Rookies vs Consistency - 2019

Bob Lung presents the facts and figures on why drafting Rookies can be can very RISKY in the early rounds! You can follow or respond to him on Twitter at @bob_lung.

The one question that I get asked every year is “Why don’t you include rookies in your consistency analysis?” My answer has always been “They’re too inconsistent.” Or “College talent doesn’t always equate to NFL talent.” That normally leads to “Well, what about Odell Beckham, Jr. or LeVeon Bell or Saquon Barkley?” Good point.

So, I decided to back up my theory with facts. I accumulated the number of draft choices at the offensive positions (QB, RB, WR and TE) since 2010. For the past nine years, there have been 385 of these players drafted in the first four rounds. I did only the first four rounds since that’s where most of the NFL starters come from. Yes, there are the Tom Brady’s of the world that are drafted in Round 6, but those are few and far between.

The breakdown of the positions and rounds are as follows:

 

 

Rd 1

Rd 2

Rd 3

Rd 4

Total

QB

27

9

12

14

62

RB

15

26

21

39

101

WR

32

36

42

47

157

TE

7

16

19

23

65

Total

81

87

94

123

385

 

Next, I accumulated all the rookies who exceeded a 60% Clutch Rating (how consistent the player was during the season) and played more than 10 games in their rookie season since 2010.

 

 

90% - 100%

80% - 89%

70% - 79%

60% - 69%

Total

QB

0

1

1

3

5

RB

3

4

5

4

16

WR

1

2

2

4

9

TE

0

0

1

1

2

Total

4

7

9

12

32

 

As you can see above, since 2010, only 32 TOTAL rookies have ever exceeded a 60% Clutch Rating in their rookie season. Around 66% of those players had a Clutch Rating between 60-79%, while only 34% were over an 80% Clutch Rating. In summary, it’s even rarer that a rookie has a Clutch Rating over 90% in his first season. Let’s look at the breakdown by position.

 

 

90% - 100%

80% - 89%

70% - 79%

60% - 69%

Total

QB

 

 

 

 

8.06%

RB

 

 

 

 

15.84%

WR

 

 

 

 

5.73%

TE

 

 

 

 

3.08%

Total

1.04%

1.82%

2.34%

3.12%

8.31%

 

The chart shows around one percent of all position players drafted in the past nine years have earned a Clutch Rating over 90% in their rookie season. The other Clutch Rating categories don’t show much success either with success ratings between 1.82% and 3.12%. In total, approximately 8.3% of all rookies since 2010 have earned over a 60% Clutch Rating.

If you’re wondering, who were these 32 rookies, who earned over a 60% Clutch Rating in their first season, then you’re in luck! We’ll start with the quarterbacks. Remember, only four quarterbacks out of the 62 (8.06%), drafted in the first four rounds since 2010, have earned over 60% Clutch Rating. Robert Griffin and Marcus Mariota both earned a 67% Clutch Rating while Cam Newton had an extraordinary 81% in 2011 and Dak Prescott earned a 75% Clutch Rating in in 2016.

With all of the quarterbacks drafted in the first round in 2018, you would have expected to see at least one make the cut. And, one did. Baker Mayfield just made it over the 60% cut-off with a 64% Clutch Rating for the year. Mayfield did earn six of the Clutch Games over his last eight games for a 75% Clutch Rate, so we expect better things out of Mayfield in 2019. None of the other first round picks earned over 50%. In fact, Josh Allen was the next highest at 50%.

 

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

CR

1

1

CAR

Cam Newton

2011

81%

4

135

DAL

Dak Prescott

2016

75%

1

2

WAS

Robert Griffin

2012

67%

1

2

TEN

Marcus Mariota

2015

67%

1

1

CLE

Baker Mayfield

2018

64%

 

The running backs lead all positions with 16 rookies having exceeded the 60% Clutch Rating. This equated to almost 16% of all the drafted running backs since 2010. Of those 16, only two exceeded a 90% Clutch Rating and they were LeVeon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott. However, in 2018, Saquon Barkley not only reached the 90% rating, he exceeded both of them with a 94% Clutch Rating.

