The Contrarian – PFF Dynasty Rookie Draft

| 4 years ago
Tavon Austin

The Contrarian – PFF Dynasty Rookie Draft

The heavyweights from the PFF Dynasty league (virtually) gathered last week to participate in the 2013 rookie draft. I didn’t originally have any picks in this draft due to trades during last year’s startup, but a flurry of new trades gave me a chance to enjoy the festivities. This year’s rookie crop is especially weak at the skill positions, which made picks a little easier to come by. I traded all of my 2014 picks for 1.05 and 3.03 and then swapped Hakeem Nicks for 1.03 and 2.04.

I’m probably a little further from the mainstream on the rookies than most, so I thought my contrarian review might be interesting. My belief is that tape study can be actively misleading unless you do it following the same procedures Pro Football Focus uses to create the incredible wealth of information available to you here.

I use metric-based analysis to project NFL rookies. Last year, I unveiled the Agility Score in a PFF Contrarian article. That piece led me to target players like Doug Martin and Stevan Ridley in 2012. For receivers, I use market share of receiving offense (Dominator Rating) and Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS). Demaryius Thomas was a fixture on my fantasy rosters last season because his PFF yards per route numbers – in my opinion the single most important football stat on the internet – combined with his collegiate DR and HaSS all but guaranteed he would be among the top six or seven wide receivers.

The other PFF writers in this draft represent some of the most decorated experts in the industry, so you should take my contrarian critiques with a large grain of salt. As always, the wisdom of crowds is more valuable than the quixotic ramblings of any one individual. I’m just doing my best to help prevent informational cascades.

The consensus rankings represent the ratings of PFF Dynasty experts Bryan Fontaine, Scott Spratt, and Joey Cartolano.

1.  Giovani Bernard

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con. Rank My Rank
Giovani Bernard 2481 5.9 25 202 4.53 11.03 2 9


Bernard is the consensus top RB according to the PFF Dynasty writers. I think he’ll be a useful fantasy asset but not an elite one. Bernard is both small and slow, which means his value is tied up in his lateral explosiveness. There are also some advanced numbers out there suggesting he didn’t gain many yards last season that weren’t blocked by his line. He’s not likely to carve out a three-down role as a rookie (or probably ever). Moreover, fellow rookie Rex Burkhead actually put up better numbers in every drill at the Combine except 40 time. Burkhead could eventually earn a passing down role along with pilfering goal line carries.

Nick Siegel’s Draft React on Gio Bernard


2. Tavon Austin

Player Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 HaSS DR Con. Rank My Rank
Tavon Austin 69 174 4.34 89 0.30 1 6


Austin landed in a dream spot where checkdown machine Sam Bradford should look for him often. The Rams do have other in-space players, however, and Austin is unlikely to score many touchdowns. My philosophy is to target big, red zone threats at WR. I’ve looked at the sustainability of possession receivers in past seasons and come to negative conclusions. However, my new study for the 2013 PFF Draft Guide challenges some of those conclusions and provides other compelling breakout candidates. Look for it on newsstands everywhere this summer.

Brian Bulmer’s Draft React on Tavon Austin


3. Le’Veon Bell

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Le’Veon Bell 3346 5.0 33 230 4.6 10.99 3 1


Bell’s 4.6 forty is evidence of suspect long speed, and scouts don’t like him because he looks even slower on tape. This has led many to believe Le’Veon is the least talented of the big name backs and a reach by the Steelers. I believe the opposite is true. Bell’s size/quickness combination is elite, and his landing spot immediately makes him a threat for the coveted running back usage troika (heavy carries, receptions, goal line attempts). Bell is my top-ranked player and the only player I feel confident will make a 2013 impact. (Full Disclosure: This was my pick.)


4. Montee Ball

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Montee Ball 5140 5.6 77 214 4.66 11.28 6 5


I went back and forth on whether to pick Ball if he lasted to me at 1.05. His measurables don’t fit a draftable profile – Ball is smaller, slower, and more sluggish than Bell, for example – and going to Denver isn’t quite the cushy gig some suggest. Despite Peyton Manning, the Broncos are a poor running team, and I suspect they’ll be more pass-oriented with Mike McCoy gone. On the other hand, Ball is likely to settle in as a slightly below average NFL running back, and one who could see quite a few goal line carries.

Dan Schneier’s Draft React on Montee Ball


5. Eddie Lacy

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Eddie Lacy 2402 6.8 30 220 NA NA 7 12


I had three remaining players with first round grades. Hoping at least one would fall down the board, I traded down for 1.10, picking up 2.08 in the process.

Lacy is difficult to get a good read on because he ran behind the vaunted Alabama offensive line and didn’t participate in the Combine. Throw in some uncertainty about toe fusion, and NFL teams seemed to agree. Lacy’s fit in Green Bay is overrated, especially with Johnathan Franklin waiting in the wings to play Pierre Thomas to Lacy’s Ingram. Those goal line plunges with John Kuhn are going to be even more effective with Lacy as the decoy.

Akshay Anand’s Draft React on Eddie Lacy


6. Cordarrelle Patterson

Player Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 HaSS DR Con. Rank My Rank
Cordarrelle Patterson 74 216 4.4 114 0.17 4 7


Patterson is one of the interesting players with a big disconnect between the reality and fantasy perspectives. Patterson’s collegiate market share numbers were terrible, emphasizing what a huge project he remains. Much like Austin, however, he landed in a perfect scenario. The Vikings proved adept last season in getting the ball in Harvin’s hands. They’ll eventually do so with Patterson as well.

