I made my radio/podcast debut Friday night on the High Stakes Fantasy Football Hour and while I felt like a newborn horse trying to walk for the first time, I wanted to address one good point I made (or at least good in my head) about Vincent Brown and Brandon LaFell as potential sleeper picks.
I have seen a lot of chatter over the Twittersphere about Brown as trendy breakout wide receiver. Everything being reported out of San Diego is dandy. Brown has looked “just plain spectacular” and “without a doubt” will have a big role in Chargers offense.
While Brown’s measurable’s aren’t fantastic – 4.68 40 at 5’11, 184 pounds – they don’t disqualify from being a good NFL wide receiver. I think my main issue is less with Brown and more with the fact that he’s being taken in the 8th round in relation to a guy like Brandon LaFell, who you can get in the 13th.
The Douche made this point in a much more eloquent fashion,
LaFell is being totally overlooked and I think it’s irrational. When people say “Oh, is this the year that LaFell breaks out. Yeah right.” They’re doing the equivalent of Mark Twain’s analogy about the cat and the hot stove/cold stove. They can’t tell the difference between the mistake they made by overdrafting LaFell in the past, and the value that he offers today. LaFell is a starting WR on a team whose #1WR is in his mid-30s, and that same #1WR plays the young man’s position of deep WR.
To illustrate the value that the Viz Boss is talking about, let’s look at how LaFell and Brown compare.
As you can see Brown and LaFell had relatively similar successful college careers, albeit with different strengths. Brown sported a higher yards per target average and as a whole recorded more yards, but LaFell’s larger frame made him much more dangerous in the red zone. The two stats that have some pretty good predictability for a receiver transitioning from the college ranks to the pros are a receiver’s share of their college team’s yards and the receiver’s ability to catch touchdowns. We can conclude that both Brown and LaFell’s college numbers leave room for optimism in their NFL careers.
LaFell gets the nod over Brown in every category sans the 3-Cone Drill (Yeah, I don’t know what that is either).
I don’t yet see a strong argument for why one would favor Brown over LaFell, but let’s finish our process before we make our conclusion.
Again, I’m still not seeing any evidence to suggest that I should take Brown in the 8th round when LaFell is staring at me in the 13th round.
Go Watch the Tape… Do Your “Homework”
This will undoubtedly be the main criticism with my logic – the fact that, on tape, Vincent Brown doesn’t make the same mistakes as Brandon LaFell or that Brown runs a crisper route and he attacks the ball. LaFell on the other hand, and this is a blurb straight from Rotoworld, “flopped in his big opportunity as a starter last year, recording a meager 44/677/4 line. The Panthers brought in both Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn in free agency, and we wouldn’t rule them out from eventually pushing LaFell.”
I urge you to go look at Michael Crabtree after his third NFL season. By many accounts, his failure to breakout in his third year earned him the “bust” label.
Here’s what those same Rotoworld blurbs said about Crabtree heading into his 4th season:
July 29, 2012 – “It’s not out of the question that he could lose snaps to the 49ers’ three big wideout additions.”
August 15, 2012 – “Crabtree was drafted in 2009 and has never ranked better than 33rd among fantasy receivers. He’s a low-end option again this year.”
June 29, 2012 – “Hindered by drops and injuries, Crabtree won’t be startable in most fantasy leagues, so don’t draft him as more than a WR4 in a subpar offense.”
Hmmm… Sound familiar?
I don’t mean to pick on Rotoworld, they do great work, but I wanted to use them as an example to show just much the fantasy community likes to put an irrationally inflated value on an unknown commodity like Vincent Brown, but won’t touch Brandon LaFell because he “flopped in his big opportunity as a starter last year.”
The same logic applied to Michael Crabtree last year would have judged him a "we know what he is" type of guy not worth owning.
— Fantasy Douche (@FantasyDouche) June 19, 2013
I’m not saying that Vincent Brown is destined for a disappointing year and Brandon LaFell will be the next Michael Crabtree. Brown could very well breakout and in that case I’ll happily congratulate the Brown owner in my league.
However, fantasy football is like poker. I’d rather being holding Brandon LaFell in the 13th pre-flop than Vincent Brown in the 8th round. I won’t always win, but I’ll always make that same decision.