Why you don’t try to piggy back off an amazing season for Kelce, who’s setting the record - by the season - for greatest TE ever in every category - including age - then draft him in the 1st. Talk about a fall-on-face drop in value currently vs draft cost.
Not quite sure I follow your point here. Kelce is still the #1 TE in PPG. So you got what you expected when you invested draft capital in him, piggy-backing not one one, but 7 consecutive seasons in which he dominated the position.
LaPorta was a steal, sure. So was Puka Nacua. So do you laugh at people who invested high draft picks in the likes of Jefferson, Chase or Hill?
If you projected LaPorta and Nacua as top 5 assets during the pre-season and saved draft capital by getting them instead of Kelce/Andrews/Jefferson/Chase/Hill, then props to you. If not, then all you do here is playing ye olde “hindsight is always 20/20” game.
No, actually you’re not. Just as I anticipated and noted in some post - before the season - Kelce would not live up to his ADP and this has proven true (so far). His per game production is off by more than 4 pts p/g from last season, where he went in the 2nd. No one is drafting 7 seasons of Kelce either as they have nothing to do with winning a title this year. Right now Kelce is on pace to barely get 900 yards and 12 TDs, but typically drafted at the 1.07. Not worth that ADP.
Why would I - or anyone else - laugh at people who drafted the most elite players at WR in the first round and are all playing like it? It’s not clear why you keep citing Nacua as he was a largely undrafted (R) FA pick-up, so people can have both and do (like me).
Your last paragraph doesn’t make any sense. If you’re asking whether or not I would want Kelce or Nacua right now I think the answer is clear. I would also take LaPorta over Kelce right now as well; in dynasty or otherwise. Kelce is ranked 91st in pts right now in me league. Meanwhile… I nabbed Kmet out of FA and they have nearly the same pts.
Fair points. I indeed looked only at his absolute PPG position. But you are right, the overall production is relevant as well. 20% less production may still be enough for a TE #1 finish, but does not justify as much draft capital, as he will then not be the same difference maker any longer.
I’m not that negative on Kelce yet, though. 12 TDs would be on par with last year’s production. His yardage seems to dip, but he was at 80 YPG in 2023, and at 65 yards over the last 3 games. That is a dip, but not necessarily a game changing one.
Drafting a player as old as Kelce in the first round is always risky. But I still won’t blame anybody who did.
And I still don’t know what LaPorta has to do with all that. Did anybody project that his production would be on par with Kelce’s? I didn’t see it. TEs usually become usable in year 3, so outside of dynasty formats, I’d always stay away from rookies or sophomores.
Yep, LaPorta and multiple other roOkies (or other young, promising TEs) largely undrafted. I tend to punt the TE position, that’s how I end up with guys like Kittle in their second year, plucked right out of FA after week 1. Kelce is playing like a more prototypical M.Andrews year (commonly a 3rd rounder). While LaPorta is a generational talent in a high powered offense. The point being is why would someone pass on a tier 1 WR or bell cow RB to take a deteriorating asset, who has peaked? Every game that goes by Kelce is rewriting the record book for his position until he isn’t from likely age induced injuries.
When you draft players (and want to do it right), you don’t care about positions. Your decision should always be down to: which player gives me the biggest potential upside over the next guy I could draft on that position if I wait another round?
A common mistake in drafts is following a positional rush. The first 5 picks were all RB. So the guy at #6 also picks an RB, even though the #6 RB will give him much less upside than the #1 WR would.
Let’s look at a draft scenario for a player who picks at #7 in a 12 team league. 3 RBs, 2 WRs and 1 QB are off the board by the time he gets on the clock. So he can chose between the #4 RB, the #3 WR, the #2 QB and the #1 TE.
Let’s also assume that the 10 players that will come off the board between his #7 pick and the next time he’ll be back on the clock at 2.06 will be 3 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TE and 1 QB. So at 2.06, he could chose between the #7 RB, #7 WR, #3 QB and #3 TE.
Now let’s look at the gaps in recent years, based on PPR scoring and PPG basis:
Gap between #4 and #7 RB:
2022: 2.9 PPG
2021: 0.6 PPG
2020: 3.6 PPG
Gap betwen #3 and #7 WR:
2022: 2.0 PPG
2021: 3.9 PPG
2020: 3.0 PPG
Gap between #2 and #3 QB:
2022: 1.0 PPG
2021: 0.6 PPG
2020: 1.0 PPG
Gap between #1 and #3 TE:
2022: 5.9 PPG
2021: 3.4 PPG
2020: 5.3 PPG
As we can see, the difference between RBs and WRs are more or less similar, with a slight edge for WRs. The gap between QBs does not justify drafting the #2 guy in the 1st round.
But on TE, the gap is huge. So drafting the expected #1 TE in the middle of the 1st round paid off hugely in recent years.
