Chris Givens, Imperfect Science and Predicting Wide Receiver Breakouts
Those of you who watched Sam Bradford loft a high-arching 59 yard pass into Chris Givens outstretched arms and then again sail him this beautiful 3 yard touchdown pass probably feel pretty confident that you’ve discovered a sleeper; and you probably have. In fact, I feel pretty comfortable selecting Givens in the double digit rounds of an 12-team redraft league. However…
I would like to apply a few brakes to the hype train. The evaluation of the young man from Wake Forest is difficulut for several reasons. The offense he is in is changing, and we aren’t exactly sure how he will be deployed once the regular season begins. Givens and Bradford do have the sort of connection can make fantasy stars even in mediocre offense, but Bradford doesn’t really have a history of just locking onto one guy. Chase Stuart found at Football Perspective that the Heisman winner was the 3rd most reluctant quarterback to lock onto just one target since 1978. Yes. 1978. Only 19% of Bradford’s yards have gone to the teams leading receiver. So what does that mean for Givens?
Even if he does have a connection with Bradford, it means that he probably isn’t prone to locking onto one player. The spread style offense at Oklahoma probably encouraged that thinking, and the mediocrity surrounding him the entire time he has been in St. Louis most likely reinforced that thinking. In WR analysis, my favorite place to go is of course, the WR Sim Score app on Rotoviz. Despite an above-average rookie season, Givens doesn’t score terribly well, even removing his first two weeks where he didn’t record a reception.
In cases where a player I like doesn’t score very well on the Sim Score App, I like to look around a little to see what the App might be missing. This PFR table is all 2nd year receivers who are between 71 and 73 inches, and between 195 and 200 pounds.
|Ht & Wt||Receiving|
Alot more of those seasons were fantasy usable than I was expecting. On per game averages, 7 of the top 20 seasons were at least WR3’s in standard leagues, if not better. The comps in this table are a bit more favorable than the Sim Scores, but then again, this is a lazier method than the Sim Score. However, the table does it’s job of showing Givens has the case of a legit sleeper.
I think the best case for Givens is pretty simple: his breakout was inevitable. Take a look at his MockDraftable tables. (You can switch from Graphs to Comps in the app)
What immediately draws the attention is the way above average 4.35 40 time and the 19 bench press reps. Givens is well below the speed thresholds outlined in my WR Study and is of acceptable height for a player of his skill set. More than anything, his college advanced metrics predicted a true breakout. Givens had a Dominator Rating of .40 which would indicate that he was worthy of a 1st round selection. Hilariously enough, he had a Redzone TD Rate of .06, which of course, is terrible. However, given his role as a deep threat and how he should be used in an offense, it really is of no concern to his fantasy owners how he performs in the redzone. Givens might not ever be anything better than a WR2, unless he breaks out 6 or 7 Victor Cruz/Desean Jackson-esque long touchdowns in one season. The upside is there though. All of the categories that one would love for in a sleeper WR are there. He is the most accomplished career wide receiver on the roster (seems crazy, but it’s true) for the Rams. Only Jared Cook has more yards from scrimmage.
All of the options around him (Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Lance Kendricks, Jared Cook) have yet to prove anything at the NFL level, while Givens has already put together one legitimately good season. Given that Givens (see what I did there) can be acquired so cheaply, he is another addition to the ‘wide receiver is cheap’ argument. However, to count on him as anything more than your WR4 is a dangerous strategy. Bradford’s history of not relying one target, and the fact that the Rams COO Kevim Demoff stated that the Rams will likely have ‘4 or 5 players catch 40-50 passes’, there isn’t a great amount of evidence that he will be force fed the ball.