The wide receiver position in fantasy needs something to break its way in 2018. Why not Equanimeous St. Brown? He is either the breakout prospect to own or the wasted early second round pick you wish you had just traded. Most players are highly landing spot dependent but there are few as difficult to imagine a perfect spot for. His college stats and evaluations all reflect this wide range of outcomes. But one thing is for sure: he offers tantalizing upside in a perceived weak class at the position, at a time when fantasy is struggling to find dependable high-end producers.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
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Notre Dame struggled to find even replacement level quarterback play after DeShone Kizer left of the NFL. St. Brown’s dip in production in his junior year is often explained this way, with a mix of concern over his level of effort. He has a slightly unusual background being the son of a former bodybuilding champion and having spent a large part of his childhood living in France. Questions about his “a passion for the game” are also sure to come out in narrative-based analysis.
Typically it’s hubris to imagine the reasons or stories behind why a player suffers a dip or restriction of production at certain points. They all have stories, to get this much attention, to be potential draft picks, they have to have worked hard, impressed, and have talent. There is no backstory we can objectively judge as being okay, or not okay to explain production problems.
Here’s what we know for sure. Equanimeous St. Brown’s 31.5% market share of yards in his age-19 season. That’s 9.4% over the average for successful wide receivers in the NFL at that age. At 19, he is in a very good percentile bracket as a breakout when it comes to NFL potential. His age-20 production was 5.8% below the average. Late career dips in production are often accompanied by at least a delayed breakout in the NFL and decrease the chances it will happen at all. That being said, his age-19 production means he is someone we have to pay attention to, and target at the right draft spot.
Equanimeous St. Brown is tall, but lean. On film, it’s hard to tell exactly how fast he is moving because he has smooth gliding gate. However, it’s his footwork that really stands out even when receiving substandard passes. He is able to accelerate and change direction at a rate that is highly impressive and also deceptive to defensive backs.
The quality of his footwork cannot be overstated at points. He also worked both inside and outside for Notre Dame, displaying significant run-after-catch ability on crossing routes and the speed to get open on the outside.
Despite his inconsistency, his hands look secure. There are few examples of his missing or dropping passes.
Still, his lack of urgency and a tendency to fade in and out of a game is also noticeable on the field. This shows up in his route tree as some scouts have noted a lack of “crispness” despite his ability to change direction.
St. Brown would have impressed at the NFL combine running a 4.48 40-time in the 65th percentile by itself but a lot more impressive was the fact he did it at his 6’5” height, in the 94th percentile. Physically he compares best to several sleepers from past years like Kenny Golladay and Mack Hollins. However, he also draws an 81.3% comparison to DeVante Parker. While Parker has struggled in the NFL there is no one who thinks it’s because of his size or athleticism. St. Brown didn’t do any agility or jump drills at the combine but did score in the 80th percentile on the Bench press. So his on-field agility will be paired with significant strength for the position.
DLF ADP is available for every player on their player page.
In March, Equanimeous St. Brown’s ADP had settled in at 104.67, just behind productive veterans like Larry Fitzgerald (102.33). He is ahead of younger prospects who have shown some decent level of production in the NFL like Cameron Meredith (108.17). ‘ESB’ is ranked 13th in DLF’s top 50 rookie rankings.
He has received some added attention recently as several popular fantasy analysists have called him out as having qualities they value in a prospect. That being said, he seems set to settle into a late first early second round value.
This is in the right range to take a shot on a wide receiver who may take some time to find his feet at the next level. But at the high end of this value, he might be a risk. Still, surrounded by a perceived weak class, the majority of which never reached the highs of production he did in his age-19 season, it’s understandable.
I don’t mind reaching a little for Equanimeous St. Brown in the very early second round. But if you were to take part in some crazy early rookie draft and have to decide right now, I think he may be holding late first round value. That may be going too far.
As we move closer to the draft, and if he is drafted in round three to four as he is projected to, I think it could settle back down. In short, if you could find yourself trying to decide between a running back with a better (more likely to succeed) profile who is likely a role player, and St. Brown. At that point, I may lean upside and take St. Brown if I think my team has the room to carry him without production early. You should expect him to disappoint in year one. But that’s true of all rookie wide receivers.
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