The Contrarian - PFF Dynasty Rookie Draft 2014
The PFF Dynasty league recently finished its 2014 rookie draft. Tyler Loechner has the full rundown of all seven rounds. Since one of my most-read pieces last year was the contrarian Round 1 recap, I thought I’d do the exercise again.
Zac Stacy was my big sleeper pick a year ago as the No. 2 rookie. I was lucky enough to snag him with the eleventh pick overall and even luckier that he validated my rating. The 2014 Draft is far stronger, and Stacy might not have been among my Top 10 rookies in this draft.
As a reminder for new readers, I use Agility Score as a key component in evaluating running backs. This is a metric I’ve developed at PFF in concert with the Vision Yards concept. This approach paid immense dividends in 2013. For wide receivers, I prioritize the holy grail attributes, namely age, weight, and market share of receiving offense, or what I call the Dominator Rating (DR).
The 2014 PFF Dynasty rookie draft began with last year’s finalist, Ross Miles, trading up for the No. 1 pick.
1. Sammy Watkins
Watkins will be the first selection in most rookie drafts even though there are legitimate questions about how his size/speed profile will translate to the NFL. He’s not particularly close to Megatron, Demaryius Thomas, or Julio Jones as an athlete, nor was he as productive as players like A.J. Green or Dez Bryant. His ceiling is probably in the second tier of fantasy receivers. Despite those caveats, I like this selection. Watkins should lead the rookie class in targets over the next several seasons, and general perceptions about the Clemson product assure a very sturdy trade value.
2. Mike Evans
Evans is the other candidate for the top spot in most drafts. While splitting red zone looks with Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins isn’t necessarily ideal, landing in Tampa probably qualifies as neutral from a fantasy perspective. Although he posted gaudy raw stats in the Manziel-led juggernaut, concerns remain about Evans’ relatively paltry market share numbers.
3. Brandin Cooks
Cooks is very young and blazing fast. Although many are aware of Cooks’ profile, these attributes still seem to be undervalued. Landing in New Orleans could actually be overrated – the Saints run an egalitarian offense and rotate personnel more than you’d like as a fantasy owner – but it would seem to guarantee early production.
4. Bishop Sankey
In running back-heavy formats, Sankey could go No. 1 overall. While he doesn’t pop on tape, I rated him as the top back in both my pre- and post-draft rankings. Sankey is the prototypical Agility Score back and owns impressive production numbers. It’s easy to forget about Whisenhunt’s struggles to establish the run in Arizona after a superficially impressive season in San Diego, but Tennessee still presented the best locale for immediate fantasy impact.
5. Davante Adams
This was my pick. Derek Carr’s No. 1 receiver profiles as the long term replacement for Jordy Nelson in Green Bay. If he ascends to that role, he seems a lock for low end WR1 status. Adams’ collegiate market share numbers were far more impressive than those of Watkins or Evans. Don’t be surprised if he leads the NFL in touchdown catches from 2016 to 2019.
6. Odell Beckham
In a best case scenario, Beckham immediately shows off the speed, hands, and route running ability he purportedly demonstrates on tape. Profiling as more of a secondary receiver in terms of size and production, Beckham will need a sea change in the fortunes of Eli Manning to be relevant in the near future.
7. Eric Ebron
Ebron isn’t quite the same caliber athlete as Vernon Davis or Jimmy Graham, and he wasn’t the same type of on-field phenom as Rob Gronkowski. On the other hand, his age, speed, and production numbers paint the picture of a player who could quickly settle into the tier right below Graham and Gronk. Think of a rich man’s Jordan Reed in a more favorable system.
8. Carlos Hyde
Hyde’s age/speed profile is almost UDFA quality, and his production numbers start to shrivel when you consider the otherworldly blocking he received at Ohio State. The 49ers annually acquire more picks than they know how to spend and apparently prefer to waste one on a running back every season. Does Hyde own a large enough talent gap on Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore to ever be more than an RB2?
9. Jordan Matthews
Matthews was the most prolific receiving force in SEC history and acts as something of a test case for the on-going struggle between scouts and analysts. Lacking suddenness and a large catch radius, Matthews wins with smarts and underrated overall athleticism. As was the case with Brandin Cooks, his landing spot is mildly overrated from a fantasy perspective.
10. Devonta Freeman
Freeman is a good player to draft and flip, although it may be difficult to get back more than what it costs to acquire him. Part of a committee at Florida State, Freeman lacks the size/speed/production profile of an NFL starter. On the other hand, savvy pass blocking and a willingness to run hard should help him carve an immediate niche in one of the NFL’s least talented backfields.
11. Cody Latimer
This was another of my 13 selections, and I reached for Latimer’s vast upside. Latimer sports a very wide range of potential outcomes, but his overall profile hints at the highest ceiling in the entire class. He’s also in a situation where any favorable reports on his early progress will lead to skyrocketing trade value. Latimer’s production numbers look a lot better when you adjust for age. (Age information provided in this article refers to final college age.)
12. Johnny Manziel
|AGE||Yards||AYA||TD||Rush Yds||Rush TD||My Rank|
Manziel is the rare quarterback prospect with such ridiculous upside that he deserves first round consideration. I would be surprised if he isn’t a Top 5 fixture in dynasty rankings next offseason. When you factor in positional scarcity this may seem like a luxury pick, but Jeff Ratcliffe won the league last season. He has the overall roster depth to address a mild weakness at the position.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out our new Mock and Companion Draft Tool. Utilizing our updated player projections, run a quick mock draft and see where this year’s crop of free agents are coming off the board in early fantasy football drafts. The 2014 PFF Draft Guide is also available to order now.