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Blind QB and WR Comparisons

Blind QB and WR Comparisons

Author: Matt “The Jerk” Morrison

Hey y’all. It’s The Jerk here with my inaugural article. Today I’ll discuss some blind player comparisons and how the biased impressions we may have of players should not interfere with the statistics. In the same way, the total points a player has at the end of the season should not interfere with how the player arrived at that number.  (i.e. not all 1000-yard seasons are created equal) Let’s jump into some comps…

Wide Receivers

COMP 1

Who would you rather have between these two WRs?

Player A (Alpha):

  • 30 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 14.3 points/game for the games played (222.8 for 16 game season)
  • 60 rec / 836 yards / 12 TD (for 16 game season)
  • He missed 8 games in 2019

Player B (Bravo):

  • 27 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 14.9 points/game (238.4 total)
  • 83 rec / 1,174 yards / 6 TD
  • He played all 16 games in 2019

Alpha and Bravo’s salaries are within 1 million dollars of each other and the length of their contact is the same.

So, skim through that and (based on this limited data) decide which receiver you would prefer to draft…Have your answer?  I’m assuming it’s Bravo. That’s not to say that if you picked Alpha you are wrong, but people (in dynasty especially) tend to draft the younger, less injury prone player. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that Bravo outscored Alpha’s assumed point total if he’d been healthy.  Some may not be able to pass on the possibility of 12 touchdowns and that’s understandable. If you infer from Alpha’s numbers, you can see that he had 6 TD’s in 8 games in 2019. One hell of an 8-game stretch. While his reception total may not be the type of volume you’d like, it appears his efficiency made up for it. 

In the end, I would take Bravo.

  • Younger
  • Better average 16 game season
  • Seemingly healthier (at least last season)

Let me give out a little more info and see if it changes your mind…

Coming into 2020, Alpha is the clear WR1 on his team.  I would argue that his target share will be top 10 among all receivers this year.  His team is a run first offence, which explains some of the lack of volume he received for the half of the year he played.  In 2019, his team chose to pass on only 51.7% of plays.  That ranked 29th.

There’s not much to say about Bravo coming into 2020.  His offensive unit from 2019 has stayed intact (QB, WRs, RBs).  There is debate among analysts on whether he is the WR1 on the team or WR2.  To me, it doesn’t much matter.  Both are very talented receivers and either one could end 2020 with the better stats.  I’d call it a WR1A and WR1B situation with Bravo (fittingly) being the WR1B.  Bravo’s team passed on 59.6% of their plays.  That ranked 18th.

Has your opinion changed?  Maybe the fact that Alpha is primed for a high-volume season has swayed you to pick him?  Maybe the fact that you found out Bravo is going to be fighting for targets against a likely superior receiver has caused you to fade him?  Not me…I’m sticking with Bravo for now.  Let’s throw out some quick stats and see if you can guess the players, if you haven’t already. 

  • If you go back to 2018, Alpha was WR7 overall while Bravo was WR18.
  • For 2020, Alpha is projected to outscore Bravo by 21 points in DO.
  • Alpha makes 16,050,000 for 5 years, while Bravo makes 15,100,00 also for 5 years.
  • Alpha’s Offensive Coordinator in 2019 became Bravo’s Head Coach for 2020.

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, Alpha was far superior in 2018. WR7 doesn’t happen by accident or without elite receiver talent. Alpha is projected to be the more productive WR once again in 2020. As I stated in the opening, their contracts are very similar, but now we know the actual cap hit one or both of these guys will make.  They are each hovering around 15% of the cap. Also, remember what I said earlier about Alpha’s team having the 29th lowest passing percentage among NFL teams in 2019? Well, the Offensive Coordinator of Alphas team is now the head coach of Bravo’s team and it would stand to reason he will bring that low passing volume philosophy with him.

