Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and the 2013 Receiver Class

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Yesterday, I published the Banana Stand’s Contrarian Running Back Rankings, using the full body of statistical models available to give the most accurate projections and comps you’ll see anywhere. Today, we have the much-anticipated Wide Receiver rankings employing the Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score.

For a quick refresher, the Dominator Rating is a combined market share metric. It represents the percentage of receiving yards and touchdowns a player had on his college team. A wealth of documentation suggests similar methods are more accurate than scouting reports or raw stats. The Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) uses the same basic principles that created the Speed Score for running backs. The stat is set so that 100 represents an average mark for receivers invited to the Combine. Calvin Johnson’s 143 is the highest recorded mark. Anything over 120 is elite. (For a fuller explanation of the methodology, check out the 2012 article.)

The 2013 class lacks top end performers but is very deep. Savvy teams will land similar prospects in the fourth and fifth rounds as those available in the first. I’ve provided what I see as appropriate values and contrasted those with their likely draft spots this weekend. For most of the notable players, I’ve also given comps that endeavor to match a player with not only similar guys in terms of DR and HaSS but specific physical profiles.

These are reality rankings. RotoViz has the best 2013 rookie dynasty ranks on the web.

The Rankings

1. Charles Johnson – DR .50, HaSS 113

Jon Moore put me on to Johnson’s existence. Ranking Johnson No. 1 will be seen in most quarters as purely for shock effect, but in fact ranking him anywhere else would be to ignore the methodology. Johnson’s Height-adjusted Speed Score is at the same level of Cordarrelle Patterson, and he jumped better in both the vertical and broad categories. I always add .05 to Pro Day 40 times, but if you take Johnson’s 40 at face value, his HaSS jumps to 118 and puts him close to the superstar range. Moreover, his Dominator Rating impresses even with defenses relentlessly scheming to take him away. Johnson’s DR is right in line with previous small school stars like Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, and Pierre Garcon who have emerged as forces in the NFL. Even if you adjust Johnson’s DR pretty dramatically because of concerns about his competition at Grand Valley State, he still comes out as the top prospect – basically Brian Quick with a lot better athleticism. The red flags with Johnson are more about his age than his DII status. Johnson began college way back in 2007 and bounced all over the place. Age does have an important impact in draft value, and if this is your reason for demoting Johnson, that’s understandable. Johnson’s projected selection in the draft covers an incredible range. He could be picked as early as the late second round by a team like the Patriots or he could come close to falling all the way out of the draft.

Comps: Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon

Value: 15-32  Projected: Late Second to Seventh

2. Stedman Bailey – DR .49, HaSS 86

Bailey tore the lid off the Big 12 last season and was utterly dominant scoring all over the field. His numbers absolutely dwarf those of more heralded teammate Tavon Austin. Here’s the thing I don’t get. The scouts are always talking about the tape and how it doesn’t lie, and yet Austin is a trendy first round pick with Bailey projected in the third. It’s impossible to watch West Virginia and not see how much better Bailey is than Austin. The diminutive speedster almost never catches a ball more than 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, but Bailey is dynamic at all depths. Unfortunately, Bailey lacks both size and speed. He profiles most similarly to guys like Greg Jennings and Antonio Brown. Matthew Freedman has demonstrated that second round receivers with Bailey’s production numbers frequently go on to be superstars. Don’t be surprised if he has the biggest rookie season.

Comps: Antonio Brown, Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd, Randall Cobb, Kendall Wright

Value: 30-60 Projected: 45-90

3. DeAndre Hopkins DR .40, HaSS 98

I continually go back and forth between Bailey and Hopkins for the No. 2 slot. Because of height and age, Hopkins is a better bet to emerge as a No. 1 wide receiver. The Clemson product destroyed SEC competition as a junior and absolutely dominated in the highest leverage situations. Unfortunately, like Bailey he lacks first round athleticism. At 6’1”, you just have to run faster than 4.57. On the optimistic side, he’s a slightly weaker version of Hakeem Nicks.

