I got into an interesting discussion on Twitter the other day as to whether you would rather have Ronnie Hillman or Isaiah Pead on your dynasty roster with the hindsight of the first half of the season having been played. It seems clear to me the answer is Hillman, who has finally started to flash after passing Knowshon Moreno on the depth chart, rather than Pead who has fallen behind Daryl Richardson and has only played in garbage time. More importantly, however, it really got me thinking what a 2012 rookie draft would look like if we held it after week eight.
I grabbed some of my DLF compadres: Eric Dickens; Tim Stafford; Steve Wyremski; Paymon Shokoohi and Ryan McDowell. We knocked out a 12 team, three round mock. Each of us took two picks in each round to speed things up. The draft was set up as a standard, linear rookie draft. Each drafter added comments to each to pick, which I will elaborate on. Keep in mind this was completed before Week nine (I meant to have this done sooner, but this ne’er-do-well named Sandy had other plans for me).
The first thing that struck me from the results below was that, for the most part, the first round stayed relatively consistent, with the top four picks probably resembling most drafts with a slight shift in perhaps the order. Leaving aside Josh Gordon, who was not available in many rookie drafts, the only real “newcomer” to the first round was Alfred Morris, someone who was likely not even drafted in many standard three or four round rookie drafts.
The second thing that jumped out at me was the continuation of the shifting of receiver values that began just as rookie drafts were starting to take place after the NFL draft and continued to intensify through training camp and the preseason. The general consensus of the top two players, Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, began to sink, and the next tier of Kendall Wright and Alshon Jeffery began to rise.
Finally, it is interesting to note the value cliff still exists towards the end of the second into the early third. There are values to be had for owners who believe in specific players, but the general level of ambivalence you see owners start to have towards picks begins around the same place as it did before the season started. This is not to say these three observations are things that will carry over from year-to-year. It is something interesting to note as we start to see these players evolve over the remainder of this season and over the next several years and, perhaps, more importantly, as we critique and hone our own talent evaluation skills – that is the task that will ultimately lead all of us to become better dynasty team owners.
(same in each successive round)
1.01, 1.07 Eric D
1.02, 1.08 Tim
1.03, 1.09 Me
1.04, 1.10 Steve W.
1.05, 1.11 Paymon
1.06, 1.12 Ryan M.
1.01 Trent Richardson, RB CLE
Eric D.’s take: Was my 1.01 pre-NFL draft, post, and now mid-season. As good as advertised and there’s still upside from what he’s already shown.
My take: Can’t disagree here. I like what they are building in Cleveland and they are building it around Trent. Somewhat worried about his violent running style, but bounced back well and quickly (only one off week) from a painful rib injury.
1.02 Andrew Luck, QB IND
Tim S.’s take: He’s the only other super-elite player in this draft. I like RGIII a ton and Doug Martin is solid. But Luck is a ten year QB1.
My take: I love Andrew Luck, but I disagree with Tim to the extent that he suggests that Luck is in a tier to the exclusion of RGIII and Martin I disagree. While this draft was done in a vacuum, a team that was set at quarterback and running back need could easily take Doug Martin here and get no argument from me. I also still give the slight edge to RGIII, but to me that is the ultimate hair-splitting.
1.03 Robert Griffin III, QB WAS
My take: In a vacuum, I’d take him 1.02 right now. I think he’s smart enough to play fast, but in a manner that keeps himself healthy. Really like his disposition as well.
Further take: RGIII’s top two playmakers have been sidelined with injury. His team’s defense has fallen apart and he has been plagued by drops from his receiving corps the last two weeks. If you can find someone that is willing to sell low on him based on two poor weeks heading into the bye, it’s time to pounce. I believe most dynasty owners will be too smart for that, unfortunately.
1.04 Doug Martin, RB TB
Steve’s take: Baby Ray Rice. Can run and catch. He’s PPR $. Was really targeting one of the two quarterbacks given their early show and likely double digit careers, but I’ll “settle” for Martin here.
My take: The light has really switched on for Martin the last few weeks, and Tampa has shown the willingness to make him the rare every down back. While the 2011 rookie draft will be remembered for its receiving duo of AJ Green and Julio Jones, this year looks like it will be remember for its running back duo and quarterback duo at the top.
1.05 Kendall Wright, WR TEN
Paymon’s take: The draft up to this point has matched the original draft rankings but I actually had to think about this one for a moment. I stuck with Kendall Wright because I still think he’s the best receiver of this class.
My take: I would have done the exact same thing. Wright is on pace, assuming he’s healthy enough to play through his elbow injury, to lead all rookie WRs in fantasy points, and looks like the top receiver in this class so far. Jake Locker’s impending return should only help his value and production going forward.
1.06 Josh Gordon, WR CLE
Ryan’s take: Gordon is still adjusting to the pro game, but has really showed the past few weeks what he is capable of. Thanks to Greg Little’s poor play, he is already to top receiving option in Cleveland and should only improve. I am buying the hype that said he would have been a first round receiver had he been in the NFL draft, rather than the supplemental.
My take: The first somewhat surprise of the draft, however, based on the way the first half of the season has played out, not too much of a shocker. Gordon has flashed enough to me to be worthy of this pick.
1.07 Michael Floyd, WR ARI
Eric’s take: He’s a boom/bust guy here, but ultimately I think his talent shows up. Owners will need to be patient, but could pay off as much or more as any receiver in this class.
