Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
There have been 19 quarterbacks who started their careers at 21 years old or younger since 1920. Half of them were before 1970. Of all 19, DeShone Kizer had more passing yards than all but one – Jameis Winston. He outpaced Alex Smith, Michael Vick and Matthew Stafford among others. I’m not highlighting this to suggest Kizer has shown us he can be a quality starting quarterback but to underline two things:
- Kizer, a raw prospect, was very young when he was pushed through perhaps one of the most chaotic first seasons a quarterback has faced
- His production in 2017 does not condemn him to failure in the future
It’s hard to come by positive things to say about Kizer’s rookie season otherwise. The start of his career was not handled well. He was pushed in and out of the lineup, and the offense was neither optimized nor tailored to his skill set and inexperience. Even worse, thanks to the team building of the people they have since fired; the Browns have a plethora of draft picks in a first round full of quarterback prospects. Kizer will have competition in 2018: if not from the draft, then from a trade or free agent signing. The team reportedly already tried to sign with Alex Smith. Kizer may not even be given a fair chance to compete for the job.
Still, we do not know if he is good or bad. His raw tools are still there and now he has some experience in the NFL at least. According to DLF’s January ADP data he is currently being undrafted in single quarterback leagues. I think he’s worth considering as a target in leagues where the position is more values, if you have space to wait, or are in dire need of a quarterback.
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Under contract until 2019, Cody Kessler probably has little chance of re-taking a starting quarterback position, especially in Cleveland. The quarterback depth chart is uncertain but sure to change before the start of the 2018 season. While he may have deserved more opportunities to start, and he might in the future, he didn’t get them in 2017. The year before he started nine games and passed for 1380 yards with an above average PACR (an efficiency rating) of 0.96, according to fantasyadhd.com. He’s not worth a roster spot in most leagues right now, however.
Kevin Hogan got his first start in 2017 after DeShone Kizer was benched against the Jets for throwing seventeen times for eight completions and one interception. In that game, Hogan threw nineteen times for 194 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns still lost the game but it was enough to earn Hogan his first career start at the age of 25 against the Houston Texans. The result was 140 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions on nineteen attempts. It was another, bigger, loss for the Browns that finished 33-17. That was all the Browns needed to see, apparently, and Hogan as benched the rest of the season.
Hogan was drafted in the fifth round in the 2016 draft, has a good athletic profile and a 91st percentile QBR while in College at Stanford. He is not under contract for 2018 according to overthecap.com. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a backup quarterback somewhere else in 2018. Backup, however, is his likely ceiling.
Isaiah Crowell is a free agent this off-season. There were numerous rumors that he was unhappy with his role in 2017. More substantially, signing him to a one year deal in 2017 doesn’t offer a lot of hope that the team has a lot of interest in bringing him back either. He was 18th in rushing attempts in 2017 with 853 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It isn’t a lot to help change anyone’s mind. It was one yard less than Marshawn Lynch and 173 yards more than Jonathan Stewart. Since the running back position is largely based on opportunity, it’s difficult to see Crowell’s value holding steady or improving if he should remain on the team. His ADP has dropped already from RB27 in 2016 to RB30 in DLF’s January data, a fall of four and a half rounds.
There are not many efficiency metrics I trust to evaluate a running back performance. Crowell has been little more than solid according to most of them and outright poor by others. The same is true throughout his time in the league. He ranked 27th in 2017 for evaded tackles, one of the few indicators I do like for running back performance. That places him 55th out of 97 running backs with 30 or more touches Evaded Tackles per touch. That’s not good, but evading a tackle on 19.7% of his touches is about the same as Mark Ingram’s 19.4%. Again, it’s doubtful that Crowell could find anything like the quality of Ingram’s situation anywhere he goes.
Crowell could be good enough in the right role, on the right team, and with a good offensive line. Though the same is true for a lot if not most NFL level running backs. With his ADP drop, he is a sell candidate who you should expect to take a loss on. You could also consider holding him until his 2018 situation becomes clearer, and trade him on any value bump his new team or new contract provides.
Duke Johnson ranked fifth in Evaded Tackles per touch in 2017. He managed to evade a tackle on 32.7% of his touches for a total of 51 evasions. He touched the ball 156 times, with only 82 carries and ranked fourth in targets and receptions at the running back position.
Johnson’s ADP has risen according to DLF’s January ADP data and he is now being taken as the RB21 in startup drafts, in the sixth round. If there is a chance this increase isn’t reflected in your league, I’d want to take advantage of it. He has a three-down skill set that is still yet to be fully utilized. While I have concerns about the coaching staff’s ability to unlock them – especially considering the occasional rumor they could turn him into a slot receiver – the player himself is well worth an investment as he enters the last year of his rookie deal.
Matthew Dayes is the third man on the Browns depth chart. He is 5’8” tall, 205 pounds and 23 years old. Howev, r he has a poor athletic profile (fourth percentile SPARQ-x score) despite a strong 59th percentile College Dominator rating from NC State. It’s hard to see him being of any importance in fantasy as many more talented and higher value players will already be struggling to stay relevant with what appears to be a stacked running back class on the way.
