The fantasy and dynasty landscapes are filled with disagreements and debates, some of which are more friendly than others. Draft season, in particular, seems to stoke the coals of the timeless battle between the “tape” and “numbers” guys and gals of fantasy and real football analysis alike. Whilst the ever-sought “correct” way to analyse rookie prospects most certainly lays in no-mans-land, such a compromise would be far too rational to garner any kind of Twitter following.
With that in mind, the #DFFArmy rounded up eight of our best and brightest from the “numbers” (Editors note: The nerds) side of the ledger to share their post-draft thoughts on this year’s rookie crop in the form of a 12 team PPR mock. Whether you’re a like-minded data nut, or a film buff looking to get inside the head of your numbers-inclined league mates, you’ve come to the right place. Let the contrarianism commence!!
1.01 – Nathan – @JhawkChalk89
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
New York Giants, Round 1 Pick 2
What else is there to say about Saquon Barkley? The guy is a freak athlete with a size/speed combination that has football fans reminiscing about Adrian Peterson in his prime. The landing spot is ideal coming to a Pat Shurmur led offense infused with talent. Barkley’s strength in college was running outside the tackles, and no team ran more outside zone runs than a Pat Shurmur led Vikings offense.
KEY STAT: No need for key stats on Barkley, just watch his NFL combine and try not to salivate.
1.02 – Lukas – @DFF_Lukas
Rashaad Penny, RB, SDSU
Seattle Seahawks, Round 1, Pick 27
No brainer here. Penny has an ideal round 1 capital and had a robust production profile during his college career, drafted into a solid situation for early playing time. Penny is a fantastic selection early in dynasty drafts, one that should return value on your investment in year 1. Don’t overthink this or let his pre-draft ranking bias blind you if you weren’t on Penny before.
50.1% (98th%) Dominator, 7.8 (97th%) College YPC, 10.3 (72nd%) College Target Share.
1.03 – Addison – @amazehayes_
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Washington Redskins, Round 2 Pick 27
Still the 1.02 and I was able to get him at 1.03. Easy pick here. I don’t care about him sliding in the draft. I don’t care about the Redskins. I don’t care about Chris Thompson. I want Guice. He is the second best back in this draft EASILY and like Barkley should have been very landing spot proof.
1.04 – Mason – @DFF_Kiwi
Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
Denver Broncos, Round 3 Pick 7
Royce has been a Devy darling since before I joined the format, and rightfully so. He burst onto the scene his freshman year with over 1,300 rush yards and 18 TDs and never let up (at least when healthy) despite the loss of quality coaching staff and QBs alike. An injured 2016 and an exceptional yet not otherworldly SR season (46.15% Dominator) led to Freeman becoming a post-hype sleeper of sorts pre-draft despite his exceptional combine performance regarding weight adjusted speed (107.81 Speed Score) and agility (6.90 3-Cone).
Denver snagging Freeman was as close to a perfect match as one could ask for. The departure of C.J. Anderson left the team with the most RB opportunity available in the league per RotoViz and he only needs to fend off Booker for the starting job. Whilst Booker himself was no slouch as a prospect, he has lower draft capital than Freeman. It speaks volumes of Denver’s thoughts on Booker’s starting potential that they would go out and spend a day two pick on an all-purpose back. Royce can run, he can catch, he can do it all, fast, and he’s proven to be durable. I expect him to take the majority of Denver’s near-400 vacated RB targets and run with them from day one.
KEY STAT: The 107.81 Speed Score. That size & speed = problems for defenders.
1.05 – Jeremy – @DFF_Graphics
Ronald Jones, RB, USC
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 2 Pick 6
Jones dominated the Pac-12 for three years, amassing 3,519 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns, at an impressive clip of 6.3 yards per touch. According to Pro Football Focus, he forced 126 missed tackles and ranked 12th in elusive ranking. He finished the 2017 season with a 92.4 grade from PFF, highest among all draft-eligible running backs, and 5th highest all-time.
Ronald Jones enters an ideal situation in Tampa Bay, with Doug Martin departing for Oakland and incumbents Jacquizz Rodgers and Charles Sims failing to lock down a starting role. Jones could step in as the primary running back day 1.
KEY STAT: 1,377 yards on zone runs, #1 among draft-eligible running backs.
1.06 – Eric – @pprranks
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Cleveland Browns, Round 2 Pick 3
Chubb got back to it in his Senior season, finally looking like himself again after his Sophomore season injury. In 2017, Chubb averaged 6.0 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns. According to PFF, he ranked 5th among draft-eligible RBs in elusive rating. His 45 forced missed tackles was good for 2nd in the draft class. With a weight-adjusted Speed Score of 108.8, in the 89th percentile (per PlayerProfiler), it’s no wonder Chubb is a tough tackle.
Chubb’s landing spot isn’t the best. For starters, Cleveland has recently been a wasteland for fantasy production (save Josh Gordon’s breakout). He also has some competition for backfield touches with two legit RBs – Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. The presence of Duke Johnson will likely impact Chubb the most, as Johnson is a dynamic receiver and could poach almost all of the backfield receptions from Chubb. What makes this more concerning is that Chubb only caught 31 passes in all four college seasons combined. If he’s restricted to only rushing production, he may have a hard time coming close to the top 10 in RB Fantasy Points in 2018 or any time soon. One shining light of hope we have is that Cleveland has a new Offensive Coordinator, Todd Haley. In Pittsburgh, Haley had an RB finish top 6 in total PPR points each season from 2014-2017.
