In an unusual offseason that’s lacked on-field workouts, we haven’t had the normal player buzz. We’re still seeing plenty of movement. The Risers/Fallers tab in the FFPC Dashboard helps locate the biggest ADP movers. With a little over a month until the proposed beginning of camp, you still have plenty of time to balance your portfolio at a profit . . . if you purchase the right guys.
Buy, Hold, or Sell – The Difficult Case of Alexander Mattison
Mattison is easily our biggest riser, climbing 25 spots on the news that Dalvin Cook will hold out for a new contract.1 The elite handcuff would be rising regardless, but crazy results in recent seasons add rocket fuel to his ascent. Two of the last three times a star threatened to hold out his backup turned in a league-crushing season.
Drafters were skeptical that Le’Veon Bell would make good on his threats, and James Conner finished the draft phase with an ADP outside the top 200. He rode a monster season and minimal price to a win rate above 20%.
Although Bell was unsuccessful, his gambit was quickly followed by Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon. Tony Pollard ultimately failed to benefit as the Cowboys caved on Elliott, but a small, early-season window was all Austin Ekeler needed to establish himself as one of the premier backs in the game.
His ADP rose into the top 100, and he responded by scoring over 300 points and winning at a rate above 20%. In each of the last two years, the No. 2 RB in win rate has come from the situation in which Mattison now finds himself.
* The upgraded Best Ball Win Rates app will be available soon. Mike Beers has added myriad new features to the tool, including the ability to look at win rates for player stacks.
That brings us back to the player in question. He’s a tricky prospect in the same way a few of his closest comps present a test for drafters.
As a big, unathletic back with workhorse traits and plus pass-catching ability, it’s easy to see why the Box Score Scout suggests David Montgomery and Zack Moss as two of his closest comps. Especially when you consider how similar these backs are to Conner, it’s hard not to be intrigued.
Blair Andrews’ newest edition of The Wrong Read came out last Friday, and it will change the way you think about drafting second-year backs. His analysis posits that Montgomery and Mattison are already overvalued based on their rookie performance and NFL draft position. Knowing the history should balance our enthusiasm.
If we pull up the draft grid for the last week, we can decide whether we prefer Mattison to the backs currently going in his range.
Mattison has moved up to RB40 at the beginning of Round 9. All of the backs going after him are committee members or high-end handcuffs. That’s good news. While Tarik Cohen and Phillip Lindsay are among the 10 Most Undervalued 2020 Redraft Options, a holdout from Cook would give Mattison more opportunity and upside.
We also see any easy path for Mattison’s continued rise. Marlon Mack is the NFL’s best back in a terrible situation. Squeezed by Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, he needs more than one domino to fall before he retains his 2019 upside. Meanwhile, Sony Michel is currently one of the biggest fallers on news of a foot surgery.
Of course, the biggest fall comes from Ke’Shawn Vaughn, as the NFL draft enthusiasm fades and Devonta Freeman rumors ding his value. Even if Freeman doesn’t land with Tampa, the apparent flirtation punctures the narrative around Vaughn as the immediate starter.
Mattison looks to have more room to run if Cook’s holdout threat lingers, but just how much would he be worth if Cook actually follows through on the threat?
Where should Mattison go if Cook holds out?