THEY WENT WHERE?? – MOCK DRAFT ANALYSIS
28th June – 4th July
In the ‘They Went Where??’ series of articles, I take another sample of mock draft data, and look for trends appearing during the week.
You can read where I gathered my data from in the first article in this series. Many thanks to fantasyfootballcalculator.com for allowing their mock draft results to be accessible.
The data for this article comes from 3,531 mock drafts, carried out between the 28th June and 4th July 2020. This data is also restricted to a PPR format for a 12 team league.
So, what were the findings for this sample?
THE RISE AND FALL OF DEVANTE
There is no doubt that, in the minds of many fantasy drafters, Michael Thomas is the Wide Receiver to own. Thomas has seen over 100 targets every season – and nearly hit 200 last year. He has given fantasy owners over 1000 yards for each of his 4 active seasons in the NFL, and has provided 9 touchdowns in 3 of them.
And it is reflected in the draft scores. Thomas is consistently a top 5 draft pick – and this latest sample says no different. He was even taken as the first overall pick towards the end of it (2nd – 4th July segment).
But there is another Wide Receiver whose time at the top has seen a roller coaster ride through the samples so far. This has been even more obvious over the course of the week. That player? Devante Adams.
IT’S THE CLIMB
If you can consider three sets of data a trend, then there is certainly one forming with the Green Bay wideout. Throughout all samples so far, there is a consistent ebb and flow to where Devante is being chosen. This week was an example of Devante’s ADP rising from the start to the end of the sample.
|ADP||Pick ave.||HI Pick||LO Pick||Number of picks|
|28th Jun – 30th June||14 (WR5)||2.01||1.05||2.09||177|
|30th June – 2nd July||9 (WR2)||1.09||1.06||2.01||119|
|2nd July – 4th July||7 (WR2)||1.08||1.05||2.01||63|
On the first set of results for this week, Devante found himself with an ADP of 14th overall – the start of the second round. He was also the WR5: Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill and Deandre Hopkins were all ahead of him.
With several drafters managing to take him from the board at 2.09, they got him for great value compared to the rest of the week.
As the week goes on, Adam’s ADP rises – going into the top 10. By the end of the week, his ADP hits the high of 7. This bumps him above the majority of those Wide Receivers, and only MT stays above him. Although he is still seeing picks around the 1.05 mark, it is the rise in his lowest pick that pushes up his overall ADP.
What is also interesting to see is that the number of Adams picks are dropping throughout the week. This data could show that the computer is picking Adams before the human participant has a chance to. Perhaps it suggests that, if the drafter does not pick Adams, then he has been taken before the snake returns for that drafter’s second pick. Either way, it shows that Adams is being taken early on by both human and CPU.
PICK FOR THE PACKERS PASSING GAME
So why is Devante getting all the love?
His 2019 season ended up with decent numbers, but his yearly return was still lower than those that came before. 2017 – and particularly 2018 – had Adams posting better stats in many areas. Last year’s haul of 5 touchdowns was around half of what he managed the previous year (13). His receiving yardage almost made 1,000 yards in 2019 – but it fell far short of the 1,386 yards he racked up in the previous campaign.
His quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly didn’t suffer from lack of targets last year. Rodgers targeted 16 different players last season, which was comfortably in the middle of the pack for NFL teams. However, what was missing this time around was the volume that Adams saw:
|Comp / Tgts (%)||111 / 169 (65.6%)||83 / 127 (65.3%)|
|Yrds / Cmp||12.5||12|
|% of team targets||26.4%||23.4%|
The data also shows that there was a difference in targeted players in those two years. In 2018, it was a Tight End who was the second choice behind Adams. Jimmy Graham saw 89 targets over the season, ahead of other Wide Receivers: MVS, who got 73 targets; and Randall Cobb, who had 61.
Adams still led the pack in 2019. But there was a change in the players seeing the targets behind him. Although Jimmy Graham shedded a third of his targets, he still got 60 looks from the Quarterbacks. Furthermore, in addition to many players like Graham keeping a share of the targets, two unexpected players came in to take even more. Running back Aaron Jones nearly doubled his 2018 target number, scooping up 68 targets on his way to finishing RB2 in the 2019 fantasy stats. And sophomore wide receiver Allen Lazard managed to make the most of his 52 targets.
Considering Lazard only saw 1 target in his entire rookie campaign, this came as a pleasant shock for his dynasty owners. But not for those who had put high hopes on Adams repeating his successful 2018.
2020 – MORE OF THE SAME?
Lazard’s emergence has most likely taken the pressure off Adams in terms of providing an additional target for defensive coverage. However, there are troubling times on the horizon for many Devante owners. Aaron Jones has entered a contract year.
