Dynasty

Everyone is Fading Allen Hurns – Here’s Why I’m Buying

It’s possible that Allen Hurns will be worse in 2016 than he was in 2015. That’s okay. He still has a place on both your dynasty and redraft teams.

The Bad News…

Let’s start with the bad news from the WR Sim App. Here’s how Hurns age, size, and production comparables fared in their N+1 seasons.

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That’s about as negative a forecast as I could imagine. Ninety-six percent of comps fared worse in N+1 season! But let’s dig a little deeper.

… Ain’t that Bad

Here’s the N+1 per-game average those comps produced.

AGE GMS TRGS RECS YDS YPR YPT TDS PPR
25.6 14.1 7.4 4.5 58.2 13.0 7.9 0.4 12.4

That’s right; his comps still averaged over 12 PPR points per game – the App projects Hurns for a median of 12.7. At that rate, he’d have been WR27 last season. Obviously not as good as his actual WR19 finish, but still very useful. If he hits his high projection of 13.7 points/game, he’s WR20, right about where he finished last year.

Triple Check the Comps

One other thing to note about the Sim App comparables (which are based on age, size, and production) is that there’s a lot of quality names in there: Jeremy Maclin (three times), Greg Jennings, (four times), Mike Wallace (twice), Darrell Jackson (twice), Randall Cobb, Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, Reggie Wayne. I’m less concerned about the potential for a down season when the set of comparables is that strong. Maybe 2016 won’t be as good as 2015, but his career prospects remain solid.

Now let’s create a different set of comps. Using the NFL Career Graphs App, we can identify WRs who had similar usage and production last season, regardless of age and physical measurables.

I think seeing the company Hurns kept in terms of actual usage is eye opening. Do a bit of searching and you’ll find Team RotoViz likes almost all of those players quite a bit.

Okay, one more set of comps, this time based on the first two years of his career. I ran a Pro Football Reference screener for WRs with between 100 and 130 receptions in their first two seasons, and more than 1600 receiving yards.1

PLAYERGTgtRecYdsTDY/GY/TgtTDRTC YPGC TDRT
Santonio Holmes2917110117661060.910.335.8%53.84.9%
DeAndre Hopkins322181282012862.99.233.7%73.64.6%
Alshon Jeffery2619611317881068.89.125.1%73.15.5%
Hakeem Nicks2720212618421768.29.128.4%55.25.0%
Sammy Watkins29224125202915709.066.7%706.7%
DeSean Jackson3123712420681166.78.734.6%69.85.3%
Calvin Johnson3124312620871667.38.596.6%86.16.3%
Chris Chambers3119010016171052.28.515.3%505.2%
AVE (NON HURNS)30.3215.7119.41816.611.860.38.475.5%61.15.4%
Allen Hurns3120211517081655.18.467.9%55.17.9%
Jeremy Maclin31206126173714568.436.8%65.16.4%
Allen Robinson2623212819481674.98.46.9%74.96.9%
John Brown3120311316991254.88.375.9%54.85.9%
Koren Robinson322191171776655.58.112.7%44.22.9%
Michael Floyd321991101603750.18.063.5%52.34.9%
Darrell Jackson3222512317941456.17.976.2%585.6%
Brandon Marshall312071221634952.77.894.3%74.25.4%
Rod Gardner3224211717471254.67.225.0%34.84.6%
Mike Williams3225313017351454.26.865.5%495.9%

Once again, we come up with a very favorable set of comps. This group speaks to just how good Hurns has been to start his career. He’s the only undrafted player in the cohort, yet holds his own by most measures. Out of these 17 comps, how many would you count as busts? Robinson and Gardner maybe? Almost every player here had multiple seasons of strong fantasy production, and I see no reason why we shouldn’t expect the same from Hurns. I included career yards per game and career TD rate for reference. You can see that in the majority of cases yards per game went up from a player’s first two seasons vs the rest of their career. TD rate was also quite sticky. That suggests that the first two seasons weren’t flukes – they reasonably foreshadowed their careers. I mention that because Hurns does have a very robust TD rate. But perhaps that rate isn’t fluky – perhaps Hurns is just flat out good at scoring TDs.

I think sometimes we find ourselves thinking that players like Hurns are “playing over their heads” and will eventually come back to earth. So we shy away, not wanting to be the one left holding the bag when the performance dries up. But maybe Hurns is actually good, and we’re still weighing his lack of draft pedigree too heavily. The Jaguars certainly seem to value him highly. Here’s how his new contract compares to all other WRs.

  • 10th in total value
  • 10th in average per year
  • t-12th in total guaranteed money
  • 15th in guaranteed money per year
  • 23rd in percent guaranteed (excluding players still on their rookie contracts, which are 100% guaranteed by default).

The Jaguars are paying him like one of the better WRs in the league, and I think this is a very interesting contract. Jacksonville had all the leverage here since they could have paid him this year’s modest salary and then kept him for cheap (about $2.5 million) by using the restricted free agent tag on him next year (and then the franchise tag the next year, etc.) if they wanted to and if he earned it. But instead of going cheap and year-by-year, Jacksonville chose to extend him now, signing him through his age 30 season. In other words, they didn’t want to take a chance on missing his potential peak seasons. I realize teams don’t always make good contract decisions, but this is a case where the player’s on-field performance and contract status are in alignment. I’m happy to join Jacksonville in valuing Hurns for the long term.

 What About 2016?

Conventional wisdom says it’s likely that the Jaguars won’t pass quite as much as they did last year. Their defense should be better, which could negatively affect both their pace of play and pass tendency. They also signed Chris Ivory, presumably to run more, especially near the goal line. Both of those developments would be bad for Hurns.

Our staff composite projections (housed in the Best Ball App) seem to reflect that line of thinking, projecting Hurns to finish as this year’s WR41. That makes him a strong fade from an ADP point of view, since he’s being selected as the 31st WR.

But I think there are a number of reasons we could expect the Jaguars to pass as much – or more – in 2016 as they did in 2015.

  • The Jaguars are good at passing. Blake Bortles was eighth in per-attempt pass efficiency last season.2
  • They weren’t very good at running. Their best rusher on a per-attempt basis was TJ Yeldon, at 0.03 (zero is average). Even Chris Ivory was only 0.08, not much better than average. Even if they want to run more, it’s not obvious that they’re good enough to do it.
  • Based on early Vegas lines, the Jaguars are projected to have an average per-play score differential of -5.24 points. That means Vegas expects them to trail often and by a lot.3 Sounds like a recipe for continued high pass volume.

My personal projection for Hurns is more bullish than the staff composite: I project a WR27 finish for him. That’s a very modest down tick (about a half-point per game) from last season. That would make him a slight value in terms of ADP.

Perhaps I’m too bullish, and the staff is too bearish, and the truth lies in the middle? If we average my projection and the consensus, Hurns gets projected as the 34th WR, leaving him just a bit overpriced by ADP, but close to fair value.

Conclusion

Could Hurns have a down year in 2016? You bet. But in the short term, I think he’s close to fair value in ADP, and there’s reason to think he could out perform that. Long term, he has a lot of very strong comparables, as well as a great team and contract situation. I think he’s a long term WR2 in dynasty, and if you can get him at a WR3 price, you should absolutely do that.

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  1. Since 2000. In his first two years, Hurns has 115 receptions and 1708 receiving yards.  (back)
  2. Out of 22 quarterbacks with at least 400 attempts.  (back)
  3. Only the Browns, Titans, and 49ers are expected to have worse margins.  (back)
By Charles Kleinheksel | @Spidr2ybanana | Archive

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