Devonta Freeman, Ka’Deem Carey, and the High Profile Red Flags
So far this offseason I’ve focused on finding underappreciated stars. I’ve explained why I believe running backs shouldn’t all be judged by the same criteria and explained what I consider to be the three draftable profiles. I’ve suggested Andre Williams is a star of Profile 1: The Workhorse Back and why Bishop Sankey fits in Profile 2: The PPR Maven and could be the next LeSean McCoy or Jamaal Charles. Or you could target the draft’s best athlete and a hybrid Profile 1/Profile 2 breakout candidate. There aren’t any great Profile 3 candidates this season, but we looked at why Henry Josey might be the most electric back in the class and how James White is an undervalued member of the Giovani Bernard All-Stars. We explored the comps for Charles Sims and discovered a poor man’s DeMarco Murray hidden among the detritus and demonstrated why Jeremy Hill is a better bet than Carlos Hyde.
That’s the good news. Unfortunately, there is at least a little bit of bad news. It’s not as fun to talk about who we should avoid, but it’s just as important strategically. Please keep in mind that I’m not rooting against these players. These are real people with real careers ahead of them, and if they take the Arian Foster or Priest Holmes route, I’ll be just as excited for them as for the guys I promoted above. After all, there’s a surprising value in occasionally being wrong.
Ka’Deem Carey – Stepfan Taylor 2.0
As someone who spends quite a bit of time in Tucson, it hurts me to say it, but Carey just doesn’t have NFL athleticism. We often hear that measurables are overrated, but, if that’s the case, where do I even find cherry-pickable outliers to use on Carey’s behalf? The sad truth for Carey is that the comps I’ve uncovered are more athletic than he is. This doesn’t mean Carey can’t be a good player. He received a 59 in the final RotoViz RB Algorithm, which is ahead of a lot of the backs with better comps. His age, weight, touches, and receptions all weigh heavily in his favor. If he falls further than most expect in the reality draft and then that precipitates a fall in your rookie draft, there are certainly worse picks. But I’d probably be more skeptical of Carey than other similarly projected backs.
Devonta Freeman – Alvin Pearman 2.0
A surprising number of high profile writers rank Freeman as the No. 1 back on their boards. That hasn’t really moved the needle as much as you might guess in rookie mocks, but he could skyrocket if an NFL team agrees and selects him in the second round. As was the case with Carey, Devonta Freeman’s comps are fairly pedestrian and yet more athletic than the Florida State star. Then there’s the issue of his lack of collegiate touches. Impact backs almost always get the ball with more frequency. If you select Freeman, your best case scenario is probably waiting for a couple of seasons for him to carve out a Shane Vereen-type role on his new squad.
Antonio Andrews – Mark Ingram 2.0
We’re developing a little bit of a theme. Successful NFL prospects don’t run a 4.82 forty or post an 11.73 Agility Score. On the other hand, Andrews is the first member of our red flag cadre to finish well ahead of his comparables in on-field results. That’s why I believe his closest comparison is former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. I’ve used Ingram’s award-winning season here instead of his final season in order to illustrate the similarities. Many believed Ingram would be a star in the NFL despite his lack of athleticism, but one of my first high profile articles on Money in the Banana Stand suggested this would not be the case. I strongly prefer Khiry Robinson for 2014 and recommend not getting caught up in Andrews’ siren song this draft season.
Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.