Fantasy Football: The Equity Score Red-Flag Team

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randall cobb

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I’m not one to write off any fantasy football option. Even guys whose prospects give me night terrors won’t be struck from my draft day queue.

No player should be dead to us, after all, as swearing off anyone is nothing but a natural human reaction to having too many choices and being terrified of what we’re losing.

People evaluate their options through the lens of missed opportunities instead of an opportunity’s potential, how it could help us or make us happy.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take time to identify the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends whose fantasy outlook and average draft position don’t mesh. Everyone is a value at some point in a draft, but when a guy’s projections fall short of his draft day asking price, red flags should be raised.

Pinpointing these red flag players is at least as important as finding players who are primed to exceed their ADPs and prove season-long values. There’s hardly a better feeling in fantasy football than to watch a league mate invest in one of your red flag players, especially when that investing is done with great gusto.

Below is a lineup composed of players whose fantasy equity scores — a useful measurement — scare me the most in the lead-up to the 2014 NFL season. Here’s an explanation of how I calculate equity scores.

Major red flags include players drafted in the top-10 at their position whose high equity score doesn’t exceed their current ADP. Median equity scores that are well below a guy’s ADP should also serve as glaring warnings for fantasy owners. High equity scores that are at, near, or even below zero are a clear and present danger for even the most fervent supporters of that particular player.

Player ADP Median equity score High equity score
Robert Griffin III QB9 -4 (QB13) 4 (QB5)
Eddie Lacy RB4 -8 (RB12) -1 (RB5)
Doug Martin RB8 -6 (RB14) 0 (RB8)
Cordarrelle Patterson WR12 -9 (WR21) 0 (WR12)
Keenan Allen WR10 -10 (WR20) -3 (WR13)
Randall Cobb WR9 -8 (WR17) -4 (WR13)
Ladarius Green TE10 -12 (TE22) -2 (TE12)

 

  • Griffin will be asked to do things as quarterback in 2014 that he’s never been asked to do, and he hasn’t fared all that well as a pocket passer during his two years as a pro. Mike Glennon is a superior pocket passer. The Washington quarterback is reportedly moving better than he was in 2013 now that he’s shed the bulky knee brace that hindered his movement last year. It’s tough to quantify that, isn’t it? It’s not that RGIII is certain to be a bust for those who take him at or near his current ADP, but that his median and high projections have much more variance than quarterbacks being drafted in the same range. His median prospects are anything but safe, and I think that’s what we should look for if we’re inclined to invest in a signal caller going in the top half of a draft.
  • It’s a surprise to see Fat Eddie in this roster of red flag players, coming off a rookie campaign that saw him take full advantage of the soft defensive fronts defenses are forced to deploy against Green Bay’s passing attack. It’s important to remember that, unlike last season, Lacy’s upside is firmly baked into his ADP (Lacy was the 24th running back off draft boards last August). Perhaps a full season with Aaron Rodgers behind center will ensure Lacy meets his expensive draft day price, but his median prospects are the stuff of red flags. I’d rather wait on Montee Ball or DeMarco Murray than take Lacy as one of the first three or four runners off the board.
  • Martin’s ADP could see a serious swing over the next six weeks, so keep an eye on where people are drafting 2012′s No. 2 fantasy running back. Backfield committee talk abounds in Tampa, where the team’s new offensive coordinator has spoken openly about finding ways to use a three or four-headed running attack. If Martin falls to the RB12-14 range, I think he’ll come off this red flag team. If not, I’m avoiding.
  • Perhaps the Chargers’ shift to a no-huddle K-gun style offense will change Allen’s 2014 prospects, but as of now, he’s the preeminent red flag receiver at his current ADP. Allen caught five touchdowns on eight receptions during a three-week stretch last December. If regression has a face, it looks something like Keenan Allen. From Week 10-17, when Allen posted top-10 fantasy numbers, he was targeted just 51 times. Twenty-four receivers saw more passes come their way during that stretch. I wouldn’t consider investing in San Diego’s No. 1 receiver unless and until he drops to the WR15 range.
  • Cobb, during his injury-shortened 2013 campaign, was on pace for 1,153 yards on 81 receptions — numbers that would’ve put him just outside the top-12 fantasy receivers. It’s not that I think investing in Cobb will spell disaster for fantasy owners in 2014. It’s that he’s going too high for someone whose median prospects are that low. I’d prefer teammate Jordy Nelson at his WR12 ADP, Victor Cruz at his WR18 ADP, or Andre Johnson at his WR22 ADP.
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.
1 comments
ErikGilomen
ErikGilomen

Your projections on Randall Cobb are extremely Bearish at best.  Your "full season projection"  includes two games (one of which he only played 1.5 Qtrs; other which he was coming off a 2 month injury).  In the first four FULL games, his trend was:

100 Receptions

1300 YDS Receiving

8 Rec TD's

....and ohhh yeah.......19.5 YDS per RUSHING attempt