However, Barkley was the only running back over 60% and played more than 10 games in 2018. Kerryon Johnson did earn a 70% Clutch Game but didn’t exceed 10 games. There’s certainly great potential for Johnson as we head into 2019 and he will be listed as at least as a RB2 in the draft rankings. Another consistent rookie was undrafted free agent, Phillip Lindsay. He earned a 67% Clutch Rate, but doesn't qualify because he was undrafted. However, this goes to show how volatile the Fantasy world can be. There were some very solid rookie running backs like Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb had a great second half, just like Baker Mayfield. He went six for eight in Clutch Games for a 75% Clutch Rate in the second half of the season and will be in the high RB2/ low RB1 draft range. Sony Michel was too injury prone in 2018 to make an impact, but he had flashes of success for the Patriots that gave us a look at his potential ceiling in 2019.

 

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

CR

1

2

NYG

Saquon Barkley

2018

94%

1

4

DAL

Ezekiel Elliott

2016

93%

2

48

PIT

Le'Veon Bell

2013

92%

2

61

GNB

Eddie Lacy

2013

87%

1

4

JAX

Leonard Fournette

2017

85%

3

67

NO

Alvin Kamara

2017

81%

1

31

TAM

Doug Martin

2012

81%

1

10

STL

Todd Gurley

2015

77%

6

173

WAS

Alfred Morris

2012

75%

2

36

JAX

T.J. Yeldon

2015

75%

1

3

CLE

Trent Richardson

2012

73%

5

155

BUF

Karlos Williams

2015

73%

1

8

CAR

Christian McCaffrey

2017

69%

3

86

KC

Kareem Hunt

2017

69%

2

37

CIN

Giovani Bernard

2013

69%

5

160

STL

Zac Stacy

2013

64%

 

The wide receivers are second in total rookies over 60% with nine. This equated to only 5.73% of all the drafted wide receivers since 2010. However, the biggest difference between the wide receivers and running backs is the success AFTER their rookie season. Almost all these receivers have had continued success after their consistent rookie season and remain as some of the top receivers heading into 2019. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp and Michael Thomas are all perfect examples of that after their excellent rookie seasons in 2016 and 2017.

However, in 2018, the wide receiver group produced ZERO players over 60%. There were some solid rookies like D.J. Moore, Christian Kirk and Keke Coutee. All three of them earned a 50% Clutch Rate for the year. Moore was the only one of the group who played all 16 games though. While Kirk played 12 and Coutee only played six. Maybe some of these receivers will improve in 2019 with expanded roles and more targets, but in summary, rookie receivers are tough to trust for consistency.

 

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

CR

1

12

NYG

Odell Beckham

2014

92%

2

47

NOR

Michael Thomas

2016

80%

1

4

CIN

A.J. Green

2011

80%

1

6

ATL

Julio Jones

2011

75%

3

76

SDG

Keenan Allen

2013

71%

2

62

PIT

JuJu Smith-Schuster

2017

64%

3

69

LAR

Cooper Kupp

2017

60%

1

7

TAM

Mike Evans

2014

60%

2

61

JAX

Allen Robinson

2014

60%

 

No position is more difficult to earn a 60% Clutch Rate in their rookie year than tight ends. Since 2010, only Jordan Reed and Evan Engram have earned over a 60% Clutch Rating in their rookie season. That’s right. No Rob Gronkowski (38%), Jimmy Graham (55%), Julius Thomas (0%); Zach Ertz (58%) or Travis Kelce (0%). 2018 was no different as ZERO tight ends exceeded the mark. Chris Herndon was the closest with a 58% Clutch Rate (seven out of 12 Clutch Games), but four of them came in Week 6-9 and then his consistency disappeared after that. Plus Herndon was busted for a DUI and may missed a game or two in 201, so keep an eye on that situation. So, if there are any rookie tight ends that you are targeting, please make sure you are drafting in the very late rounds or you’re drafting in a dynasty league.

 

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

CR

1

23

NYG

Evan Engram

2017

73%

3

85

WAS

Jordan Reed

2013

67%

 

The facts show what many Fantasy owners already know, drafting rookies early is risky. Even though Saquon Barkley was a stud and Baker Mayfield was consistent down the stretch, 2018 was the worst rookie season since 2010 with only two players over 60%. This dropped the chance of drafting a rookie, who earns over a 60% Clutch Rating, to only 8.3%. Your chance of drafting a rookie who earns over an 80% Clutch Rating is less than 3%. Let’s be honest, you want the players that you draft in the first two rounds of your Fantasy draft to have an 80% Clutch Rating or higher. So, who would you draft? A proven veteran or a rookie? The facts above have already answered the question for you.

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