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ZWK's 2022 Prospect Analysis (1 Viewer)

ZWK

Footballguy
Poor pro day numbers from Isaiah Spiller, Isaiah Likely, Justyn Ross, and Jalen Wydermyer. Out of those 4 only Ross's numbers are on draftscout, which is what I treat as official/correct for pro days.

Isaiah Spiller: 4.63 reported 40 (I had him estimated at 4.55 after skipping the combine, this would knock him down to a tier)
Isaiah Likely: 4.80 reported 40, 238 lb (was 245 lb at the combine, this knocks him down at least a tier)
Justyn Ross: 4.64 40, 31.5" vert, 116" broad (this knocks him down a bit but not that much)
Jalen Wydermyer: 5.03 reported 40 (this would basically make him undraftable for fantasy)

Spiller is the biggest news since he was the highest-regarded of these guys. There were reports that his poor jumps at the combine were due to nagging injuries, but this slow 40 time is right in line with his poor jumps. Successful NFL RBs who had slow 40s generally jumped better than Spiller. A few examples

Spiller
217 lb
4.63 reported 40
30" vert
114" broad

Kareem Hunt
216 lb
4.62 40
36.5" vert
119" broad

James Robinson
219 lb
4.64 40
40" vert
125" broad

Le'Veon Bell
230 lb
4.60 40
31.5" vert
118" broad

Devin Singletary
203 lb
4.66 40
35" vert
117" broad

So Hunt, Robinson, and Bell all had significantly better overall size+athleticism numbers (even without accounting for Bell's great agility numbers or his unusual play style). Though Singletary at 203 pounds had a worse physical profile than Spiller.

Isaiah Likely is maybe the biggest news for me, since he's the one who I was highest on relative to consensus & therefore most likely to draft. Still waiting on his draftscout numbers before I try to settle on a conclusion.

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Thought Spiller ran a 4.59 and 4.53 today. Where are you getting your numbers from? I'm just curious and could be wrong, but that's what I was seeing on Twitter. 

 

ZWK

Footballguy
I linked it - Jane Slater on Twitter. I saw someone else posted the same times and a different someone posted different times. We'll see what Draftscout says - their pro day times generally seem good (e.g. last year's were pretty close to what we would've expected to see at the combine).

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Poor pro day numbers from Isaiah Spiller, Isaiah Likely, Justyn Ross, and Jalen Wydermyer. Out of those 4 only Ross's numbers are on draftscout, which is what I treat as official/correct for pro days.

Isaiah Spiller: 4.63 reported 40 (I had him estimated at 4.55 after skipping the combine, this would knock him down to a tier)
Isaiah Likely: 4.80 reported 40, 238 lb (was 245 lb at the combine, this knocks him down at least a tier)
Justyn Ross: 4.64 40, 31.5" vert, 116" broad (this knocks him down a bit but not that much)
Jalen Wydermyer: 5.03 reported 40 (this would basically make him undraftable for fantasy)
Draftscout now has pro day times for these guys, and they're as bad as I thought. 4.64 for Spiller, 4.83 for Likely, 5.02 for Wydermyer.

In good pro day news, Toledo RB Bryant Koback, Notre Dame TE Charlie Kolar, and TE Jelani Woods had great workouts.

Koback ran 4.49 & had a 40.5" vert. Good 40, excellent vert.

Kolar ran 4.62 & jumped well.

Woods had a 37.5" vert & 10'9" broad, amazing jumps for a TE, to go along with the 4.61 he ran at the combine.

Updated top 4 TEs by my formula are Greg Dulcich, Jelani Woods, Charlie Kolar, and Trey McBride (still waiting on McBride's pro day - he didn't run at the combine).

With Koback, I had also been missing elusiveness data because he isn't on PFF's big board. Then I found this tweet from Matt Gajewski, which has him even with Kenneth Walker for 3rd best YAC/att this season among draft-relevant RBs (and the other RBs' numbers match what PFF has). So that's real good for him too. My formula now has Koback as its RB3, ahead of Allgeier, Rachaad White, etc.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Biggest combine snubs (at fantasy-relevant positions) by my numbers:

WR Deven Thompkins    Utah State
WR Jaquarii Roberson    Wk Forest
WR Jack Sorenson    Miami (Oh)
WR Jaivon Heiligh    Coast Car
WR Jerreth Sterns    Western Ky
RB Bryant Koback    Toledo
RB Shermari Jones    Coast Car
RB DeAndre Torrey    N Texas

This year's top 2 FBS players in receiving yards are both on this list. Jerreth Sterns led the country with 1902 receiving yards, with Deven Thompkins in 2nd at 1704. Both were Biletnikoff semifinalists. Neither gets a combine invite. Thompkins measured in at 5'6.8" 153 lbs at the College Gridiron Showcase, which is 2 pounds lighter than Tutu Atwell's pro day weight. He also has legit track speed, with a 10.79 100m PR in high school (10.85 wind-adjusted). Maybe if Atwell had a better rookie year. Sterns measured in at a comparatively massive 5'7.4" 183 lbs at the Shrine Game, which is close to Tyreek Hill's pre-draft size, but he doesn't have that kind of speed.