My point of this comp wasn’t necessarily to get you to contradict yourself although that may have happened. I was attempting to show how nuanced certain statistics can be and how no one stat or a group of stats can tell the entire picture. I’m sure many of you know who these two players are by now, but consider this idea…

These players are much closer together than they originally appeared based on the raw stats. Of course, everyone will still favor one player over the other, but it’s hard to argue a large gap in where they should be drafted or even where they will end up at the end of the season. It’s hard to argue until we get the final reveal…

Each player’s Dynasty Owner ADP at the time of writing…

  • Adam Thielen (Alpha):            56.3
  • Jarvis Landry (Bravo):            97.3

The gap of 41.0 between Thielen and Landry is, personally, surprising to see. I chalk it up to a couple of facts. First, Thielen’s target share is sure to take off this year barring another injury.  The departure of Diggs to Buffalo opens up 63 receptions and over 1,100 yards. Obviously, I don’t anticipate all of those targets or receptions to go to Thielen especially after drafting an exciting and talented WR in Justin Jefferson, but he will no doubt shoulder more of the passing volume. I would actually counter that point by bringing up Olabisi Johnson. The second year, seventh round draft pick comes into 2020 poised for a breakout. It would not be surprising to see Bisi start the season opposite Thielen and finish with 60 plus receptions. Second, it’s hard for drafters to justify taking a player like Jarvis in one of the first 8 rounds that is once again assumed to play second fiddle to Odell Beckham Jr. As I said earlier, I predict it to be more of a 1A, 1B situation similar to last year, but I can understand the hesitancy when OBJ carries as much upside as he does. Third, (and I think the more overarching point of this exercise) Jarvis is just an unsexy pick. He is a steady player who doesn’t “pop off” like other high upside players being drafted around him. He is reliable to sit between the 12-16 fantasy points most weeks with a slim chance of “week winning performances.”

For me, these stats show that Thielen and Landry should be drafted much closer than ADP currently has them. Ironically, the spot I think they should be drafted is much closer to Jarvis’ current ADP than Thielen’s. I have Thielen currently at 90 and Landry at 108.  The reason for that is simply their contracts. I prefer many younger (even rookie) receivers over both of them. I don’t see either one of them as a value where they’re currently being drafted, but I see Landry at 97.3 as much less of a reach than Thielen at 56.3. The second blind comp I have today is a little closer ADP wise, but we’ll get to that later.

COMP 2

Player C (Charlie):

  • 27 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 16.1 points/game for games played (257.6 for 16 game season)
  • 87 rec / 1,127 yards / 8 TD for 16 game season.
  • He (miraculously) only missed one game last year.

Player D (Delta):

  • 25 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 13.8 points/game for games played (220.7 for 16 game season)
  • 90 rec / 1,046 yards, 5 TD for 16 game season.
  • He did not miss a game in 2019.

Charlie and Delta’s salaries are within half a million dollars of each other. Admittedly, there isn’t much to go on that distinguishes these two players yet…Charlie had a 22.3 target percentage and a 24.0 reception percentage for his team.  Delta had a 25.0 target percentage and a 25.4 reception percentage for his team.

Charlie had 24 red zone targets and 17 red zone receptions.  24 and 17 is second only to Michael Thomas’ 26 and 20, respectively.  Delta had 12 red zone targets and 7 red zone receptions.  As you can probably guess based on final stats, Charlie converted more red zone receptions into touchdowns than Delta, to the tune of 7 (C) to 3 (D).

Charlie’s offensive unit remains intact from 2019.  His QB is hyper-efficient and finished as QB 3 last year.  Charlie is the WR 1 on his team, but alongside him is a second year WR who was flirting with a 1,000-yard season himself in 2019.  Delta is working with a rookie QB who will be the Week 1 starter and a veteran WR who “should” be healthy this year after missing all of last season with multiple injuries.  (I know this just gave away Player D, but this is important info I had to include) there’s no doubt that Delta will bump down to the WR 2 on the team.

Who would you rather have?