Now did the TE landscape change in 2023 enough to justify doubting the empirical findings from recent years? It has changed a little in so far as there a few more decent options now, so that the fall-off behind #1 and #2 won’t be that steep anymore. There are also a few more options in the mid-TE1 tier, so workable options could be available at much later rounds.
And of course, Kelce is reaching a critical age. So even if the #1-to-#3 gap remains the same, there is no guarantee that Kelce still owns that #1 spot.
However, last night put a massive dent in your theory that he’s reached the age cliff.
And also, expecting a TE1 season from LaPorta was a massive mistake. The only rookie TE who managed to pull that off in the last 10 years was Kyle Pitts in 2021, who finished at #6. Which still means he was 7.3 PPG behind the #1 (Andrews) and 6.0 PPG behind the #2 (Kelce). And he fell off a cliff afterwards. Still, he was a TE1 in his rookie year, and thus, a unicorn.
LaPorta looks even more unicorny so far. But “generational talent” is a tag I didn’t read all that often in the offseason. Kincaid and even Mayer were ahead of him in many a predraft ranking. LaPorta arguably found the best landing spot, though.
And still, empirical data shows us that it is not wise at all to invest in rookie or even sophomore TEs in redraft leagues.
“But look at LaPorta’s numbers! Clearly, I was right!”, I hear you shout. And I’ll still say you weren’t. Of course, if you buy a lottery ticket and, against all odds, hit the big jackpot, you can laugh in the faces of all those guys who invested their savings in the stock market. Clearly, you outperformed them all. So your investment strategy was superior, right?
Empirical data shows that it wasn’t. You were just lucky. But if 100,000 people “invest” in the lottery instead of the stock market, 99,999 of them will do worse. If you are the 1 / 100,000, it doesn’t disprove the theory. It just shows that you won against all odds.
I’m not talking LaPorta down here. I have shares in him myself. I did recognize the talent and the landing spot. I still wouldn’t have expected him to be startable in his rookie year. At least not on a level that would beat streaming the position. I got him in dynasty leagues, fully expecting to stash him for at least a year or two .
In redraft, I would have stayed with my original approach. And we’re still far away from calling it wrong. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. There still is a lot of season ahead of us.
I disagree with this sentiment on its face. The strategy is to get the most fantasy points to field per round you draft regardless of how you do it, while being able to implement a strategy that encompasses the ability to audible during the draft, so you don’t have to select inferior point producers for the sake of filling positional quotas. While at the same time considering BYE weeks, all of which will help with your per/week point production ceiling. The cherry picked analysis from the argument you devised was also hardly an argument pedestalizing LaPorta as just production from me, but to show that you can find value at - by average - the lowest scoring position there is in fantasy. La Porta being a roOkie is just a cherry on top. I am proof positive - not only this year - but winning 2 of the last 4 in a highly rated fantasy league toO.
40% of the top 5 producing TEs (currently) were either acquired in the double digit rounds or went undrafted. If Kelce doesn’t outscore everyone under him (should he not get injured trying) by at least 50%, he just plain wasn’t worth a 1st rounder now, or going forward. Hell, the guy who has em in my league is currently in 6th (of 8). I punted the position and am in 2nd.
You keep making valid points, but still fail to see the big picture.
First, who is ranked where in your league right now has absolutely zero relevance. Again, just because your lottery ticket hit the jackpot this week doesn’t mean that investing in the stock market isn’t the wiser decision.
Then, I found that considering BYE weeks during the draft is a safe way to ruin your season. If only because there is no universally good way to deal with BYE weeks. Because what’s better - missing 1-2 starters every week, having to replace them with inferior backups? Or having most of your starters sharing the same BYE, meaning you’ll probably get an L that week, but have them all available during all other weeks, while your opponents struggle with BYE replacements?
Would you shy away from a steal in the middle rounds, just because you already have 2 starters with the same BYE? What if I told you that your opponent that week will have 5 BYE players that week?
BYEs should have absolutely zero relevance during the draft.
Wrong. And I deliberately say ‘wrong’, not ‘I disagree’.
Let’s take a simple model. A 12 team league with only a 2 man roster, starting a WR and a TE. You draft at #1, the draft snakes.
So your draft is down to a simple decision: will you take the #1 WR and #12 TE, or vice versa?
Let’s assume this took place in 2022, scoring was PPR. We’re looking at weeks 1-14, aka the regular season in most fantasy leagues.
Scenario A: You drafted Justin Jefferson and Cole Kmet. This would have been your approach, as JJ scored more overall points than Kelce, who was the #1 TE. And you said you should always draft the player who gave you the most points.
Scenario B: You drafted Travis Kelce and Amari Cooper.
Scenario A gave you 403.8 total points.
Scenario B gave you 448.8 total points. It’s not even close.
