People have figured out that college dominator score and breakout age are nice indicators for NFL success. Jacob Rickrode (@clutchfantasy) was the first person to publicly point out that a wide receiver that finishes in the top 24, generally continues to do so.
So I set out to combine the ideas and see what the successful WRs have in common.
College dominator shows how successful a player was in college. The idea is talented players will be successful at an early age. If a player is unable to set themselves apart in college, it is unlikely to switch when he hits the NFL no matter what his athletic profile says.
Breakout age shows at what age that player achieved a 20%+ college dominator rating.
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This scatter plot shows the college dominator percentile and breakout age percentile of the players that have scored in the top 24 among WRs over the last 7 years. 79% landed in the top 50 percentile for college dominator. 75% landed in the top 50 percentile for breakout age. Put together 51% had a top half percentile in college dominator AND breakout age and was drafted in the top 3 rounds of the NFL draft.
Those numbers include Julian Edelman and Terrelle Pryor who were quarterbacks in college. Tyreek Hill was a running back.
It is important to note, however, that having a good college dominator score and/or breakout age does not automatically mean that player will be successful in the NFL. Good WRs perform well for years and years, which means there just aren’t the same opportunities for those players. Also, coaching staffs switch over (leaving allegiances worth nothing) and how coachable that player is factor into playing time and opportunities.
Since there are a lot of commonalities it’s still a great place to start when looking at drafting younger players.
How To Draft
When looking at any draft strategy keep the WR factors in mind.
1) Choose WRs that have finished in the top 24 previously. On average 4 WRs were “one-and-done” over this time frame after removing 2018. Jordan Matthews, Devin Funchess, Marvin Jones, and Tyrell Williams all fit this bill. Draft them.
2) Choose WRs that continue to finish in the top 24. I can hear the collective “duh” as everyone reads that. Don’t be afriad to look past the normal lineup of TY Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, etc. Much cheaper options that also qualify are Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders, and Randall Cobb. Draft them too.
3) Don’t draft rookie WRs in redraft. Seriously, don’t do it. For dynasty & keeper leagues, target the players outlined below.
Youngins To Target
The clear 1.01 this year has been N’Keal Harry, and rightfully so. His college production is off the charts. DJ Moore, who is flying under the radar is a hot “buy now” target. Marquise Brown lacks college production, breakout age, and size. Fade him.
I might take some heat for having Calvin Ridley as a sell. His closest comp is Stevie Johnson. Julio Jones isn’t going anywhere soon so it’ll be some time before Ridley has the chance to be the top WR on his own team. Sell.
Goodness! I didn’t realize so many WRs have been drafted in the 2nd round over the last 2 years. This is a minefield.
-JJ Arcega-Whiteside is the clear-cut prospect you want and is almost a clone of Davante Adams. Go get him now.
-Andy Isabella is a solid prospect but the Cardinals drafted 2 other WRs this year, a solid prospect in Christian Kirk last year, and future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald is still there. I am fading him on too much noise.
-DK Metcalf is a terrible prospect and you all should be ashamed he is going so high. He was the third best WR on his own team last year after being outplayed by AJ Brown and DeMarkus Lodge. Brown was a 2nd rounder himself, but Lodge went undrafted. Metcalf is an easy bust candidate as his college dominator score is artificially inflated by his touchdown count.
-Fade Deebo Samuel, Parris Campbell, and Anthony Miller. Miller is only 1 year younger than Allen Robinson with 4 years less NFL experience.
-I don’t care Mecole Hardman was drafted by a powerhouse. He’s an outlier and I don’t put stock into outliers panning out.
-Acquire Courtland Sutton and James Washington while you can. DJ Chark is a decent flyer in a crowded but unknown Jaguars WR corps.
More red flags in the 3rd and 4th rounds.
Buy: Tre’Quan Smith, Michael Gallup, and Keke Coutee. Gary Jennings is basically free, but my money is on David Moore to be the WR2 in Seattle.
Daesean Hamilton is a popular breakout candidate but his best comp is Marvin Jones. I’d rather bet on Sutton.
Fade: Everyone else. Try trading 2 players for 1. Get them off your roster.
Buy Jordan Lasley, Dillon Mitchell, and David Moore. It’s a bummer Justin Watson and Scott Miller are on the same team, but with Bruce Arians picking Miller I’d lean his direction. KeeSean Johnson went to the crowded Cardinals roster so the only way he becomes viable is if he’s released and claimed by another team.
Fade everyone else.