Dynasty Football Factory

Laquon Treadwell Ain’t Dead(Yet)








Hot Take Alert: Laquon Treadwell sucks, he’s terrible, he’s slow, and runs bad routes. In fact, I think I saw Treadwell on the grassy knoll when JFK was assassinated. At least to hear Dynasty Twitter and various podcasts tell it, and well what we’ve seen so far from him as a player with our very own eyes. Treadwell’s current value has taken a precipitous fall since last year. So much so he can be obtained for a 2nd round rookie pick.

Granted, 15 yards on 1-reception in his rookie season is an inauspicious start to one’s professional career, and it doesn’t exactly point to greatness to come. But what fun is it to just agree with everyone else, even if they happen to be correct.

Brian and I have decided to take it upon ourselves to defend Laquon Treadwell and show exactly why there still may be hope for him yet.

Sitting here trying to come up with legitimate reasons to hold out hope for Treadwell is a tad harder than I thought it might be. In essence, this is an exercise in throwing things out there and hoping that some (any?) of them stick. We can’t tout his rookie season, so expect a lot of wishing, hoping and tearing down of other players.

As always, my first step is to go on PlayerProfiler.com and see what comp comes up for Treadwell. Drum roll, Dwayne Bowe, oh well that’s a sad trombone sound, huh. Dwayne Bowe did have a fairly productive career though – and oddly enough, both Bowe and Treadwell were selected as 1st round draft picks as the 23rd selection overall. So, there’s that!

But let’s dig a bit deeper into the Dwayne Bowe comparison. I’m sure you don’t hold many fond memories of Dwayne Bowe if any at all. Bowe did finish as a WR2 in 2007, WR2 in 2008, WR1 in 2010 and a WR2 in 2011. That’s a WR2 or better finish in 4 out of 5 seasons. Is that a good return on investment in your eyes? 

The fact that Treadwell isn’t an athletic marvel has struck a raw nerve with a lot of the fantasy community. It’s as if they are personally offended by his 4.65 40-time last year at his pro-day. Did everyone take the “under?” So while he’s not physical marvel, neither is DeAndre Hopkins, Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown or Doug Baldwin among many other successful NFL wide receivers including Dwayne Bowe.

Part of the current hatred for Treadwell most likely centers on the cost it took to obtain him. If you drafted him last year in a league, or in my case 5- or 6- leagues, you most likely used the 1.02 to do so. It’s unfortunate that Treadwell was the 2nd best prospect in what was essentially a 1-man rookie class, but you can’t blame Treadwell for that. Don’t be upset at Treadwell just because you didn’t have the foresight to trade out of the 1.02 and draft Jordan Howard at the 2.01.

Outside of Corey Coleman and maybe Will Fuller who else was in the discussion for at that draft position? Josh Doctson? Was Doctson season any more encouraging than Treadwell’s? Already injured through the pre-season, Doctson then re-injured himself after running fast two or three times in regular season games. And then missed the rest of the season. To boot, Doctson is also two years older than Treadwell. Doctson is going off the board at 44th overall while Treadwell is going off at 81 in the most recent Dynasty Football Factory ADP. In Dynasty League Football’s most recent ADP the divide is even more pronounced with Doctson at 49 and Treadwell at 95.  

Has Will Fuller done anything to show that he’s a receiver you feel comfortable throwing in your starting lineup on a weekly basis, outside of best ball leagues? He’s incredibly fast, yes, but drops the ball as if it’s dipped in canola oil. The balls he catches, he double-clutches as if to remind you how terrible his hands are at all times.

When determining if there’s any reason to hold out hope for Treadwell it’s important that we review many factors. The adversity faced in 2016. His age among this and last year’s draft class. His college production(which still matters for a 2nd-year pro) and his opportunity going forward.

2016 Adversity:

Put yourself in Laquon’s shoes…you’re a first-round draft pick who is eager to show his worth. To prepare, you do everything possible to develop a rapport with your starting QB, and you study the playbook.