Comps: Dwayne Bowe, Justin Blackmon, Rashaun Woods, David Givens

Value: 30-45 Projected: 20-30

Continue reading Dominator Rating, Height-adjusted Speed Score, and the 2013 Receiver Class

Contrarian RB Rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft

Zac-Stacy-Meme

In the same way that the Banana Stand has been using Dominator Rating and Height-adjusted Speed Score to help improve the evaluations for wide receivers, I’ve been using Agility Scores to help develop the evaluation matrix for running backs. A year ago I debuted the Agility Score concept for Pro Football Focus. I explained some of the more recent motivation for the work in a piece illustrating why Le’Veon Bell is massively underrated.

It’s important to note that Agility Score is only one aspect, and not necessarily the most important one, as I explain in developing what I see as the Three Draftable NFL Profiles for RotoViz.

One final note before the rankings themselves: When most pundits give you comparable players, they’re trying to spin the scouting report in the direction that fits with their observations, often by citing an unrealistic upside player or intentionally depressing bust. I have given both positive and negative comps in this piece, and the players listed are very, very close to the prospect in terms of production, size, speed, and agility. I’m sure I’m as biased as the next person, but those biases are met with a wealth of easily verifiable data in these rankings.

These are reality rankings. If you’re looking for a projection of these backs to your fantasy squad, RotoViz just published its set of composite dynasty rankings.

 

1. Christine Michael

 

Name  Yds YPC TD Rec Weight 40 Vert Agility
Christine Michael 2791 5.3 34 44 220 4.54 43 10.71

* College numbers represent career statistics.

Character concerns make it a very close call at No. 1, but Michael’s athleticism separates from his classmates to such a degree that the risk is worth the reward (assuming background checks don’t turn up even more discouraging info). Michael’s vertical leap and Agility Score make him a threat to eventually be among the ten best backs in the NFL, perhaps similar to another supposed character risk. He’s comps are incredible.

Positive CompsDoug MartinMatt Forte            Negative CompsRoy HeluAlex Green

Projected Value: Second Round                                Expected Selection: Late Second to Third

Continue reading Contrarian RB Rankings for the 2013 NFL Draft

Cracking the Geno Code

Last week for RotoViz, I examined the statistical profiles of the current NFL starting quarterbacks to get a baseline for evaluating college passers. That led me to believe Colin Kaepernick was a better prospect than Blaine Gabbert all along. It also generated a simple hypothesis for the 2013 NFL Draft: select Geno Smith and E.J. Manuel. Avoid everyone else.

Of course, that simple and relatively straightforward analysis doesn’t eliminate all of the scouting concerns about Geno Smith. After all, Akili Smith put up good numbers in college. So did Matt Leinart. In this article, I’ll look at the biggest red flags the scouts have elocuted and try to determine whether any appear valid.

1. Mel Kiper has a date Wednesday

When the Kansas City Star asked Mel Kiper why Smith shouldn’t be in play for the Chiefs at No. 1, he explained that Smith was the “product of West Virginia’s system that created space and didn’t require throws into tight windows,” while also citing some “dropped interceptions.”

Naysayers tend to overestimate the prevalence of system quarterbacks at the BCS level. In fact, it’s fairly self-evident that putting up Madden numbers in a major conference is very, very difficult regardless of system. If it were easy, everybody would do it.

If we make a quick digression from the stats to the tape, we see all the features of a college spread offense, but we also see stick throws at the goal line against Texas and perfectly lofted bombs against Oklahoma. Kiper’s evaluation would appear to be drawn out of thin air.

His suggestion that there were dropped interceptions is laughable. Smith attempted 518 passes and threw 6 interceptions. He finished with a 7-1 TD/INT ratio. Among current NFL starters who played at BCS colleges, the only one with a better TD/INT ratio his final year in college was Russell Wilson. Smith’s TD/INT ratio is roughly twice as good as that posted by his NFL peers. Continue reading Cracking the Geno Code