fact that Titans also added RotoViz favorites Taywan Taylor and Jonnu Smith seems to signal their intention to hoard talent and have Marcus Mariota spread the ball around.
None of this is to say that Davis can’t break out in his first year and return value on his mid-round fantasy investment.
But do note that in the nation’s capital, a minimum of 214 targets have been vacated with the departures of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Jamison Crowder could see a bigger role, but even so, there are still plenty of catches up for grabs.
The Redskins are desperate to see a return on their first-round investment, and Josh Doctson’s only real competition to start opposite Terrell Pryor appears to be Ryan Grant. If he can’t beat out Grant, we have real problems. RotoViz staff projections have Doctson at WR71, but it wouldn’t take much of a bump in opportunity to see a much better finish.
Meanwhile, here is my projection for how the Titans WRs shake out.
To be fair, it’s a tough situation to project. So much seems unknown, including the state of health of both Decker and Davis. And that’s the point. Why pay more for a less certain situation when Josh Doctson has a real chance to exceed Davis’ rookie numbers?
As prospects, I’ll take Corey Davis over Josh Doctson every time. But their 2017 looks more like a coin toss than anything.
The truth is, I have no idea what to expect, which means I’m trending towards taking the cheaper option. Give me Josh Doctson as an occasional arbitrage play on Corey Davis.