I realize the NFL cannot invite everyone, but those are notable omissions.  I will add a few:

WR Emeka Emezie    NC State
WR Samori Toure    Nebraska
TE Derrick Deese, Jr.    San Jose State
TE Lucas Krull    Pittsburgh


These 12 combine snubs have all had their pro days now (although I'm still awaiting the results-I-treat-as-official from draftscout for 2 of them). How'd they do?

Great pro days
RB Bryant Koback    Toledo: 5'11, 209, 4.49 40, 40.5" vert, 10'4 broad
WR Jaquarii Roberson    Wk Forest: reported 6'1, 182, 4.43 40, 40" vert, 10'11 broad (awaiting draftscout numbers)
WR Jerreth Sterns    Western Ky: reported 4.49 40, 40" vert (awaiting draftscout numbers)
WR Deven Thompkins    Utah State: 5'7, 167, 4.44 40, 38.5" vert, 11'0" broad
TE Lucas Krull    Pittsburgh: 6'6, 253, 4.64 40, 35" vert, 10'0" broad

Koback, who I talked about in my last post, is the best of the bunch in terms of having production & decent size along with strong athletic testing. The WRs are all undersized: Roberson thin, Sterns short, and Thompkins both, although Thompkins did manage to gain 14 pounds since the end of the season which makes him less small than he was. My formula likes Thompkins the most of the WRs in this post, mainly because of his production. Krull has pretty good size & athleticism but his production wasn't that good, especially in terms of market share & big plays.
 

Okay pro days
RB Shermari Jones    Coast Car: 6'0, 213, 4.55 40, 33.5" vert, 10'2" broad
RB DeAndre Torrey    N Texas: 5'7, 201, 4.57 40, 38.5" vert, 9'10" broad
WR Samori Toure    Nebraska: 6'1, 191, 4.48 40, 34.5" vert, 10'4" broad
 

Bad pro days
WR Emeka Emezie    NC State: 6'2, 210, 4.82 40, 29" vert, 9'6" broad
WR Jack Sorenson    Miami (Oh): 6'0, 189, 4.71 40, 31" vert, 9'6" broad
WR Jaivon Heiligh    Coast Car: 6'1, 202, 4.66 40, 36" vert, 9'9" broad
TE Derrick Deese, Jr.    San Jose State: 6'3, 244, 4.93 40, 31" vert, 10'0" broad

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Playmaker Score dropped on Football Outsiders. Here's how their model ranks this year's WR class before accounting for projected draft position. The number is the percentile relative to past drafted WRs.

98.2%    Treylon Burks
97.3%    Garrett Wilson
96.8%    Jameson Williams
94.8%    Wan'Dale Robinson
94.0%    Skyy Moore
83.1%    Chris Olave
82.7%    John Metchie III
77.4%    Kyle Philips
75.8%    Khalil Shakir
74.5%    David Bell
70.2%    Kevin Austin Jr.
64.2%    Erik Ezukanma
64.0%    Jalen Tolbert
63.5%    Drake London
61.5%    George Pickens
57.9%    Slade Bolden
54.8%    Jahan Dotson
54.8%    Tyquan Thornton

Follow the link for the below average prospects, and for the projections which incorporate draft position. e.g., Olave's projected 1st round draft capital moves him up to 3rd.

 

bmsarvis

Footballguy
I’m not saying they’re worthless but try to avoid the highlight reels. They can be so deceptive. I’ve made plenty of mistakes because of the highlights lol. That said I agree with you 100%

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
Finally got to watch some Drake London highlights.  I really don’t understand why he consider as one of the top WRs in this class.  
Big, makes tough catches, produced as a true freshman even with Amon Ra and Pittman on the team, was on pace for an epic year before the ankle injury

 

Ilov80s

Footballguy
After 8 games (including the game he suffered his season ending injury), London was on pace for 132 receptions. 12 games, 132 receptions. That is insane. Just to put it in perspective, Devonta Smith won the Heisman last year with 117 catches over 13 games. 

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Gearing up for the draft, here's what my rookie draft board would look like if I was drafting today. Assuming superflex, because that's more interesting.

1    RB    Breece Hall
2    RB    Kenneth Walker
3    QB    Malik Willis
4    WR    Drake London
5    WR    Garrett Wilson
6    WR    Treylon Burks
7    WR    Jameson Williams
8    WR    Chris Olave
9    QB    Kenny Pickett

10    QB    Matt Corral
11    QB    Desmond Ridder
12    WR    Jahan Dotson
13    WR    Skyy Moore
14    WR    George Pickens
15    QB    Sam Howell
16    WR    Christian Watson
17    RB    Isaiah Spiller

18    RB    Rachaad White
19    RB    Zamir White
20    RB    Brian Robinson
21    WR    Jalen Tolbert
22    RB    James Cook
23    WR    Wan'Dale Robinson
24    RB    Tyler Allgeier
25    TE    Trey McBride
26    WR    John Metchie
27    WR    David Bell
28    RB    Dameon Pierce
29    WR    Alec Pierce
30    TE    Greg Dulcich
31    RB    Jerome Ford
32    WR    Khalil Shakir
33    RB    Pierre Strong
34    RB    Kyren Williams
35    RB    Tyler Badie
36    WR    Justyn Ross
37    WR    Calvin Austin
38    QB    Carson Strong

39    TE    Jelani Woods
40    TE    Charlie Kolar
41    QB    Bailey Zappe
42    WR    Tyquan Thornton
43    WR    Romeo Doubs
44    TE    Isaiah Likely
45    RB    Keaontay Ingram
46    RB    Kennedy Brooks
47    TE    Jeremy Ruckert
48    RB    Hassan Haskins
49    RB    Bryant Koback
50    RB    D'vonte Price
51    RB    Abram Smith
52    RB    Kevin Harris
53    TE    Cade Otton

This is heavily influenced by projected draft position and other people's ratings & analysis; I'm acting more as an aggregator than an analyst here.