Last year, Jones exploded off the charts – paying out for his fantasy owners with over 1,500 combined yards and 19 touchdowns. And though he knows that he has been performing well, Jones wants to focus on continuing that form rather than the contract. He has said that he wants to be a Packer for life.
His dual involvement in the offense was effective – those extra receiving yards drove Jones up the fantasy charts to RB2 overall. And those poached targets directly affected Devante’s output. After predictive data pointed to a WR2 finish for Adams in 2019, his lower-than-expected touchdown return saw him slip to WR23 – the wrong end of WR2.
This year, Devante is predicted to see ‘Top 3′ numbers yet again. But, as Jones is playing for another deal, the Running Back’s performances could ultimately see Adams’ fantasy output remain at its 2019 level. More touchdowns could help boost the Wide man up the fantasy points charts. But, if history stands to repeat itself, then many fantasy drafters could end up disappointed. That is, all but the ones who managed to get him at the end of the 2nd round.
THE PATH TO PETERSON
After last season’s unfortunate injuries to Derrius Guice, Washington turned to veteran Running Back Adrian Peterson. Peterson duly did his part and belied his age with another successful rushing year. Considering the circumstances, Peterson’s 2019 output of nearly 900 yards and 5 touchdowns was well needed. It partially filled the void left by the shattered expectations of Guice’s season. Furthermore, it added another year to Adrian’s extensive career.
And it doesn’t seem to be his last. Far from it, in fact. In a recent TMZ interview, the Running Back came out with his intention to continue playing until he was 40 – which means four more years.
THE NEVER-ENDING STORY
So the saga of one of the all-time greats of rushing rolls on. And, with it, comes the seemingly ever-present opportunity for fantasy drafters to take him for themselves. But Peterson finds himself in a drastically different backfield compared to last season.
Derrius Guice is back from injured reserve and, based upon his videos, has been working hard on doing so. Recent footage shows the young Running Back pushing for peak physical condition for the new season. Fellow incumbents Josh Ferguson and sophomore Bryce Love have also remained at the club. But while there have been departures from the outfit – most notably Chris Thompson to Jacksonville – but there have also been additions.
Peyton Barber has arrived from Tampa Bay, and journeyman J.D. McKissic comes in as a potential pass-catching replacement for Thompson. And, most crucially of all, the team has drafted a Running Back to add to that list. Former Memphis rusher Antonio Gibson has been brought in as a third-round pick.
It is likely that some of these players won’t be at the club by the start of the season. In such a crowded position, roster cuts are always looming. However, Washington did take the 2020 option on Peterson’s contract – so he will be around for this season at least.
Already many NFL fans have been eagerly anticipating Guice’s return to health and awaited dominance in the rush game. And, in the moments where he has been healthy, he has shown prowess. This optimism has translated to a sixth-round ADP for the third-year Running Back – across all data samples taken so far. This particular sample size places Guice’s ADP at RB31 – the back end of RB3. Some drafters even took him as high as 5.01.
Given this Guice hype recipe has been made with a dash of workout videos, a handful of games, and a bucket-load of college reminiscence…the ADP seems about right. It accounts for a breakout ceiling but allows the drafting of other Running Backs for insurance. Insurance against the floor of another severe injury.
Don’t forget – this has happened before. Guice put out a similar video last off-season during his rehab from injuries. Yet, the first week back, he suffered one of his worst injuries yet. Some experts have not forgotten this. ESPN’s Stephania Bell has labelled Guice as a fantasy bust this season. She has also gone as far as to say that it will be rookie Antonio Gibson who will have the breakout year. Not Guice.
Gibson’s skill set has been likened to Christian McCaffrey’s by Washington head coach Ron Rivera. And Rivera should know, he worked with McCaffrey since his drafting at the Panthers. And this could explain why Gibson’s ADP is one of the highest in the rookie Running Back class. He is being taken at the start of the 11th round – although some drafters have reached for him at the end of the 5th round.
Peterson’s ADP and drafting numbers, on the other hand, tells a different story. The veteran IS getting drafted but remains firmly at the bottom of the chart. His highest average for this sample was the end of the 13th round. He’s also getting picked up far less than the rookie.
When you consider that Peterson has over a decade of film, two fully healthy seasons, and history of being a workhorse – he could be a remarkable pick at this value.
Why? Besides the reasons listed above, the coronavirus outbreak has effectively ended the pre-season. There will be difficulties for newer players to get full on-field practices, particularly against live opponents. While Ron Rivera’s arrival does alter things, outfits will need to start the season relying on those players with NFL experience. And this could be good news for Peterson lovers from the off.
The question marks over Guice’s health does add value to Gibson. But, even if the rookie does take the lead, Peterson could be another fantasy stash that produces dividends.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…
With only 9 weeks to go until the season starts, it will be interesting to see what happens to various players in mock drafts. Join me next time as we take another step closer to the start of the regular season.