That’s why I said “wrong”, not “I disagree”. It doesn’t matter at all how many points a player scores. The only thing that matters is the gap to the next man up on the position.
JJ scored more points than Kelce. But the gap between Kelce and the #12 TE was a lot (!) bigger than the gap between JJ and the #12 WR.
In other words, Kelce was more of a difference maker on TE than JJ was on WR.
Now, of course, this is an oversimplified model. Things get a lot murkier when you add 2 more positions, a different number of starter slots and other factors like scoring consistency (spoiler: the player who scores more total points over the season is not necessarily the better fantasy asset).
But the core principle remains intact. If I pass on position X now, how big is the gap to the next player on that position that I expect to get next round?
Minimizing that gap is what wins you fantasy championships.
The tricky part is to safely predict which player will be #1, #6, #12… on their position. That’s where the element of randomness kicks in. If you passed on an early-round TE and picked up LaPorta in the final round of your draft then you should be in great shape.
But the same is true for teams that picked up Kelce in round 1 in recent years.
No, which brings me back to my first point I made. ‘Highest’ fieldable points per available. In my case (recently) I don’t tend to go RB in the 1st & 2nd anymore, explicitly because it disallows that kind of flexibility, where now it will be more commonly a RB & WR in each which allows the “audible”. I will even draft for depth at primarily RB & WR at the first few bench positions before I will consider my starting TE or backup QB.
Your argument in summary is as follows…
If RBs are considered trucks, WRs considered cars and TEs considered motorcycles. You’re saying - given the round - you would key on taking the best motorcycle - that’s also classic - in the world, instead of the 4th or 5th best truck or sports car - that’s relatively new - in the world instead. Even though there’s a litany of reasons to avoid doing just that.
TEs just have a lower ceiling of capability against what is available to be drafted.
Here’s an example of that a couple years back, before Kelce (the only TE ever) was considered 1st round worthy. I drafted Jonathan Taylor with the last (10th) pick in the 1st round during his break out year in '21. It was self-evident it was to occur because of how good the Colts O-line was and how he ran as a (R) at the time and paid off huge. Where you would be more keen to draft Kelce at his ceiling there. If Kelce would have been drafted there then instead of picks later (like he should), I would have left 1,043 AP yards and 10 AP TDs in the draft to an opponent against what Kelce put up in '21. This is effectively like drafting 2 Kelce’s production in one draft pick. If you look at from a point swing perspective, it’s not only the points I would not have got, but the points my opponent would, doubling those above figures. Get it now?
I think I do. I’m not sure you do, though.
You drafted JT over Kelce, which was indeed the correct call to make in 2021. But not for the reason you think.
You drafted JT because you expected JT to score more points than Kelce. Which is true, but irrelevant.
Because if points were all that mattered, you should have drafted Josh Allen. He scored 9 points more than JT. So he would have been the better call, right?
Of course not. If you had passed on JT and would have settled for the #7 or #8 RB in the next round instead, you would have forfeited around 100 points. By passing on Allen and settling for, let’s say, the #5 QB a couple rounds later, you only gave up 40 points.
Kelce scored 40 points more than the #3 TE, and 60 points more than the #4 TE. So in your specific scenario, it was the right call to select JT. But not because he scored more points than Kelce. That part is irrelevant.
One year later, your strategy would not have worked out. If you had correctly identified Austin Ekeler as the #1 RB and selected him over Kelce at 1.01, you would have lost points. Ekeler still outperformed Kelce by a fair margin (292 vs. 257 points). But the gap between the #1 and #7 RB was only 74 points, whereas the gap between the #1 and #3 TE was 102 points.
You drafted Ekeler and Hockenson
Ekeler: 292 points
Hockenson: 155 points
Total: 447 points
You drafted Kelce and Pollard
Kelce: 257 points
Pollard: 218 points
Total: 475 points - 28 points more
Getting more total points out of a player duo is preferable, I guess we can agree on that.
As you can see, drafting the #1 RB over the #1 TE was indeed favorable in 2021, but not in 2022.
However, if the #1 RB scores more total points than the #1 TE is irrelevant. The key question is how much points you give up by postponing a position to the next round.
It may be counterintuitive, but the math doesn’t lie.
Addendum: your initial post suggested that Kelce may not have been worth a first round pick this year because the gap to next-tier TEs isn’t big enough to justify the draft capital. If the falloff in the TE production curve indeed gets less steep, that may be correct. But it’s too early to tell. Right now, it looks like Kelce may yet again be a class of his own. We’ll know for sure after the season.
More slight-of-hand. You and I are both well aware that a great majority of people don’t take quarterbacks in the first two rounds, so to cheerlead like a QB should or could be taken around where Kelce typically is as an argument on they will score more points than a RB (on avg) is hardly debatable.