Cornerstone Report: Week 15

Frank Gruber

Welcome to the Cornerstone Report. This weekly in-season series focuses on the NFL rookie class and projected 2021 rookie class.

It uses tools including our Dynasty Trade Analyzer, the DLF Trade Finder, average draft position and DLF rankings to compare player values.

Last week’s column featuring Jalen Hurts, Rondale Moore and Seth Williams can be found here.


Amari Rodgers, WR Clemson

This week we focus on three less-heralded players. First up is Rodgers, just another former four-star, top 100 overall national recruit in the Tigers wide receiver corps.

Rodgers had a productive sophomore year in 2018, but his true metrics-driven breakout did not occur until this season following the departures of Tee Higgins (NFL draft) and Justyn Ross (injury).

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Statistics from Sports Reference.

At 5’10” and a stout 210 pounds, he does not resemble the typical Clemson wideout in the mold of Mike Williams or Higgins. But he is talented in his own right, with the speed to score from distance.

He is all the way down at 79th in our Devy Rankings around players such as South Carolina running back Kevin Harris and Alabama wide receiver John Metchie. This puts him 42nd among 2021 prospects, suggesting a fourth-round rookie pick value. In fact, he is three spots behind teammate Ross, who is recovering from a spinal injury once thought to be career-threatening.

Rodgers is not included in our Devy ADP, which goes 75 players deep, though in a recent in-house superflex devy mock draft he was selected in the fifth round around players such as UGA RB Zamir White and Louisville WR Tutu Atwell. The DLF Cornerstone Rankings combine first and second-year NFL players with 2021 rookies. Rodgers is not included in the 60 players of this group.

Trey Sermon, RB Ohio State

Sermon is another fourth-year player creating buzz. He set the Ohio State single-game rushing record with his 331-yard performance against Northwestern. Highlights here:

As you would expect, he has people talking.

He played three years at Oklahoma before transferring to Ohio State this season.

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Statistics from Sports Reference.

Sermon is a big back at 6’1” and 215 pounds. He exhibits many positive traits but has shown limited receiving production with a single-season high of just 16 receptions. Running backs need to be involved in the passing game to be dynasty assets.

Like Rodgers, Sermon is inexpensive. His Devy ADP of 63 (RB28) puts him around players such as LSU freshman receiver Kayshon Boutte and Florida State running back Jashaun Corbin. He comes in at 76th overall in the DLF Devy Rankings around players such as USC quarterback Kedon Slovis and TCU freshman running back Zach Evans. He lies outside the 60 players comprising the DLF Cornerstone Rankings, which combine 2021 rookies with first and second-year NFL players.


Salvon Ahmed, RB MIA

If you have been playing devy for a few years, you may recall Ahmed was a hot commodity in 2017 as a top 100 overall national recruit. This clip showing his lateral agility still sticks in my head.

He went on to have a productive three years for the Washington Huskies, totaling 2,300 scrimmage yards and 50 receptions in 39 games.

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Statistics from Sports Reference.

At 5’11” and 197 pounds, his game was built on quickness and speed. He showed both in this 89-yard touchdown run against USC, though Trojan CB Chris Steele was eventually able to tag him.

Ahmed brings this same style to the NFL, as seen on this run last week against the Patriots.

In what was expected to be a rebuilding year the Miami Dolphins sit at 9-5 with a shot at the playoffs. They have assembled a backfield consisting of a seventh-round pick (Myles Gaskin) and two undrafted free agents, all between 22 (Ahmed) and 25 (Matt Breida) years old. Are they applying the “running backs don’t matter” philosophy or are they waiting to address the position after filling more pressing needs?

Opportunity is king for running backs. Gaskin and Ahmed have both had multi-week stretches of fantasy viability. Breida also enjoyed such a window while in San Francisco. The timing of Ahmed’s feature role could help dynasty squads to championships.

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Statistics from Pro Football Reference.

He just recently cracked the DLF Dynasty Rankings as RB70 with an overall rank of 211 between fellow rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden and Malcolm Brown. His Dynasty ADP is slightly higher at 184 overall between Quintez Cephus and Carson Wentz (1QB format). It is not too shabby considering he was not among the top 62 rookies in our final Rookie ADP for this class.

The DLF Dynasty Trade Analyzer algorithm combines ADP, rankings data and real-world MyFantasyLeague (MFL) trades to value players and rookie draft picks. In terms of picks, it values Ahmed roughly as a 2021 third-rounder. Players in this range include Tim Patrick, JD McKissic and Anthony McFarland.

Finally, our Dynasty Trade Finder pulls real-world trades from MFL using custom criteria for league settings. Recent deals involving Ahmed include the following. All are within the three-game window of games he started, beginning in week ten.

  • 12-09-20: Salvon Ahmed for RB Mike Davis, CAR
  • 12-09-20: Salvon Ahmed and Year 2021 round four draft pick for QB Mike Glennon, JAC (Superflex)
  • 12-05-20: Salvon Ahmed and Year 2021 round four draft pick for RB Gus Edwards, BAL
  • 12-02-20: Salvon Ahmed for RB Brian Hill, ATL

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Cornerstone Report. Find me on Twitter at @threedownhack as we uncover the next cornerstone players.

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