Studs and Duds

Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 10 – Calvin Ridley and Daniel Jones

by Josh Danzig, June 4, 2021

Calvin Ridley’s breakout coincides with his opportunity. The Falcons currently have Julio Jones coming back healthy and have spent significant draft capital on superstar tight end prospect Kyle Pitts. Last year was the Calvin Ridley show, this year would be a competition for targets should Jones stay. Right now, I have a hard time taking him over guys like Keenan Allen or Michael Thomas who are currently going behind him.

Second-year quarterbacks don’t always improve on their first season. While Daniel Jones did show incredible rushing value, I should’ve known better that his decision-making was not all there yet. All of his advanced metrics were in the bottom half of the league among qualified quarterbacks. Lowlighted by 38 (No. 5) Danger Plays (No. 2), a 79.0 (No. 2) True Passer Rating, and a 7.2 (No. 24) Accuracy Rating. Sigh…


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 9 – Aaron Jones and Bryan Edwards

by Mark Kieffer, May 30, 2021

Avoid narratives that do not align with the data. In 2020, Aaron Jones’s opportunity was similar to what he saw in 2019, other than the total touchdowns. The goal of fantasy football is to score fantasy points. Players need opportunity to score fantasy points. Raw skills alone will not get the job done. When a running back is in their prime, coming off of an incredibly productive season with 217.9 (No. 9 among qualified running backs) Weighted Opportunities, I am interested in having them on my roster.

I like big receivers and I cannot lie: At 6-3 and 212 pounds, I figured Bryan Edwards would be that outside alpha receiver that would be productive in recording first downs, having screens thrown to him, and being a red zone threat with his size. Given his young Breakout Age, and doing in the SEC in college, I thought he would be able to step in as a rookie and have a nice season.


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 8 – Brandon Aiyuk and Devin Singletary

by Aditya Fuldeore, May 15, 2021

Look for offensive fit and/or a unique opportunity when evaluating a rookie’s fantasy outlook. Brandon Aiyuk’s game is similar to Deebo Samuel’s, and seeing that he would fit right into the 49ers offense helped raise him as “my guy.” Ultimately, Aiyuk caught short passes, shed tackles, drew Deep Targets, and received rushing carries in a multi-faceted role, like Samuel’s in 2019.

Devin Singletarys’s rookie year efficiency and production led me to believe he would be the lead back with rookie Zack Moss behind him. Honestly, I got carried away staking my claim into the next “great” fantasy PPR running back, trying to find another Alvin Kamara, and his ADP for 2020 was low enough for me to believe he would be a high-reward RB2.


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 7 – Mike Gesicki and D.J. Chark

by Matt Babich, May 11, 2021

The success of Mike Gesicki and other late-round tight ends last season confirmed the process of fading the average draft positions outside of the “Big Three.” Past Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller, the Fantasy Points per Game differential between TE1’s will be within two to three points per game. Buying early into a small differential carries a heavy opportunity cost.

Quarterback play was a factor I did not consider enough when drafting wide receivers in 2020. I valued D.J. Chark over the likes of Will Fuller and Stefon Diggs. This was bad process, and my most fatal error. If a receiver like Chark can only attain quality targets in shallow ranges, it will be difficult for him to produce.


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 6 – Justin Jefferson and Darnell Mooney

by Chase Vernon, May 8, 2021

We have to pay attention to more than just one narrative. 2020 was a perfect storm for Justin Jefferson. Overall talent, a position of need, an aging veteran teammate, a shifting offensive scheme, and a skeleton defense all made it possible for him to succeed. 

With both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles playing the majority of snaps in eight games apiece, Darnell Mooney hit double-digit points in four of Trubisky’s games, while only hitting double digits in Foles’ games once. Meanwhile, Foles was attempting 1.4 more Deep Passes per game; they were just wildly inaccurate. 


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 5 – Jonathan Taylor and D.J. Chark

by Lucas Mir, May 6, 2021

A big takeaway from last season was not to rely on the production of rookie running backs during the first half of the season. Before his explosion in Week 12, Jonathan Taylor saw a huge drop in value and looked like he would not live up the hype. Believing in rookies walking into a new team and taking over the lead back role within a few weeks of the season starting is lofty thinking.

After watching D.J. Chark dominate in 2019 to the tune of 14.9 (No. 19 among qualified wide receivers) Fantasy Points per Game after going undrafted in most leagues, he was a target for me heading into 2020. After a rookie campaign with zero starts and under 200 yards, this sophomore breakout made it look like Chark had adjusted to the NFL. Add to this the stability around him within the Jaguars, he seemed like the perfect WR2 for fantasy teams.


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 4 – Antonio Gibson and T.Y. Hilton

by Will Barrett, May 4, 2021

Although Antonio Gibson didn’t get many carries in college, made it count when he did, with an insane 11.2 (99th-percentile among qualified running backs) College YPC average. He ran a 4.39 (98th-percentile) 40-yard Dash, which outputted a 99th-percentile Speed Score. He was hitting the holes, making guys miss left and right, and popping off for breakaway runs. That’s why I hopped on the train.

Investing in any position well past the age apex is usually a dart throw. Regression and injuries are common. It’s also helpful to have an alpha profile if you want Philip Rivers to feed you the ball. T.Y. Hilton is 5-9 and 183-pounds, whilst former Rivers teammate Mike Williams is 6-4 and 218-pounds. Opportunity doesn’t equate to fantasy points. A player can have the receiver room all to himself, but if he doesn’t have the skills necessary to be an alpha, it won’t pan out.


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 3 – Cam Akers and Preston Williams

by Jay Felicio, April 13, 2021

While I’m afraid the hype train will push his average draft position even higher, Cam Akers is currently being drafted at a reasonable 11.8 ADP per Underdog Fantasy. All of the running backs outside the first six or seven have warts. The top-5 potential of Akers paired with the expected usage makes him a prime target at the back end of the first or the top of the second round.

Taking Preston Williams’ first eight games and expecting him to continue that type of production was a fool’s errand. Plenty of factors change year to year; the Dolphins defense drastically improved, Williams was recovering from an ACL injury, and Miami drafted a new quarterback. Looking at the past for future production is inane; situations change for every team every season. 


Studs and Duds 2020 – Volume 2 – Will Fuller and Miles Sanders

by Edward DeLauter, March 19, 2021

If I were to take a lesson away from the process of drafting Will Fuller, it would be to target players in drafts where the ADP skews closer towards the bottom percentile outcome of a player. Especially when the ADP is driven down by narratives not based on numbers. Fuller’s injury proneness was and continues to be overrated in fantasy. Further, his Weekly Volatility had a strong chance of changing with De’Andre Hopkins no longer in Texas. When drafting outside of round three, it is beneficial to target the players with the highest ceilings and ignore their floors.

Where things went wrong was not in projecting Miles Sanders’ usage and skill, but in projecting the effectiveness of the Eagles offense. Philadelphia’s inability to generate offense as a result of Carson Wentz’s regression as a passer, and an oft-injured offensive, line stifled any hopes of Sanders reaching his RB1 ceiling. Unable to generate consistent offense, the team zapped Sanders’ upside. Facing negative Game Scripts, he scored only six (No. 25 among qualified running backs) Total Touchdowns all season.