Dynasty Draft Profile: Tyler Lockett
February 25, 2015 | Rich Hribar
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
From a production standpoint, I’m always looking at players who not only put up big portions of their team’s output, but also consistently improve as their collegiate careers progress. While it’s not uncommon to see receivers of Tyler Lockett’s smaller size be a lead receiver in college, he is a receiver that has the fourth highest final season production scores for a receiver under 190 pounds in my model, behind Brandin Cooks, Paul Richardson and Mario Manningham, all receivers selected in the top 100 of their respective drafts. In 2014, he carried the Kansas State passing game, accounting for 37.4 percent of the team targets, most in the country behind only Tyler Boyd (41.5 percent) and Amari Cooper (39.8). To tack on to Lockett’s impressive final year production, he also led the Big 12 in punt return yardage (402 yards) and yards per return (19.1). Players of his stature aren’t usually my thing in fantasy football, but when they have been this productive, I tend to want to take a closer look at the player.
The reason players of his diminutive build aren’t generally my flavor when it comes to buying at the fantasy ground floor is that it’s uncommon for them to be legit fantasy starters on your fake football teams, let alone WR1 caliber options in today’s NFL. Often these types serve better real football functionality that doesn’t translate over to the raw totals that create buckets of fantasy points. Over the past five seasons, just 27 of the receivers to post a top 30 PPR scoring season have been less than 190 pounds, just 18 percent. When we scale down for elite options, just nine times over that same time span has a player of the same size posted a top 12 scoring season.
Before anybody jumps in with a “But Antonio Brown!” cry, I must confess that I’m not one for player comps that immediately jump to the apex of a player in the NFL. When it comes to Brown himself, he is the Tom Brady of receiver draft picks, a measurable nightmare that was barely a top 200 selection in his own draft. He is an exception, not a rule. But it still stands to point out that Lockett can be a productive NFL player and fantasy contributor. In terms of his closest raw physical and production comps in my model, he matches up tightly with Markus Wheaton and Jarius Wright.
The players here that have consistently been able to overcome their slighter builds have either blazing vertical speed and/or astounding change of direction ability. Another positive here is that 18 of the 27 seasons here come from players who were also selected in the top 100 of their draft, similar capital to what we’re anticipating a team investing into Tyler Lockett this spring. Having a team invest real draft capital generally warrants an extended opportunity for these players to develop.
Lockett’s weight isn’t a major concern for me but his shorter arm length and smaller hand size is something that plays into his size issues when watching him. While he does make some contested catches in spots, he’s not a player that can box defenders out with his frame or frequently extend to make tougher receptions. He generally cradles everything and has a hard time overcoming physicality from defenders that aren’t giving away immediate ground to him in respect of his speed as evidence here in this clip from Draft Breakdown.
Another example of his shorter arm length and smaller hand size hurting him is evident here. While the play is a difficult one to make on an imperfect throw, his limitations of being able to overcome an imperfect throw are displayed. While he was able to secure 71.1 percent of his targets in his final college season, these are things that will undoubtedly make that number harder to carry over into the NFL.
Those are just a few things that can keep his ceiling in check, but let me back on the positive track and why I’m still plenty interested in him. In that second clip you can see his great agility on display, which is the cornerstone of his game. If you aren’t going to be big, you better be able to change direction on a strong to elite level and Lockett’s 10.96 agility score (short shuttle plus three cone time) was the 6th best score at the combine this season. He also proved he has the requisite speed to play outside the numbers in the NFL as well, running a 4.4 40-yard dash. That combo of agility and speed allows a lot of vertical route diversity and opens the door for a lot of double moves.
A player he is often compared to is T.Y. Hilton and that’s not far off from a physical stance. For reference, here is how Hilton stacked up from a measurable standpoint.
|T.Y. Hilton||Florida Int.||2012||92||70||183||4.37||35.5||119||4.36||7.03|
The separator here is that while he’s on par with Hilton in terms of raw speed and explosion (vertical plus broad), his strong agility gives him a leg up from day one to be used in more ways that a player like Hilton was beginning his pro career. Whereas Hilton took three seasons to work on the nuance of game and be used all over the field, Lockett can contribute in that capacity right away.
There are some red flags surrounding Lockett that will likely keep him from a truly elite fantasy option, but his high end collegiate production, strong speed plus agility profile and the likelihood that he will be selected within the first 100 players of this draft are the kind of requisite pluses that can aid him in overcoming those shortcomings. Tyler Lockett is a fringe top 10 receiver in this class that should be selected in the late second or early third round in rookie drafts.
The Seahawks traded three picks to come up and select Tyler Lockett at pick 69 overall, ahead of Jaelen Strong, Chris Conley and Sammie Coates, showing he was a valued target to them at that stage of the draft. It’s possible they had an internal debate on acquiring him at pick 63 in which they selected Frank Clark , because they came right back up six picks later to grab him.
Lockett is a player I like a lot and I really like the fit of his abilities in conjunction with the creativity of Russell Wilson, but it’s still a landing spot I would file under “better real football selection than fantasy one.” I may feel differently if Seattle didn’t just acquire Jimmy Graham, who stands to soak up roughly 20-25 percent of the team targets, but there’s just not enough initial volume here to get crazy excited. Even though Seattle has increased their passing output yearly with Wilson, it’s been a gradual burn upwards and they still project to be too good of real team to warrant such a drastic shift in volume to support multiple targets for fantasy. Even if Graham were to go down, the past three Seattle receivers to garner 20 percent or more of the team targets were mid to fringe WR3’s, with Sidney Rice (WR35), Golden Tate (WR30) and Doug Baldwin (WR38) reaching that percentage of targets over the past three seasons. I anticipate Lockett to have some big moments in Seattle, but finding consistent relevancy may be scare. He’s still a solid target in the early third round of leagues based out Wilson ever gaining complete control of his potential ceiling.
Early 2015 Projection: 76.5 TGT/45.9 REC/569.5 YDS/3.2 TD