The concept of fantasy football equity scores — a rough measurement of player value — is a long cry from perfect.
I experimented with equity scores last summer, seeing which wide receivers had the potential to vastly outperform their average draft positions (ADP). The exercise helped me zero in on guys like Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Brian Hartline, Eric Decker, and Josh Gordon, all of whom delivered buckets full of fantasy equity in 2013.
I made a few needed tweaks to how I create receiver projections, though I still use the rotoViz similarity score app as a baseline tool. The app, for the uninitiated, takes a player’s closest comparables and gives us the result of what those similar players did the year after the season in question — this being 2013 with an eye to 2014.
Equity score analysis: Cecil Shorts, Brian Hartline, and Golden Tate
Equity score analysis: Josh Gordon, A.J. Green, and Dez Bryant
Equity score analysis: Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker, and Pierre Garcon
It’s far too early in the offseason to examine these equity scores with any level of permanence since ADPs will swing dramatically once more casual fantasy footballers — more well-adjusted people — begin mock drafting. We’ll certainly see household fantasy names like Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, and Vincent Jackson, rise up draft boards over the next few months.
It’s still useful to see where we might find the most equity among the top-60 wide receivers, as listed below. I excluded all rookie receivers for obvious reasons. I’d like to see where they’re drafted before I create projections for the young pups.
Below you’ll find each receiver’s median and high equity scores, as dictated by their median and high projections for 2014. Take Victor Cruz as an example: if Cruz hits his median projection, he’ll end up around WR21, or four spots below where he’s being drafted (and an equity score of -4). If he cashes in on his high projection, Cruz would end the season around WR12, giving him an equity score of five.
If a receiver has a negative high equity score — especially if he’s well outside the top-25 — that’s a very bad thing. If his median score in within a few spots of his current ADP, he’s priced correctly, or close to it (reflecting market efficiency for that player). Accurately priced guys seem to include Tavon Austin and Mike Wallace, who offer little in the way of equity.
Receivers listed below who have more than 12-15 spots between their median and high equity scores are classic boom-bust candidates. Terrance Williams, Aaron Dobson, and Stevie Johnson (strangely) fit that bill.
Analysis of some equity score highlights can be found below the chart. Receivers that I see as premier draft targets are listed in bold.
|Wide receiver||ADP||Median equity score||High equity score|
- Kennan Allen is a big, waving red flag here — not because he stinks, but because his ADP is so sky high. He’s being drafted as a top-12 wideout, and anyone who emerges from a draft with Allen as their No. 1 should be terrified. Allen, in case you forgot, had a three-week stretch late in 2013 in which he snagged eight total passes. Five of those receptions were touchdowns. That won’t happen again. Any receiver outside the top-10 who can’t meet his ADP with his high projection — like Allen — should be avoided for now.
- Randall Cobb is a guy to fade unless and until his ADP slides a bit. Cobb has a negative equity score for both median and high projections. Those who draft Cobb as a top-10 guy are banking on him exceeding his best case scenario by quite a bit. His median prospects are borderline disastrous. A defense of Cobb usually involves his usage in the Green Bay backfield. It’s worth noting then that Cobb has 14 rushing attempts over the past two seasons.
- I can’t really imagine a scenario in which I draft Michael Crabtree or Percy Harvin at their current ADPs. Even their best-case prospects leave no equity for owners.
- The WR39-50 range seems to be gushing with fantasy equity. Some of these guys will be summertime risers, but for now, there are seven guys in that range who could be solid top-24 receivers in 2014. It’s amazing that Boldin’s median score would put him inside the top-24, though it’s tough to tell just how much Crabtree’s return will impact the old man. Boldin, in Crabtree’s eight 2013 games, saw 74 targets from Colin Kaepernick, while Crabtree recorded 58 targets.
- Marques Colston has one of the biggest gaps between median and high equity scores. He seems to be a safe pick with median prospects, and his high projection would make him one of 2014’s best draft day bargains. Colston, barring an ADP rise, remains a fairly cheap 100-target wide receiver.
- Would I rather have Greg Jennings almost for free, or Cordarrelle Patterson as one of the first 14 receivers off the board? It’s Jennings for me, considering the price. Jennings, the 16th highest scoring receiver over the season’s final five weeks, took full advantage of slot coverage while showing good rapport with Matt Cassel, of all people. Jennings saw 7.2 targets per game over that five-game stretch. It’s not that I think Jennings can possibly outscore Patterson in 2014; it’s that Jennings can be a borderline WR2 at a WR5 price. Patterson could conceivably deliver equity, but not a whole lot.