SHoBL Suspect: Rapid-Fire Draft Edition
May 6, 2014 | Nathan Miller
Equal parts stat, fact, and trading trends; with a dollop of history and dash of intuition, the SHoBL (Sell High or Buy Low) Suspect Series identifies players who I feel have valuations that are either exceeding their likely return, or are being overwhelmingly undervalued for their circumstances. The result is a player evaluation for those looking to turn a profit and minimize risk.
As we enter the second most popular season in dynasty leagues, joy and jubilation fills the air. Behind the parade and fanfare, however, lurks a darker theme – draft fever. The NFL Draft creates a bath salts effect for many owners in dynasty leagues. Its presence signals the return of annual fantasy rookie drafts and stirs up an excitement that is hard for many to tame. Demonstrated by the non-stop mock drafts, MFL10s, and countless novelty Twitter mocks, fantasy owners are addicted to drafting. How do we deal with addiction in fantasy? We exploit it, and use it to our advantage.
The peak of hunger will hit during your dynasty rookie draft. In-draft trades are exciting and common. Owners that have watched 24/7 coverage of draft information for the last 8 weeks will find it irresistible to sit on the sidelines when their guy is still on the board. The week or two leading up to the draft is also productive, but use patience when approaching your prey.
There are three types of teams/owners in dynasty leagues – Those rebuilding and looking for youth, those filling in gaps and piecing together a puzzle in an attempt to compete, and those making a final or repeated push to win before their respective window closes. Our targets are the first and last. We ourselves are also one of those three, but utilizing our gray matter will allow us to slice and dice our way to fantasy glory.
Below are several target players I have identified as efficient ways to exploit the NFL Draft. It’s only fair, as the draft has been exploiting you for years.
Rashad Jennings, RB NYG (Dynasty Start-Up ADP 109*)
Jennings is being overlooked in dynasty circles. I attribute this equally to the putrid New York Giants offense last year and the (MF) ghost of David Wilson. Jennings was the first back signed in free agency, and the money involved and offseason chatter all point to the competent back receiving a full workload.
Finally getting his chance to shine as a primary back in Oakland due to another “unforeseen” injury to McFadden, Jennings averaged 4.7 yards a carry when he was fed 15+ carries in a game. More importantly, he did this behind an Oakland offensive line that ranked 31st in run blocking. As terrible as the Giants seemed last year, their line still graded out as 20th, and they have made a concerted effort to improve that line this offseason.
Coach Tom Coughlin has a teenage prom queen attitude towards those that wrong him. Widely known is the coach’s inability to reason with backs that cannot pass block (which conveniently, Jennings can do), and more importantly, backs that turn the ball over. In his 484 career touches (rush attempts and receptions) Jennings has turned the ball over once. Once.
Coughlin is also no stranger to utilizing a running back committee to diminish the weaknesses in his RB stable. Fortunately, Jennings does it all. Not only has he flashed skills as a rusher, he also showcased his baby soft hands last year reeling in 36 receptions in only 8 starts. Further adding to his resume, Jennings has special teams in his background and dropped a mic up hizzere by blocking two punts to date.
Bottom line, Jennings is a Coughlin guy top-to-bottom – big, safe, and productive. During the coach’s reign in New York, the G-Men have averaged a rushing yards per season rank of 12th in the NFL. That’s gonna translate to a whole lotta apple in The Big Apple for Jennings.
With an ADP of 109 in start-ups, Jennings is selling at a discount. While many will point to his age, Jennings has been vacuum sealed for freshness the majority of his career. If you identify yourself as an owner trying to blow a small championship window wide open, but need quick RB depth to assist in that maneuver, throw a late first/early second rookie pick on the table for Jennings instead of gambling in the draft.
Andrew Quarless, TE GB (Dynasty Start-Up ADP 266+)
A changing of the guard is taking place in Green Bay. Veteran diva tight end Jermichael “Top-Head-Hairline” Finley entered free agency this offseason and has received mild-to-cool interest for his services due to injuries and a less than ideal attitude. This leaves Green Bay with first-in-line veteran Andrew Quarless and green-thumb sophomore Brandon Bostick to take over TE duties.
While a one play highlight reel has many owners excited about Bostick, the easy money is on Andrew Quarless to reap the benefits of Finley’s absence. Filling in after Finley’s injury last season, Pro Football Focus ranked Quarless 44th for TEs (only 6 spots behind Finley, and ahead of more popular guys like Antonio Gates, Jordan Cameron, and Heath Miller). One can only assume that another year in his role with a defined expectation will improve Quarless’ production. Offseason chatter has given a strong vibe that the Pack continues to consider Bostick a work in progress, and this was further reinforced by the signing of Quarless to a two-year deal after he received free agent interest from several teams.
While Green Bay has not been a heavy volume passing offense in recent years, Aaron Rodgers has countered that with efficiency. Over the last 5 seasons, Green Bay averaged 555 pass attempts per year, and 109 of those attempts were annually directed at the tight end.
