Off-Season Reflections: Rookies and Wrap-Up

James Simpson


The series comes to an end with one final look at off-season ADP risers and fallers: the rookies. I found it fascinating that over five months of mock drafts between March and August, some players’ stock remained completely intact despite all the changes around them before and after the NFL Draft. For example, Derek Carr’s March ADP of 207 was exactly the same in August. Similarly, former UCF combo of Blake Bortles and Storm Johnson experienced very contrasting draft weekends, yet they both only fell by one spot in ADP (164 and 178 in March to 165 and 179 in August). Did our opinions change at all? Did we take what happened in Radio City Music Hall into account? Whether we like it or not, the ‘NFL people’ know a lot of things about prospects that we never will. Should that affect our view of a player when they go where we don’t expect them to?

The players identified below did experience a change in stock over the Summer, so I had a look at why that was and if the reasoning was sound. We have some fantastic new ADP data for November so I have included each player’s current ADP to show the change from the offseason.

Rookie Risers

Brandin Cooks, WR NO
March ADP: 110, August ADP: 34 (+76)

Cooks was one of the biggest movers in all of dynasty football over the summer. When you become Drew Brees’ new toy, why wouldn’t you be? With all the talent at the position in the draft, the receivers who fell into great situations understandably enjoyed big rises and are living up to expectations. In PPR leagues, Cooks is a treasure but  in non-PPR leagues, I’m not sure he lives up to his current value.

November ADP: 29

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Jordan Matthews, WR PHI
March ADP: 68, August ADP: 46 (+22)

DeSean Jackson out, Jordan Matthews in. We learned over the summer that he would play in the slot, but that didn’t take anything away from the anticipation he would put up big numbers for Chip Kelly. It has taken a quarterback change to bring out the best in Matthews, but he is finally looking like what he was drafted to be: a dominant matchup on the inside. Like almost all of the receivers in this class, his stock continues to rise.

November ADP: 36

Davante Adams, WR GB
March ADP: 95, August ADP: 71 (+24)

I can’t be sure whether Adams’ rise was because he was paired up with Aaron Rodgers, because he was expected to be Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb’s replacement, or a combination of both. Even with the Packers receiving duo seemingly sticking around, Adams will still be a stud. Despite not yet having a ‘breakout game’ that many other rookie receivers have had, he still jumped up to the November top 50.

November ADP: 44

Kelvin Benjamin, WR CAR
March ADP: 103, August ADP: 73 (+30)

Having been immediately thrust into the starting and number one role in Carolina, I don’t think anyone was surprised Cam Newton started looking his way without hesitation. But what did surprise me personallly is what he has done with the opportunity. He is a top-ten scoring receiver this year and just continues to dominate cornerbacks every week. Ask yourself: will he keep rising or as he hit his peak? A top-25 dynasty player is a hot commodity.

November ADP: 23

Cody Latimer, WR DEN
March ADP: Undrafted, August ADP: 97

A very late riser ahead of the NFL draft and not on many radars in March, Latimer jumped all the way in to the top 100 players with his selection by Denver. With all the big-name rookies coming in and making an immediate impact, there were bound to be some disappointments and with the second and fourth top-scoring wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos have no rush to get the former Hoosier involved. Being a healthy inactive for the first seven weeks of the season could be concerning, but my advice would be to make sure you don’t compare him to the other rookies: remain patient.

November ADP: 66

John Brown, WR ARI
March ADP: Undrafted, August ADP: 153

Big or small: if you can play, you can play. Brown was somewhat of an unknown commodity for a third-round pick, and we were cautious with him as we approached the season as he didn’t even crack the top 150. But Bruce Arians has absolutely worked his magic on the speedster. He doesn’t look like a future WR1, but he has currently scored more fantasy points than Michael Floyd and has provided amazing value.

November ADP: 74

Rookie Fallers

Ka’Deem Carey, RB CHI
March ADP: 64, August ADP: 114 (-50)

Carey is a great example of college production vs transferrable skills. As soon as the college season ended, we could look at his game logs and be extremely impressed: he had over 115 yards in all 12 of the games he played. However, taking a closer look at Carey on the field told us that he was clumpy and lacked the burst to beat players. Turns out he isn’t a “mix between Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy.”

November ADP: 121

Marqise Lee, WR JAX
March ADP: 71, August ADP: 84 (-13)

Lee has had quite a tumble over the last couple of years after being in the conversation with Sammy Watkins as the top college receiver after the 2012 season to falling out of the first round of the 2014 draft. In the offseason, it seemed as though injuries were the reason, but maybe he won’t ever hit the heights of his huge 2012 again. For all his athleticism, he sometimes tries to do too much rather than just play the position. With Allen Robinson out, he will have a chance to show something.

November ADP: 91

Isaiah Crowell, RB CLE
March ADP: 96, August ADP: 138 (-42)

Crowell has experienced a strange up-and-down-and-back-up ADP swing for a few reasons. Prior to the draft, he was the talk of the town, but going undrafted meant an ADP fall. He remained out of sight behind two other backs in Terrance West and Ben Tate, but when we actually got to see him on the field we were reminded his talent and he jumped back up in the mid-season ADP. With Tate moving on to Minnesota, Crowell will see a huge upswing in value come the December mock drafts.

November ADP: 79

Jace Amaro, TE NYJ
March ADP: 112, August ADP: 135 (-23)

In a dynasty league, we should always look to build on talent and not situation (obviously a cocktail of both is the dream) and I believe the impact of being drafted by New York was a major factor in Amaro’s summer ADP fall. He was a second round pick, but our opinion of him was clouded by where he was drafted not when he was drafted. He remains restricted until the Jets can clear up their quarterback mess, but I love Amaro for the future and he will keep on moving up.

November ADP: 100

Wrapping Up

We all have the benefit of being Captain Hindsight, but it’s the way we use this part information that determines what that hindsight is worth. Rather than thinking “I should have known that would happen”; we can evaluate why we thought the way we did and if it was the right way to do it; then take something from it. In writing these pieces I have learned (among other things):

• Beware of the situational running back risers. Talent plus situation is great, but situation on its own is a recipe for disaster
• Value the on-field play more than what happens off it. As soon as you see Player X back on the field you will remember why
• Don’t feel like every player must compare to your personal favourites – everyone holds some kind of value: whether to you or another owner in the league
• Listen to what the NFL Draft has to say. It shouldn’t completely change your opinion on a player, but I should have dropped Storm Johnson down a little bit considering he fell all the way to the seventh round, for example

I’m sure you, like me, have spent a lot of time regretting past moves and wishing you had done things differently with players, trades and lineup decisions. But knowing that you’ve learned something from it and prevent yourself from making the same mistakes will set your mind at ease. Reflect, evaluate and improve; and keep the last off-season in mind when February comes around.

Share your mistakes made and lessons learned with James @JS_Football


james simpson