Draft Prep Offseason Articles

Rising Sophomore Receivers

After looking at the compatibility of these recent free agency moves, I wanted to look at receivers entering their second year in a system. This includes sophomores or veterans that could still be generating chemistry with their quarterbacks in year two. The compatibility metrics from my last post are still the primary focus, but imagination will be added to get a sense of possibilities.

Here is some context for the compatibility metrics:

  • Outside compatibility rating ranged from values of 2 – 33, with an average of 14.24
  • Slot compatibility rating ranged from values of 2 – 34, with an average of 15.61
  • Most higher end receivers had ratings above 19

Sophomore Receivers

Chris Godwin

Godwin flashed towards the end of last year, enough to make me salivate a little. In dynasty I was hoping to be able to acquire him because his skill set and athleticism look to compliment Mike Evans on the field. Jameis is rich in target possibilities this year with Brate and Desean Jackson returning, but we should look for Godwin to become a regular target for Winston. The compatibility between passer and receiver is one of the highest at 31 on the outside and it seems to me that evidence of this synergy was present in the flashes last season. Godwin only had a 10% target share per Airyards.com, but his average depth of target was over 13 yards showing ability to get open down field. With all of Tampa Bay’s receiving options returning, it would be reasonable to doubt opportunity for Godwin, but I would bet that those flashes turn into consistency by the middle of the season earning him an increase in playing time and target share.

Juju Smith-schuster

Juju’s stock rose like crazy last year with a number of big games. He had four games with 75+ yards and a score, and two of those included over 140 receiving yards. Juju’s compatibility rating sits at nine which calls this whole metric into question, but really this highlights that receivers with limited route versatility can still be effective if used correctly in the offense. Additionally, we can see that receivers can get better and cultivate their craft even in the short span of a single season. The Success Rate Verusu Coverage (SRVC) data is from last season so perhaps when the new data comes out, the compatibility metrics will reflect what we saw on the field. Based on last season’s tape, Smith-Schuster is a solid WR2 with low-end WR1 upside.

Josh Reynolds

Since Sammy Watkins signed with Kansas City, it appears that Reynolds has a shot to take his place as the downfield threat. Compatibility between him and Goff appears low at 11, but upon digging into the numbers, it seems that they have a lot of low-end, but wide spread, compatibility. Goff is still developing as a passer even though he took a giant step last season, and Reynolds still has to develop his game at the pro level. While Reynolds SRVC on deeper routes leaves something to be desired, he showed an ability to high point balls in college. If trust can build between these two Reynolds has a chance to become a solid WR3 with WR2 upside. In redraft he should be a solid late draft pick.

Corey Davis

Compatibility for Davis and Mariota is somewhat discouraging on the surface, but we all saw how Mariota struggled last year with a passer rating below 80. If Mariota can bounce back next season, then the Titans should be able to take full advantage of this pair. Davis’ best routes were the slant, dig, and out, but Mariota was simply not good throwing over the middle and intermediate areas of the field. Mariota was significantly better in these areas in 2015 -2016. If you feel that Mariota is capable of bouncing back, and you have an opportunity to buy him at a discount in your dynasty/keeper leagues then do it!

Carlos Henderson

If Denver can get Henderson in the slot with Thomas and Sanders on the outside, their offense could really take off. Case Keenum is a definite improvement over Siemian, and Keenum’s grid appears to have significant compatibility with Henderson’s route tree at a rating of 34 in the slot. Henderson’s abilities in space are what makes him an intriguing option in the middle. He has some solid release moves to get some quick separation, and if he gets lined up in a good mismatch, he should be able to take advantage of it. My hope is that Denver is seeing this the same way and they attempt to utilize him. This may not be anything more than a dart throw in any format, but it’s intriguing at the least.

Mike Williams

Tyrell Williams has been tendered at the second round level, which came as a surprise to many that thought they would let him go and allow Mike Williams to take his place as the receiving option opposite Keenan Allen. This could cap Mike Williams’ upside if no team tries to acquire Tyrell, and even then, the Chargers could opt to match his offer. If Tyrell does end up with another squad then we could see the above average compatibility (16 rating) between Rivers and Mike Williams become evident on the field. The rating of this pair may matter less than it does for others because of Mike Williams’ strength in contested catches. With compatibility strengths in the post and the slant, it could just be a matter of body positioning and trust development to see his true upside.

Second Year in the System

Alshon Jeffery

Alshon took quite a while to develop chemistry with Wentz, but it was this development that convicted me in my lack of patience in dynasty. Speaking to what I hope can develop between Mike Williams and Rivers, as the trust developed, the production followed. Matt Harmon indicated that Mike Williams and Alshon were comparable receivers. Now that Wentz trusts Alshon we only need be concerned about Wentz returning to form. While Wentz is targeting a week 1 return in 2018, it would make sense that the Eagles would take all possible precautions in bringing him back. In that case, we can look to what we saw between Foles and Jeffery, which was great WR1 production in the playoffs. The Alshon/Wentz pair rates at an above average 18 compatibility. Assuming Alshon and Wentz return to form, this pair has a high potential when Alshon’s contested catch ability comes into consideration.

DeAndre Hopkins

What we remember about Deshaun Watson’s 2017 campaign is that he was on fire just before his injury. Watson posted at least a 103 passer rating from weeks 4 – 7 which implies that he could sustain a high level of play. The defenses faced those weeks were ranked 14th, 15th, 17th, and 31st on the season. As I said in the original compatibility post, I believe that the lower than expected rating of 14 is due to some of Watson’s earlier struggles factored into his rating. On the other hand, it is possible that Hopkins overall production could come down a little. Why? Hopkins had an average of 4 less targets per game when Watson was slinging the rock. Hopkins production was a product of being hyper targeted by Savage, which could be a concern for some regression. On the other hand, we all know Hopkins is special and Watson looks to have great potential after his short NFL campaign. When chemistry builds between these two, there could be more efficiency making the concern of reduced targets a non-issue.

Brandin Cooks

The compatibility of Cooks with Tom Brady is very low. In fact, it is at the bottom of the compatibility spectrum. This is purely a limitation illustrated in Cooks route tree. Cooks best route is the “Nine” or “Go” route which limits his overall compatibility with Brady. Cooks averaged 4 receptions and 67~ yards per game last season, which isn’t terrible in PPR. While this isn’t too bad, one may wonder about Cooks’ upside. Being that the SRVC of his route tree was done last year, I am waiting to see what his route breakdown looks like now.  The current data seems to indicate Cooks is a “Boom”/”Bust” receiver, but I am willing to bet that an updated route tree for Cooks shows route running improvement. In 2017, Cooks had only 6 games with fewer than 7 points, six games with 15 or more points, and was good for over 1000 yards and 7 touchdowns. I am excited to see what Cooks can become more after another year in the system (which is very complex from everything that I have heard) and more time to build chemistry with Brady.

A computer systems instructor with a passion for the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, and fantasy football (especially DFS and dynasty). Trying to crack the tough DFS nut utilizing my computer skills to tailor my research. Meshing my passion and work ethic to provide readers a different perspective on fantasy football analysis.

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