Compared to other years, the main place where this class is stronger than usual is in rd3 of rookie drafts, and into rd4 (especially since some of the rd3 guys are likely to fall). I expect that rd3 will continue to be relatively strong after the NFL draft, but rd4 might not look as good once things settle.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Looking at the top WRs, these are the guys who are generally projected to go in the first 2 rounds of the NFL draft, with this projected order: Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams or Drake London, Chris Olave, Treylon Burks, Jahan Dotson, George Pickens or Skyy Moore, Christian Watson.

Williams is a late riser, and Dotson is generally projected on the 1-2 turn.

Hayden Winks & Scott Barrett recently published their analytics-informed WR rankings. They're 2 of the best out there at taking an approach that is thorough enough to include context, which leads to rankings that it would actually be reasonable to draft off of.

Winks's top 8: D London, G Wilson, J Williams, C Olave, G Pickens, T Burks, S Moore, J Dotson. He has C Watson 13th.

Winks also has purely analytics-based rankings, which give a top 8 of: J Williams, G Wilson, D London, C Olave, T Burks, S Moore, G Pickens, J Dotson. With C Watson 10th.

Barrett breaks his rankings apart into power 5 & non-P5. His Power 5 top 6: D London, J Williams, C Olave, G Wilson, T Burks // G Pickens, J Dotson
Non-P5 top 2: C Watson, S Moore.

Bob McGinn's annual poll NFL personnel people (who were each asked to rank their top 5 WRs) gives a top 7 of: G Wilson (57), J Williams (56), C Olave (47), D London (46), T Burks (18), J Dotson (8), S Moore (4). Two other receivers got votes, but G Pickens & C Watson didn't get any.

Matt Harmon has Reception Perception numbers on how reliably each receiver gets open (according to some standard of "open" which he has been using for years). They're behind a paywall, but he has Tweeted the receiving charts of 5 of the top 9, and 2 more of them have been discussed on Twitter. Skyy Moore, Chris Olave, Jahan Dotson, and Garrett Wilson have great numbers, Drake London is pretty good, Jameson Williams & Treylon Burks are not so good. Not much public on Pickens or Watson.

My WR rating formula basically gives a thumbs up to 6 of these 9 receivers, with Burks out in front and the other 5 pretty tightly packed. Its top 7 WRs are: T Burks, D London, J Williams, G Wilson, Jalen Tolbert, C Olave, J Dotson.

Christian Watson would also be in that pack if I took his FCS stats at face value & plugged them into my formula, but I generally don't do that with FCS receivers and I'm a bit skeptical. Skyy Moore my formula is probably underrating - he comes out better in most other analytics approaches.

 
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TripItUp

Footballguy
My impressions of this year's WR Class

Olave looks somewhat ordinary on tape.  The type of player that will put up solid, but not great stats.

Jameson Williams and Garret Wilson jump off the screen when you watched them play against elite competition.  They look like future All Pros to me almost regardless of where they end up.

Burks is interesting - He has some great highlights and measurables but you worry about him not becoming a polished WR a la Cordarelle Patterson and other athletic , low volume WRs before him.   Will it take him 3 or 4 years to become an NFL WR?  Or can he DK Metcalf his way through the league?  I'll probably fade him unless he lands in an incredible situation.

London almost looks like a TE on tape...it'll be interesting to see how he is utilized but I wouldn't draft him unless he lands with a team where you can expect a lot of redzone targets or just a ton of high quality targets in general.   Probably a fade unless he lands in a terrific spot.

Watson is intriguing but difficult to assess given the competition level.  In general I do like him and think he could end up being the SOD of the draft class if he slides.

Dotson looks great and would look great in a spread offense like AZ or KC.  I could see him surprising fantasy owners right out of the gate in the right situation.  You always worry about the little guys getting injured so it's a concern.

Pickens feels like one of the most overrated WRs in this class to me...him or Olave.  I just don't see anything special.  That's not to say he won't be serviceable.

Generally speaking evaluations/impressions are 90% tape, 10% measurables.  So if you're a measurables guy, we probably disagree a lot.

 
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ZWK

Footballguy
I made a couple of posts earlier on this year's QB class, and my views haven't changed much. None of the QB prospects are all that good, but at least the top 5 are all good runners (including a great runner in Willis).

I watched some game cut-ups of all five, mixing in some other QBs like CJ Stroud, Bryce Young, and Grayson McCall to maintain perspective (and get a head start on next year). That didn't change my views much. I liked Young the most, followed by Stroud (production numbers have Stroud then Young).

