There’s an overused saying that goes: ‘History is doomed to repeat itself’. You’ve definitely heard this phrase at least once in your lifetime; it is a cliche that the media, World History teachers, and parents love to use conversationally. In the context of fantasy football, this phrase often rings true as well. There are patterns that players and teams tend to follow and stick to, often enough that they become cyclical in nature.
We know that the Patriots can’t draft a wide receiver to save their lives. We know that the Raiders, regardless of who is running the team, will often take the fastest guy on the board. We also know that, with the superstitious nature of the fantasy football fanatic, there is a certain association with the numbers on the board and what they represent. While not all players are created equal, there is a meaning to where they are drafted, which program they are drafted from, and where they are ranked on the draft board.
At a certain point, these things become very arbitrary. However, if we’re basing our insight on the historical data, they do paint some rather vivid pictures of just what we can come to expect out of our prized rookie draft picks. Thus, we here at 3CoSports are prepared to bring to you an all-encompassing analysis from the last decade of dynasty league data, combining qualitative and quantitative elements to provide accurate profiles of the projected top-12 dynasty league rookies based on recent historical trends.
Today, we take a look at Cam Akers and Jerry Jeudy and see what history says is in store for them.
#7: RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Akers, a former five-star recruit, was the biggest victim of Florida State’s collapse following the departure of championship-winning head coach Jimbo Fisher. Based on dynasty league history, Akers’ bad luck may very well follow him to the pros, as the 1.07 draft slot has yielded a 22% relevance rate, the lowest rate registered besides the 1.12 spot (13%). This rate is made even more concerning by the fact that the entire list from this decade is buoyed by the success of Michael Thomas, whose four fantasy relevant campaigns keep the number from being even lower. With infamous running back busts like Ben Tate, Daniel Thomas, David Wilson, and Royce Freeman taking up these spots in recent years, it would appear as though a hex has been placed upon the 1.07 ADP.
There’s more bad news for any Akers owner to digest, as he shares the dishonorable distinction of being one of the few backs to average less than five yards per-carry for his college career to be taken in the first round of rookie drafts. The other names on that list?
- Ben Tate (4.9 yards per-carry at Auburn)
- Montario Hardesty (4.3 yards per-carry at Tennessee, who thought this guy would be good?)
- Delone Carter (4.8 yards per-carry at Syracuse)
- Marcus Lattimore (4.8 yards per-carry at South Carolina, never played in the NFL due to injuries from college)
- Kerryon Johnson (4.8 yards per-carry at Auburn)
- David Montgomery (4.8 yards per-carry at Iowa State)
Yeah, not exactly the guys you want to be compared to.
To be fair, Akers was not dealt the kindest hand by the football gods, as he was forced to run behind the second worst graded offensive line in the nation as a Junior. Even as he ran behind an anemic Seminoles line Akers produced, accumulating 1,369 total yards and 18 touchdowns in 2019. The former five-star recruit finished his collegiate career as FSU’s sixth all-time leading rusher, ahead of guys like Devonta Freeman and Chris Thompson, who benefitted from playing for the team during the Fisher era.
As a whole, FSU backs have been successful in the NFL, with Freeman, Thompson, and Dalvin Cook succeeding while others like Karlos Williams (the one who ate himself out of the league, remember?) and Lorenzo Booker busted after finding early success. ACC backs in general have been rather hit or miss, with some success stories (Lamar Miller, James Conner) and some not so successful stories (David Wilson, Ryan Williams, Andre Williams — maybe it’s something about guys with Wil- surnames?).
Not to pile on, but we still have some more concerns to express regarding Akers’ NFL outlook. While we saw how successful Todd Gurley was as the bellcow for the Rams offense (before his knee went kaput), the Rams have expressed a desire to employ the dreaded committee approach with the position going forward. With 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson and veteran Malcolm Brown competing for touches, it’s quite possible that Akers, even if he earns the starting role, will have his fantasy upside capped by the offense’s distribution of touches. Should Akers not lock down a steady role in the passing game, his immediate upside will be almost nonexistent, given the high-volume passing attack that the team has employed since Sean McVay took over. Given the Rams poor draft history at the RB position this decade (Henderson, Tre Mason, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Daryl Richardson) outside of Gurley (a generational talent), the odds of Akers becoming a true RB1 are extremely low at this point.
Ceiling: Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
A low-end RB1, high-end RB2 depending on who else is on his team. Like Gordon, Akers is a multi-faceted back with prototypical size and speed. If the Rams offense chooses to deploy him in a similar manner to Todd Gurley, he could be a fantasy football superstar, although it’s more likely than he would be used in a committee-type role that would still manufacture a decent amount of touches for him, especially in the red zone.
