You’ve been there. So have I. It’s your turn to draft, you’re sifting through a hundred informational nuggets about three or four players, sweating, holding back the panic, when you glance at your ranks. You have Player A ranked just above Player B.
And for as much as you try to dismiss feelings in your evaluation of a player’s fantasy prospects, you can’t help but consider the best case scenario for Player B. Is that scenario probable? If it is, does that make him an objectively better pick than Player A? Yes, you think, but I have Player A ranked slightly better.
The 2019 Fantasy Equity Score Report is available here, with an update to come next week. Below is a look at three wideouts with an intriguing range of outcomes.
That’s why I prefer a reasonable range of outcomes over linear ranks. I’ve created fantasy equity scores since before I had a weird, wonderful Twitter following. Making median and high projections for fantasy relevant players helped me get a better grasp of who had the upside, and who had the frightening downside — the stuff that might not be banked in to a player’s average draft position. Equity scores are designed to exploit average draft position.
Lockett’s average draft position has creeped upward since I published the Fantasy Equity Score report on August 19. He’s now going as the 18th receiver off the draft board in 12-team leagues; Lockett was being drafted as the WR21 less than ten days ago.
Injuries to Seattle pass catchers and general uncertainty about who, exactly, is going to catch footballs from Russell Wilson has made Lockett — the team’s presumed WR1 — more valuable in the eyes of fantasy drafters. That has removed a good chunk of his draft equity, as I have Lockett with a median projection that would put him at WR24 and a high projection of WR14. There’s now a fair bit of risk in drafting Lockett, especially if you’re taking him as your WR2.
Lockett’s median prospects hinge on the Seahawks’ offense remaining almost comically run heavy — they ran the ball on 52.5 percent of their 2018 offensive snaps — and Lockett failing to seize a (much) larger share of the team’s targets. Lockett drew at least 20 percent of the Seahawks’ meager targets just five times last season. And commanding a 20 percent target share on a team that threw the ball 27.6 times per game doesn’t mean nearly as much as it would on an offense that passes on well over half of their offensive snaps. Those drafting Lockett with an expectation of a locked-in top-15 wideout are assuming one of two things: The Seahawks will change the way they play offensive football, or Lockett will have an ungodly target share.
Then there’s Lockett’s absurd 17.5 percent touchdown rate from 2018 — if he can approach that once again in 2019, he can prove a value. If his touchdown rate dips below his career rate of 9.7 percent, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which Lockett meets his draft day cost. The difference between Lockett’s career touchdown rate and his 2019 rate was 4.5 touchdowns, or 27 fantasy points (and that doesn’t include points from receptions and yardage on those scores).
I wouldn’t want to test my luck with Lockett unless he dropped into the WR20-22 range. Probably we won’t see that for the remainder of the preseason.
Golladay ended his 2018 season with 119 targets, drawing 22 percent of the Lions’ targets. He saw at least eight targets in nine of his 15 games, with no other Detroit pass catcher coming close. This, of course, was with Marvin Jones on the shelf for much of the season’s final two months. Jones is back, the Lions are as committed to the run as ever, and Golladay is the 19th wideout off the draft board.
I have his median projection at WR21 and his high projection at WR13. That range of outcomes says Golladay likely won’t be a draft day boondoggle for fantasy footballers taking him as their WR2 or WR3. His high-end prospects include a bump in touchdown rate after his 2018 rate dropped more than three percent lower than his career rate.
Golladay’s median equity score would be more likely if he fails to draw a similar target share and Detroit’s offense is in the position to run a slow paced, run heavy attack. The Lions threw the 11th most passes in the league last year, which certainly wasn’t Matt Patricia’s plan. You have more room for error if Golladay is the third receiver you’ve drafted through four rounds. If, for whatever reason, you’re taking Golladay as your WR1, his median projection would be tough action unless you were able to grab a high upside wideout in the next couple rounds. Good luck with that.
The Cardinals, for whatever you might think of them headed into the 2019 season, are going to run a lot of plays. Players are talking about snapping the ball with 25 seconds on the play clock. Remember what play volume did for players in Chip Kelly’s offense? We could see the same in Arizona, where the Cards’ defense has no chance to stop anyone.
Christian Kirk is being drafted as the 33rd wideout off the board — he’s dropped from WR29 since the Fantasy Equity Score Report was released. People are bailing on the Cardinals after a less than stellar preseason. This, quite naturally, makes the second year wideout more appealing: his median projection falls at WR27 while his best case scenario projection stands at WR19. For Kirk’s upside to be much higher than that, Larry Fitzgerald’s ADP (WR38) would necessarily have to be out of whack.
Every Kliff Kingsbury offense from 2010 to 2018 finished among the top-10 in pass attempts except the 2012 Texas A&M team. Kingsbury’s offenses finished among the five pass-heaviest teams five times over his nine-year college run. It would be quite the upset if Arizona’s offense wasn’t among the five pass happiest in 2019.
If Fitzgerald and Kirk have a somewhat even split, with both receivers drawing around a 20 percent target share, that would mean each guy would see around 120 targets. Kirk is being drafted around receivers who will almost certainly see less than 90 targets this season. Kirk makes good sense as a seventh round selection in 12-team leagues based on pace-fueled opportunity alone.