If I was doing my own independent evaluations, ignoring other people's rankings & projected draft order, I'd lean towards Matt Corral first for NFL value. Best overall production profile, and a lot of his negatives relate to what he was asked to do in that offense rather than anything that he did badly.

But I don't have that much faith in my ability to evaluate quarterbacks, and wasn't that comprehensive about it, so I'll defer to consensus in putting Willis & Pickett first. So obviously Willis first for fantasy, because of his running. I will go with my own evaluation of Corral > Ridder, as there isn't a clear consensus favorite between them.

I wish there was more info out there about the 2020 season; a lot of evaluations focus on 2021. Desmond Ridder's 2021 rushing production wasn't that impressive, especially the YAC/MT data, but his raw rushing numbers were better in 2018-20 and I don't know if his advanced stats were too. I don't know if he's a "good speed but limited elusiveness" guy or if 2021 was just a down year. Corral & Howell's passing numbers were better in 2020 than 2021, especially their accuracy (CPOE), and I wish I had a better understanding of why. Probably part of it was a loss of surrounding talent (Elijah Moore + Kenny Yeboah, Dyami Brown + Dazz Newsome + RBs), but I wish I'd found more that dug into the details. Should I think of their 2020 stats as inflated, or their 2021 offenses as leaning on them in unusual ways because of the lack of surrounding talent. There's this quote about UNC encouraging Howell to run more in 2021. Did Mississppi run fewer RPOs in 2020? Did Corral & Howell go through their progressions more in 2020?

Bottom line fantasy rankings, if my draft was today, are a few posts up: Willis, [gap] Pickett, Corral, Ridder, Howell, [gap] Strong, Zappe

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Drake London was peppered with targets this year. A lot of quick-hitters underneath, a fair number of screens where he did a pretty good job after the catch, plenty of deep balls (PFF has him with 15 receptions 20+ yards downfield, which might be the most per game of any receiver in the past few draft classes), intermediate routes. Very high volume stats - target rate, YPTA, YPRR, MS. His YPT wasn't so good (8.7), but it was much higher the year before (10.9) when he had a smaller role. This year defenses knew the team wanted to get him the ball and he was doubled a lot. Looks pretty fluid after the catch, a good number of missed tackles but not great yards after the catch (unlikely to run by the defense on a slant or get behind the defense on a go & take it to the house).

Didn't workout which is definitely a negative; the question is how bad it is. Is he a 4.55 guy who felt he wouldn't have much to gain or a 4.65 guy who wanted to hide it? Recruiting Analytics claims that he hit 21.4 mph in a game which is pretty good, but I don't have a ton of trust in the meaningfulness of their numbers.

Relatedly, lots of contested catches which is generally a bad sign. Though it's not clear which stat is most relevant here; his total number of uncontested catches is also high (even though the % of his catches that were contested is high). And Matt Harmon's Reception Perception rated him as getting open pretty reliably. Some of the reason for the high number of contested catches is his quarterback trusting him to win on those targets (and that trust was well-deserved - he caught 2/3 of them), some is defenses focusing on him, some is the throw letting coverage close in when he had been open (though not unusually common with London - apparently Alec Pierce suffered from this the most).

So there are some negatives there with athleticism & getting open, but all the receivers in this class have negatives. Especially size - London & Burks are the only 2 of the top 9 WRs with good size (say at least 6' and 26 BMI).

Some people have been comping London to Mike Evans, which seems kinda off because Evans was significantly bigger (including 12 pounds & 4+ inches of wingspan) and London is significantly better after the catch (which Evans is famously bad at).

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Drake London vs Garrett Wilson at WR1 was a close call for me, and I've gone back and forth on it. If I was drafting right now I'd be content to let someone else make the choice and then take whoever's left.

When I was watching QB game cutups, Elijah Moore & Garrett Wilson are the two WRs who most jumped out at me. CJ Stroud kept having open receivers, and his receivers regularly turned slightly-off-target throws into routine-looking catches, and this especially happened with Wilson.

My production formula is probably underrating Wilson's production, because it doesn't know that he was playing each year with 2-3 other likely first round WRs (Olave, Jameson Williams, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, maybe Marvin Harrison Jr.). I'm wary of making excuses for players who don't meet the production bar, but in Wilson's case he did meet the production bar, and the target competition just makes that more impressive.

Part of why I went with London over Wilson is that Hayden Winks & Scott Barrett both do adjust for target competition, and they both went with London over Wilson. Probably would've had Wilson first on my draft board if they both did.

A bit of a tangent: Accounting for target competition boosts the other Ohio State WRs some too, but I think not as much as Wilson. Olave still stayed in school for 4 years, and fell to WR1c in his final season behind a junior & a sophomore. JSN doesn't really need the boost because his 2021 already looks great (it's the best season we've seen from an OSU WR in recent years by my reckoning). Some of that is Smith-Njigba's absolutely ridiculous production in the 2 games that Wilson missed (15/240/1 then 15/347/3), and some is that he was neck-and-neck with Wilson for WR1a in the games that they played together (with slightly lower totals but slightly higher YPRR, 3.32 vs 3.00). And Jameson Williams is still a one-year wonder; 9/154/2 receiving is pretty unimpressive for a sophomore, even playing behind Wilson & Olave. Oddly, Williams got plenty of snaps in 2020 (about 2/3 as many as Wilson or Olave), he was just rarely targeted (about 1/3 the targets per route run). I just learned that a few days ago via Scott Barrett; it seems a bit worse than not seeing the field because of elite talent in front of you. With Marvin Harrison Jr. it's too soon to tell.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
(Previous TE posts here and here and here and kinda here)

4 TEs have strong production+athleticism profiles by my formula:

Trey McBride
Greg Dulcich
Jelani Woods
Charlie Kolar

In that order. They are being projected as TE 1, 2, 5, and 7, in the same order, with McBride in rd2, Dulcich in rd3, and Woods & Kolar near the rd3/4 border.