With a catch percentage of over 70% and averaging 10.5 ypr, my projections for Quarless ring up at 58/609/6. Those numbers are good enough for low TE1 standing. Factor in an ADP that doesn’t even register, and Quarless should be available for 17 cents and some pocket lint in most leagues.
Marcus Lattimore, RB SF (Dynasty Start-Up ADP 80)
Christine Michael, RB SEA (Dynasty Start-Up ADP 57)
There are two types of untouchables in dynasty circles. First there are the legitimate studs that turned in such ridiculous performances that their services will cost you several picks and a moderately illegal, unmentionable act to acquire them (see Josh Gordon, Alshon Jeffery, Jamaal Charles). Then there are the upside guys that could/would/should develop into something…something at all (see Marcus Lattimore and Christine Michael).
I find the later to be the truly untouchable, as not only are their owners holding out hope for heaven’s gift to the fantasy world, but they’ve been sitting on them for a year and time is expensive. There is a premium on potential talent, but also on the sentimental value of a hen sitting and waiting for her metaphorical egg to hatch, whilst that lazy, no good egg wastes a roster spot.
Further complicating things is the fact that there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel for you. There, I said it…YOU. You’re looking at yet another year of sitting and waiting. Lattimore is behind Gore, and although getting long in the tooth, Gore has been written off for three years now and continues to grind out relevant fantasy seasons. Lattimore won’t see full time duty until at least 2015, and we still aren’t sure what kind of Lattimore we’re getting. Lattimore himself recently admitted that he lacks the burst and confidence that he once had. A twice shredded knee is something that fantasy footballers seem presently comfortable ignoring. Further complicating things is the likelihood that the Niners use one of their 473 rookie picks on a back.
Christine Michael’s situation is worse short term and a wash long term. Riding pine behind one of the most punishing players in the league, he will be limited to spot duty throughout 2014. Marshawn Lynch is also signed through 2015, and although he’s seen a significant amount of usage (and has a salary that may send him packing) he could continue to haunt the upside of Michael until 2016.
Keeping in mind that the bottom line for the SHoBL is minimizing risk and maximizing value, if your team is loaded with talent and you can afford to leave your shiny, new toys in the packaging for another year or two before playing with them, kudos to you. But if you are on the cusp of something truly great, or conversely are in the depths of despair with not much more than a Jacoby Jones Fathead and a Brandon Weeden jersey to keep you company, I advise you to sell.
No stats, just simple reason. With ADPs lower than backs that are young, perennially successful, have starting roles, or are three-down role players (Rice, Mathews, Tate, Jennings, Gerhart, JBell, Moreno, PThomas, Gore); the hype train is full speed ahead. In the interest of cashing in on a product that can’t go much higher in value and is currently as helpful to your roster as a bag of cat turds, grab yourself some rebuild picks or that last piece of the puzzle to make a run. Never before has a backup (or in Michael’s case, a 3rd string) running back carried such a ridiculous ADP. Do it. Do it now.
Percy Harvin, WR SEA (Dynasty Start-Up ADP 30)
Moving on I find myself focusing on another Seahawk. Mr. Scott will not be amused, but I must inform the masses. I’m going to attempt to keep this one short, as the numbers sell themselves.
In his most successful NFL season, Percy Harvin played on a Minnesota Vikings team that attempted 510 passes. Harvin was the beneficiary of the majority of those passes, seeing 123 balls thrown in his direction. The top targets after him were Devin Aromashodu, Michael Jenkins, and Visanthe Shianco. Additionally, Harvin received an absurd 52 carries behind the line that season for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Last year, Harvin stumbled out of bed and woke up with a Super Bowl ring. This “superstar” has missed a whopping 22 games in the last two seasons, and that’s without a likely recurrence of migraines in the future. To say that there may be injury concerns is akin to saying that I may like bourbon. *sips drink*
The Seattle Seahawks do a lot of things well. Due to this, they do not (and choose not to) throw the ball more than necessary. Since Russell Wilson was put under center Seattle has averaged 412 pass attempts a year, with the average top receivers under Carroll averaging 57 receptions a season. Wilson has shown a propensity for target distribution, and the combo of Rice/Kearse/Baldwin has certainly proven to be a serviceable bunch. Speaking of serviceable, you can likely throw out any thought of Harvin eclipsing even 50% of the carries he had in his career season, as was previously mentioned above Seattle’s doing moderately o.k. with depth in the backfield.
With a current APD bordering on low WR1/high WR2 expectations, dynasty leaguers are putting an undue premium on the valuation of Harvin. My 2014 projections for Harvin are 61 rec/844 total yds/8 tds, which places him as a PPR WR3.
With an ADP currently hovering in the 3rd round of start-up drafts, punch your ticket to a ‘ship by cashing in on the hype and building your team for a run.
* All dynasty start-up data courtesy of DynastyLeagueFootball.com