Why the 1.05 is the “Sweet Spot” in Rookie Drafts

Why the 1.05 is the “Sweet Spot” in Rookie Drafts

Before the 2017 NFL Combine, there were a consensus top four players for upcoming rookie drafts. The order was: 1. Dalvin Cook, 2. Leonard Fournette, 3. Mike Williams, and 4. Corey Davis. Although results varied based on personal preferences, or roster construction, the top 4 players taken in rookie drafts was stable. Since the NFL draft, the consensus “top 4” has expanded to a “top 6”, with Joe Mixon and Christian McCaffrey added to the tier. Let’s take a look at how ADP has changed since January…

In January, the top six ADP for rookies, according to DLF, was:

  1. Dalvin Cook
  2. Leonard Fournette
  3. Mike Williams
  4. Corey Davis
  5. Christian McCaffrey
  6. JuJu Smith-Schuster

February ADP: The top four stay the same. McCaffrey drops a spot.

  1. Dalvin Cook
  2. Leonard Fournette
  3. Mike Williams
  4. Corey Davis
  5. JuJu Smith-Schuster
  6. Christian McCaffrey

March ADP: Mixon enters the top six.

  1. Leonard Fournette
  2. Dalvin Cook
  3. Corey Davis
  4. Mike Williams
  5. Christian McCaffrey
  6. Joe Mixon

April ADP: We finally get our consensus top six to fall in place, although we do see some considerable changes; Mike Williams drops three spots, Mixon jumps up three more spots, and Cook drops two spots. Davis and McCaffrey hold steady at one and five, respectively.

  1. Corey Davis
  2. Leonard Fournette
  3. Dalvin Cook
  4. Joe Mixon
  5. Christian McCaffrey
  6. Mike Williams

Now, let’s take a look at May ADP:

  1. Corey Davis
  2. Leonard Fournette
  3. Christian McCaffrey
  4. Joe Mixon
  5. Dalvin Cook
  6. Mike Williams

Here we see Cook drop two more spots and McCaffrey jump up two spots. This brings us to where we currently stand, and it illustrates why the 1.05 is the “sweet spot” of 2017 rookie drafts. We’ve watched Dalvin Cook go from the consensus top prospect in this class (January, February), down to the consensus fifth. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

With this in mind, I’d like to take a closer look into Dalvin Cook. Why he was once considered the consensus #1 prospect in rookie drafts, what has led to his fall as the consensus #5 prospect, and how this presents a significant value at the 1.05 spot in rookie drafts.

One of the key reasons Cook fell down the rookie ranks is because of his poor three-cone time at the NFL Combine (7.27 seconds); A time he completed with only one attempt, and decided not to attempt again at the combine or his pro day. I talked to Adam Spinks (@therbscout) on his RBSCOUT podcast a couple of weeks ago about this exact topic. Adam pointed out how crazy it is for the dynasty community to put so much stock into one event (three-cone) when you have 600 snaps you can watch on www.draftbreakdown.com. When you watch the actual tape, it’s easy to see Cook has all the quickness and elusiveness needed to succeed in the NFL. Yet, people put more stock into a single metric, from a single attempt, without pads or a helmet.

Another perceived “negative” for Cook is his landing spot. The narrative being “the Minnesota Vikings offensive line is awful” is overblown, and overlooked, in my mind. Last year, the Vikings had arguably the worst offensive line in the entire NFL, which resulted in the worst yards per rush in the league (a putrid 3.2 yards per attempt). What is overlooked, however, is how much impact injuries played for the Vikings in 2016. Before the regular season began, the Vikings offensive line saw Phil Loadholt retire (starting right tackle), and his replacement, Andre Smith, suffered a season-ending injury. Matt Kalil, the team’s starting left tackle, suffered his own season- ending injury in week three… and this is only the beginning of what would be a myriad of other injuries the offensive line endured throughout the year.