If you weren’t closely paying attention to Minnesota Vikings football in 2016, you might have missed just how difficult it was to do those two things. Let me do my best to summarize what happened:

Objective #1: Develop rapport with QB

  • 8-days before season starts, Teddy Bridgewater’s leg decides to fold in half during a non-contact portion of practice. Insert backup QB, Shaun Hill.
  • Minnesota, coming off of an 11-5 season, bets on their team to contend if they can acquire a true starter
  • GM, Rick Spielman, trades for Sam Bradford

In just over a week before the regular season even started, Treadwell went from Teddy to Shaun to Sam as his QB to develop a rapport with.

Objective #2: Study the Playbook

As if the Vikings losing their franchise QB wasn’t enough, they suffered a season ending injuries to their best offensive player (Adrian Peterson) and their most irreplaceable non-QB (Matt Kalil) by Week-3.

A season-ending injury to their other OT  (Andre Smith) would follow two weeks later. The mounting injuries and lack of depth would prompt the Vikings to sign Jake Long off the street (who would then suffer his season-ending injury). The patchwork OL was an apparent liability.

After a 5-0 record to start the season, injuries became too much, the OL horrific, and the team found itself in a tailspin at 5-3. Norv “7-step drop” Turner waived the white flag as the team entered Week 9….

Pat Shurmur assumed OC responsibilities and drastically adjusted the playbook to a shotgun dominant, quick passing game…aka New Playbook.

Add in Treadwell’s hamstring and ankle injuries. You get the point. The 2016 Vikings season became a complete shit show.

Treadwell’s Age:

Laquon Treadwell is one of the 20 youngest wide receivers to be drafted in the first round in NFL history. The list includes a range of players from Hall of Famers (Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald), current studs (Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks), to busts (Mike Williams (USC), Chad Jackson). The majority of these players, however, established themselves to have very long, productive careers in the NFL.

Despite what you might think, all of the productive players didn’t break out in their rookie year, either. Would the Dynasty community be excited about an age 23 season of 72 receptions, 966 yards, and 3 touchdowns? Because that’s exactly what Ike Hilliard did following his Treadwell-like rookie year (2 recs., 42 yards). Ever hear of the 3rd-year wide receiver theory? In short, it’s theory that posits wide receivers often don’t break out until year-3 of their careers. I suggest you read @pprranks article that goes into much greater detail here.

Including Treadwell in the 2017 wide receiver class, here’s where he’d fall (age):

Rank Player Age Birth Date
1 JuJu Smith-Schuster 20 11.22.96
2 Curtis Samuel 20 8.11.96
3 Josh Malone 21 3.21.96
4 Chris Godwin 21 2.27.96
5 Isaiah Ford 21 2.9.96
6 KD Cannon 21 11.5.95
7 Malachi Dupre 21 10.12.95
8 Laquon Treadwell 21 6.14.95
9 Fred Ross 21 5.19.95
10 Robert Davis 21 4.2.95
11 Zay Jones 22 3.30.95
12 Taywan Taylor 22 3.2.95
13 Josh Reynolds 22 2.16.95
14 Chad Hansen 22 1.18.95
15 Corey Davis 22 1.11.95
16 Carlos Henderson 22 12.19.94
17 John Ross 22 11.27.94
18 Ryan Switzer 22 11.4.94
19 Mike Williams 22 10.4.94
20 Amara Darboh 23 2.1.94
21 Ardarius Stewart 23 12.8.93
22 DeDe Westbrook 23 11.21.93
23 Cooper Kupp 23 6.15.93

Who on the above list, that’s younger than Laquon Treadwell, is a slam-dunk no-doubt-about-it prospect? Perhaps, Smith-Schuster, he and Treadwell had similar breakout ages and yards per reception in college to go with underwhelming SPARQ-x scores. Curtis Samuel, the man without a position, I’ll pass. Josh Malone, maybe? He’s had one season of production in college.

Chris Godwin?! Chris freakin’ Godwin, well yeah I do like Godwin more than Treadwell, but I digress. The point isn’t to denigrate any of these prospects, it’s merely to illuminate the fact that all prospects have question marks. With Treadwell still only 21 years old we still view him through the prospect prism.