By production, I have them: Dulcich, McBride, Kolar, Woods, with Dulcich & McBride great, Kolar pretty good, Woods okay.

By size & athleticism, I have them: Woods, Kolar, McBride, Dulcich, with Woods great, Kolar & McBride pretty good, Dulcich okay.

Watching them play, Woods & Kolar's size stands out a lot more than their athleticism. Woods doesn't move fluidly. Kolar wasn't used that much down the field, and doesn't do much after the catch. Kolar was a good contested catch receiver & caught a lot of red zone TDs; there were a lot of plays in his game cutups where his QB put the ball up high for him. Dulcich was rarely targeted in contested catch situations.

Those are my top 4 TEs in fantasy drafts, in that order. And you may not need to go any deeper than that, since Woods & Kolar are being drafted pretty late.

After those 4, it gets messier.

By my formula, the other 5 TEs with a pretty good profile are

James Mitchell
Isaiah Likely
Gerrit Prince

Daniel Bellinger
Chigoziem Okonkwo

Likely & Prince have strong production but tested poorly at their prodays, Bellinger & Okonkwo have mediocre production & good athletic testing, and James Mitchell has pretty good production but didn't work out. Likely is the only one of the 5 who's generally being projected in the top 150 picks, although I'm occasionally seeing others rated up there. Okonkwo came in at TE5 in Bob McGinn's annual poll of NFL personnel people, and Bellinger was 5th in Hayden Winks's purely analytics-based rankings and 4th in Football Outsiders' new Travis TE prospect projections (partly because Scouts Inc projects him at pick 127).

By projected draft order, the other 3 TEs who are ahead of Kolar are Jeremy Ruckert, Isaiah Likely, and Cade Otton. Ruckert & Otton didn't do athletic testing and were generally expected to run in the low 4.7s, although some film guys like Zierlein said good things about Ruckert's athleticism. Ruckert was also stuck behind Ohio State's ridiculous WR corps.

If I was drafting today, I guess my draft board would order these guys: Likely, Ruckert, Bellinger, Okonkwo, Otton, Mitchell, Prince.

Though I see that I had Otton ahead of Bellinger in my post a couple days ago. It maybe depends on how deep rosters are. If they're just barely deep enough to fit one of these guys, then Bellinger seems more churnable than Otton, since I can cut Bellinger if he falls to rd6 but I'll definitely like him more than Otton if they both wind up getting drafted in (say) early rd4.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
At RB there's Hall & Walker, and then ... there's everyone else.

My previous RB posts include: rushing efficiency, YAC, tape & impressions, post-combine rankings

My formula has Hall & Walker close together as very good prospects. Not as good as JT, Etienne, or Javonte, but better than everyone else over the past 2 years. Good early 2nd rd NFL picks, roughly.

Spiller is the consensus RB3, projected on the Rd2/3 turn. I'm not that impressed by his production, and his athleticism is pretty bad. He's still RB3 on my draft board, because consensus likes him & there aren't any great options to put ahead of him.

By my formula, RB3 is Bryant Koback, Toledo RB, 5th year senior, combine non-invite, projected UDFA. Very good pro day, good YAC/MT, good rushing efficiency, good receiving production, pretty good volume. My formula has him as maybe a borderline 2nd/3rd rounder, close to the top 2 than to the pack. No one else sees him that way; even I don't see him that way when I watch his highlights. So he's an intriguing sleeper rather than a top RB.

Consensus draft projections have the next 9 RBs after Spiller all being picked in late rd3 or rd4.

Consensus order is: James Cook, Brian Robinson, Dameon Pierce, Zamir White, Rachaad White, Tyler Allgeier, Pierre Strong, Kyren Williams, Jerome Ford.

My formula ranks them: Tyler Allgeier, Pierre Strong, Rachaad White, Zamir White, Jerome Ford, Brian Robinson, James Cook, Dameon Pierce, Kyren Williams.

My draft board puts all 9 guys on the same tier, along with Tyler Badie who is the next projected RB off the board and between Zamir White & Jerome Ford in my formula. For the most part guys are somewhere in between where those 2 lists have them. They're mostly mixed in with rd3 receivers.

I won't go into detail on all these guys, but to pick out one of them where I disagree with consensus:

Dameon Pierce's career rushing efficiency numbers aren't that good (e.g., 25% missed tackle rate). In 2021 he had good efficiency on 100 carries (e.g., 39% missed tackle rate). Maybe he suddenly got a lot better in his last season, and didn't get a big enough workload because his coaches didn't realize what they had. Or maybe he just happened to have a nice 100-carry stretch. Or something in between. I'm not that excited about him, because even the optimistic story has him performing well when just he's a man-among-boys college senior.

