🚀 The QB Screaming Up Draft Boards

Do you buy it?

Bigger No. 1 overall lock? Caleb Williams or Caitlin Clark??

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by BetMGM:

  • JJ to New England?

  • A photo of Belichick you won’t believe

  • Rookie TE Super Model Tier 3: An athletic wonder.

  • It’s 4/8. Take it away, Peter Overzet…

It’s very fitting that the biggest QB prospect enigma (J.J. McCarthy) and the most wildcard team (the New England Patriots) would eventually see their paths collide in the lead-up to the 2024 NFL Draft.

McCarthy’s rise through the draft process has been meteoric. Initially viewed as a fringe first-round pick, he’s since won a national title and rode a tidal wave of buzz to the top of boards after crushing at both the NFL Combine and his pro day.

Rumors are swirling that he could go as early as 2nd overall and the betting markets have shifted accordingly. He is now +250 at some books, which means his +850 price at BetMGM is looking particularly juicy:

BetMGM Odds

Two weeks ago we wrote about the Patriots potentially pump-faking us about not taking a QB with their third overall pick and now reports are leaking that McCarthy might be their preferred choice.

It’s once again hard to know how much of this is posturing to drive the price up for a potential trade or whether there is a kernel of truth here, but McCarthy seems open to the idea.

McCarthy—who Chris Allen compares to Kirk Cousins and others have compared to Brock Purdy—is regarded as a tough eval because of how little he threw at Michigan (he averaged a measly 370 dropbacks in his final season while the other Top 5 QBs averaged 489).

Although you’ll happily take Cousins and Purdy if this is the alternative:

With a game manager profile, McCarthy would be a much better fit on a team already loaded with weapons like the Minnesota Vikings, who remain the odds-on favorite to select him:

The Patriots would be much better off rolling the dice on a higher-ceiling prospect like Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels, but it’s a fool’s errand trying to predict what this organization will do.

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Watercooler

🚨 Dwain McFarland’s Rookie TE Super Model is LIVE. How each TE stacks up ahead of the draft…

📷️ How is this not artificial intelligence? It can’t be real.

🤑 Safety Kyle Dugger gets paid. A massive 4-year extension.

🎙️ Davante Adams shares nuanced thoughts about needing a new coach. Classy.

🤼 Jason Kelce at WrestleMania. Of course.

🙏 Dalvin Cook makes his case. Is he still ‘that guy’?

😆 The new-look Texans offense is ready to go. And so is streamer sensation, Sketch.

Fantasy Life head of analytics Dwain “The Rock” McFarland has been in the lab GRINDING to evaluate the incoming class of rookie TEs. Many would simply put together a model of sorts to accomplish this task, but Dwain? That wouldn’t be nearly… super enough.

Presenting: Fantasy Life’s new Rookie TE Super Model.

🥉 Tier 3 – Intriguing TEs Projected for Little Draft Capital

💪 Theo Johnson | Penn State

  • TE Super Model: 36th percentile

  • Age: 23.5

  • Height: 6’5”

  • Weight: 259

📜 Pedigree

  • Program Quality Index: 85th percentile

  • NFL Mock Drafts: Round 4

  • 247 Recruit Player Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Johnson was the No. 3 TE in the nation in the 2020 class–one spot behind Michael Mayer, a 5-star recruit. He scores well in the Program Quality Index thanks to Penn State’s history of churning out Round 2 picks in Mike Gesicki, Pat Freiermuth, and Brenton Strange.

😤 Production & Athleticism

  • Adjusted Career RYPTPA Index: 24th percentile

  • Career Targeted QB Rating Index: 81st percentile

  • Speed Score Index: 81st percentile

While the Penn State pedigree boosted Johnson's model score, his Adjusted Career RYPTPA came in below Freiermuth (59th percentile) and Gesicki (42nd). Johnson’s highest RYPTPA mark was 0.97 in his third season at 22.

Although Johnson couldn’t carve out a sizable role, he was a plus option when given the opportunity. His QBs registered a 127.6 passer rating when targeting Johnson, good enough for an 81st-percentile finish.

When you pair Johnson’s efficiency when targeted with his 81st-percentile Speed Score, you can see a path for upside in his future. Over the last six drafts, there are four TEs with an Adjusted Career RYPTA Index of 30 or lower and a Speed Score Index of 70 or higher.

  • Dawson Knox

  • Jelani Woods

  • Chigoziem Okonkwo

  • Darnell Washington

🔮 Fantasy Outlook: Hit Rates

  • Underdog ADP: TE39, Final Rounds

  • Rookie Dynasty ADP: TE3, Pick 45

When excluding draft capital, Johnson scores well in the model. That means his score will amplify if he goes higher than expected in the NFL Draft.

🏋️‍♂️ Erick All | Iowa

  • TE Super Model: 28th percentile

  • Age: 24.0

  • Height: 6’4”

  • Weight: 252

📜 Pedigree

  • Program Quality Index: 100th percentile

  • NFL Mock Drafts: Round 4

  • 247 Recruit Player Rating: 4 of 5 stars

All played four seasons for Michigan and transferred to Iowa for his final season.

😤 Production

  • Adjusted Career RYPTPA Index: 33rd percentile

  • Career Targeted QB Rating Index: 55th percentile

  • Speed Score Index: 44th percentile*

All battled a litany of injuries over his career, including a season-ending back injury three games into his fourth year and an ACL tear in game seven of his final season. He played only 13 games once, thanks to a COVID-19 season mixed in. 

When you attempt to complete the puzzle, the missing pieces make it hard to know what you are looking at. The model sees All as a player who never put it together from an Adjusted Career RYPTPA standpoint (33rd percentile).

Although YPRR isn’t a component in the model due to its overlap with RYPTPA, this is an excellent example of a sensible use case because it helps us cut through the injuries to just focus on when the prospect was on the field. All’s Adjusted Career YPRR ranked in the 57th percentile–the second-best score behind Bowers.

Furthermore, All’s man and zone coverage data offers us insight into an impressive aspect of his game. By TE standards, he dominated, registering a 25% TPRR against both coverage types. No other prospect in the class was better–not even Bowers.

🔮 Fantasy Outlook: Hit Rates

  • Underdog ADP: TE64, Undrafted

  • Rookie Dynasty ADP: TE7, Pick 56

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