Now that the NFL Draft has officially ended and our coveted rookies have found homes for 2017 and beyond, one name has seemed to rise to the consensus 1.01 of rookie mocks: Corey Davis. This is not surprising of course. An amazing athlete was taken 5th overall by a team that desperately needed a number one target to flourish and grow within their offense. And to also be paired with a young, talented, up-and-coming quarterback. Is this not a perfect situation? Is this not exactly what every dynasty owner is looking for? I am sure I am not the first person to say yes, yes it is. Let it be known I am firmly aboard the Corey Davis train, but, like most shiny new toys, the hype can derail any train even before it departs, a la Donte Moncrief, Lamar Miller, Devante Parker, etc. This is not an article that questions his abilities to become an elite fantasy and dynasty asset, but rather a look at realistic expectations from Corey Davis in 2017.
Over the last week, I ran some very scientific Twitter polls to assess what the dynasty community expects from Corey Davis in 2017. Here are the results:
As you can see, the majority of voters expect Davis to finish the year as a WR2 with 900 yards and 6-7 touchdowns. Not bad for a rookie and certainly attainable for an athlete like Davis. To further look into realistic expectations from Davis, I pulled stat lines from the best rookie campaigns in recent history:
|Odell Beckham Jr||2014||295.0||7||132||91||1305||12|
As you can see, most of these receivers are great or even elite dynasty assets and have been since year one. Even with the best rookie seasons in recent history, the majority of these receivers finished as mid-WR2s, with the exception of dynasty stud OBJ and new rookie phenom Michael Thomas. However, some people may say, “look at their quarterbacks, I can go for 1,000 yards if I had Drew Brees throwing me the ball.” Well let’s look:
Here are the stat lines from each receivers quarterback in their rookie season. Go ahead, try to find a pattern. You will not be able to. So, if we forget the quarterback position for a minute let’s visit the running back position. Here are the running back stat lines from each receiver’s rookie season:
Again, find a pattern. You will not be able to. So, what does all this mean? Did I research stats to prove that Davis will have a great year or not for nothing? Maybe, or maybe not. What do we know about Tennessee’s offense that is different from the offenses above? They are a run-first offense. That’s it! If we look at the breakdown of pass-to-run plays, of each of the teams above, there should be differences between them and Tennessee’s breakdown.
|Year||Team||Pass Plays||Run Plays||Pass%||Run%|
From here, we can see that the Titans ran the highest percentage of run plays compared to the other teams whose receivers had elite rookie campaigns. Using this, we can throw away Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. as reliable predictors for Corey Davis’ success just based on how often their teams threw the ball. That leaves Kelvin Benjamin, Keenan Allen, and AJ Green.
If we compare Marcus Mariota’s 2016 performance with the performances of 2014 Cam Newton, 2013 Philip Rivers, and 2011 Andy Dalton, we find that Mariota throws the ball significantly less than Rivers and Dalton did, but threw the second highest number of touchdowns with the least amount of interceptions.
Comparing running backs between the Titans and the other three teams, we see that the combined force of Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry significantly outran the other three running backs. Murray alone ran for more yards and touchdowns on only eight more attempts than 2013 Ryan Mathews. This goes to show how committed to the run game the Titans are behind their powerful offensive line and the dynamic duo of Murray and Henry, not to mention Mariota’s abilities to run as well.
What can we expect from Davis in 2017? Comparing the three receivers below shows us that it might be reasonable to expect around 65-70 receptions for 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns. As a bit of extra evidence to predict Davis’ rookie season expectations, I am currently working on a prototype model to predict how many fantasy points a player will score in a season based on certain variables and factors. Putting Davis into the model, it predicted him to score 14 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring. On a weekly basis that is an average of 5 receptions for 60 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per week. Extrapolating that over a 16-game season would give us a stat line of 80 receptions for 960 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2017. Fantasy wise, that is a yearly total of 224 fantasy points, which in 2016 would have made him WR17 on the year. I will also point out that Mariota’s number one receiver last year was Rishard Matthews, who finished the year as the WR20 with 211.5 fantasy points. His stat line was 65 receptions for 945 yards and 9 touchdowns. As a Corey Davis fan, I firmly believe he can come in his rookie season and essentially be Rishard Matthews in that offense, if not better. His 2017 rookie season is looking very bright, with only better days ahead.
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