Late round RBs are pretty good options once you're down to day 3 players. Other RBs of note, my formula has ranked in this order: Keaontay Ingram, Ty Chandler, Kennedy Brooks, Max Borghi, Abram Smith, Jerrion Ealy, Hassan Haskins, Kevin Harris.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
First pass at post-draft rookie rankings. Superflex, only drafted players included, top 70.

RB    Breece Hall    NYJ    36
RB    Kenneth Walker III    SEA    41
WR    Drake London    ATL    8
WR    Garrett Wilson    NYJ    10
WR    Treylon Burks    TEN    18
WR    Jameson Williams    DET    12
WR    Chris Olave    NO    11
QB    Kenny Pickett    PIT    20
WR    Jahan Dotson    WAS    16

WR    Skyy Moore    KC    54
WR    Christian Watson    GB    34
WR    George Pickens    PIT    52
WR    Wan'Dale Robinson    NYG    43
RB    James Cook    BUF    63

TE    Trey McBride    ARI    55
RB    Rachaad White    TB    91
WR    John Metchie III    HOU    44
WR    Alec Pierce    IND    53
WR    Tyquan Thornton    NE    50
RB    Zamir White    LV    122
RB    Brian Robinson Jr.    WAS    98
RB    Dameon Pierce    HOU    107
RB    Tyrion Davis-Price    SF    93
RB    Isaiah Spiller    LAC    123
RB    Tyler Allgeier    ATL    151
TE    Greg Dulcich    DEN    80
TE    Jelani Woods    IND    73
WR    Jalen Tolbert    DAL    88
WR    David Bell    CLE    99
WR    Romeo Doubs    GB    132
RB    Hassan Haskins    TEN    131
RB    Pierre Strong Jr.    NE    127

WR    Velus Jones Jr.    CHI    71
WR    Khalil Shakir    BUF    148
TE    Daniel Bellinger    NYG    112
RB    Keaontay Ingram    ARI    201
QB    Malik Willis    TEN    86
QB    Desmond Ridder    ATL    74
QB    Matt Corral    CAR    94
RB    Ty Chandler    MIN    169
RB    Snoop Conner    JAX    154
RB    Jerome Ford    CLE    156
WR    Danny Gray    SF    105
WR    Calvin Austin III    PIT    138
WR    Erik Ezukanma    MIA    125
RB    Kyren Williams    LAR    164
RB    Kevin Harris    NE    183
RB    Tyler Badie    BAL    196
TE    Jeremy Ruckert    NYJ    101
TE    Chigoziem Okonkwo    TEN    143
RB    Isaih Pacheco    KC    251
QB    Sam Howell    WAS    144
TE    Charlie Kolar    BAL    128
TE    Cade Otton    TB    106
TE    Jake Ferguson    DAL    129
WR    Samori Toure    GB    258
WR    Montrell Washington    DEN    162
WR    Kyle Philips    TEN    163
TE    James Mitchell    DET    177
TE    Cole Turner    WAS    149
TE    Isaiah Likely    BAL    139

RB    Trestan Ebner    CHI    203
WR    Dareke Young    SEA    233
WR    Bo Melton    SEA    229
WR    Jalen Nailor    MIN    191
WR    Michael Woods II    CLE    202
TE    Andrew Ogletree    IND    192
TE    Grant Calcaterra    PHI    198
QB    Bailey Zappe    NE    137
RB    Brittain Brown    LV    250

I maybe should have more tier breaks in there.

 

Boston

Footballguy
More thoughts on Cook please...went in the second to a high-octane offense which would appear to be in a perfect spot for what his skill-set is...with RBBC becoming more and more the trend I think guys like this need to be looked at closer...he will never be a workhouse and his fantasy upside is probably limited but he should have the opportunity to be a nice piece of someone's fantasy RB depth chart and someone you can start when you get in a pinch once the injuries start piling up (James White at his best would be best case scenario)...I think these type of players often get overlooked because everyone wants to hit a home run but I really believe home runs are going to be more and more difficult to hit at RB and you need to be happy with a lot more doubles.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
James Cook has a straightforward path to the receiving back role. Buffalo clearly prioritized adding a receiving back this year, trying to sign McKissic, then signing Duke Johnson, then drafting Cook. But that usually isn't all that valuable a role for fantasy - easily a RB3, maybe a low-end RB2, and just occasionally having a big year or partial year like James White, Chris Thompson, and Danny Woodhead each did once.

It's worth more in some less common formats like best ball leagues (where those guys automatically start whenever they have a big week), or leagues which start an unusually high number of RBs, or leagues where RBs are unusually scarce (e.g. because everyone else overpays dramatically for them) and you often struggle to find your last starter, or in leagues that get more than 1 PPR. But not all that valuable in ordinary PPR leagues where you can usually scrounge up an adequate starter, and you want to aim higher with your significant investments. By my numbers, Gio Bernard, Danny Woodhead, and James White have had slightly less career fantasy value in ordinary PPR leagues than Kevin Jones, Josh Jacobs (already), Brandon Jacobs, and David Montgomery (already), and they're only slightly ahead of Carlos Hyde, Alfred Morris, Rashard Mendenhall, Peyton Hillis, Julius Jones, and Jordan Howard.

