Talking to the Pros: ECR Insanity

Just talking about general ECR (expert consensus rankings):

  1. RB Jonathan Taylor: No problems here. Not my preference, but I won’t argue with it.

  2. RB Christian McCaffrey: He has played 10 games in the last 2 seasons, and ECR has him second? Even at his best last year, do you want to spend a 1rst round pick on an RB who plays 7 games for you? Good luck with that! So he wins you 7 games. I just hope you have a solid backup for the playoffs.

  3. RB Derrick Henry: A 28 year old RB coming off a broken foot after 418 touches in the previous two seasons (add in another 29.6 touches per game/played in only 8 games in 2021), and he broke a foot last year? This is cause for concern. I would take a chance at nearly anyone with a number 3 pick instead of Henry.

  4. RB Dalvin Cook: Yes, he has had injury issues for a few years. He hasn’t played more than 14 games, or less than 11 (2018). But that is still better than #2 and #3 above. Yes, expect some games missed. On the bright side, the Vikings are supposedly going to more of a pass-oriented offense,. which would have Cook catching passes instead of slamming up the middle as much. I can buy Cook at 4 or earlier, even if he isn’t my favorite 1rst round choice.

  5. RB Austin Ekeler: With Isaiah Spiller now on the Chargers, Ekeler’s touches suddenly become a concern. I would be looking at QB’s and WR’s before Ekeler, and of course one other RB.

  6. RB Joe Mixon: Not a knock on Mixon’s talent, but more of a concern: What if the Bengals o-line protects Joe Burrow like they did last season? I find it hard to believe Burrow lasts another whole season, and the Bengals haven’t had a decent o-line since Anthony Munoz was there. If Burrow goes down, defenses will stack against Mixon, and last year’s efficient production will evaporate.

  7. RB Nick Chubb: High floor, low ceiling. His injury history is similar to Dalvin Cook’s, with a few games missed every year. He’s safe, not spectacular.

  8. WR Cooper Kupp: Last season was a year for the ages, but can he repeat with Allen Robinson in the lineup? Doubtful. But Kupp should still do reasonably well, even with some regression from last year’s heights.

  9. WR Justin Jefferson: I like JJ better than Kupp this season, especially when I hear the Vikings plan to pass more. JJ should be WR1 for everyone.

  10. RB Najee Harris: 10th pick? Najee is #1 on my board, even above JT. 1220 rush yards, 74 catches, 467 receiving yards and 10 td’s in his rookie season with ZERO games missed. And he can only get better with any QB other than Roethlisberger’s skeleton. Plus he finished as the RB4 (RB3 in PPR). Why do the experts expect him to drop to RB8? Do they expect the Steelers to suddenly become a pass-heavy team? Or is it because they are living in the past, hoping for CMC to return to 2019? If you need proof of experts traveling in packs like lemmings, look no further than Najee Harris. If you want to take JT first, I’ll understand. But the rest of the RB’s named above should not even be in the same conversation.

  11. TE Travis Kelce: Why is Kelce this high? He was TE2 last season. Granted, he was 1st four of the last 5 seasons. Kelce wasn’t bad last season, he just wasn’t as good as Mark Andrews, who had a career year. But a first round pick? Seems a little high for a TE.

  12. WR Ja’Marr Chase: He had an awesome rookie season. Not taking anything away from him here. I am still worried about Burrow going down at some point, although Chase strikes me as the kind of WR who can play with any QB.

Other ECR craziness:

Aaron Jones versus AJ Dillon: Jones is at 17, Dillon is at 61. I’ll wait for Dillon, thanks. I expect their numbers to be similar.

Kyle Pitts: ECR is 30? If you want to wait until the mid-3rd round, I’ll be happy to snap him up before that. He has TE1 potential, where Kelce is being drafted now.

Michael Pittman: At ECR 32, he is being drafted behind Deebo Samuel (first year starting QB), Tyreek Hill (going from Mahomes to Tua), and Tee Higgins (WR2 on the Bengals). And this is Pittman’s first year with Matt Ryan, who loves him some alpha receivers. Pittoman should thrive this season, maybe even a top 5 WR.

Tyreek Hill versus Jaylen Waddle: Will Hill still put up better numbers than Waddle, with both in the same offense? Would you bet ECR24 (Hill’s ECR) against ECR44 (Waddles’s ECR) on it? Personally, I’d wait for Waddle.

Elijah Moore versus Garrett Wilson: Explain how Moore is ranked at ECR 64 and Garrett Wilson is at ECR 118? While Moore has a year under his belt, Wilson is the superior prospect coming out of college. I am not knocking the talent of either of them, but Wilson should eventually supersede Moore as WR1 on the Jets, possibly this season. At the very least, they should be ranked closer together.

Jameis Winston: Woefully undervalued. At QB19, ECR141, Winston has top 5 potential at a bargain basement price. Feel free to wait and snap him up later in your drafts. If you’re in dynasty, you can trade for him cheap.

As for McCaffrey, Henry and Cook, I’ll admit that I struggle myself how to include injury risk in my projections. Right now, I have all 3 of them projected based on 17 games played, even though I’m sure none of them will.

Spiller doesn’t concern me outside of injuries to Ekeler (which are a concern, though). The Chargers tried other approaches in recent years and failed. This year, they tried an RB with a somewhat similar profile, probably hoping they can continue to play the same offense in case Ekeler misses time.

But if they saw a potential Ekeler replacement in Spiller, they wouldn’t have waited until the 4th round to draft him. 4th round (and later) RB picks rarely become starters in the NFL. And yes, I know that Ekeler himself is an UDFA. But he was one of only 2 top 20 RBs in 2020 who did not have at least 3rd round draft capital to their name (the other one was Aaron Jones).

Not in PPR, but 61 is definitely too low for Dillon in any format.

Pittman is indeed my WR#3. I love receivers from “not many mouths to feed” offenses. Indy is just that.

Both are criminally underrated. No, I don’t believe the 2022 Dolphins to be a top passing offense. No, I don’t expect Tua to make big strides in his passing game. Yes, I do believe both Hill and Waddle to be top 10 WRs this year. Why? Because they have hardly any competition for targets on the team. The roster situation reminds me of the 2021 Seahawks, who were a terrible passing offense (lowest volume in the league), and coincidentally, also the only team in the NFL to produce two top fantasy WRs (WR#11 and WR#12 in my half-PPR league).

Winston never finished lower than QB14 when he played a full season. I have him at QB#13 this year. And I’m pretty high on Chris Olave, as I don’t believe in a Michael Thomas comeback.

As for ECR in general: I’m not a fan of the concept at all. If you throw in as many analysts as possible, you will never get the best possible outcome, but always the most mediocre one.

Give me a select few analysts who share not just their rankings, but also their methodology. And who explain why they rank individual players the way they do. Then I can decide if whether I buy their premise or not.

Dillon wasn’t a slouch in the passing game last season, having 34 catches on 37 targets. That’s pretty efficient.

I find ECR to be like stock analyst rankings: Very backward-looking and tending towards the herd mentality of the “expert” group. Even when they get it right, they surround it in bunches of wrong data points, based solely on what the guy did 3 years ago.

One of the few cases where I use a 3-year old data point is Jameis Winston. Even then, I use last season’s stats to support it. Winston got 14 td’s in 7 games last year before getting injured, which could have been 34 td’s prorated over a full season. That is solid QB play by any measure. It isn’t even unprecedented for him, since he had 33 td’s in 2019. Why experts, of all people, aren’t expecting this from him befuddles me.

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