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Courtland Sutton is the Next…? The Rookie Comps for the Broncos WR

Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton is next up as we take a look at the most comparable players for the 11 best rookie WRs from the 2018 class.

After D.J. Moore and Calvin Ridley went in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Broncos had their pick of the litter and decided on Courtland Sutton 40th overall, ahead of other exciting prospects like Christian Kirk and Anthony Miller.
On the face of it, their faith was rewarded as he scored the third-most points among rookie WRs, but it was a finish fueled by volume, and it left owners wanting more.

  • He finished second in rookie targets but fifth in receptions
  • He finished first in air yards but third in yards
  • Among all WRs, his 1,176 air yards were the 21st most in the league, more than Michael Thomas, and yet Sutton’s 704 receiving yards ranked 41st
  • His efficiency mark (reFPOE) of 0.3 was 16th among rookies
PLAYER reRECS.Q1 reTRGS.Q1 reYDS.Q1 reTDS.Q1 reEP.Q1 reFPOE.Q1 PPR.Q1
Calvin Ridley 64 92 821 10 150.5 55.6 208.8
D.J. Moore 55 82 788 2 135.1 10.7 160.2
Courtland Sutton 42 84 704 4 136.1 0.3 136.3
Antonio Callaway 43 81 586 5 136.2 -4.6 132.3
Christian Kirk 43 68 590 3 102.7 17.3 123.5
Anthony Miller 33 54 423 7 93.2 24.1 120.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 38 72 581 2 113.2 -5.1 111
Dante Pettis 27 45 467 5 75.2 28.5 103.5
Tre’Quan Smith 28 44 427 5 74.2 26.5 100.7
Robert Foster 26 44 522 3 71.5 24.7 96.2

THE COMPARABLES

Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft position, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons to Sutton’s since 2000.

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It’s a list of letdowns if I ever did see one — guys who woulda, shoulda, coulda been great but always ended up making you mutter “never again” under your breath.
While Sutton had the seventh-best breakout age in the 2018 rookie class, he’s ultimately an older prospect at a draft age of 22.2. How much does draft age matter? At the very least, prospects older than 21 have much less fantasy upside.

pctbyage
As far as these comps, the Screener lists James Jones and Chris Givens as the two most similar players, respectively, and with similar opportunity, efficiency, age and draft stock, those seem fair.
Michael Crabtree may be the ceiling here, but — right or wrong — he was considered something of an elite prospect at the time and was drafted 10th overall. He was also younger — it’s a stretch to compare him to Sutton.
Much the same can be said of Michael Floyd, whose obvious talent was a perennial tease.
Speaking of which, there’s Kenny Britt. It’s a decent comparison, save for Britt being two years younger.

What Did They Do in Year 2?

Despite being slightly sour on Sutton, he does stand a decent chance to taking a step forward as a sophomore, if his historical comps are any indication.
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  • Floyd looked like a beast in waiting after his 113-target, 1,041-yard sophomore season, but it would turn out to be his best.
  • Crabtree was a slow bloomer. While he improved in year two, it would take until his fourth season to post his first 1,000-yard campaign.
  • Britt also stepped up in his second season, and other than that one great 2016 season, he’d never fulfill his promise.
  • Chris Givens? More like Chris takins’ his talents to the AAF. Seriously, Givens signed with the AAF’s Memphis Express this season and didn’t make the team.
  • James Jones had some moments over his nine-year, and one can only hope that Sutton can one day match that magical 14-TD 2012 season.

Conclusion

I’ve always been a bit mystified by the love for Sutton in the dynasty community.
He’s big, but he didn’t dominate in college, and he didn’t make good on his considerable opportunity as an NFL rookie.
The best thing I can say about Sutton is that, with Demaryius Thomas gone and Emmanuel Sanders recovering from a torn Achilles, he should see even more opportunity in Denver this year.
If I’m rostering Sutton, I’m waiting for an early-season splash in 2019 and selling at the first opportunity.
Check out the top comparables for the rest of the 2018 rookie WR class:
11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster
9. Tre’Quan Smith
8. Dante Pettis
7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
6. Anthony Miller
5. Christian Kirk
4. Antonio Callaway

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