Occasionally a receiving-first back becomes something more and puts up multiple RB1 seasons like Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Darren Sproles in NO, Brian Westbrook. New Orleans is unusually friendly for that, and Buffalo isn't New Orleans. Generally those guys are thicker than Cook, so his profile isn't that great for it. But it's a possibility.

I could imagine Buffalo going to a pass-heavy spread offense where Cook is usually the guy in the backfield, as a receiving threat first. Then he'd get plenty of snaps, carries into light boxes, a major receiving role. They could split him out wide a bunch and go empty backfield, with the threat of a Josh Allen run keeping defenses honest, and that could help him get more targets. Or maybe they just do that in some games (depending on matchups), or when trailing. That would give Cook some upside. But the odds of that panning out seem worse than the typical path to significant fantasy value for RBs who go around that part of the NFL draft.

There's also some chance of him carving out a more ordinary RB role. He's small but not tiny; he did manage to bulk up from an estimated 190 to 199 at the combine to 204 at his pro day, and some RBs who weigh around 200 have carried the load.

 

Boston

Footballguy
James Cook has a straightforward path to the receiving back role. Buffalo clearly prioritized adding a receiving back this year, trying to sign McKissic, then signing Duke Johnson, then drafting Cook. But that usually isn't all that valuable a role for fantasy - easily a RB3, maybe a low-end RB2, and just occasionally having a big year or partial year like James White, Chris Thompson, and Danny Woodhead each did once.

It's worth more in some less common formats like best ball leagues (where those guys automatically start whenever they have a big week), or leagues which start an unusually high number of RBs, or leagues where RBs are unusually scarce (e.g. because everyone else overpays dramatically for them) and you often struggle to find your last starter, or in leagues that get more than 1 PPR. But not all that valuable in ordinary PPR leagues where you can usually scrounge up an adequate starter, and you want to aim higher with your significant investments. By my numbers, Gio Bernard, Danny Woodhead, and James White have had slightly less career fantasy value in ordinary PPR leagues than Kevin Jones, Josh Jacobs (already), Brandon Jacobs, and David Montgomery (already), and they're only slightly ahead of Carlos Hyde, Alfred Morris, Rashard Mendenhall, Peyton Hillis, Julius Jones, and Jordan Howard.

Occasionally a receiving-first back becomes something more and puts up multiple RB1 seasons like Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Darren Sproles in NO, Brian Westbrook. New Orleans is unusually friendly for that, and Buffalo isn't New Orleans. Generally those guys are thicker than Cook, so his profile isn't that great for it. But it's a possibility.

I could imagine Buffalo going to a pass-heavy spread offense where Cook is usually the guy in the backfield, as a receiving threat first. Then he'd get plenty of snaps, carries into light boxes, a major receiving role. They could split him out wide a bunch and go empty backfield, with the threat of a Josh Allen run keeping defenses honest, and that could help him get more targets. Or maybe they just do that in some games (depending on matchups), or when trailing. That would give Cook some upside. But the odds of that panning out seem worse than the typical path to significant fantasy value for RBs who go around that part of the NFL draft.

There's also some chance of him carving out a more ordinary RB role. He's small but not tiny; he did manage to bulk up from an estimated 190 to 199 at the combine to 204 at his pro day, and some RBs who weigh around 200 have carried the load.


I don't really agree about the value because you are aiming too high (i/e. I think RB 3 is very valuable)...RBBC is where we are at in the NFL for the most part and I just don't see it changing...due to that players like Cook and some you have referenced have (or would have if they were playing now or in their prime) more value then ever...now that value is not of a #1, a stud or probably even a real good #2...it is that of a quality depth piece that you can play when the injuries pile up and also have the opportunity for a big day as it only takes one catch and TD...everyone builds their team differently but I like to have as many playable RBs as possible because there is no worse spot than not having a viable starter in week 12 or being put into a corner where you have to overpay for an average RB...IMO when it comes to guys like Cook I look at the team-building piece of how my roster is constructed and guys like this can be very valuable and who knows maybe he does turn into another Ekeler but I am ok if he doesn't but I know I am gonna get a consistent 8-10 touches a week from him.

 

ZWK

Footballguy
Here's my attempt at ranking this WR class based on how reliably they were able to get open in Matt Harmon's Reception Perception data.

Getting Open:
Chris Olave
Garrett Wilson
Jahan Dotson
Skyy Moore
Drake London
Jameson Williams
Khalil Shakir *
Kyle Philips
George Pickens
Jalen Tolbert
Calvin Austin
David Bell
Alec Pierce
Treylon Burks
Christian Watson *

Harmon watches some games of each player and charts whether or not they get open on each route, and then publishes breakdowns by route and by type of coverage. He doesn't try to turn this into an overall rating, but I did. I also adjusted for strength of schedule. His complete data is paywalled; this list only includes the receivers whose numbers he has tweeted. A lot of those tweets came during the draft, which is why I'm just posting this now.

