Football is here. It’s not calling you to let you know it’s on it’s way. It’s not sauntering up your sidewalk and preparing to ring your doorbell. No sir, or madam, it’s here. Its shoes are off by the front door. Its bags are unpacked. Its beer is in your fridge. Football is here to stay.
Fantasy football draft day is the beginning of domination or demise or just enough in the middle to escape ridicule. Finding the value players in the middle rounds of your draft is a step in the right direction. Everyone knows who the top five position players are, so we won’t be discussing those today. We’re going to focus on the guys you can pick up in the middle rounds that hopefully exceed their value and help you win a week or a few. Let’s look at two receivers that are right next to each other in ADP and see if we can determine the better value.
Fantasy Football Value Drafting: Davante Adams vs Allen Robinson
Davante Adams’ 2016 campaign was his break-out season. He caught 75 of his 121 targets for 997 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which were career highs. In fact, he tripled the number of touchdowns he had on the prior two seasons combined. His average yards per reception went from 9.7 in 2015 to 13.3 in 2016.
In his three seasons in the NFL we can gauge how he’s trending. In 2014 he caught 38 of 66 passes (57%) for 446 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 11.7 yards-per-reception.
In 2015 he only played 13 games and hauled in 50 receptions on 93 targets (53%) and finished with one touchdown and 483 total yards. He yards-per-reception went down to 9.7 and represent the low point for his young career. While the numbers look worse than his rookie year, it’s worth noting that his targets went up. If he had played all 16 games he was on pace for 114 targets and 594 yards.
For all intents and purposes, he exploded in 2016 but still saw struggles in one major area, his hands. Throughout his young career Adams has struggled with drops. The volume has increased and he has arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league throwing to him.
In Robinson’s rookie year, he only played in ten games. He caught 48 of his 81 targets (59%) for 548 yards and two touchdowns with an 11.4 yards-per-reception average.
In 2015 Robinson blew up, catching 80 of his 153 targets (52%) for 1,400 yards and a ridiculous 14 touchdowns. He was averaging 17.5 yards-per-reception. The dip in completion percentage was partially Robinson’s fault and partly the fault of Blake Bortles’ erratic arm.
Fast forward to 2016 and Robinson had 883 yards on 73 of his 151 targets (48%) and six touchdowns. While it was a career low in catch-rate, the targets were still there. When you factor in that Bortles threw a total of 16 interceptions last season, it’s hard to lay all of the blame for the low catch-rate on Robinson.
Breaking Down Both Players
We have two players that have both shown the ability to put up 1,000 receiving yards in a season coupled with double-digit touchdowns. Both players are in the fourth year of their careers and both have shown the capability to play full 16 game seasons. Their ADP is so similar that there are times where they are both listed as going early in the fourth round. So, how do we decide which player is better suited to make a positive impact on your fantasy roster?
This one is a no-contest for Davante Adams. Aaron Rodgers is headed for the Hall of Fame and could possibly take a couple of receivers with him. Rodgers threw for a career high 610 attempts in 2016. It was the first time in his career he attempted 600 or more passes. The 2017 season should see a regression in total pass attempts which will lower the number of targets Adams could see.
The run-game aspect goes to Robinson. Leonard Fournette looks good in camp and preseason and he’s built to be a three-down back. TJ Yeldon will still be in the mix for third-down work and as the pass-catching back. Green Bay may still struggle in the run game as Ty Montgomery is showing some struggles in pass-blocking and does not appear ready to be the three-down back.
This one is a little tougher to decide. Green Bay’s defense did Rodgers very little in the way of favors last season, which when coupled with the lack of run game, led to the uptick in pass attempts. However, Rodgers didn’t have to play from behind very much last season. Blake Bortles is the true garbage-time-hero of fantasy football. Part of those garbage-time heroics came from playing from behind, especially in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars have significantly improved their defense moving up to 12th on the power rankings. The Packers are currently 25th on the same ranking. Due to the high-powered offense led by Rodgers, the Packers don’t find themselves playing from behind as often. Even with the improved defense, the Jaguars will find themselves playing from behind more frequently than the Packers. Advantage here goes to Allen Robinson.
Both players are currently occupying a similar slot on current ADP. Both have had similarly good fantasy seasons to show where their ceiling can be. In my opinion, the upside player here is Allen Robinson. It’s not often I’m going to take the side of the receiver with the lesser quarterback. Adams has struggled with drops, meaning that most of his fluctuation in catch-rate is his hands. You can’t teach balance, and you can’t teach good hands. Robinson’s erratic catch rate has more to do with Bortles. In this case, it’s easy to trust Robinson’s consistency and upside with his bad quarterback more than Adams with the better quarterback.
Both players have a good chance of exceeding their draft day value at their current position in the back of the fourth round. Allen Robinson is the pick to take at that spot nine-out-of-ten times.