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You’re Drafting the Wrong Sleeper

Every draft season there are players who are “sleepers” that every single expert in the industry touts. By the beginning of the season, these players go from “sleepers” to overvalued due to all the hype they have received. This article will cover two different pairs of teammates, one of which is being drafted with a premium pick and another with a late round pick. However, upon further review, their fantasy potential is similar making the player in the later rounds a bargain on draft day.

Draft Adam Thielen over Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs might be the sweetheart of the 2017 fantasy football preseason, but exactly why remains a mystery to me. Diggs doesn’t stand out athletically, isn’t part of an explosive offense, has never shown an ability to be a deep ball or red zone threat, and has a history of soft tissue injuries.

It’s not all bad news for Diggs as he managed 112 targets last season, good for 29th best in the league. He was also incredibly efficient with those targets, as he posted a 75% catch rate. This was an impressive rate and among the league leaders last season. The problem is that Diggs has never shown the ability to be a big play or touchdown threat.

Depending on the source, last season Diggs posted an average depth of target between 8.5 and 9 yards which translated to just 10.8 yards per catch. Low yards per target and catch figures are nothing new for Diggs, as he averaged only 12.8 yards per catch throughout his college career. With little to no red zone ability shown to this point in his career, he has just 20 red-zone targets and seven touchdowns in 26 career games, Diggs is left with little upside.

On the other hand, Adam Thielen offers a similar profile at much less cost. For example, last season he had an average depth of target of 10.8, good for 14 yards per catch. Even producing more yards per catch, Thielen was able to match Diggs’ catch rate of 75%. With 10  targets in the red zone last season and five touchdowns, Thielen has a similar profile to Diggs.

Adding in Diggs’ injury history, he suffered groin, hip, and knee injuries last season, and Sam Bradford’s inability to unlock any upside left in Diggs’ profile, his current FFPC ADP of 54.9 is far too high. This stands in contrast to Thielen’s current ADP of 130, which makes him the more viable choice.

Draft Ted Ginn over Willie Snead

Like everything else in the preseason, depth charts should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there have been positive reports throughout camps about Ted Ginn’s performance and the impression he has made on coach Sean Payton. The good news is, he seems certain to have a role with his new team and land no worse than third on the depth chart. As a member of the Saints, that role is substantial. For example, last season Willie Snead was the third most targeted Saints receiver and landed 104 targets. In 2015, Snead was again the third most targeted player and received 102 targets. Though Ginn has received more targets in the past two seasons, both of those figures would have been career high marks for him.

Of course, Ginn’s drops and big play misses have rightfully been highly publicized over the years. He has never been and never will be the most efficient receiver or fantasy option. With that said, Snead will almost certainly be more efficient in terms of catch rate in 2017. On the other hand, Willie Snead has been similarly inefficient in other ways, specifically in his average depth of target. Snead ranked 99th in the NFL by posting a 7.5 aDOT last season as opposed to Ginn’s marks over the past two season of 7.9 and 7.6 respectively. That has translated to a 13.9, 16.8, and 13.9 yards per catch average each of the past three seasons for Ginn. Snead has a wide range of outcomes in his two seasons in this regard, averaging 14.3 yards per catch in 2015 and 12.4 in 2016.

What all these numbers boil down to is that there is not a large difference between Snead and Ginn. While with same exact ADP, it would be preferable to take Snead over Ginn due to his efficiency edge. In FFPC drafts Ginn is currently being drafted 167th overall as compared to Snead who is being drafted 63rd overall. Given those numbers, it’s safe to say you are likely drafting the wrong Saints receiver this summer.

 

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Dan Marcus
Dan recently moved to Columbus, Ohio but is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan. Fantasy baseball was and always will be his favorite fantasy sport, but he also enjoys football and basketball as well.

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