My friend Dwayne Brown recently shared his projections for the top 24 players drafted according to dynasty ADP in 2016. Being a fan of all things dynasty and ADP related, this got my attention and more importantly, got me thinking. A few weeks back, I had worked on a Flash Forward series for DLF, using Twitter feedback to project the First Round Locks, First Round Sleepers and Fading Stars based on potential 2016 dynasty ADP, but I hadn’t actually made any predictions myself.
With Dwayne’s permission, I decided to borrow his idea for this season’s first edition of the Dynasty Stock Market.
Before I look forward though, I decided to look back at the past three years of dynasty ADP data I have collected for DLF. I expected to learn from the trends, which would allow me to better hypothesize what next season’s group of elite players might look like. Here are the top 24 players, representing the top two rounds of a typical 12 team PPR dynasty league, from 2013-2015. This data is an average of all off-season mock draft data combined for one off-season ADP.
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As I mentioned, it’s easy to notice some trends among this information. Here are some things that stuck out to me.
- The number of running backs in the top 24 has declined each year, going from 12 to eight to four. This should not be a surprise at this point, but its difficult to imagine the number slipping much lower in 2016.
- The number of wide receivers has increased, climbing from just nine in 2013, to 14 and then 16 this year. This also should not be a surprise, as the wide receiver position has become the popular cornerstone position for many dynasty teams.
- We’ve seen the two dominant tight ends of the past few years, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, remain among the top 24 for all three seasons. Others have approached top 24 status, but none have consistently been valued that highly.
- Looking at the span of two years, there were 14 players who maintained top 24 status from 2013 to 2014. That same number, 14, were also top 24 picks in both 2014 and 2015. Nine players were top 24 picks in all three season. Those include:
- Calvin Johnson
- AJ Green
- Jamaal Charles
- Julio Jones
- Dez Bryant
- Demaryius Thomas
- Jimmy Graham
- Rob Gronkowski
- Randall Cobb
- In 2014, there were ten new entrants to the elite group of 24 who had not been on the list in 2013. 2015 also saw ten new players enter the fray that were not previously top 24 picks
- Only one player, Aaron Rodgers, was a top 24 pick in 2013, missed a year, and then returned to the list in 2015. That seems to be more about the devaluation of the quarterback position in 2014 rather than a reflection on the performance or value of Rodgers.
- In 2013 and 2014, one player stands out as someone the dynasty community took a stand on, but was eventually let down. In 2013, former Giants’ running back David Wilson was the 22nd player off the board and never came close to returning that value, at least partially due to a series of injuries. In 2013, many dynasty owners extrapolated the impressive performance of Vikings’ wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, only to see him fall flat. He’s now basically relegated to special teams play and has very little dynasty value. Predicting who that player might be in 2015, if there is one, is obviously not easy. Other than a pair of rookies, the players who have proven the least on the field are second year receivers Brandin Cooks and Sammy Watkins.
- In 2013, no rookies were drafted among the top 24, which is an abnormality, based on my data and dynasty experience. In 2014, Bills’ receiver Sammy Watkins cracked the top 24 before he ran an official NFL route. This season features two rookies – Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley, in that group.
Based on these trends, I came up with a few qualifications for my 2016 ADP predictions.
- While I expect 2016 ADP to continue to be dominated by wide receivers, I doubt that number can climb much higher than the current 16, which represents 66% of the top 24.
- Not only has the number of wide receivers grown over the years, but those players are being valued at a higher rate. In 2013, just 2 of the top 10 players were receivers. A year later, that number had risen to six and this year, seven of the top 10 were from the wide receiver position.
- The same is true of the running back position, but on the opposite spectrum. Four running backs among the top 24 seems to be the lowest of the low, representing less than 20% of the top 24.
- The number of tight ends and quarterbacks in the top 24 over the three years of data represents such a small sample size I will consider specific players rather than any expectation based on data.
- It’s a realistic expectation that at least one rookie, if not two, will be among the top 24 players drafted in 2016.
With all of this and more in mind, I set out to create my first projection of 2016’s top 24 players, based on DLF’s off-season ADP.
1.01 – Odell Beckham, WR NYG
1.02 – Amari Cooper, WR OAK
1.03 – Dez Bryant, WR DAL
1.04 – Julio Jones, WR ATL
1.05 – Mike Evans, WR TB
1.06 – Antonio Brown, WR PIT
1.07 – Andrew Luck, QB IND
1.08 – Alshon Jeffery, WR CHI
1.09 – Todd Gurley, RB STL
1.10 – Brandin Cooks, WR NO
1.11 – Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
1.12 – Randall Cobb, WR GB
My projected first round is again littered with wide receivers, with nine of them, which would match the final tally for the top 12 of 2015’s ADP. Youth is on the side of my top overall player, Odell Beckham and the same can be said for Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks and Amari Cooper. Cooks and Cooper crash the top 12, something either rarely did in 2015 mocks or actual startup drafts. Both are expected to dominate their team’s target and if they remain healthy, dynasty owners will be chasing both all off-season.
While Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski will all be 27 years or older, I think only a major injury would push them outside of the top 12 in 2016.
Recent reports have rookie runner Todd Gurley missing the season’s first few games, but if he lives up to the hype in the back half of the season, that will be all it takes to not only claim the top running back spot, but also a spot amongst the top 12 players overall.
Finally, Randall Cobb and Alshon Jeffery dominate their teams targets and perform well enough for dynasty owners to maintain, or even elevate their value heading into 2016.
2.01 – Le’Veon Bell, RB PIT
2.02 – Laquon Treadwell, WR (R)
2.03 – AJ Green, WR CIN
2.04 – DeAndre Hopkins, WR HOU
2.05 – Dorial Green-Beckham, WR TEN
2.06 – Allen Robinson, WR JAX
2.07 – Jeremy Hill, RB CIN
2.08 – Jordan Matthews, WR PHI
2.09 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB (R)
2.10 – Sammy Watkins, WR BUF
2.11 – Demaryius Thomas, WR DEN
2.12 – Calvin Johnson, WR DET
The potential second round features a laundry list of new names and this is where it’s difficult to project. Top wide receivers AJ Green and Demaryius Thomas have been trending down over the past year and with each having questions surrounding their quarterback, the tumble continues. Both should still have a good enough 2015 season to maintain top 24 value, though.
The freefall is also true of one of the best of our generation, Calvin Johnson. More than ever, dynasty players are cognizant of a player’s age and how it affects his dynasty value. Right or wrong, that has hurt Johnson this off-season. He even fell into the third round of one of our recent mock drafts. I think he has a great bounce back year in 2015 and does enough to stick in the top 24, even with the frenzied focus on birthdates.
It may be a surprise to see Le’Veon Bell outside of the first round, but dynasty owners are a fickle bunch and one season outside of the RB1 spot will be enough to push Bell down a peg. In short, to maintain his dynasty RB1 status, Bell needs to again finish as the overall RB1, and I’d be willing to bet against that happening in 2015.
I mentioned the appearance of one or two rookies typically in the first two rounds of a dynasty startup, and here we have the top rated wide receiver, Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell and the running back from defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott, both cracking the list.
I went into this activity expecting to leave Sammy Watkins out of the group, but actually had trouble finding 24 players I felt comfortable with. Even in what many expect to be a disappointing year with questions about his quarterback and the Bills’ offense in general, Watkins’ age and former 1.01 rookie pick status is enough to keep him hanging around. Remember, even after a solid but unspectacular rookie season and those previously mentioned questions, Watkins’ ADP climbed from his rookie to his sophomore season.
Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews are two members of what some are already calling the best wide receiver class of all time. Of course, that could prove to be true considering Beckham, Evans, Cooks and Watkins are all included in that group as well. Breakout seasons are expected from both players and if they live up to the hype, they’ll likely be drafted even higher than this projection.
Finally, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I realize and admit the name of Titans’ rookie Dorial Green-Beckham jumps off the page. After all, in our August ADP data, he was the thirtieth wide receiver off the board. Moving into the top 24 overall, and to the WR13 spot would obviously be a huge jump, but we see it happen every year. A rookie has an unexpected strong performance, sometimes only for a few weeks of the season, and it’s enough to convince dynasty owners he’s the next bog thing. I can see that happening with the athletic freak Green-Beckham. Landing in Nashville didn’t seem ideal considering they haven’t exactly churned out playmakers in recent years, but he is a player they need and pairing him with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota makes things even better. We know the Titans will be down early and often, we know their running game is in doubt, we know tight end Delanie Walker and receiver Kendall Wright are excellent in the short game, but rarely break a long play. Enter DGB. Now, excuse me while I go make some trade offers for the Titans’ rookie receiver.
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Ryan, are you down on Kevin White?
I was pretty concerned about White before we knew how serious his injury was, so he’s fallen off even more for me. Considering he possibly misses the entire season, I don’t think there’s any way he cracks the top 24 next year.
What about Eddy Lacy?
Lacy is clearly a strong option to remain in the top 24, but not everyone in the current top 24 will remain. I am growing more and more concerned about Lacy’s concussion history and wouldn’t be surprised if he missed time this year, causing him to fall in value.
What about D Adams from that WR draft? or M Gordon?