Since my original post on the potential of new passer and receiver pairs, other moves have been made. Sam Bradford continues to make crazy money in the NFL without so much as sniffing the playoffs in any of his campaigns, and the Cousins hype train is surely moving full speed ahead toward the 2018 season. But what is their compatibility?
Kirk Cousins has had some success in the NFL, but he never was able to win a playoff game. Does a change of scenery and playing conditions get him over the hump? One could argue that he is an upgrade, albeit a slight one, over Case Keenum. While I could agree with that, I’m not sure that it moves the needle for the Vikings, but $84 million dollars says that I may underestimating the move.
Regardless of my perception, there is reason to be optimistic when looking at the compatibility metrics. The compatibility of Cousins with Diggs and Thielen seems limited to the outside with ratings of 17 and 11 respectively. This was truly a surprise, as I really thought that it would be the other way around, given Thielen’s route running savvy. Diggs is no slouch, and his rating difference would lead me to buy him based on his current cost in dynasty. When comparing adjusted yards per attempt (AYA) data over the last three seasons, it appears that Cousins could look like the 2015 version when he last played with Garcon (8.87 AYA, same as Thielen in 2017) and DeSean Jackson (10.66 AYA, Diggs close in 2017 at 9.89). During that season he was 10th in passing yards, 13th in TDs, and 5th in passer rating. While Cousins’ finishing position in 2017 was better in all but the passer rating category, his numbers were down overall when compared to 2015.
In redraft, I’m content to wait an extra round to acquire Diggs. The one concern with him has been staying healthy, but if your risk tolerance is high, he will be worth making the move. One caveat to consider, when looking at these two versus the field in the slot, ratings of 9 for Diggs and 6 for Thielen ellicit significant concern since both of these receivers frequently ran routes out of the slot last season.
Future-Hall-Of-Famer Larry Fitzgerald is surely getting an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, but of course this only goes as far as Sam Bradford’s health. Given Bradford’s propensity for the short, but accurate, pass it leans right into where Fitz has been effective late in his career: the slot. Fitzgerald was WR4 per ESPN scoring last season and now he is getting passer that has more than average compatibility (20, slot) with him. In fact, Larry will probably be the best receiver to which Bradford has ever thrown a pass. From an AYA perspective, this pair has some extra intrigue as Bradford’s top receiver over the last two seasons (Thielen) had an AYA of 10.32. Fitzgerald’s ADP is at 50 overall currently, but he could be worth a slight reach in redraft given what he accomplished last season with lesser passers.
Moncrief has a surprising compatibility with Blake Bortles, actually better than many other pairs that have been evaluated. Moncrief didn’t do squat last season and he earned the “injury-prone” label over the last two years, but the potential he showed in the end zone in 2015 and 2016 was pretty nice. In nine games in 2016, Moncrief had 7 scores in 9 games played. His high compatibility (19 on the outside) with Bortles could manifest itself in the form of red zone work especially out of the slot (26 rating) . If this holds true we could see him slappin’ the bass in celebration of TDs for the Jaguars. The biggest question marks for this pair are Bortles’ play at QB and Moncrief’s ability to stay healthy. Now that Allen Hurns has been cut, Moncrief should be worth a flier in redraft next season. In dynasty, if he can be had cheap I wouldn’t hate on a move to acquire him as a WR3 or depth player.