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The Facts About Brandin Cooks are Contrarian and Why Narratives Suck

Some of the things that get accepted as true in fantasy football are mind-numbing. The fact that Brandin Cooks is a “boom bust WR” is one of them.

The Narrative

My inspiration for writing The Analytics of Dynasty was discovering through my research that some of the narratives in dynasty strategy are simply not true.  These are things that get said, repeated, regurgitated, become gospel and accepted as true. When these types of narratives are wrong, they become profitable areas for good dynasty owners to exploit.

The “boom bust” label on Brandin Cooks is a common narrative. The analysis of Cooks based on the narrative sounds something like “He is small, doesn’t see consistent targets, and is reliant on big plays.” As a result, the narrative says he is a highly variant from week to week. The narrative would say Cooks might have 5 or 6 big weeks, while the others are not useful and you cannot predict when they come.

I posted the poll below on my Twitter account, and it confirmed the narrative has seeped into the dynasty conscious as 62% of the respondents said they considered Brandin Cooks a “boom bust WR.”

The problem: it just simply isn’t true.

Brandin Cooks

Since 2015, Cooks has finished 13th, 11th, and 15th at the receiver position. Only 5 WRs have finished 15th or better in the past three seasons

  • Julio Jones
  • Antonio Brown
  • Jarvis Landry
  • Larry Fitzgerald
  • Doug Baldwin

The narrative would says, “Fine, he finishes that high, but his production is in only a few weeks, and he has a lot of bust weeks!”

During that time, Cooks has finished with 26 starter (top 24) weeks or 54% of the time. In other words, he booms more than busts.

Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, two receivers who finished no worse than 7th in any season in the past three years, finished with the high at the position with 33.

Narrative: “See, he finishes with 2.3 fewer starter weeks per season than the elite guys!”

Since 2015, Cooks ranks 8th among WRs in starter weeks, behind only Jones, Brown, Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas, Landry, Mike Evans, and  Fitzgerald.  Cooks only finished two starter weeks behind “Mr. High Floor” Larry Fitzgerald.

Interestingly, over the past two seasons, Cooks finished with 19 starter weeks, 1 more than Larry Fitzgerald (18).

Over the past three years, Cooks has outpaced other “high floor” players like A.J. Green (25), Doug Baldwin (23) and Golden Tate (19).  Cooks is one of just 10 WRs who has been more likely than not to finish with as a starter in a given week over the past three seasons.

Maybe we should start calling him “More Boom than Bust.” But with the easy bailout of a narrative, it seems unlikely to take hold.

Takeaway

There are inefficiencies and edges in the dynasty marketplace and perceived value is a powerful one. Specifically, Brandin Cooks is likely undervalued in your dynasty league because he is “boom bust.”

In my research for the book, I found a lot of these gospel ideas just are not supported by facts. I could keep exposing them here, but then I would give away your edge. If you want a true edge on your opponents, pre-order The Analytics of Dynasty. If you pre-order before September 1st, for only $25 you will get the book when it comes out in January and get a one-on-one strategy session where we can chat about more inefficiencies.

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My Appearance on the UTH Weekly Show

I pinch hit for Katie and Tim on the UTH weekly show this week. Chad and I get geeky weekly on the premium side, but this is only my third weekly show appearance.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dynasty-fantasy-football-under-the-helmet/id606186284?mt=2

Thanks Chad for having me on. We talked about news, notes, potential league winners, and The Analytics of Dynasty! Pre-order now for $25 and get a one-on-one strategy session with an advanced view of the analytics!

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My Appearance on Dynasty Happy Hour

Thanks to Tyler and Tim over at DHH for having me on their podcast. Check out the link below to hear the appearance.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dynasty-happy-hour-fantasy-football-dynasty-nfl-nfl-draft/id1103910723?mt=2

We talk about the book and some of our most owned players, so check it out.

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Pre-order The Analytics of Dynasty before September 1st and you’ll get a one-on-one strategy session to talk Dynasty and get an advance preview of the analytics.

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My Appearance on The Dynasty Life

Thanks to Travis, Andrew and Justin for having me on The Dynasty Life. Check out the podcast at http://www.thefantasyauthority.com/podcast/2018-training-camp-battles-episode-94/.

Go ahead an pre-order The Analytics of Dynasty today and get a one-on-one strategy session with some of the advanced analytics to get a leg up on your competition in 2018.

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Structural Drafting: Kalen Ballage is a Cheat Code

Rookie drafts are a key area to acquire RB depth in dynasty.  One of the findings as I go along writing The Analytics of Dynasty is finding clear target areas for players. For example, round 1 NFL QBs and day 2 NFL TEs in round 3 of rookie drafts are great ways to fill in players while fading the start one positions in startup drafts.

Another area is RB. RB should be clear targets in the first two rounds of rookie drafts outside a select few WRs.

This year, my rookie draft plan after the top 8 RBs (including RoJo), was Christian Kirk, Courtland Sutton, James Washington, and then Kalen Ballage. Ballage is a player to sit dead red on in the middle of the second round because of the athletic upside and receiving ability in a 228-pound frame.

In chatting with a book purchaser earlier this week, I noticed a historic trend. The historical hit rate of producing a starter  (top 24 finish) for RBs in the second round of rookie drafts is 35%.

Since 2013, there have been 10 RBs who weigh 215 pounds or more, drafted in rookie drafts between picks 13 and 24 in rookie drafts: Terrance West, Jeremy Hill, Zac Stacy, Christine Michael, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, David Johnson, David Cobb, Andre Williams and D’Onta Foreman.

Of those 10, 6 produced top 24 seasons, West, Hill, Stacy, Ajayi, Howard and Johnson. Cobb and Williams were athletic duds, Foreman is only in his second year, while Christine Michael rose to a sixth-round startup pick in 2014, a clear value upgrade over his rookie valuation.

This 60% hit is significantly better than the market, and if you exclude poor athletes in Williams and Cobb, your 75% top 24 rate is double the market success rate.

The upside is good as 5 of the RBs produced top 12 seasons, while David Johnson was a league winner in 2016.

That is a good success rate at any point in the draft, but especially so in the second round of rookie drafts.

Much of the narrative around dynasty drafts is focused on debating which two players to pick at a given spot in the draft. This approach is like a general drawing a battle plan: the general can make the best tactical plan imaginable, but if he is fighting the battle in Russia in the winter, he is going to lose the war.

Instead of debating specific players, take a step back, identify a strong strategy, and ask yourself which players best reflect that strategy.

This year Kalen Ballage is a later second-round draft pick, who fits the criteria of this highly successful type of players. At nearly all points of rookie drafts RBs are better bets than WRs, and with the historic success rates in the range, Kalen Ballage reflects a strong strategic approach in the second round of rookie drafts.


Pre-order The Analtyics of Dynasty before September 1st and you will get a one-on-one strategy session including an advance preview of the strategy and tips from the book.