Zay Jones and Chris Godwin Headline the Players to Target Now
Now that we’ve had a few days for the combine dust to settle and free agency to slow, we have a good opportunity to reflect on a few of the most important fantasy-related moves.
Before the combine, I asked RotoViz writers to predict the eventual rookie draft ADP. These predictions don’t reflect their ratings but a best guess at where the community will end up.
Where Did We See the Prospects Entering the Combine?
Charles Kleinheksel has been doing a great job keeping us updated on scouting trends with the RotoViz Scouting Index. We can also compare our predictions to the RSI results at that time.
RB Predict vs. RSI
WR Predict vs. RSI
Since fantasy owners are hyper-focused on results – and the NFL is also a results business – my conjecture is that scouting evaluations will move in the direction of production as we get closer to the draft.
Before the combine, we projected Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and JuJu Smith-Schuster ahead of Ross. Davis couldn’t run due to injury, Williams admitted his lackluster athleticism and opted not to run, while Smith-Schuster didn’t embarrass but couldn’t redirect his flagging stock. While the others failed to distinguish themselves, Ross broke Chris Johnson’s combine record with a 4.22 forty. His Freak Score of 68 is utterly absurd at that size.
McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Leonard Fournette all ran nearly identical 40s, but the similarities ended there. While Cook and Fournette showed minus athleticism in the vertical leap1 and the agilities,2 McCaffrey jumped 37.5 inches, a mere prelude to a 6.57 three-cone, a result that trailed only Chris Rainey all time at the RB position.3
The best player in college football over the last two seasons, McCaffrey lagged behind Cook and Fournette due to size and perceived athleticism. One of those questions has been rendered moot, the other should disintegrate when we see him drafted into a bell cow role this spring.
With 158 receptions at a paltry 11.1-yard clip, it was fair to assume Jones was merely a product of scheme and schedule strength, a small-school heat shimmer of forced volume. It’s now time to sip at the East Carolina oasis, the mirage popping into stark relief on the back of a 4.45 forty, 133-inch broad, and 6.72 three-cone. Jones should roar ahead of prospects like Cooper Kupp and Dede Westbrook.
Watson is a winner in roundabout fashion. In profiling Artavis Scott before the national title game, I offered Watson’s elite cadre of pass-catching teammates as a partial excuse for Scott’s lack of production and questioned whether we should be concerned about Watson’s propensity for interceptions with such a WR corps at his disposal.
Flash forward a couple months and Mike Williams has jumped 32.5 inches and refused to run. Scott has fallen off the draft radar with a 4.61 forty and depressing peripheral numbers. Meanwhile, Wayne Gallman should have taken a cue from Williams and Jordan Leggett. After running a 4.6 forty and jumping 29.5 inches, he’s in for a free fall.
Watson now looks like a prolific, title-winning QB who raised the profile of pedestrian teammates. He may be every bit the uber-prospect Dabo Swinney has been selling.
Or he may not be. Make sure to check out the most recent episode of Numbers Game where RotoDoc discusses his new machine-learning model and the dire projection for Watson.
Godwin is one of the youngest prospects in this draft and fell into a favorable node on Kevin Cole’s regression tree. He was buried at the WR position pre-combine, but posted a 66 Freak Score after running a 4.42 forty. He may move from under to overvalued based on a sketchy group of comps, most of whom the fantasy community salivated over before their eventual disappointments.
RotoViz loves McNichols, but we weren’t sure anyone agreed with our assessment that he was criminally underrated. It’s harder to make the argument against his gaudy production now that his measured athleticism blows away most of the trendier backs.
Hodges destroyed the combine. Neil Dutton explains why he could become the star among stars in a loaded TE class.
Hill didn’t hit a 4.5 forty (4.53) or a 7.00 three-cone (7.03), but he posted solid numbers on a day when many other backs collapsed. Matt Wispe provides some comparable players in athleticism and production while warning not to trade your rookie pick in Round 3.
Robert Davis: This Combine Rock Star Can Play
Kenny Golladay: Lights Flashing, Sirens Blaring on This Sleeper (Upcoming)
To dig deeper into these players …
40-Plus WRs in the Class-by-Class Market Share Trajectory Series
True Juniors: The Least Buzz but the Best Prospects
Redshirt Juniors: Under-the-Radar Prospects Threaten the 2 Stars
Senior WRs: The Best Big WR and the Best Small WR in the Class?
Redshirt Seniors: Overrated Big Names Clash with the Super Sleepers