Vincent Frank’s Draft React on Cordarrelle Patterson


7. Johnathan Franklin

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Johnathan Franklin 4403 5.6 31 205 4.49 11.2 12 11


Depending on your theory of handcuffs, Franklin either has more or less value because he went to the Eddie Lacy owner. Like Montee Ball, Franklin doesn’t fit into one of my three draftable categories. He’s more of a Shane Vereen or Isaiah Pead, and we’ve seen the slow development of those players. Likely years away from fantasy relevance and with a RB2 ceiling, Franklin makes a risky first round selection. (I still prefer him to Lacy.)


8. DeAndre Hopkins

Player Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 HaSS DR Con. Rank My Rank
DeAndre Hopkins 73 214 4.59 98 0.40 5 3


DeAndre Hopkins was probably the only receiver who deserved a first round reality grade, and he landed in Houston to become the immediate No. 2. With Andre Johnson drawing coverage, Hopkins should be playable as a WR3/4 in 2013 redraft leagues. Although not the same athletic talent as Julio Jones, Hopkins’ situation with the Texans should be similar to the one in Atlanta. Hopkins and Johnson will probably swap roles sometime in 2015. If you expect the Texans to remain as run-oriented as they were the last two seasons – especially in the red zone – then you won’t be as excited about this landing spot, but Matt Schaub threw for 4,770 yards in 2009. The Texans weren’t able to keep up in shootouts last season, and the Hopkins selection signals a desire to remedy that deficiency. (Full disclosure: During the second round of the draft I traded 2.04 and 2.08 for Hopkins.)

Nick Siegel’s Draft React on DeAndre Hopkins


9. Marcus Lattimore

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Marcus Lattimore 2677 4.8 38 231 NA NA 11 UR


Lattimore is interesting in that his value seems inflated by the weakness of this class. That’s probably a mistake since he ought to be considered a 2014 pick anyway. The South Carolina back was having a poor 2012 season before suffering a second major injury. The contrast between Lattimore and Knile Davis is worth pursuing. Both backs put up very impressive 2010 seasons in the brutal SEC before injuries derailed their momentum. They both returned and played poorly. Davis is similarly sized, much faster, and far healthier. He is being held accountable for his terrible 2012 season by drafters. Lattimore, who never profiled as a top 15 reality draft pick, isn’t being held accountable despite also having to deal with a second injury. The 49ers have suggested they prefer a three-headed committee and have young backs in Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James upon whom they used higher picks than the one that snagged Lattimore. Considering the enthusiasm most have about Lattimore’s fantasy prospects, this will probably end up being one of those things I’m wrong about, but I have a hard time seeing Lattimore as more than a late 5th round pick.

Brian Bulmer’s Fantasy Impact on Marcus Lattimore


10. Zac Stacy

Name College Yds College YPC College TD Weight (lbs) 40 Yard Agility Score Con Rank My Rank
Zac Stacy 3143 5.4 30 216 4.55 10.87 16 2


My rank of Stacy may be an example of irrational exuberance (although 2012 champion and dynasty guru to the stars, Bryan Fontaine, was going to pick him at 1.12). Stacy’s physical profile – size/speed/agility – is very similar to Ray Rice and Doug Martin. He falls in the estimation of scouts because his physique looks funny, but his results defend the Rice/Martin comparisons. Bill Connelly at Football Study Hall does some of the same things for college guys that PFF does for NFL players. The results on Stacy are stunning. His highlight yards per opportunity – basically yards on successfully blocked runs – are higher than Jonathan Franklin’s, significantly better than Eddie Lacy’s, and just barely below Gio Bernard’s. Stacy is usually portrayed as a potential short yardage back in St. Louis, but his Agility Score is far better than Isaiah Pead’s. Although Pead was faster in the 40, Stacy’s Speed Score is still slightly superior. It’s possible Stacy, Pead, and Richardson will end up in a full blown committee, but if one of them wins out over the long term, Stacy is likely to be the guy. (Full disclosure: This was my pick and I recently traded Pead, so I’m emotionally invested in the Stacy over Pead idea.)


11. Keenan Allen

Player Height (in) Weight (lbs) 40 HaSS DR Con Rank My Rank
Keenan Allen 74 206 4.71 86 0.44 8 10


I love Allen. Until the ill-fated pro day, he was the top WR on my board. He could win a starting job immediately and have decent value in what should be a pass-heavy San Diego offense. The question for Allen is about ceiling. He will compete for snaps with Floyd and Brown, possibly mitigating his short term value. Long term, his suspect athleticism may see him topping out at WR2 status. The swift deterioration of Phillip Rivers is also a worry.

Tyler Loechner’s Draft React on Keenan Allen


12. Arthur Brown

Had I not traded out of 1.05, I was considering Stacy, Hopkins, and Brown. Elite middle linebackers are veritable gold in IDP leagues. LB may be a little like QB in terms of scarcity, but when you’ve got a championship squad like Fontaine, acquiring stars is much more important than building depth. Brown is the unanimous top IDP according to esteemed IDP gurus Jeff Ratcliffe and Ross Miles. Offensive players are widely considered to possess more value than IDPs, but all of the offensive guys sport such bust potential that Brown could easily end up as the prize of this draft.

Daniel Ciarrocchi’s Draft React on Arthur Brown


Shawn Siegele is the Lead Redraft Writer for Pro Football Focus, creator of Money in the Banana Stand, and contributor to RotoViz.

  • Lenny

    No Dobson?

    • Shawn Siegele

      Dobson went at No. 17, which I think is an accurate valuation. Although it wasn’t the exact pick, the Hopkins trade I referenced allowed Kevin Greenstein to select Justin Hunter and Dobson back-to-back at 2.04 and 2.05. Those players have sky high upsides, so I like the trade from his perspective as well.

      I may look at some of the later rounds of the rookie draft in a future article.

    • Robin
  • Wintermute

    Could you provide us with a link to the PFF Dynasty League website so that we can follow along? Thanks.