Draft Strategy

Why Draft Stefon Diggs When This WR is Cheaper?

Why by a car for $20,000 when you can buy the same car with a crappy paint job for half the price?

That, in a crude nutshell, is one way of looking at arbitrage, a concept the the Fantasy Douche first applied to fantasy football several years ago.

The 2017 draft season presents no shortage of opportunities to buy players who have a host of things going for them – whether it be their situation, talent, or some other factor – for cheaper than a similar, more expensive player.

This time out, I investigate the question – why draft Stefon Diggs when another, very similar wide receiver is so much cheaper?

NO RESPECT

The Rodney Dangerfield of the epic 2014 WR draft class, Jordan Matthews has subtly put together a remarkable three-year stretch to start his career. Only five WRs have put up at least 65 receptions and 800 yards in each of their first three seasons, and Matthews is one of them. He’s averaged 75 catches per season in his career.

You’d think that would be enough to ingratiate himself to fantasy folk. Nope; Matthews’ ADP hasn’t been this depressed since his rookie year.

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After finishes of WR28, WR20 and WR40 in his first three seasons, Matthews is now going as the WR46. The general drafting public has been looking for reasons to avoid him since the start (he’s too slow, he’s only a slot receiver) and now that the Eagles have added Alshon Jefferey and Torrey Smith to their WR corps, they have even more ammunition to use against him.

Meanwhile, after finishes of WR43 and WR24 in his first two seasons, Stefon Diggs is the 24th WR taken off the board in 2017.

APPLES TO APPLES

We’ll look more into Matthews’ situation in a moment, but first, let’s compare these two. While Matthews has a second-round draft pedigree, Diggs is one of the few fifth-round WRs to make an impact in the NFL. From a raw-production and per-target standpoint, there is almost nothing separating these two receivers.

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Cover up their names and you’d probably have a hard time picking the preferable player. Both appear to be locks for around 900 yards and 75 receptions. If anything, Matthews may have the edge, with his bigger frame making him a superior end zone target.1 Diggs highest total was just four touchdowns in 2016, and we have little reason to believe there is huge room for growth there.

Still, a significant price discrepancy exists between the two. The only reason I can see is the presence of Alshon Jeffery. But how much of a danger does he really pose to Matthews’ workload?

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Limited by injuries and a suspension, it’s now been two seasons since we’ve seen enough of Jeffery to be confident that he is still an alpha WR1. Assuming the skills are still there, the injury risk is ever present. Even if he does play a full season, he mans the wide out position while Matthew works the slot. They aren’t necessarily in direct competition for targets.

Matthews role has been about as steady and consistent as one could expect, no matter who else has been playing WR for the Eagles, and I don’t see much evidence to suggest 2017 is the year that suddenly changes.

CONCLUSION

Considering their career numbers, there is little reason to pick Stefon Diggs in the fifth round when you can usually get Jordan Matthews five rounds later. Heith Krueger disagrees, pointing to reasons why Diggs has big upside.

If you’re convinced that Diggs is due for an even bigger breakout, or that Jeffery is a true threat to Matthew’s consistent target number, by all means, draft Diggs.

But if you’re like me and squinting real hard at the screen, it’s tough to tell the difference between these two players, making Matthews a great arbitrage play.

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  1. Matthews is 6 -2, 212 pounds; Diggs is 6 – 0, 191 pounds.  (back)
By Cort Smith | @cortnall | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. I think you made a great argument to just draft both

  2. Jason says:

    One thing to note is though is that Diggs was as highly rated of a recruit as guys like Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson. He is probably in the top 5 WR recruits of the past decade when looking at his 247 composite ranking. He also produced in college on a market share basis on a bad team. So, I don't really think his draft round should be held over his head to such an extent. He has proven at every level he has the talent.

  3. Agreed all around. I am probably underselling Diggs upside as well. He makes a fine 5th round pick.

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