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m talking about two Tyler’s here.  Lockett (C) and Boyd (D). Tyler Lockett is making $10,250,000 for two years.  Tyler Boyd is making $10,750,000 for the next four years. At the time of this writing, Lockett’s ADP is 79.0 and Boyd’s is 76.4.

I’ll give you my opinion…I want Lockett. I concede that Seattle is stingy when it comes to passing and are a run heavy offence, (In fact, Seattle was 27th last year in passing play percentage) but Russell and Lockett have proven to be the one of the most efficient QB/WR duo in the league. I don’t like to listen to coach talk or listen to narratives, (especially when it comes from the most optimistic Head Coach in the league, Pete Carroll) but I believe Pete when he says, “we want him to have more opportunity to be the factor of the game and control the game.” I don’t expect a full #LetRussCook season is coming, but I do believe Russell will have more passing opportunities this year which, in turn, would give more opportunity to Lockett.  Lockett is obviously well trusted in the red zone and the ten-zone. While touchdowns are notoriously unpredictable, it is refreshing to see that Russell trusts Lockett in the end zone, and I don’t expect that volume to vanish. 

This is not to say that I hate Boyd or wouldn’t draft him.  I do like him and would be happy to take him if he fell to a value.  The problem I see is twofold.  First, Joe Burrow coming in may not be as smooth a transition as most predict.  Obviously, the talent is there, and I’m predicting a successful career for Joe, but with this unprecedented pre-season, I see some growing pains.  Second, the “return” of AJ Green gives me pause.  I get it.  I get it.  As soon as AJ is mentioned people immediately start rolling their eyes and tune out.  AJ has played 35 games in the last four seasons.  That’s less than nine games a season.  So, I understand if you want to make the argument, “AJ will get hurt at some point this season, and when he does, Boyd will be catapulted into a top 15 WR.”  It’s an understandable argument, but I personally don’t like to bet on injury.  I factor injury risk into my rankings like most, but I’m not going to use another player’s injury potential to indirectly affect his teammate’s ranking.  Suffice it to say, I believe AJ will play at least 10 games this season.  If he does, Boyd is being drafted slightly too high, and he definitely shouldn’t be taken over Lockett.  If AJ plays all 16 games healthy (I admit it’s a longshot), then Boyd is being drafted way too high.  I have Tee Higgins and Auden Tate also competing for an impactful amount of targets this year.  Again, Cincinnati doesn’t have the most crowded offence in the league, but it is deceptive how many mouths there are to feed.

Boyd deserves to be drafted, but with his nearly 11-million-dollar salary, the middle of the sixth round is a little too early for my comfort.  In my updated rankings, I have Lockett at WR 30 (81 Overall) and Boyd at WR 36 (93 Overall).  In addition, I would rather take these WR’s that are currently being drafted after Boyd…

  • Keenan Allen: $11,250,00 for 1 year (81.4)
  • Darius Slayton: $688,497 for 3 years (84.1)
  • Dionte Johnson: $1,070,241 for 3 years (88.1)

Slayton and Johnson are obvious picks for me.  The 10-million-dollar cap saving you’re getting with either of these guys far outweighs the increase in points that Boyd will provide.  Allen has a comparable salary, but I see his role being much more defined and unaffected than Boyd’s, even given the probable QB turnover in LA.

Now, let’s jump to some QB comps…

Quarterbacks

COMP 1

In a vacuum, who would you rather draft?