Refresh (College Resume):

The beauty of stats or perhaps their undoing is the use of them to justify any take you hold. I bet you I could find at least one corpse with a BMI that would comp to a first-round running back(depending on the state of decomposition of course). With that said, let’s find some stats that show that Treadwell is not as bad as you may believe.

His collegiate breakout age was 19 years, 2 months (85th percentile). This is the age when Treadwell first accounted for 20% of his teams receiving yards and TDs.

Let’s also look at some of his game logs versus top competition as a 20-year-old prospect in 2015:

  • Texas A&M (#4 pass defense):  5 rec., 102 yards, 1 TD
  • Vanderbilt (#5 pass defense): 8 rec., 135 yards
  • Auburn (#11 pass defense):  7 rec., 114 yards, 1 TD
  • Alabama (#3 total defense):  5 rec. 80 yards, 1 TD

How about some of his noteworthy accomplishments:

  • Led SEC in receiving yards
  • Led SEC in receiving TDs
  • #3 in SEC in receptions
  • Career #7 in SEC history receptions

2017 Opportunity:

The final reason to take a deep breath before placing final judgment on young Laquon Treadwell is opportunity.

With the departures of Cordarrelle Patterson and Charles Johnson in free agency, there is an opportunity void of 107 targets. At 6’2″, 228 lbs, with 33 3/8″ arms – no other wide receivers on Minnesota’s roster that possess a big body frame.

Competition for Targets:

Stefon Diggs has an extensive injury history going back to his days at Maryland. After a healthy 2015 rookie season, Diggs maintained a consistent presence on the injury report last season. This isn’t to insinuate that Stefon Diggs is injury prone, yet, but it is something that warrants keeping an eye on.


Season Week Injury Status
2016 17 hip Doubtful
2016 16 hip Questionable
2016 15
2016 14
2016 13 knee Questionable
2016 12 knee Questionable
2016 11
2016 10
2016 9
2016 8
2016 7 groin Questionable
2016 6
2016 5 groin Doubtful
2016 4
2016 3
2016 2
2016 1

After totaling 281 yards on 20 receptions through his first two seasons,
Adam Thielen exploded onto the scene last season. Exploded may be a tad strong of a description. But Thielen had a fine 2016 season, setting career highs with 69 receptions and 967 yards. Solid numbers no doubt.

But dig deeper into those stats with me. A full 20% of those yards came in his week 16 matchup against the Packers where he blew up for 202 yards on 12 catches including 2 touchdowns. Those 2 touchdowns accounted for 40% of Thielen’s 5 touchdowns for the season. The 12 catches accounted for 17% of his receptions on the year. If Green Bay had any semblance of a defensive backfield, I wonder if we’d all still be as high on Thielen.

“But Shane, it’s not fair to treat a great game as a negative is it?”, You’ll say. If that were all we had to go on, I’d say you’re probably correct. How about the fact that in 7- of his 16- games last season Thielen had 3 or fewer receptions. “Shane! The Vikings just signed Thielen to a 4 year $19 million dollar contract you dufus!”, You yell at me. True, but the dead money on that contract is only $2 million after the 2018 season, so it’s a 2-year contract in essence. So we have a player, who produced next to nothing his first two seasons and did a large majority of his damage in one game in the one season he’s provided decent fantasy numbers.

I’m not saying Adam Thielen isn’t a nice little player; I just don’t believe he’ll be an obstacle that Treadwell can’t hurdle.

In this day and age of instant gratification, I understand the frustration with a player drafted so highly not producing immediately. In fact, Treadwell may never produce commensurate with his draft capital. At best, Treadwell may top-out having a Dwayne Bowe level career. Throwing in the towel on a player after one season is pure folly though. Before the 2014 wide receiver class, it was commonly expected that a WR takes until year 3 to breakout, but we can’t even give Treadwell two seasons before we say he’s a bust? Treadwell has the draft pedigree, college production, and size that at least points to him having a successful career, so in our eyes, Laquon Treadwell ain’t’ dead yet.

Thanks for reading from @DFF_Shane and @bdhawkes!

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