Asterisks for Khalil Shakir & Christian Watson because they have smaller samples than the others, and therefore more uncertainty. The rd1 receivers had the largest samples, so those are less noisy & more likely to reflect what he would've found if he'd charted the whole season.

One other thing I looked at with his charting is route diversity - which receivers regularly ran a wide variety of routes, and were able to succeed at getting open on a wide variety of routes. Again, this is his data, my number-crunching to attempt to turn it into a single ranking. And this ranking is sketchier than the other because it's less obvious whether one mix of routes is better than another (or if/when that's even a reasonable question to ask).

Route Diversity:
Chris Olave
Garrett Wilson
George Pickens
Jalen Tolbert
Calvin Austin
Drake London
Jahan Dotson
Alec Pierce
Khalil Shakir *
David Bell
Treylon Burks
Jameson Williams
Christian Watson *
Skyy Moore
Kyle Philips

 

ZWK

Footballguy
I keep tinkering with my rookie rankings. I won't keep posting slightly revised rankings here every few days; instead I have this spreadsheet which I've updated a couple times. It has rankings for PPR leagues, and also for superflex + TE premium leagues.

One of the biggest changes since I posted rankings here a few days ago is that I've moved the mid-round quarterbacks up, especially in superflex. I looked into the track record of past mid-round quarterbacks, and it turns out that the average third rounder has started about 30 games at QB over his career. A lot of those starts are from guys who stick around as long-term starters, like Russell Wilson, but the medium-length starters like Nick Foles (with 40-100 career starts) account for just as many starts as the guys who hit big. With their running ability (especially Willis's), this year's surprise fallers are likely to be fine fantasy starters in superflex whenever they start an NFL game. 30 games of that would be solid. And a lot of them landed on teams with very shaky quarterback situations, which could easily get them starts this year. I think I'm still not quite as high as the market on these guys, though there are a lot of guys pretty tightly clumped together including the 3rd rd QBs in the 20ish-30ish slots in my rankings (SF+TEP).

Another change is that I've moved Wan'Dale Robinson down, because his reception perception numbers are terrible.He struggled to get open according to Harmon's numbers.  I now see him as being close to Metchie & Pierce, rather than to Pickens & Watson. Still often a good value in rookie drafts. I've also generally moved RBs up some, and I've added 4 UDFAs to the rankings, with Justyn Ross, Kennedy Brooks, and Abram Smith leading the way.

On the whole, the guys who I like relative to ADP are mainly guys with good draft capital (relative to their ADP). I'm higher than ADP on Dotson, Wan'Dale, and day 2 WRs like Thornton who are falling to rd3-4. (There are also pretty good RB & TE options in rd3-4.) I'm lower than consensus on RBs like Spiller & Pierce whose ADP is in mid round 2 despite not very good draft capital or (in my eyes) profiles.

 

EBF

Footballguy
Spiller is Joe Mixon without the juice. Same body type and running style. Even wears the same number. Just doesn't have the same oomph. Not surprised to learn that his combine numbers were "meh" because the speed isn't there on tape. My notes on him say: "One speed player. Not a second level threat." Brian Robinson is my favorite of the 3rd-4th round RBs.

Looking deeper, Keaontay Ingram reminds me a lot of former Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. Williams was an intriguing prospect with featured back height/weight and some flashy footwork/hips on tape that hinted at a possible starter trajectory. However, he's been the ultimate journeyman in the NFL, bouncing between countless teams without ever really making a dent anywhere. Ingram has the same body type and is maybe the best east-west runner in this RB class, but like Williams he doesn't play up to his size and comes saddled with low draft capital that makes you wonder. I'm a fan, but I don't get carried away with day three guys because so few of them ultimately make it. If I had to pick a dark horse from this RB class, he's easily my choice though.

 

Birdie048

Footballguy
Looking deeper, Keaontay Ingram reminds me a lot of former Arkansas RB Jonathan Williams. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. W....... If I had to pick a dark horse from this RB class, he's easily my choice though.
Appreciate the insight, but are you saying your "Dark horse" is 6th Round NFL pick for ARZ RB Keaontay Ingram?  

How would you compare him to "undrafted" NOS RB Abram Smith?   Smith was given a nice $$ for undrafted player (>$200K IIRC) With Kamara legal/NFL discipline issues, Would be more likely to see time or Ingram behind Conner?   

I

 

EBF

Footballguy
Appreciate the insight, but are you saying your "Dark horse" is 6th Round NFL pick for ARZ RB Keaontay Ingram?  

How would you compare him to "undrafted" NOS RB Abram Smith?   Smith was given a nice $$ for undrafted player (>$200K IIRC) With Kamara legal/NFL discipline issues, Would be more likely to see time or Ingram behind Conner?   

I


Ingram. More impressive clips + higher draft slot.

They used Edmonds quite a lot last year, so there's a big opportunity vacuum as well.

 

Bracie Smathers

Footballguy
My production formula is probably underrating Wilson's production, because it doesn't know that he was playing each year with 2-3 other likely first round WRs (Olave, Jameson Williams, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, maybe Marvin Harrison Jr.
Video of Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. goes viral

Luca Sartirana@SartiranaLuca

Ohio State receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. looks incredibly explosive while catching passes from a throwing machine. He's 6-3, 205 lbs and has impressive speed.

 

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