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Players With Misleading Numbers Not Worth Drafting in 2022

amon-ra st. brown fantasy football rankings NFL DFS lineup picks

When it comes down to facing a fantasy draft, two numbers are often the most sought after by fantasy GMs: current ADP and overall rank from the prior season. No matter how experienced fantasy players are, those two numbers are thought of as the ultimate all-encompassing representations of every football player's value. Knowing what he did in the league the last year and where he is getting drafted this season should be more than enough to make a reasonably good projection going forward, isn't it?

Turns out, those two numbers can be way misleading. Today, I'm here to focus on last season's overall rank of players, that is, where they ranked among peers in 2021. The fact that someone finished the year as a top-tier (RB1 to RB12) running back in total points doesn't mean he was better than players at the second tier in the position. What if that player logged more snaps than anyone through 17 games played and racked up FP on brute force, while the other RB had fewer chances but was much more efficient? What about injuries? What about a change of teams leading up to 2022? Questions, questions, questions...

Up next, I will point out some players that experienced this and other similar developments in 2021 and how to assess their fantasy upside for 2022. Let's get to it!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

2021 ADP & Ranking Context

Instead of jumping head-first into the handful of players I'd like to discuss, I thought it'd be good to give a little bit of context about what happened last season in terms of fantasy drafting and fantasy scoring.

Here is how ADP and season-end rankings (on a total-point and a per-game basis) looked like.

The correlation is slightly higher for the ADP-FPPG relation (r-squared of 0.35) compared to the ADP-TotalFP one (0.27). It makes sense, as per-game marks tend to paint a better picture of a player other than his total outcome in fantasy terms. That's mostly because of missed time, so the likes of Derrick Henry (who only played eight games) don't get heavily impacted by injury woes when it comes to assessing their true worth out of a health-related context.

The only player to go absolutely under the radar and finish the position in the Total FP top-100 was RB Cordarrelle Patterson, while QB Trevor Siemian was the other non-ADP player to join him in the top-100 per-game FP rank last year (only six games played and four games started, though).

 

Players With Misleading Numbers Worth Getting in 2022 Fantasy Drafts

In a perfect world in which players would never get injured, would always be available to play, and would always perform to an expected level given their talents, the relation between total FP and per-game FP scored by them would be 1:1. Sadly, the reality is much more cruel and random than that. Players miss time, they are misused, and randomness is a very strong factor that affects player performances on a weekly basis (that ridiculous catch, that impossible interception, that incomprehensible missed tackle...)

While still strong (0.64), the r-square value for the 2021 Overall Rk vs. Per-game Rk was still far away from perfectly correlating. We're here to highlight some players that were wrongly drafted by fantasy GMs but whose seasons didn't quite fit the final outcomes they logged last year when all was said and done by the end of Week 18.

 

Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons

If we're realistic, Patterson landed in the best possible place this offseason... by opting to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons. Of course, Patterson didn't know the full plans of the Falcons, but even then he knew if there was an NFL team out there in the known of his talents and how to use them on a football field that's the Falcons. That's why he went from scoring 676.4 PPR points in his first eight seasons as a pro (5.3 FPPG) to hitting 234.6 PPR and 14.7 FPPG in the 2021 campaign alone.

Patterson was clearly the under-the-radar player of the 2021 season, and if you are going to tell me you drafted him at all, I'm sorry, but I won't probably believe you. Last summer marked the third season in a row in which Patterson didn't register an ADP in most 12-team leagues, and the only times he got drafted at any point before that were, interestingly, when he changed teams (in 2017 moving to OAK, and then in 2018 moving to NE).

While it is true that the volume will probably stay there for Patterson next season, he will have to face competition in rookie RB Tyler Allgeier and veteran FA-acquisition Damien Williams--both of them trying to combine for Mike Davis' low production as he's left Atlanta this offseason. Nothing very concerning, I'd say.

But the Falcons drafted a bonafide WR1 in Drake London while also bolstering (to a certain extent, I guess) the whole receiving corps, still boasts a legit perennial TE1-in-the-making, and brought a little bit more mobile QB in Marcus Mariota compared to über-veteran Matt Ryan. If you trust Patterson being a legit RB1 (he finished RB9 last season), that's alright and I've always rooted for CP. But his past and the fact that he's only had a full-time working season--and that he excelled at it in the role--looks more like an outlier in the need of verification over a larger period other than a true outcome to trust going forward.

 

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

What a second half of the 2021 season for ASB, wasn't it!? St. Brown, who had topped at just 13.5 PPR points through Week 12 in his debut year with the Lions, went on to score nearly 25, 15, 23, 26, 33, and 26 fantasy points in the final six games of the year. My assessment? Fakety fake numbers. I'm not throwing shade toward ASB, far from it, but I just consider that type of outcome wildly unsustainable.

For one, Jared Goff is Detroit's quarterback next season same as he was last season to middling outings. Nothing incredibly horrific as most haters out there would tell you, but still not great. Then, there is the fact that ASB's last six weeks yielded a ridiculous average of 25.2 FPPG for the rook while his first 11 weeks of play had him at a mediocre 6.9 FPPG figure...

The season average of 13.4 FPPG feels much more realistic and attainable than the stupid 25+ mark, which is something only Cooper Kupp (25.9) did last season--barely.

ASB was definitely a pleasing surprise for every member of the fantasy football community and the Lions fanbase in particular, but let's tame expectations a bit for 2022. In fact, we might tame them more than a bit as Detroit drafted Jameson Williams (considered by some the true WR1 of this year's draft class) with an early pick and also signed D.J. Chark to a one-year prove-it deal that he is expected to maximize in order to fill his bag in the 2022 free-agent market.

 

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

This case is a little bit different from the other two discussed above. I have seen a (not small) bunch of folks out there discussing Trevor Lawrence's rookie season and labeling it literally as a "misleading" one, such as the title of this column because his numbers don't really reflect his talent and Jacksonville didn't really help him at all. Well, that could definitely be the case, or, maybe--even if only for 2022--that's what Lawrence is and what he is going to do as a pro player in the NFL throughout his career.

Lawrence's rookie season, compared to the hype he entered the NFL attached to, was subpar, to say the least. And it could have actually been worse, which is the most concerning part. That's because he threw the seventh-most passes and that helped him in completing the 13th-most throws. Not happy enough with that, he also rushed for 334 yards (seventh-most) and scored two rushing TDs (11th).

The Jaguars have done basically nothing to fix their troubles and they've ultimately just flipped D.J. Chark for Christian Kirk. Yes, they have also brought Zay Jones to JAX, but that's it. And on top of everything, redshirt-rookie Travis Etienne is expected to make his debut this year after missing 2021 entirely.

Is this the Lawrence ahead of us for one or a few years? Could very well be the case, and he can still drop a few more spots down the fantasy-QB pecking order (he was QB22 last season). There have only been 53 QB seasons in the past 10 years in which a quarterback rushed for 330+ yards while scoring 2+ touchdowns. Those are not otherworldly numbers, but they could easily go down next year. Among those 53 entries, five of them were logged by players with worst FPPG than Lawrence's 11.7, so take his 2021 "rebound-prone" season with a pinch of salt and get ready for another letdown, just in case.



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