KEY STAT: 5.81 Yards Created per attempt out of shotgun formation (2nd behind Barkley) – per Graham Barfield
1.07 – Mike – @MikeCOliva
Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
New England Patriots, Round 1 Pick 31
Always part of a crowded Georgia background, Michel seems to be viewed by most as a “change-of-pace” back, but this is an incorrect assessment. His sophomore year he put up 1,161 yards with 8 TDs on 219 carries and 270 yards with 3 TDs on 26 catches. While his numbers dipped a bit his junior year, he truly broke out in his senior year. Even while splitting time with Nick Chubb, he put up 1,227 and 16 TDs on only 156 rushes (a staggering 7.87 ypc). He added nine catches for 96 yards and a TD in the receiving game. While his 40-time at the combine wasn’t blazing (4.54 sec.), it is a touch faster than the player he is most often compared to Alvin Kamara (4.56 sec.). Additionally, at 5’11” and 214 lbs, he has almost identical measurements to Kamara who is 5’10” and 214 lbs, and we saw last year that Kamara had no problem with 202 touches (120 carries and 82 receptions).
While the prevailing wisdom is that Bill Belichick plays musical chairs with running backs because he hates your fantasy football team, that’s not entirely true. When he finds a back that can be a lead back, he has no problem using them in that role. Last year, Dion Lewis emerged as that kind of back even though he is only 5’7”, 193 lbs. Lewis ended up totaling 180 carries and 32 receptions. With Lewis moving on to Tennessee, it is not inconceivable that Michel could step in and get a similar opportunity. He will be part of a loaded offense led by Tom Brady that will move the ball and put up points. The Patriots also do a great job of spreading out a defense meaning that Michel won’t be facing many stacked boxes. If he can win the “feature” role, he should have a good chance at 200 touches on a team that will often find itself in scoring position.
KEY STAT: His 7.87 ypc was a full 1.84 yards higher than his teammate Nick Chubb.
1.08 – Beans – @ChristipherBean
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Carolina Panthers, Round 1 Pick 24
From a metrics point of view, Moore is easily the WR1 in this draft. High Market Share, excellent breakout age, fantastic athleticism. Looking at his college production and Yards/Reception, he continues Carolinas recent trend of players who excel at spreading offenses out East and West. Targets may be an issue with Devin Funchess moving downfield, and Cam Newton’s suitability for a short area passing game is a question.
KEY STAT: 53.3% Dominator Rating at Maryland, 97th Percentile.
1.09 – Nathan – @JhawkChalk89
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Atlanta Falcons, Round 1 Pick 26
After the end of the season, the consensus WR1 in the draft was Calvin Ridley. As the NFL Draft neared the Ridley hype train started to lose some steam. Ridley’s slender frame along with mostly unimpressive combine numbers caused CR to drop even further. Fortunately for Ridley, he is landing in an ideal spot where he will be groomed by fellow Alabama superstar Julio Jones. For all the negativity surrounding CR, he is a route running technician and also blessed with solid straight-line speed. Ridley will contribute right away and due to Ryan’s contract extension, will have the luxury of playing with a former MVP for several years.
KEY STAT: SPARQ-98.7 College Dominator-30.1% College YPR-13.5 40 time-4.43 86th percentile
1.10 – Lukas – @DFF_Lukas
Kerryon Johnson, Running Back, Auburn
Detroit Lions, Round 2, Pick 11
Very tough selection here. I went back and forth between Kirk, Sutton, and Johnson but in the end, Johnson was the guy for this exercise. Johnson is a fun prospect, breaking into the NFL at the tender age of 20 with a lot of upside. His 2018 situation may be a bit murky with Theo handling the pass work but Johnson comes to Detroit via an early draft investment. If Johnson can fight off Ameer Abdullah and LeGarrette Blount in 2018 there is definitely some big-time upside late in round 1. Worst case Johnson sees an opportunity increase come 2019.
36.4% (82nd percentile) Dominator, 8.0% (54th percentile) College Target Share, 131.0 (93rd percentile) Burst Score.
1.11 – Addison – @amazehayes_
Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist
Denver Broncos, Round 2 Pick 8
1.12 – Mason – @DFF_Kiwi
Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
Dallas Cowboys, Round 3 Pick 17
I’ll admit I didn’t think much of Gallup during the pre-draft process. Sure he was a young small school guy with a solid Phenom (1.78) and great career production, the kind of thing that numbers freaks typically gush over. I guess I’d been dulled by the disappointments of drafts past to get too excited.
Exit Dez and I almost started booking D.J. Moore to Dallas, they loooooove their athletic specimens. By the end of round two, with the likes of Sutton, Kirk, and Washington off the board, I had begun to assume that Dak had insulted Jerry Jones’s mother. Then something strange happened. Dallas made a draft pick that wasn’t horrible! Gallup walks straight into Dez’s 132 vacated targets from last year, or at least Dallas needs him to. I can’t see Cole Beasley becoming Jarvis Landry, and Allen Hurns hasn’t shown true no.1 potential thus far. The Dallas coaches are effectively forced to scheme for Gallup from day 1. He’s used to carrying the load from college (37.34% career receiving dominator), and I’m probably high on him as a result.
KEY STAT: Had he had an FY MS/RecYds 4.81% points higher, Gallup would slide into the 61% successful branch of Kev Cole’s Regression Tree
Check back tommorow for round two.