Dynasty Rookie and Devy Watch - Postseason
Every week during the season, I cover recent events, both on and off the field, for NFL rookies and college prospects through the lens of a dynasty owner. In dynasty, you need to look at more than just a player’s box score. You are investing in these players for an undefined amount of time. It is important to build a knowledge base about them and be aware of where they came from as prospects, how they are performing on the field, and what the scouting community is saying about their play and their work habits. I try to roll all of that into one article.
This is the final piece of that series this year, wrapping up an absolutely stellar year for the 2014 rookie class while taking a look at what is a very promising 2015 class. Now is a great time to buy on rookies who have left a bad taste in dynasty owners’ mouths by underperforming expectations, so it’s important to keep tabs on their value. We start with my updated dynasty rookie ranks followed by an early 2015 top 10.
|Player||Rank||Change from Week 12|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||2||+1|
As I alluded to in Week 16, Odell Beckham’s performance has simply been too dominant to not bump his already lofty spot in my rookie rankings. While I still prefer the projected longevity of where Mike Evans wins (jump balls, red zone), Beckham has leap-frogged Sammy Watkins for the second overall spot. Watkins is every bit as talented as Beckham, but he has been unable to turn that talent into consistent on-field production due to injuries and quarterback issues. With Buffalo having traded its’ 2015 first rounder to get Watkins, the quarterback situation does not project to change much for the better in the near future. Either way, I am splitting hairs here. Evans, Beckham, and Watkins are the crown jewels of what is looking like the best wide receiver class of all time, and you should be happy with any of them as your dynasty WR1.
The most significant movers toward the top of my rankings were both running backs: Jeremy Hill and Tre Mason. At this point, it’s clear that Giovani Bernard has essentially no impact on Hill as a feature back because of how many run plays the Bengals and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson utilize. Both backs are flourishing, but make no mistake, Hill is the lead dog and played like one of the best running backs in football over the last month of the season.
Mason has jumped five spots in my ranks after establishing himself as the back to own in St. Louis. He didn’t have fewer than 13 carries in a game after Week 9, averaging just over 17 carries per game and 4.25 yards per carry over that span. That volume of work is actually below his season yards per carry average of 4.4. Mason has eclipsed at least 60 percent of snaps in five of those eight games since he took over as starter, never playing less than 47 percent. Were it not for Hill, Mason would be the top scoring rookie running back; no other rookie is particularly close to those two atop the point leaders at the position. He is still losing some passing down work to Benny Cunningham as he is an unfinished product in the passing game, but that is a skillset that he can develop moving forward. More importantly, Mason has shown the ability to sustain efficiency as a runner in a subpar offense. There is very little reason to think he won’t be the starter in 2015. He makes for a nice back-end RB2 and strong RB3/flex in dynasty formats.
Marqise Lee was the highest rising wide receiver on my board, jumping five spots to just outside the top 20. He has taken advantage of Allen Robinson’s absence, garnering at least five targets in every game since Week 12. During those five games, he has hauled in 23 of 32 targets for 273 yards (11.87 YPC) and a touchdown. The yards per catch average is underwhelming but expected when considering his average depth of target (aDOT) has been a meager 8.6 yards during those games. I still much prefer teammate and fellow rookie Robinson as a dynasty prospect, but Lee appears to have secured himself a starting job across from him in 2015 with Cecil Shorts expected to move on in free agency and Allen Hurns failing to show a shred of consistency.
The farthest dropping receiver from Week 12 until now is Cody Latimer, who played a grand total of 21 snaps from that week on, ending his rookie season with two catches on four targets for a measly 23 yards. A significant chunk of his perceived value was pegged to developing and playing with Peyton Manning, who is now one year closer to retirement (if not on the brink of retirement), and Latimer barely has any in-game reps with him. I’m of the belief that Manning runs the show in Denver. If he wanted Latimer on the field over Andre Caldwell or Wes Welker, he would be. I still think he has the talent to be a good NFL player, but in an age when rookie wide receivers are coming in and producing the fact that he hasn’t forced himself into more snaps yet has me worried about what his ceiling really is long term.
|4||Kevin White||WR||West Virginia|
|10||Jaelen Strong||WR||Arizona State|
Melvin Gordon is the clear choice for me at the top of rookie drafts barring injury or a very poor landing spot in the draft. The Heisman finalist had over 500 yards more than his next closest competition for the nation’s rushing title, finishing with 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns on 343 carries (7.5 YPC) to go with 19 grabs for an additional 153 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He had his sixth 200-yard rushing game of the season against Auburn and their “SEC speed” in the Outback Bowl, turning his last 34 collegiate attempts into 251 yards (7.4 YPC) and three touchdowns. His short area burst and long speed is well documented, but he also is an underrated between the tackles runner who consistently breaks initial contact. I always preach wide receivers first in dynasty drafts, but Gordon is special enough for me to make an exception.
After missing the first seven games of the season with a foot injury, DeVante Parker proceeded to dominate upon his return, averaging over seven catches for 142 yards (19.9 YPC) and just under a touchdown per game in Louisville’s final six contests. Parker stands 6’3” and is rumored to have sub 4.4 wheels. His immense yards per catch average is no fluke, as he has averaged at least 16 yards per catch in all four years of his college career. He is a lock for the first round in both the NFL and dynasty rookie drafts.
With the league’s new hardline stance on domestic violence and other off the field issues, Dorial Green-Beckham is going to make for a very interesting test case. At 6’6” 225 lbs., Green-Beckham possesses nearly every physical trait you could want in an NFL wide receiver. He has insane leaping ability and good long speed. He can step in right away and be a red zone threat. The problem, of course, is that he was dismissed from Missouri before attending Oklahoma for multiple drug-related and domestic incidents. If history is any indication, however, most of that will be quickly forgotten with what could be a stellar combine performance from a freak athlete. No one will be under the microscope more in Indianapolis. He has the talent to vault himself into the conversation with Amari Cooper.
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