In Quick Hits, we ask our writers to weigh in on a topic relevant to the dynasty landscape. This week’s question:
Which rookie’s ADP will rise the most by the end of the season (January ADP)?
Karl Safchick (@KarlSafchick)
While John Ross’s ADP (79 overall according to DLF May mocks) doesn’t have the room to grow as what I presume some of my colleague’s picks do, he does have the best chance of any rookie to jump 50+ spots in one year. No top ten NFL draft pick at wide receiver has dropped in dynasty rookie drafts the way Ross has since Ted Ginn. That was a special case, though: Ginn was drafted not only to be a wide receiver but also to be a return man. While Ross was a capable kick returner in 2016, he didn’t return punts and had about 40% the return opportunities Ginn had in his final year.
Ross is a legit wide receiver. The Cincinnati Bengals thought so, at least, when they drafted the player with the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history with the ninth overall pick. Not all fast receivers are created equal, though. While Tavon Austin ran a 4.34 40 yard dash, he came in at only a 38th percentile size adjusted speed score according to playerprofiler.com. Ross, being 3 inches taller, 14 pounds heavier, and 0.12 seconds faster, recorded a 95th percentile size adjusted speed score. The 90th percentile is reserved for tall, heavy freaks of nature; Ross scored so well despite being neither.
The Bengals have lacked a true WR2 to pair with A.J. Green since drafting him seven years ago. They’ve rotated Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Brandon LaFell, but the highest drafted player of those three was LaFell at 78th overall, with the Bengals being the third team of his journeyman career. Simply put, an NFL team doesn’t draft a player at 1.09 to be overlooked by dynasty league owners. Ross has true superstar ability and could jump into the top 30 in January 2018 ADP.
Joshua Callander (@JoshCallan23)
When deciding which rookie to feature for this quick hit, the first question I asked myself was where is the opportunity. There are plenty of backfields which currently present at running back committees and at this stage in the offseason I want to avoid projecting who will emerge with so much uncertainty. Although I will take a flyer on a Kareem Hunt or Jamaal Williams in start-up leagues, I think there is better value elsewhere (value here being determined as the potential rise in ADP). For this reason, I love targeting Marlon Mack (current ADP 149).
Bucky Brooks on draft day compared Mack’s fourth round selection to Chicago Bears’ fifth-round pick Jordan Howard (there are actually only seven spots between their two selections). Mack ran a very respectable 4.50s forty-yard dash and led the AAC in rushing yards as both a freshman and sophomore, culminating in averaging over 100 rushing yards per game over his three seasons in college football. The reason I have referenced Bucky Brooks’ immediate reaction is because I think that Mack can emulate Howard’s (current ADP 24). Frank Gore can’t evade father time forever and Robert Turbin isn’t Gore’s long-term successor. If Mack were to see 100 carries and 25 catches in his rookie season and impress, followed by Gore hanging up his boots at the end of 201, fantasy owners everywhere would have ample reason to assume Mack is the running back to own in a formidable offense.
Jacob Henry (@JacobHenryFF)
I’m in agreement with Josh: early fantasy success propels rookie ADP jumps, and nowhere is a leap more possible than Samaje Perine. Perine is a fine power back, a bully who uses his strength to fight for extra yards. He forces missed tackles through sheer strength and can thrive behind a good offensive line in Washington that will create lanes for him. Unfortunately, Perine lacks the speed and fluidity to make cuts or be a breakaway threat, limiting his big plays and making him dependent on his line to create initial holes. Perine will take what’s given to him by the line and add a few extra yards at the end, but he will never make the magical happen with vision, cutbacks, and dancing behind the line. He’s also never displayed an aptitude to catch the ball, which will lock him in a timeshare throughout his career with the Chris Thompsons of the world. On a good offense, Perine is the player who gets the early down work, goal line carries, and the opportunity for extra yards killing the clock at the end of games.
With Kirk Cousins back for at least one more season and a plethora of weapons in the passing game, the primary running back in Washington will have high fantasy value. As much as I like the story of Rob Kelley, there’s little doubt that Perine can seize the early-down running back role when given the opportunity. He can be the red zone threat, good news for a Washington offense that was sublime marching down the field and horrendous as they approached the end zone. Perine should secure the primary rushing role and eclipse Kelley’s 600 rushing yards in his 9 games as a starter. As the back to own in a potent offense, Perine’s value will skyrocket from 117 to somewhere between 55-75. This range includes Ameer Abdullah, C.J. Anderson, and Isaiah Crowell, better than average players who profile as lead backs in their offenses. While I worry about Perine’s lack of all-around skillset and the dysfunction in Washington that may result in Cousins leaving, Perine is primed for early career success and an ADP rise.
Jesse Patterson (@dfpatterson)
Heading into the 2014 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars were looking to address the wide receiver position after drafting supposed franchise quarterback Blake Bortles third overall. The Jags had been relying on career underachievers like Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, and Mike Thomas at the position, as well as the infamous Justin Blackmon. The team dipped into a historically deep receiver pool to select Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee. At the time of the draft, it was Lee who was supposed to become the WR1 in Jacksonville. He was drafted 22 spots earlier than Robinson and was the more highly regarded player coming out of USC. Unfortunately for Lee, injury issues allowed Robinson to surpass him and secure the lead receiver role. Though Lee was finally able to stay healthy enough in 2016 to show glimpses of talent, the receiver room is unquestionably led by the later-drafted Robinson.
Fast-forward to the 2017 draft, where we find the up and coming Tennessee Titans looking to add receiving talent for their young franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota. The Titans, like the Jaguars in 2014, have been relying on a host of serviceable yet unspectacular receivers such as Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews and needed an upgrade at the position. With the fifth overall selection, the Titans drafted the top receiver prospect in the class in Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. Not content to stop there, Tennessee added another highly regarded receiving prospect in the third round, selecting Western Kentucky standout Taywan Taylor. Though smaller and less of a known commodity than Davis, Taylor boasts impressive pre-draft hype. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared him to Stefon Diggs, while Daniel Jeremiah likened his game to former Titan Derek Mason. With few slot options ahead of him following Wright’s departure, Taylor has an opportunity to excel in an impressive offense during his first season in the NFL. Davis will no doubt have a role, but injuries have limited his time on the practice field so far. Could another Lee-Robinson situation develop in Tennessee? Davis’s draft pedigree guarantees him a long leash, giving him every opportunity to become the premiere passing game focus. Taylor, however, should not be overlooked. Currently being selected 165th in DLF’s May ADP, look for Taylor to be the rookie that gains the most ADP value by season’s end.