ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average ranks of many members of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This will be an ongoing series highlighting some big differences between ECR and my own ranks. In general, it’s usually best to regress to the market some, and knowing your league’s ADP remains equally important when drafting, but I rank the following players a lot lower than the general fantasy community.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (ECR = QB7 vs. DDD = QB17)
Allen is one of the funnest players to watch in the league, one of the better rushers in the NFL (top-five in broken tackle rate last year with a lot of scores) and will always have a soft spot in my heart coming from Firebaugh, a small California town with two stoplights where my brother farms land and one of the least likely places to produce an NFL quarterback. The Bills also added arguably the league’s best route-runner in Stefon Diggs (to join John Brown) in the offseason, so what’s not to like in fantasy about a rushing QB with those weapons?
Objectively, Allen has been one of the NFL’s worst passers over the first two years of his career, posting the lowest CPAE over the last two years with an indescribably bad career -6.0% CPOE. Dismissing these Next Gen stats is akin to ignoring the Statcast revolution in baseball (IE, don’t).
Put differently, Allen is a poor man’s Mitch Trubisky who’s legitimately been one of the least valuable passers over the last decade. There’s a minimum threshold for accuracy, and Allen might not reach it.
Moreover, Sports Injury Predictor has him as by far the biggest health risk among quarterbacks and projects nearly three missed games. The Bills also play outdoors often in rough weather and are set to face the toughest fantasy QB schedule overall, in the first four weeks, and in the fantasy playoffs. Allen is young enough to improve, and his legs help his fantasy value immensely, but given his increasing price, injury risk and so many QB alternatives, he’s an easy pass.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (ECR = RB10 vs. DDD = RB18)
Jacobs is a fine-looking young back who just led the NFL in broken tackles and elusive rating as a rookie, but he won’t be on any of my fantasy teams at his draft price. He recorded a modest 20 catches on 27 targets, and while there’s no reason to think he couldn’t perform well as a receiver with more work, all signs point to Oakland keeping him in a two-down role, as the team re-signed Jalen Richard and drafted Lynn Bowden in the third round during the offseason. I didn’t intentionally open this column with two Joshes who SIP projects as among the most likely to get hurt at their positions this year, but Jacobs also has major durability concerns after dealing with injuries in college (when he totaled just 251 carries) and played hurt from Week 7 on as a rookie (while missing three games).
Broken tackles can also be an overrated stat inflated by backs who lack explosion like Jacobs (and David Montgomery). Mostly though, I’m fading the Raiders, who made Marcus Mariota the highest-paid backup during the offseason, as I expect them to have one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the league. Jacobs’ touch share saw a significant decrease when the Raiders trailed last season, and they have one of the toughest schedules in 2020. To be clear, I have Jacobs ranked as a second-round pick, but as a two-down back with health concerns on a questionable team, his top-10 RB ECR is a stretch.
INTERLUDE. With so much negativity in this column, I wanted to add some pop culture recommendations: Song - Michael Stipe & Big Red Machine – “No Time For Love Like Now,” TV Shows – “Defending Jacob” & “Ramy,” Movie - “Goodnight Mommy” and the new Bob Dylan album – “Rough and Rowdy Ways.”
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ECR = WR6 vs. DDD = WR21)
Godwin is a beast and one of the best wide receivers in the NFL right now, and I highlighted him in this same exercise before last season as one of my WRs I ranked higher than ECR, but his 2020 draft cost is outrageous. Godwin didn’t even rank in the top-30 in WOPR last season, so it’s wild he’s the consensus first receiver off the board after the big five. Moreover, Bruce Arians has flat out stated that 12 personnel will be Tampa Bay’s “base offense,” which makes sense given the addition of Rob Gronkowski and means Godwin likely won’t be lining up in the coveted slot as often. Mike Evans is also ranked as a top-10 wide receiver, while Gronk is ranked as a top-10 TE (and O.J. Howard still looms), so few receivers have greater competition for targets.
Jameis Winston just produced ideal fantasy conditions with the NFL’s first 30/30 season, but Godwin will now be catching passes from a declining 43-year-old quarterback who just posted an NFL-worst (by a significant margin) -8.7 CPOE over last season’s second half and is now switching systems during a truncated offseason. The current version of Tom Brady might be a real problem. There may not be many wide receivers in football better than Godwin right now, but there are plenty who are in better fantasy situations, as it’s far more reasonable to expect WR2 production this year than top-five output like his ECR/ADP suggests.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns (ECR = TE11 vs. DDD = TE22)
Few players saw their fantasy situation decline more during the offseason than Hooper, who went from indoors/Matt Ryan/high target share in Atlanta to outdoors/Baker Mayfield/much lower target share in Cleveland. Hooper played well while taking advantage of his situation (third-most red-zone targets among tight ends while missing three games) last season, but he’s now sharing looks with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who both ranked top-11 in WOPR last year, as well as with Kareem Hunt. He’ll also be sharing touchdowns (and RZ work) with Nick Chubb while catching passes from a QB who finished bottom-five in CPOE last season (and often in bad weather while facing tough Steelers and Ravens defenses 25% of the time).
Given their new circumstances, I have Hayden Hurst ranked 15+ spots higher than Hooper, who’s easy to avoid with so many intriguing tight end options in 2020.