My take: I would have taken Alfred Morris or Alshon Jeffery here. Although he has been out with a hand injury, Jeffery was developing nicely and should be back soon. He looked to me like the clear WR2 in this class, just behind Wright, demonstrating the ball skills he became famous for prior to disappointing 2011 college season. Wright has started to come on as of late, however. It’s certainly too early to write him off completely or sell low.
1.08 David Wilson, RB NYG
Tim’s take: Starting running backs are hard to come by and he’s still on track to get there. Those who know Coughlin shouldn’t be surprised he’s not getting rookie touches.
My take: Wilson probably has the most upside of any running backs left on the board, but is a still a liability in pass protection and ball security, which has led to his lack of playing time. If he can’t figure out how to protect the Giants’ number one asset, he will remain a role player.
1.09 Alfred Morris, RB WAS
My take: I wasn’t a believer early on, but he has shown no sign of losing his job to Shanahanigans. Seems like the perfect complement to RGIII.
Further take: Morris has looked solid and is the perfect fit for the Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme. While his job security is always going to be tenuous due to the nature of his coaches’ whim, he has not been pulled when he has fumbled this season. His workload may lessen as he loses passing down work to Evan Royster because the Redskins figure to be coming from behind much of the remainder of the season. The future still looks bright for the Redskins offense however and if Morris is a big part of that, then he will have plenty of fantasy value going forward.
1.10 Ronnie Hillman, RB DEN
Steve’s take: It’s happening and it’s happening quickly. He’s improving as the season progresses and I believe he will be the starter in 2013.
My take: Hillman has overtaken first round bust Knowshon Moreno and has started to see more work as he has earned the trust of known veteran-lover John Fox. I still believe Hillman to be the heir apparent to Willis McGahee and I wouldn’t blame anyone for taking him over David Wilson.
1.11 Lamar Miller, RB MIA
Paymon’s take: Miller has already gained more exposure this season than I thought he’d get and he’s flashed when he’s played. The passing game is where he’s deficient and he’ll develop that as he learns the system. I believe in his raw talent.
My take: The biggest surprise of the first round for me. I would have expected both Alshon Jeffery and Daryl Richardson to go ahead of Miller at this point. Miller has received just 1 carry since week four as the Dolphins staff seems content with a rotation of Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas and that includes the weeks that Thomas was out with a concussion. Miller’s long term value is tied into whether the Fins resign Bush in the off-season and, for me, that is too tenuous to pick him over players who already have defined roles on their teams.
1.12 Stephen Hill, WR NYJ
Ryan’s take: Much like Gordon, Hill came into the league very raw and that showed as he has struggled at times. He has also flashed some great ball skills and is already one of the top options for the Jets.
My take: I was still a little surprised that Hill went before Jeffery, but not as surprised as with Miller. Hill has flashed some and made some big plays (including a couple that weren’t a result of blown coverage). Good upside if you can afford to wait.
General Impressions of Round Two
I think Alshon Jeffery is a no-brainer at 2.01 and he probably should have gone in the 1st round. He had already carved out a role before his hand injury and looks like the long term solution in a powerful one-two punch with Brandon Marshall and strong-armed, gunslinger Jay Cutler in Chicago.
I was somewhat surprised that Justin Blackmon fell out of the first round while Michael Floyd stayed in. I’d have those two reversed.
Daryl Richardson at 2.04 is a steal in my opinion. His worst case scenario is a time-share with Jackson or the slowly developing Isaiah Pead next year.
Marvin Jones was slated to have a big role week seven only to get hurt on the opening kickoff. Nobody, including fellow rookie Mohammad Sanu, has stepped up into the Bengals’ WR2 job, so I still look for Jones to get his chance when he returns.
Rueben Randle is still a project, but has a decent amount of upside in the Giants offense.
Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen goes to show how close these guys are in value right now. I’d rather have Allen at this point because of his better all-around skill set and not just because Fleener is hurt.
Ryan Broyles is starting to come on and I would be surprised if he doesn’t keep the job next year even after Nate Burleson is healthy (if he’s even back in Detroit).
T. Y. Hilton has really flashed playmaking ability and can stretch the field.
Isaiah Pead has finally started to come on and may form an RBBC with Daryl Richardson next year.
General Impressions of Round Three
Bernard Pierce looks like the true handcuff to Ray Rice and would instantly have RB2/high Flex value if Rice went down.
Russell Wilson has settled into QB2 value and doesn’t seem to be in danger of losing his starting job. I actually thing Brandon Weeden has more upside than Wilson, but wonder what might happen if he’s forced to learn a new offense next year.
I wasn’t an AJ Jenkins fan after he landed with the 49ers and that hasn’t changed, I think a bunch of the guys that went after him are better flyers, especially considering some already have established roles.
Robert Turbin (see Pierce, Bernard).
Brian Quick has been slow to get on the field and has been passed by Chris Givens in the pecking order. He still has a great deal of upside on a Rams team that needs more playmakers.
Vick Ballard is a great value here, especially with Donald Brown’s knee problems and Delone Carter’s being-bad-at-football problems.
Brandon Bolden is dealing with a knee injury and is just a lottery ticket at this point.
Bryce Brown (see Turbin, Robert and Pierce, Bernard).
Nick Foles looks like he has the inside track to the Eagles 2013 starting gig. I just hope they don’t subject him to the replacement-level talent that makes up four fifths of the Eagles offensive line.