Josh Gordon’s contract situation is complicated. Overthecap.com and Spotrac.com both show he has come to the end of his rookie deal, while listing him as an Exclusive-rights Free Agent (ERFA). This is typically a player who is not under contract but has less than two years’ experience in the league. While Gordon has played more than two seasons (if you include his partial 2014 and 2017) it looks like he will be will be bound by this designation.
An ERFA cannot negotiate with other teams if his current team offers him a contract at the three-year veteran minimum. It would be logical for the Browns sign him to such a contact in 2018 if they can’t broker a better deal. How long it will be or if they will broker a better deal for him is, of course, unknown.
Assuming he returns to the Browns, Gordon’s dynasty value is also something of an enigma. He has, naturally, received a very nice ADP jump after the 2017 season. He moved from an ADP of 197.3 to 40.8, jumping him back into the fourth round as WR23. That puts him behind Alshon Jeffery but ahead of Dez Bryant. While his positional ranking has some built in upside, his draft round assumes a decent floor as well. I think his range of potential outcomes if probably somewhat larger than his current value in trade allows.
He will be 27 years old in 2018, and his efficiency trends aren’t promising. He had 42 targets in 2017 through five games, where he posted only two yardage totals over 80 and one total touchdown. Still his performance on the field also showed plenty of the skills he displayed in 2012/13 and put some of the concerns on his ability to get back in football shape to rest. Having said that, he was also way too efficient in 2013 when he scored nine touchdowns and only one inside the red zone. Given the way his career has gone, there is a good chance we could overestimate his upside based on this limited sample.
Overall I’m looking to capitalize on his new ADP rise if he’s on my team by trading him away if I can find the value. He’s not a straightforward sell, as I don’t think I’d give him up for anything, but he’s not someone I’m targeting either.
There’s an approach to dynasty that focuses on targeting players drafted in the early rounds of the NFL draft if and when their fantasy ADP drops significantly. This is largely based on the fact that around 70% to 80% of top 24 PPR finishes in the last ten years have been achieved by players drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. It’s around 45% for first rounder players only.
Typically, I think we can be more selective than this by pointing out commonalities between players who hit in terms of college production and performance while in the NFL. However, while Corey Coleman, has a great college production history and an 88th-percentile College Dominator and a 97th-percentile SPARQ-x score, as well asfirst-roundd draft capital, his performance in the NFL has been poor.
He has 718 total yards through the first two years of his career and his muddy situation could stall his third season as well. According to Airyards.com he has been inefficient at every depth of target since he entered the league based on his Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR). His depth of target has been above average (13.9 in 2016, 14.2 in 2017) but even his catch rate has been below average on those depths.
Having said that, I still think he is a player to target. His ADP dropped an entire round since September according. Since he came into the league his ADP has fallen nearly three full rounds. As WR31, in the sixth round, he is still someone you have to give up real assets to get, however, and I think his ADP will could further.
Still, he is a player I’m targeting, where I can.
I still hold out hope for Rashard Higgins becoming a fantasy viable wide receiver. He has crept from being one of the mass undrafted to just barely being drafted after the 2017 season with an ADP of 238.7. Higgins is a below-average NFL athlete with an 86th percentile College Dominator. In good situations players like that can thrive, but it doesn’t seem likely that the slot receiver on the Browns’ depth chart is one of those situations.
Ricardo Louis is in a similar situation to Higgins, only he had worse, but still good, production in college and an athletic skill set more likely to be taken advantage of by an NFL team – especially an uncreative NFL team. At 6’2” tall and 215 pounds, Louis runs a 4.43 40-time, which makes a 94th-percentile height-adjusted speed score. Still, behind Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Duke Johnson and with an complete unknown quarterback situation, it’s very hard to project targets for him. He is under contract until 2019. His fourth-round draft capital doesn’t guarantee him a spot of the roster but I think the Browns will likely hold onto him.
He’s someone I’d like to have on a taxi squad or at the bottom of a roster if I have the space.
Sammie Coates still exists and is now on the Browns. He is outside of the top 241 picks in ADP. There might be an outside chance his athletic profile will get someone excited during the off-season. This would offer a trade opportunity. But, overall, I’ll be leaving him on the waiver wire.
Williams is even deeper than Sammie Coates, but it’s good to see him still on a depth chart.
If you’re not targeting David Njoku, you should consider it. By almost any metric, athletic quality or statistic, Njoku looks like a phenomenal player. Tight ends take time to develop, even though this rookie class was as phenomenal as we’d hoped and broke that rule to some extent. I don’t know if he will be more fantasy viable than Evan Engram and his first year totals of 386 yards and four touchdowns certainly didn’t match Engram’s. Plus his ADP has climbed nearly two full rounds in January to 77.33.
A seventh-round player according to DLF’s January ADP, he’s already being drafted as a good tight end. But there are very few players with as much potential.
He still might make a viable streamer as Njoku finds his feet in the NFL. Seth DeValve’s usefulness, like most tight ends, will fall on targets and red zone work.
He’s probably better as a waiver wire streaming prospect rather than someone to burn a roster spot on.
UDFA's matter | British ex-pat | Writer of things
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