Off-Season Reflections: Final Fallers

James Simpson

reflections

For the last time in this year’s series, I am looking back on the dynasty community’s off-season ADP data. As much as I enjoy studying the latest set of data to decide who is under or overvalued, I also love to scour old draft results to see what ‘could have been’ and investigate why we missed on certain players. Here, I look at the players who fell the furthest in draft position during the off-season (between March and August) and discuss whether or not the reason for the fall was justified.

Donte Moncrief, WR IND

March ADP: 45, August ADP: 69 (-24)

With the arrivals of Phillip Dorsett and Andre Johnson, Moncrief became a steal. Many people thought these two would immediately push the second-year player out of the lineup, but realistically the Colts were simply trying to surround Andrew Luck with as many weapons as possible (and maybe trying to put some pressure on Moncrief to realize his potential). I understand drafters were worried, but he showed enough in his rookie campaign that we should have given him the benefit of the doubt over a veteran on a new team and a rookie.

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Julius Thomas, TE JAX

March: 57, August: 79 (-22)

I wrote about Thomas’ impressive seasons in Denver in ‘Searching for Consistent Greatness‘, but also remarked that I expected production to dip in Jacksonville. The argument was that moving from Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles would be a step in the wrong direction, however that case can’t be made right now since Bortles is a top-ten fantasy signal-caller and Manning is nowhere to be seen. Thomas also suffered an injury which gave additional doubt to owners, so it was fair to drop him down rankings. However, I do think he may be a sneaky buy at a fraction of his early off-season price.

Cody Latimer, WR DEN

March ADP: 65, August: 87 (-22)

There was a time when a Peyton Manning offense could house multiple 1000 yard receivers. Even last year, he provided us with two top five fantasy wideouts. But we expected a regression to affect everyone around him. Sure enough, he is struggling to perform to his usual fantasy standard (and even struggling to throw the ball properly). After Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the team doesn’t currently have any other receivers in the top 100, running back in the top 32 or tight end in the top 24. Even with this, Latimer can’t seem to beat out Andre Caldwell, Jordan Norwood or Bennie Fowler: it really doesn’t look good, and we got this right.

Matthew Stafford, QB DET

March: 81, August: 108 (-27)

I don’t think too many people will be surprised that he isn’t performing on the field (he has had his fair share of struggles), but the lack of volume-based production is disappointing. The Lions didn’t do anything over the summer to help the passing game improve, and brought in a couple of rookie running backs in Ameer Abdullah and Zach Zenner. We thought he would struggle, and he has done. Hopefully, he can find some form as the Lions clean house.

Drew Brees, QB NO

March: 80, August: 115 (-35)

A poor end to last season combined with an aging arm didn’t bode well for him heading into 2015. Furthermore, the Saints locked up Mark Ingram, added CJ Spiller and traded away their top receiving target in Jimmy Graham for an offensive lineman. We expected there to be a strengthened running game, and fewer reliable targets for Brees in the passing game. The season started that way and the team struggled, but he still provides the same top overall potential he always has, and I’d expect him to have huge numbers for the rest of the season thanks to a porous Saints defense. If he’s still falling, contenders may want to buy him for a Championship run.

Dwayne Allen, TE IND

March: 105, August: 132 (-27)

With the influx of receiving talent and Andrew Luck’s breakout season, we expected the Colts to have a strong passing game with more receivers on the field and producing. Even with that expectation, Allen dropped, so with the team’s struggles on offense it should be no surprise that he has yet to put up any decent numbers. I believe he is a more complete player than his fellow fourth-year tight end Coby Fleener, but is more suited to ‘real life’ success than in fantasy football.

Percy Harvin, WR BUFharvin

March: 83, August: 142 (-59)

I have always regarded Harvin as the type of player who rises during the off-season. Since his early years in Minnesota, most of the reason for maintaining a fairly high ADP has been excitement, hype and potential (more so than production). We have tended to reflected on his flashy highlight plays in past summers as we get excited, despite being consistently let down. This time, we knew he was on the decline as he headed to Buffalo. How long left does he have in this league?

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR MIN

March: 86, August: 157 (-71)

Patterson was the biggest bust in dynasty football last year by quite a margin, as he was being drafted in the first two rounds of startup drafts. He was all the way up at 15.5 in September 2014 ADP, but was a huge miss with 384 yards and only one touchdown on the season. This off-season, we fully accepted that he wasn’t the dynamic receiving threat that many thought he could be. He has athletic talent and is still electrifying with the ball in his hands, but he just can’t seem to learn the position. I don’t know if that ever changes, however much he moans about it.

Marqise Lee, WR JAX

March: 103, August: 158 (-55)

After having been once regarded as arguably the top skill position player in his college class, Lee’s fall has continued for a number of years. Despite the fantasy progression of Blake Bortles, Lee has been outshined by fellow youngsters Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns and completely failed to make an impact. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a change, but like any ‘talent’; maybe all he needs is a change of scenery.

Coby Fleener, TE IND

March: 140, August: 168 (-28)

Just like his teammate Dwayne Allen, Fleener dropped. It seems like we’ve been correct so far on the two, but not necessarily for the right reason. We thought the Colts would be using the receivers and Frank Gore much more effectively, but instead the whole offense has been a mess. Even if they manage to put it back together, will Fleener be the beneficiary? Probably not, so this fall was justified.

Josh Gordon, WR CLE

March: 102, August: 173 (-71)

His fall was inevitable, but as Nick Whalen outlined in August, perhaps it shouldn’t be this far. He may be reinstated next year, and we know how talented he is. While his price has dropped to a point where he is being drafted behind Karlos Williams, Devin Funchess and Jordan Cameron, maybe now is a time to buy.

Justin Hunter, WR TEN

March: 118, August: 181 (-63)

I was a huge Hunter fan, but I’m prepared to admit that it’s not going to happen the way we wanted it to. When you have a player who really lacks focus, it takes a lot for them to work out – good coaching, a strong mentality and some positive influences. It doesn’t appear he has shown any improvement in three years. However in deep leagues, I may stash him since he is all the way down at the 219 spot in October ADP.

Other Notables: Jeff Janis, WR GB (March: 136, August: 192), Larry Donnell, TE NYG (March: 163, August: 199), Charles Clay, TE BUF (March: 165, August: 207), Virgil Green, TE DEN (March: 173, August: 214), Albert Wilson, WR KC (March: 153, August: 221), Marquess Wilson, WR CHI (March: 109, August: 225), Justin Blackmon, WR JAX (March: 85, August: 241), Gavin Escobar, TE DAL (March: 194, August: Undrafted), Paul Richardson, WR SEA (March: 190, August: Undrafted)

Conclusion

We all learn from our mistakes. It’s an undeniable statement, and a key to getting better in all walks of life. However, we can also learn a ton from our successes, and we shouldn’t forget them by getting too caught up on where we went wrong. As long as we are aware of both, we can improve as people; and more importantly: as fantasy football owners.

I do this study to look back on where we were wrong and right. What are we good at? Where can we improve? How do we know the best process to follow? And honestly, as a community of drafters we tend to be right most of the time at knowing what to expect. However, part of the fun of the game is the unpredictability of it all: a new coach, a personal change behind the scenes or even a blatant effort by a team to involve a player can lead to improvement. Sometimes the most obvious things that are ‘supposed’ to happen do not. Regardless, we always gain knowledge from reflecting on the past and preparing for the future. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series, and spend some time reflecting on your own processes.

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james simpson
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