Rankings Roundtable

Karl Safchick


Dynasty rankings are always tough to compare between different people. Some build their teams based on youth, others on veterans. Depending on scoring system, you may draft running backs higher than I would. I’ve seen every type of league from 2QB to IDP to tight end premium. It’s not difficult for two DLF rankers to feel similar about a player, but rank them quite differently.

On the contrary, just this morning, Eric Olinger and I were discussing the value of Martivis Bryant on Twitter. I was criticizing Bryant while Eric defended him. It never occurred to us to check our rankings during this debate. It turns out, Eric ranks Bryant as his WR27, and I rank him as my WR28. We both liked Bryant similarly, but without context we were both arguing separate points.

Everyone who participates in the Rankings Roundtable is a great sport. I get to ask them a question, they get to answer, and in some cases, I criticize their response without them here to defend it. The great thing about this series is the separate points of views. I’m by no means the authority on dynasty, but my opinions are strong and I don’t mind disagreeing.

This week I have Jacob Feldman, Doug Green and Nathan Powell joining me.

On to the debates!

KS: Jacob, you rank DeMarco Murray as your 41st overall player, and it looks as if he’s your RB10. After coming off a historic season, what scares you about his value?

JF: With Murray, I have some concerns about his new situation in Philly. I think his touches are going to be managed a bit, likely trying to keep him around 12-16 touches per game. So that is an immediate knock to his value from the workload he was getting in Dallas. But if we are talking about what scares me the most, it is what he did in 2014. In fact, having him as the 10th running back might even be a little too generous because I highly doubt he will finish the 2015 season in the top ten at his position.

If we look back at historic running back seasons which were volume generated (under 5 YPC), players like Shaun Alexander and Larry Johnson immediately come to mind. Both of them were great players and top running back talents for years, but after their historic seasons, their play fell off a cliff. Human bodies just can’t handle that kind of workload over that short of a period of time. With Murray, we are talking about almost 500 touches in 2014! The only exceptions seem to be the all time greats. If you think Murray is a hall of famer and will be viewed as one of the best of this generation, then don’t knock him down for the workload. I don’t think he is at that level, so I have major concerns about his production going forward. We don’t want to pay for what someone already did but instead what they will do. With Murray, I think he is someone you need to be selling and if I’m the lowest on him at 41st overall, that means you’re going to get a pretty solid return for him.

KS: There are countless reasons why people do not value Murray as high as I believe they should, but I will concentrate on debunking the points Jacob made. The first thought which stuck out to me is Jacob believing the Eagles will only give Murray 12-16 touches per game. I would think it’s fairly obvious, when you plan to pay a player $42 million over five years ($21 million guaranteed), you want to give them touches. While plans don’t always come to fruition, I believe the idea will be to feed Murray the ball. Even if he doesn’t receive the 28 touches per game he received in his amazing 2014 campaign, Murray did average a robust 18 touches per game his entire career through 2013 – those numbers include games in which he didn’t finish and a rookie season where he didn’t get starters touches until week 7. My conclusion is the touches will be there.

Jacob also mentions Murray’s heavy workload as an indicator for drop off in effectiveness. I’ve read countless studies which claim to show why heavy workloads affect players ability the following year – I believe this simply isn’t true. One reason why you may see a slight drop off in production from a career year is because it is a career year. Your best is tough to duplicate. I’ve heard multiple times “Murray wore down as the season went on.” If that’s true, it didn’t show in the numbers. Over the last three games of the Cowboys’ season (including playoffs), Murray averaged the same YPC (4.7) as he did over his entire year.

Jacob mentions Murray should finish outside the top 10 of running backs, a position he hasn’t been in since his injury riddled 2012.

KS: Doug, you rank one player wildly out of proportion with consensus thought, and I need to hear your reasoning. Odell Beckham, Jr. is has the highest ADP of an player in the league, yet you rank him as your 19th overall player. Would you care to expand on your thoughts on Beckham?

DG: I like to think I’m cautiously optimistic on Beckham. Yes, compared to the others I’m lower, but he is the highest-rated second-year player on my board.

How many times have we seen a guy come in and take the league by storm for part of a season or an entire rookie season, only to struggle in the coming years? (I’m looking at you Trent Richardson and Doug Martin.) Every one of the 18 players I have ranked ahead of him has multiple years of fantasy production already under their belt.

Do I think Beckham can have a productive career? Yes, I certainly do. But, he will be the focal point of coverage in 2015 and who knows how well Eli Manning is going to play week-to-week? Beckham has just as much chance to be a one-hit wonder at this point as he does to be a perennial Pro Bowler and he already has missed time with an injury. That could be a fluke thing or it could be a sign of things to come. We’re still missing data, but the data we do have is extremely positive.

KS: I think it’s a bit harsh to say “there’s just as much chance [Beckham] will be a one-hit wonder as…a Pro Bowler.”

Beckham Jr took the league by storm last year. No wide receiver (other than Antonio Brown), scored within even three PPR points per game of Beckham. There’s no doubt in my mind this guy is the real deal, and neither should there be a doubt in yours. When I watch him play, he reminds me of Jerry Rice. Beckham is an elite route runner, has some of the best hands in the league, and actually has a better catch radius than the other second year player in which Doug ranks ahead of him, Mike Evans.

Many people will compare Beckham to Evans and Sammy Watkins because of their relative draft position. The fact is, the book is written on who the better NFL player is. Last year, Beckham averaged 24.8 PPR points per game. Evans and Watkins combined averaged 28.8. “OBJ” outscored Evans on a ppg basis by 8.5. You would have had to add Terrance Williams’ production to Evans’ to equal Beckham’s.

According to March ADP, Beckham is going off the board as the first overall player. Seems right to me.

KS: Nathan, you’re a strong proponent of “going young” in dynasty. I could ask you about your ranking about any number of sophomores, but I’m curious about a player who I also like, Allen Robinson. You rank Robinson as your 19th overall player, almost a round and a half higher than his March ADP (34). Can you explain why you’re so high on Robinson?

NP: I’ve been a big fan of Robinson since day one. He was my fifth ranked rookie last draft season, and from what I saw during his injury-shortened rookie season, I think he has the makings of a top 12 NFL receiver. I’ll admit 19 may be a little high, but I do think is a very large tier after the top 13 or so.

2014 was a historic rookie class, and I think players like Robinson, Jordan Matthews and Davante Adams who were all impressive in 2014 will continue to impress in 2015, all have very bright futures. Speaking specially to Robinson, playerprofiler.com supports what I see on film and in the numbers, his closest metric comparison is Dez Bryant and it is hard not to love that.

KS: There’s no misprint. Nathan ranks Robinson as is 19th overall player, not his WR19.

I’m admittedly a Robinson fan, so it’s difficult to talk trash about him. I believe in taking players who have tremendous upside, but when you do not leave room for downside, you end up with young declining assets on your hands. We saw it last year with players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. We look at these players’ physical profile and become enamored with the possibilities. Robinson does look much like Bryant in pads, but they are not similar players. Bryant is a polished NFL wide receiver who can run routes, high point footballs and run after the catch – these are all attributes Robinson has to learn.

There has been a switch in dynasty lately where people value youth and physical profile over the ability to play football. As a Robinson fan, I hope he continues to learn the game, but I would not be comfortable taking him in the second round of a startup draft. Those are Patterson-like expectations.

Thanks again to all writers who participated. It takes some thick skin to jump on the opportunity to have your rankings criticized.

Be on the lookout for another Rankings Roundtable coming soon, as the responses from other DLF rankers have been abundant!

Follow me on Twitter @KarlSafchick