With all of that being said, the Vikings made a few key additions to their offensive line this offseason. They signed Riley Reiff, previously with the Detroit Lions, as a massive upgrade at left tackle over T.J. Clemmings (who played significant snaps in 2016 as Matt Kalil’s replacement). They signed Mike Remmers, previously with the Carolina Panthers, as an upgrade over Jeremiah Sirles at right tackle (who played significant snaps in 2016 as Phil Loadholt/ Andre Smith’s replacement). They also drafted Pat Elflein, the 2016 Rimington Trophy winner (college football’s best center) out of Ohio State, to come in and start day one on the interior. The Vikings have also changed their blocking scheme from a man blocking to a zone blocking scheme. Taking this into consideration, I foresee the Vikings offensive line being significantly better in 2017.

Another reason many in the dynasty community are worried about Cook is the crowded backfield in Minnesota. Prior to the draft, the Vikings signed Latavius Murray from the Oakland Raiders; Murray logged 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. They also have Jerrick McKinnon, a Sparq darling, who has shown flashes in spot duty over the years. It’s important to note, however, both of these running backs have contracts with little or no guarantees beyond 2017, and both have shown who they are through past performance.

Although his metrics are impressive, Murray is a “three yards and a cloud of dust” type of running back. He’s proven to be a good goal line back, a good pass protector, and a decent threat as a pass catcher. Murray is a lackluster back that will be a backup to Cook in the Vikings offense. McKinnon has also shown us who he is. He’s a freak athlete, but hasn’t been able to shoulder the load as a lead ball carrier when Adrian Peterson wasn’t on the field. The Vikings traded up in the second round to draft Dalvin Cook which speaks to their desire to get him involved early as a rookie; it also shows how they felt about the running backs they had on roster at the time of the draft.

Although I expect Cook to be the lead back in Minnesota sooner rather than later, there are some concerns with his game. The top four concerns are: ball security, pass blocking, past shoulder injuries, and off-field issues. The ball security concern is a real issue, but plenty of running backs have improved in this area in the past. His pass blocking wasn’t great in college, but as Adam Spinks highlighted in our conversation on his podcast, running backs generally struggle with pass protection in college because good backs are usually getting the ball most of the time, and as a result, they aren’t asked to pass protect. Cook’s shoulder injuries might be my biggest concern. Will he be able to stay healthy taking on bigger, stronger defenders in the NFL? Time will ultimately tell. Finally, Cook’s off-field issues were allegedly tied to his surroundings (friends, etc.) in South Florida. Being drafted by the Vikings, and having veterans he can lean on in the locker room, should allow him to leave his past behind, mature, and focus on all things football. Everything I’ve heard from Cook, and the Vikings, during rookie minicamp and OTAs, is that Cook has shown maturity and a desire to be the best professional he can be.

Regardless of where you’re drafting, I recommend trying to trade for the 1.05 position; If you’re drafting 1.01–1.04, trade back to the 1.05 and acquire more draft picks. If you’re drafting 1.06 or later, trade up and give less than you would for any of the consensus top four picks. In conclusion, the reason the 1.05 is the “sweet spot” in rookie drafts is obvious to me…You are getting a discount from the top four in this class, and you’re getting the consensus number one prospect in this class based on ADP data from as recent as February in Dalvin Cook. If you’re hesitating to make a move for the 1.05, ask yourself: “How important was that three-cone time?”…and then turn on some tape! Happy drafting everyone!

“Celebrity Eliminator”

As you may have heard the fantasy community is doing its part to help ensure that as many underprivileged children as possible get to celebrate Christmas this year. Continuing the great work started by DLF’s Jeff Miller, Scott Fish has grown the #FantasyCares Charity Leagues into an amazing success that allowed over $6,000.00 in presents to be given to children in 2016.

This year John Bosch decided to expand on this and is running the the “Celebrity Eliminator” contests.

For just $10 you get to draft with and against some of the most notable fantasy minds in our industry.

You can sign up via the link below and challenge yourself against:

Alex Gelhar

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One celebrity not enough?! You can play entire podcasts!

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Bestball Draft

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 $10 to runner up

Originally published at dynastyfootballfactory.com on June 28, 2017.