Player A (Alpha):

  • 24 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 20.7 points/game average (331.2 points for 16 game season)
  • 3,738 yards / 24 TD / 7 INT (for 16 game season)
  • 2020 Projected: 324 points
  • Salary is $677,721 for 3 years

Player B (Bravo):

  • 27 years old
  • 2019 stats
  • 22.6 points/game (361.2 points)
  • 4,039 yards / 27 TD / 7 INT
  • 2020 Projected:  399 points
  • Salary is $32,000,000 for 5 years

Clearly, Bravo is projected to outscore Alpha, and I would agree that is likely to happen this year. The question becomes…is the (projected) 75-point difference enough to justify a more than 31-million-dollar upcharge? I would emphatically say no. 31 million is 27% of your cap. In other words, you would be using 27% of your cap for a 75-point increase.  I know what you’re saying…” But projections aren’t always accurate.” I completely agree.  Let’s say for argument’s sake that we believe Player B will outscore Player A by 120 points.  Would the 31-million-dollar upcharge now be worth it?  Possibly.  Maybe. I don’t think I would pay it, but there are certainly people that would.  At the time of this writing, Gardner Minshew (A) and Carson Wentz (B) are being drafted at 69.5 and 48.8 respectively. On average, Wentz is being drafted 21 spots before Minshew.  Baffling… Obviously, there are many more factors that I’m leaving out involving these two QB’s, but I think I’ve made my point. Young, cheap starting QB’s are few and far between in this game and they should be valued that way. I could make this same argument for Drew Lock, Sam Darnold, and even Dwayne Haskins.  Give me all three of those earlier than Wentz. Please please please, don’t draft Wentz over Minshew. For reference, Steve Van Tassel and I have a consensus ranking of QB 11 for Minshew and QB 18 for Wentz.

COMP 2

Let’s compare a couple hypothetical QB situations next…

Player C (Charlie):

  • 25 years old
  • Previous years stats
  • 30.4 points/game (486.7 points)
  • 4,900 yards / 36 TDs / 10 INT
  • 400 rush yards / 3 rush TDs

Player D (Delta):

  • 31 years old
  • Previous years stats
  • 27.7 points/game (442.4 points)
  • 4,300 yards / 33 TDs / 8 INT
  • 330 rush yards / 3 rush TDs

Who would you rather have? The clear answer is Charlie. He is younger, put up more points last year, and (I didn’t include it) will be projected to score more points this coming year. Would your mind change if Charlie cost (let’s say) 10 million more than Player D?

Maybe? Probably? It makes the decision a lot tougher, no doubt. 

Well this is actually not a hypothetical scenario. This is the decision that Dynasty Owners will be making next year between Patrick Mahomes (C) and Russell Wilson (D) in Dynasty Owner start up drafts. The “previous years stats” are the projected finish for each of them for 2020. Obviously, neither of them will finish with those exact stats, but I think it’s reasonable to believe those are close. 

At any rate, who do you want going into 2021? I, personally, would still take Mahomes and find a way to save the extra 10 million each year, but it’s very close. I could make an argument for Wilson and my main point would be the fact that you are only tied to him for a third of the years you are tied to Mahomes. My point is that next year (after Mahomes is no longer 4.1 million a year to own), he and Wilson should be much closer in ADP, if not back to back. This means that Mahomes’ current ADP of 2.0 is that high, mainly for this year. Let me ask this a different way…

If Mahomes’ contract was 45 million this year, where would you have drafted him? My honest answer is QB 11 or around 75 overall and right before Wilson. This is the reason I am so much lower on Mahomes’ than almost everyone I have talked to.  I understand how important this year is. I understand the “win now” mentality and if you have Mahomes for 4.1 million, you have a great chance to win, but I can’t justify taking a 45 million-dollar QB next year first or second overall.  I like Mahomes. Scratch that. I love Mahomes, but there is no value (Dynasty Owner wise) to take him in the first half of the first round.

I’ll sum it up in this way…Dynasty Owner Tim stated a few weeks ago that there will be a time in this game where Russell Wilson is a value.  I couldn’t agree with him more. That time will start next year when Mahomes gets paid and it will peak in two years when Lamar, Watson and most likely Dak are making more than him. If Russell starts to slide in drafts to a point of value and you’ve been diligent with your cap, don’t be afraid to grab him. You’ll thank yourself in two years.

Thanks everyone for sticking with me. Take care and be safe. Cheers!

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