Floor: Ben Tate, N/A
An all-around talented back who can’t manage to put the pieces together at the NFL level, floats around the league for a few seasons due to college pedigree but eventually gets phased out.
Median: Ryan Mathews, N/A
A guy who can be really good when the rest of his team is really good, or a total disaster when everyone else is off their game. Averages out as a RB2 for his career, will frustrate owners to no end while also being the saving grace some weeks. A truly polarizing asset.
#6: WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
Jeudy has been on the NFL radar since the day he stepped foot in Tuscaloosa, joining Nick Saban’s program as a five-star recruit in 2017. Just one year later Jeudy would win the Biletnikoff Award (which goes to the best receiver in the nation) as a true sophomore. The Broncos made Jeudy their first-round selection in the 2020 Draft despite the presence of ascending star Courtland Sutton and 2019 first-round tight end Noah Fant on their roster. Jeudy may very well be the most pro-ready receiver we have seen in decades, as he runs his routes with effortless shake, making him virtually unguardable even when facing the top corners in the nation. While the 1.06 spot in rookie drafts has been generally unfavorable, with major busts like Arrelious Benn, Mikel LeShoure, and Bishop Sankey, Jeudy is easily the best talent we have seen in this range, thanks to a historically deep class of playmakers. The 1.06 position has not been all bad in recent years, with middling talents like Sony Michel, Mike Williams, and Sterling Shepard preceding last year’s consensus 1.06, A.J Brown. While the 37% relevance yield may not look great, the sheer amount of busts at this spot from 2010-2014 really weighed the percentage down as a whole. From this spot on, the players drafted have earned a relevance rate of 57%, which compared to the 33% yield for the back half of the draft, shows that draft position matters a lot.
Like Henry Ruggs, Jeudy is in good company as a product of the Crimson Tide, with the successes of the previous three Alabama first-round receivers (Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley) speaking for themselves. These three players have combined for a relevance yield of 93.75%, which adds to Jeudy’s case as the safest prospect in this class. Moreover, the Broncos have had a good deal of success drafting wideouts early this decade, with three Pro Bowlers (Sutton, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker) overshadowing a couple of busts (Cody Latimer, Carlos Henderson). Given Jeudy’s polished route-running tree and experience playing in big games against some of the best defenses in the NCAA, we tend to believe that he will continue Denver’s reign of dominance when it comes to drafting pass-catchers.
There are a few nitpicky concerns that we have about the former first team All-American. For starters, he is a bit undersized at just over six feet, weighing in just under 200 lbs. While there have been plenty of successful ‘undersized’ receivers taken in the first round of rookie drafts (Ridley, Odell Bekcham, Brandin Cooks) there have also been some outright busts (Tavon Austin, John Ross, Philip Dorsett, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller) who simply lacked the strength to win against bigger, more physical NFL defensive backs.
As talented as Jeudy is, his performance in college was definitely boosted by the fact that he was paired with two of the most accurate passers in Crimson Tide history, playing with Tua Tagovailoa (career completion rate of 69.3%) from 2017-2019 and Jalen Hurts (career completion rate of 63%) from 2017-2018. In comparison, Jeudy’s new QB, former Missouri signal-caller Drew Lock, had a career completion rate of 57% in college, although that mark improved during his late season stint as the Broncos starter in 2019 (64.1%). Should Lock fall back into his inaccurate ways, life could be made harder for Jeudy in Denver’s passing attack, as he will also have to compete for targets with the likes of Sutton, Fant, as well as fellow rookies K.J Hamler and Albert Okwuegbunam (Lock’s college teammate who caught 17 of Lock’s 99 touchdown passes for the Tigers).
Aside from those two very minor concerns, Jeudy appears to be primed for NFL success, as he joins a very young offense, led by a live armed gunslinger. As the Broncos look to keep pace with the high octane Chiefs offense in the AFC West, they’ll need to lean on Jeudy as the go-to option in the passing game for this next decade.
Ceiling: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
A perennial WR1 in fantasy. A one-of-one. While Jeudy lack’s the size and physicality of Jones, he does possess some devastating route-running abilities that could allow him the same level of fantasy dominance. Play style wise, you might liken him more to a guy like Antonio Brown.
Floor: Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
A low-end WR1 on good days, WR2/3 on the bad days. Consistently gets open and produces but lack of physicality limits upside against grittier corners. Prone to disappearing acts, especially when he starts taking hits. Remains a valuable fantasy asset due to his upside.
Median: Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
A consistent low-end WR1/high-end WR2. Doesn’t wow you with anything but can be counted on to anchor your fantasy team week in and week out thanks to elite route running and consistency. Not the most exciting guy, but a great piece for any dynasty team to build around.