Rookies vs Consistency - 2018

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 Leonard Fournette?” Good point.

So, I decided this year 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 eight years, there have been 340 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

22

9

11

13

55

RB

12

22

20

34

88

WR

30

30

40

42

142

TE

6

14

17

18

55

Total

70

75

88

107

340


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

2

4

RB

2

4

5

4

15

WR

1

2

2

4

9

TE

0

0

1

1

2

Total

3

7

9

11

30 


As you can see above, since 2010, only 30 TOTAL rookies have ever exceeded a 60% Clutch Rating in their rookie season. Around 67% of those players had a Clutch Rating between 60-79%, while only 33% 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

 

 

 

 

7.27%

RB

 

 

 

 

17.05%

WR

 

 

 

 

6.34%

TE

 

 

 

 

3.64%

Total

0.88%

2.06%

2.65%

3.24%

8.82%


The chart shows that less than one percent of all position players drafted in the past seven 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 2.06% and 3.24%. In total, less than 9% of all rookies since 2010 earned over a 60% Clutch Rating.

If you’re wondering, who were these 30 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 48 (8.33%), 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 2017, you would have expected to see at least one make the cut. And, if Deshaun Watson wouldn’t have torn his ACL after Week 7, we probably would have seen him listed below. He was at an 86% Clutch Rating after seven games. However, the rules have been that players play at least 10 games to qualify for this status.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

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% 


The running backs lead all positions with 15 rookies having exceeded the 60% Clutch Rating. This equated to 17% of all the drafted running backs since 2010. Of those 15, only one exceeded a 90% Clutch Rating until 2016 and he was LeVeon Bell. In 2016, first round pick Ezekiel Elliott not only reached the 90% rating, he exceeded Bell’s rookie season record of 92% with a 93% Clutch Rating.

This year, was a banner year for the rookie running backs, as four of them gain the lofty status of over 60% consistency in their rookie year. 2012 had the previous record with three backs qualifying. We start with the two studs, who both exceeded 80%. Leonard Fournette (85%) and Alvin Kamara (81%). Fournette was a highly regarded back and was picked by many to succeed in the NFL. Kamara wasn’t drafted until the third round but was drafted by the perfect team for his skills. The Saints made him the new “Darren Sproles” and he took the ‘title” and literally ran with it!

Two other great rookie backs included Christian McCaffrey and Kareem Hunt. Both ended the season with a 69% Clutch Rate. Again, McCaffrey was the highly drafted back out of Stanford and was expected to be successful in PPR leagues in 2017. Hunt was also drafted in the third round (like Kamara) but burst onto the scene in the first regular season game of the year! He cooled off a bit but still ended the year ranked fourth in total points and 12th in consistency. 

Lastly, just like the quarterbacks, we had a running back, who had a Clutch Rate over 60%, but only played in four games. Dalvin Cook had a great start to the season by enjoying a 75% Clutch Rate, but succumb to injuries that ended his season.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

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 seven. This equated to only 6.33% 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 2016. Michael Thomas was a perfect example of that in 2016 and continued his success into 2017 as well.

The two receivers who qualified this year were not highly drafted. JuJu Smith Schuster was drafted in the second round by Pittsburgh but took advantage of the occasional disappearance of Martavis Bryant and earned a 64% Clutch Rating in 2017. Cooper Kupp was a third-round pick and quietly earned a 60% Clutch Rating in Los Angeles in a PPR format.

Rd

Pick

Team

Name

Year

Clutch Rate

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% 


The tight end position was solely owned by Jordan Reed. However, this past season, Evan Engram not only joined the group, he knocked Reed out of the top spot with a 73% Clutch Rating. Now, Engram and Reed are only tight end since 2010, who earned over a 60% Clutch Rating in his rookie season. That’s right. No Rob Gronkowski (38%), Jimmy Graham (55%), Julius Thomas (0%); Tyler Eifert (20%) or Travis Kelce (0%). 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

Clutch Rate

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. The chance of drafting a rookie, who earns over a 60% Clutch Rating, is only 8.82%. 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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