by Nick Ercolano
June 24, 2019
I'll start off by talking about a general strategy I like to capitalize on in startup drafts, and it's a strategy based around rookie WRs.
From the months of February through the end of April, 3 months (90 interrupted days), all we hear about are rookies. 28 wide receivers were taken in this year's NFL Draft. Then there are probably another 40-60 signed as UDFAs. If you're tuned into dynasty at all, or just offseason football, you've probably heard the names of nearly every one of them at one point or another. Analyst X from Rotoworld loves WRA, B and C. Analyst Y from Yahoo loves WRD, E and F. Some of them test amazing at the combine, other's "flash on tape". Basically, any NFL rookie WR that gets drafted fits into one of those two categories, is a combination of both or their name is Riley Ridley
The important part to take away from this is that the HYPE is real. But unwarranted, because the far majority of rookies bust. That's a fact. And of the ones that don't bust, specifically wide receivers - they take a long time to develop and give you return on actual investment.
During the hype phase, almost all rookies will be at peak value during the startup drafts. Some of the early capital will be well warranted, but the majority won't.
And in that delta, you'll find sophomore wide receivers, who are coming off their rookie seasons and probably "disappointed", so their value drops. For instance, right now:
Are all getting drafted (per FFPC) from picks 55-129 (Round 5-10)
In those same spots are wide receivers who have already gone through that rookie year, low-production phase, so you've got that one year out o the way. Again, the majority of these guys will not do well this year and their ADPs will drop.
Guys getting drafted in the same places as these guys, or later in their sophomore or junior year:
When the 2019 season comes to an end, the majority of these guys will have much more value in dynasty than the rookies, because just like this list, how were drafted in the 6th, 7th, 8th round and have dropped a round or two in value, the same thing will happen to them. So, for the same price, you're filtering out the rookie year production dip.
This also allows you to go more RB heavy upfront, or take veteran WRs like Julio or AB that only have a few prime years remaining, because these younger guys are only a year or two away from being NFL starters, as opposed to 2-3 years during their rookie year.
Case in point, sophomore wideouts' values are at an all-time low while rookies are at an all-time high in dynasty startups, ESPECIALLY IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE NFL DRAFT. The more social media becomes a thing, the more you're going to hear about the rookies for these three months. And the more hype they're all going to get. Of course, this isn't black and white. Mike Evans and OBJ were not tradable for going into their sophomore season. Of course, this will happen, but it's just a general rule of thumb and strategy.
With that being said, some guys I absolutely love trading for, or away in dynasty right now based on a few things, such as contracts ending both theirs or their teammates who will move the depth chart around, maybe it's because I see their ADP is off because of people wrongly valuing a player based on their age.
***Btw, this is the kind of strategy stuff I give away in my dynasty guide (along with the szn long guide on bigdogsdraftguide.com) --- Also about contract - bets resources***
Current Dynasty ADP (per FFPC): WR34, 83rd Overall
The audacity y'all have. I'd argue that Kirk should be getting picked closer to D.J. Moore who is going around pick 38 overall than some of the guys he's around. He's closer to Jordan Howard, D'Onta Foreman, Trey Burton, then he is D.J. Moore.
I like Kirk a ton in redraft this year, but with this almost definitely being Larry Fitz' final season, Kirk is gonna be the top dog next year in this receiving core. Ironically, I made a video like this last year, and Kirk was also on it, because I said last year was Fitz' final season.. but here we are.
What we have from Kirk is a sensational college resume. A breakout age of 18 years old, with a college dominator, the percentage of his college team's receiving stats he accounted for in the 73rd percentile.
We're hearing more and more about this college dominator, and breakout age to identify wide receiver prospects right? So, I wanted to dive a bit deeper give the profile of Kirk and how good it is. I went and exported every Wide Receiver that's played in the NFL over the last, 6 years I think, back to 2013, that's all the data I found and the results were pretty staggering.
So, like Kirk I wanted to filter down to young breakout ages. I narrowed the WRs down to anyone that broke out at age 19.0 or younger. That had a college dominator in the top 1/3rd percentile, so 67% or better and furthermore to WRs that went to schools in Power 5 conferences. I see a lot of players bust that have high CDs and young B/O ages, the very far majority went to shitty schools. So using this criterion, that narrows it down to about 25 WRs. 4 of those were UDFA's one went in the 7th round, the rest were in the 5th round or earlier. Here are the names:
Did y'all hear that list of names? Of the 15 that weren't a rookie last year or going to be a rookie this year, 13-of-15 (87%) have at least one 1,000-yard season in the NFL, some obviously have far, far more. The two that have busted are Paul Richardson and Earl Bennett. This is a near immaculate least people. And not just okay players, the majority of them are/or were absolute studs.
Kirk's rookie season ended with a broken foot following Week 13. In the 10 games that he played with Rosen,
This is a 16-game pace of nearly 100 targets and 900 receiving yards. Keep in mind how bad this offense was, and how much more accurate downfield Kyler Murray is than Josh Rosen. Kyler Murray and Kirk actually played together at Texas A&M back in 2015 during his freshman year, Kyler wasn't the full-time starter but they were on the field together for around 650 of Kyler's passing yards.
