Every year there’s a handful of players that go on to have a breakout rookie season in the NFL despite not being thought highly of in the draft process. Typically, these guys are late 1st or early 2nd round selections in most leagues, but regardless, we sit there and scratch our heads as we wonder how they fell that far in our rookie draft.
While not perfect, I had put together a “Predictive Model” that began in 2018, and it has had a 75%+ success rate on both running backs and wide receivers. This model does not take into account their landing spot, but it takes all of their measurables, college production and draft capital to spit out some pretty helpful results. If you’d like access to the full predictive model, feel free to slide into our DMs on Twitter and we’ll provide you with the historical data.
The list below is not based purely off of the predictive model, but does take it into account. You likely have heard of most of these players at this point, but these three are guys that I think could easily outplay their current ADP (average draft position).
Danny Gray (San Francisco 49ers), Wide Receiver, ADP: 4.10
Danny Gray is, far and away, my “super sleeper” of the 2022 draft class. I’ve tried to get him in every single rookie draft so far and am in that “can’t stop, won’t stop” mindset with him. Gray was drafted in the 3rd round to the 49ers and should immediately slot in as their WR3 (assuming the Niners retain Deebo Samuel).
Obviously, there are a lot of question marks with this landing spot. Can Trey Lance support multiple fantasy-relevant receivers? Is this team’s run-first attitude one we should avoid entirely for unproven assets like Gray? Is Gray the immediate WR2 if Deebo is traded? Well, I can’t answer those, but I can talk a bit about him and why he is poised to be the “sneaky-good” player that dropped entirely too far in rookie drafts.
For starters, he’s got day-two draft capital. That’s a major box that needs to be checked for most fantasy-relevant receivers. In our predictive model, he had the 3rd-highest raw score in the entire class (just below Treylon Burks and above Jameson Williams). Once the draft capital came into play, he was obviously not in the same tier as those guys, but he is in some good historical company. Since 2018, only 7 round-three receivers have received a final grade of “C “or better: Michael Gallup, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, Dyami Brown, David Bell, Jalen Tolbert and of course, Danny Gray. (Side note: Jalen Tolbert is a sneaky guy to go after this year as well).
Sure, he could bust like Dyami Brown, but for the most part, he’s in great company in the predictive model. Gray is a hard worker, a great route-runner and is a fantastic fit for the 49ers. I’d take him a full round a half earlier than his ADP if the board is barren enough and would be thrilled to do it. Those 3rd and 4th round rookie picks are always a crapshoot, so why not go for the guy that has a ton of upside like Gray?
Tyler Allgeier (Atlanta Falcons), Running Back, ADP: 2.10
Allgeier is a name that would’ve fallen into the 3rd-round of most rookie drafts if he didn’t land in Atlanta. The Falcons were one of the most ideal landing spots for a rookie running back and it would seem that Allgeier is the one that hit that lottery. He has been gaining steam lately, especially with Atlanta releasing Mike Davis shortly after the NFL Draft, but he’s still largely underappreciated by many.
The biggest knock on him is obviously his draft capital. Allgeier was a lowly 5th-round pick in real life and that typically is never something that translates well for fantasy. However, the Falcons clearly have a level of confidence in him and the release of Davis is evident of that. Tyler Allgeier was a pre-draft darling for me. He passed the eye test and had a strong analytical profile, but I got the feeling that the draft capital would be poor… and I was right.
With that being said, he is every bit worth a late-2nd round pick, especially in a shallow class. In terms of raw score on the predictive model (which is pre draft capital), he was solid. He was rated as the RB4 in this class, and was sitting just between Josh Jacobs and Sony Michel on the overall historical data (raw score only) since 2018. For the running backs, the scoring is a bit different than the receivers in the predictive model. Rather than being given a letter grade, they are simply labeled as “Generational, Top-5, RB1, RB2, Bye-Week Filler, or Bench Piece”. Allgeier, despite not being given a bump to his score from good draft capital, landed as a “Bye-Week Filler”… which is a lot better than it sounds.
Since 2018, there were only three running backs that went in the 5th-round or later that scored better than Allgeier: Elijah Mitchell, Kenneth Gainwell and Rodney Anderson. With the exception of Anderson, that really ain’t bad company to be in. It’s also worth noting that guys like David Montgomery and Nyheim Hines were labeled as “Bye-Week Fillers” and have been able to put things together on the football field just fine. Is hitting on guys like this a long shot? Absolutely. However, if you combine his individual upside with the opportunity that he has in Atlanta, he very well could be this year’s Elijah Mitchell. I can’t imagine that he’ll have a massive role in the passing game, but he could solidify himself as the early-down back in Atlanta fairly quickly. I’m all in on him in the middle of the 2nd round in my rookie drafts.
Romeo Doubs (Green Bay Packers), Wide Receiver, ADP: 3.08
Doubs is one of those guys that “passed the eye test” for me. I wouldn’t say that I loved watching his film, but I also can’t say that I hated it either. To me, he looks like a very average NFL-caliber wide receiver… but that’s not a bad thing at all, especially in the late-3rd round of rookie drafts.
Doubs was drafted in the 4th round by Green Bay and I don’t think I could name a landing spot that would’ve been better for him. There are a ton of year-one opportunities for receivers in Green Bay this year and I think that Doubs could find a way for a decent amount of playing time by the end of the 2022 season.
Historically, his raw score is about as average as it gets, as he was a 48th percentile WR in the pre-draft stages of the predictive model. At that time, he was tied as the WR8 of the 2022 class (again, purely based off of raw score). His stock definitely fell as he slipped to the 4th round, but he still profiles well enough to be the WR15 of this class. I know what you’re thinking… WR15 doesn’t sound great… and you’re right, it’s not. But at the cost of 3.08, who cares?
Like I said, there’s a ton of upside with the Packers and the opportunity for playing time is wide open. For what it’s worth, the player that scored the most similarly to Doubs in the model since 2018 was Amon-Ra St. Brown. A player like that breaking out doesn’t come along very often, and I can’t honestly say that I’d compare Doubs to St. Brown. But with that being said, if I had to bet on who could be this year’s ARSB, it’d be Doubs. He’s a guy that passed the eye test, landed in a great spot and is going late enough in drafts for me to feel comfortable at using my dart throw on him. I’m not going to reach for him in most scenarios, but he does have some of the best late-3rd round upside in this draft class.
Bonus Players: John Metchie, Ty Chandler, Jake Ferguson
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