Are you the kind of shopper who happily snaps up the the dented can of the brand name item that’s been marked down? Then this is the series for you.
After all, why pay more when you can get the job done for less?
That’s the thinking in using arbitrage in fantasy football, a concept first discussed years ago by the Fantasy Douche.
The idea behind using an arbitrage approach in your fantasy drafting is that you’re looking to keep the same upside, while reducing your risk. – Fantasy Douche
Some of arbitrage plays we talk about will be the next Marvin McNutt, and some will be last year’s Mark Ingram, a player we insisted brought as much upside as many of the backs in front of him. We won’t win them all, but the wins will outweigh the losses when the cost to acquire these players is so much more economical.
Today, I offer you Kerryon Johnson as player well positioned to be the discount Dalvin Cook.
Johnson comes into the NFL as one the most complete prospects in a very strong class of running backs. He doesn’t dominate in any one area, but his overall profile leaves him with virtually no red flags.
Johnson placed well in all of the RotoViz RB metrics.
- He’s the second-youngest RB in the class.
- The eighth-best speed score.
- Tenth-best backfield dominator.
- Eighth-best score in Amico’s projection model.
While some of those rankings don’t pop, keep in mind that he was younger than all of his cohorts outside of Ronald Jones. That means more long-term upside compared to the older Cook.
It also helps boost his Prospect Lab Score to 69, more than offsetting his slightly inferior rushing production. Otherwise, their numbers match up well across the board.
Cook was more productive, but he also faced slightly inferior competition in the ACC, while Johnson earned Offensive Player of the Year honors playing in the SEC. Both were TD machines in college and were drafted in virtually the same spot.
Johnson may not have quite the same rushing upside as Cook, but he has a very similar profile at a drastically reduced price.
Opportunity and Projection
Johnson’s price is also capped by the presence of LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick.
Dave Caban’s projections give Blount 106 carries and Riddick 64 targets, cutting into Johnson’s upside.
However, this is just a best guess. We don’t really know how Detroit will deploy their backs, but we do know that the Lions have made a significant investment in Johnson. He’s not only capable of stealing away more work than we’re assuming at this point, but he’s positioned to pick up any extra passing or rushing work should one of his running mates miss time.
Meanwhile, Cook is in line for 300+ touches on an offense that ran the sixth-most offensive plays and the third-most running plays in the league last season.
While the competition concerns for Johnson are real, it would be a mistake to discount Latavius Murray outright. He’s been a very effective back, running for at least 788 yards in three straight seasons, and with 89 receptions over that time. He should remain involved, likely keeping Cook from true top-five status.
There’s no question that Cook is in a better spot to post superior number in 2018, but their profiles are comparable enough that a Johnson breakout should not surprise anyone.
He’s is priced like peanuts compared to Cook’s early-second-round ADP, mostly because the Vikings’ back has already had a chance to prove himself in the NFL.
Seeing is believing, but a little faith in Johnson could pay off.