We have Kliff coming in, this offense will run a million more plays after ranking dead last in offensive plays last year. Kirk is the perfect fit for this offense, given his speed and versatility. In the air raid offense, he'll be running on the outside and in the slot plenty, using his 4.47 speed to separate from defenders over the middle, but he played a lot downfield last year too, he ran 71% of his routes on the outside. He had 100% of the Cardinals touchdowns of 40+ yards last year.
He had a 20.4% target share in the offense last year, that's great for a rookie and was super successful against all coverages.
Matt Harmon from Yahoo, does the Reception Perception and puts it in the FFBallers UDK each year and Kirk didn't disappoint - he had an 82% success rate vs. zone and nearly a 70% success rate vs. man coverage. He can do it all, there's a reason his closest player comp is Stefon Diggs. This offense is going to open him up - and that's all we're hearing out of camp. He's been the best WR easily of the group, Kliff said he's caught onto the crazy air raid offense very quickly, no surprise given what they ran at Texas A&M was a bit similar. I don't listen to a lot of coach speak during this time of the summer, but when there's smoke there's fire, when you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, from different sources, coaches, beat reports, teammates.. there's usually something there.
Current ADP (Per FFPC): WR15, 36th Overall)
WR13. WR12. WR8. WR14. Those are Brandin Cooks' fantasy finishes over the last four seasons. He's currently the 15th wide receiver being taken off the board, despite being 25 years old and finishing better than that ADP in his 21, 22, 23, 24-year-old season.
I looked this up. Since the year 2000 (numbers don't go back further), there have been 87 individual WR seasons hitting 1,100 total yards, while the WR was under the age of 26. Cooks is literally the only player to do it 4 times. The list of players that have done it three times? A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, OBJ and Randy Moss, like are you fucking shitting me with that list.
A perfect example of why breaking out early in college is important, cooks another 18-year-old breakout like Kirk. Doesn't come into the NFL needing years to develop.
So why is he going at WR16 when his worst fantasy finish over the last four seasons was WR14? I've heard people complain about Cooks' consistency. I get why people get that notion. When you think of Cooks you think of speed. When you think of speed you think of deep balls. When you think of deep balls you think of boom-or-bust, thus, his fall in ADP. Last year, Cooks had two bad games, at Denver and at Chicago, Goff was awful in those. You thought I was going to use Gawful and fuck you for thinking that. Outside of those two games, sure Cooks wasn't elite week-over-week, but he scored double-digit fantasy points in 9-of-15 (60%) of the games, including 5 games of 19+ points. The remaining four were between 7.7 and 9.8 fantasy points, not week killers.
At WR16, you're not finding a guy that doesn't have at least a handful of bad games every season. With Cooks, you're not hoping on hypothetical upside, the guy has gone for 1,100 yards in 4 straight seasons, including a career-year in 2018 with 80 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards, and best of all he finished with only 5 receiving touchdowns which is bound for positive regression in 2019 based on the volume and his 8 touchdowns/season in the previous three years.
You might think Cooper Kupp coming back will lower Cooks' ceiling. 1. Kupp tore his ACL in Week 11 of last year and won't be full health until weeks into the season. 2. It's just fake news:
Cooks was AWESOME with Kupp on the field.
The Rams superstar is also just 25 years old... and we know his floor, which is quite high. But are we sure we've seen his ceiling? The age apex for wide receivers usually starts around 24-25 and lasts through 29. Cooks could very well be on his way up statistically, in an offense that's poised to continue its McVay-led domination. With Gurley's knee unlikely to hold up or at least push him to the type of carry volume he's seen in recent years, I'm betting the Rams aerial assault is in full force come 2019, led by alpha Brandin Cooks.
Goff is going to get his extension, McVay definitely ain't going anywhere, Cooks' dead cap hit would be an absurd amount through 2021, and still over $8M in 2022, so he's gonna be in this mix for a long, long time.
Current ADP (Per FFPC): RB20, 41st Overall
Listen I like Damien Williams a lot in redraft. I really do. But not at pick 40 in a dynasty startup. The 40th pick overall for a 27-year old RB, who went undrafted, who's owed almost no money from KC. They resigned him for two years at the end of 2018, but the contract was 2 years, $5M, it was really nothing, and the dead cap next year would be $500K, so if he gets hit with the injury bug, or just doesn't perform to the level we expect, the Chiefs have no allegiance to just form a timeshare here or get rid of him next offseason.
RB Apex article:
Williams has been in the NFL for 5 years, never played a full 16 games, never had more than 50 carries in a regular season. There's an unbelievable amount of projection, based off of a 5-game sample size from last year, for Williams going this early. The situation is great obviously, but how long can you ride that out for? Realistically, like I like Williams in redraft, an RB1 probably, but you really think this will run on for two straight years? Highly doubtful, and AS SOON as he's not looked at as the absolute workhorse in KC, his value dips. I can't imagine we're going back into 2020 with Damien Williams being the featured back in KC. And the problem is, it's not that I don't think people who are 27 can't do well, and he doesn't have a lot of tread on the tires, but like after these two years, he'll be 29 - it's not like he's 24 or 25 and will get another shot somewhere else. I mean it happens, but not often.
And if you're drafting someone at pick #40, you better be hoping for more than one year from a player.tt
I just got him in one of my startups, but it was in the 6th round of 12-teamer. I'm fine with that. Again, the earlier you pick players, the riskier it gets.
by Nick Ercolano
August 03, 2020
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