The Villain Vs The Victor
The following content contains Spoilers that may cause mild cases of grandeur.
The Villain Vs The Victor
By Gino Benatti
How did we get here? At this exact moment you may be wondering “who is The Villain and who is The Victor?” and “what does it mean to fantasy football?”.
In this expose of skewed perspective and gathered statistics to favor such perspective where we will dive deep each passage into two players that we perceive as someone we hate to see against us that week (The Villain) and who on our own team that will carry us to celebrations in the locker room (The Victor).
Now, to be honest, the data and research below may resemble a graphite planogram done by Piers Taylor on a shaky railcar but there is still value built in. Value. That is the third “V” we will explore each passage as well. Villain, Victor and Value spoken in a Hugo Weaving accent.
Travis Kelce Vs. Darren Waller.
There is no denying the greatness of our villain Zeus aka Travis Kelce on the fantasy field this year. He shattered records like they’re glass Christmas ornaments under the fleshy toes of Marv Merchants. In just 15 games Kelce brought in over 1,400 yards on 105 receptions. His all-universe QB Mahomes targeted him 145 times with a 72% catch rate and found pay dirt 11 times. His average draft position (ADP) of mid 2nd round paid off this year as finished second in receiving yards only behind Stefon Diggs.
When you saw Kelce on the other side of the line-up, you were already behind. Most owners had to make it up somewhere else on the field to get the win. Going into next year you may find Kelce as a late 1st round to very early 2nd round grab. It’s the price to pay but is it the best Value?
The answer is “No”.
Let’s crack open the “Big Drink” as Coach Gruden calls him (in no way is this is a pun at Waller’s once storied drug history….though it should be). Darren Waller. The Walrus. The Wall-Eye. Out of this world like Wall-E. (gulp, gulp, sip, sip). In 16 games he killed it! Also targeted 145 times this year by better Carr brother Derek and brought in 107 receptions on a 74% catch rate with 9 TD’s. The stats look similar to Zeus but the Value is found in draft position. For Waller, the ADP ranged from round 4-6 so for arguments sake we’ll take the median of the 5th round. That’s Victor material, like Katniss Everdeen at a bow & arrow convention if I do say so myself.
But “what does this mean for next year?”
For this we must explore one vital element that will remain unchanged. Age. This year, Kelce pushed 31 years old while Waller neared his prime age of 28. What did Kelce do after an awesome 2017 season when he was coming off age 28 and having Alex Smith chuck him the rock? He raised his targets up 28 to 150 and broke over 100 receptions for the first time in his career for 1336 yards and 10 TD’s. His QB? Baby breathe fresh Patrick Mahomes in his first season as a full time field general.
So, what can we expect from Waller who put up better numbers at the age of 28 than Kelce did at the same age when Oakland may be moving away from Derek Carr’s $19.5m contract while only having $2.5m counting towards the salary cap. There are several options for the Raiders which include an early round quarterback selection in the draft, one of the handful of veterans that will be on the market, or bring Carr back as he did just have one of his best statistical years in his young career. The Raiders recently invested in young WR talent in last year's draft which, history has shown, should only open up the field for Waller to find more open and deep targets (in which, he led all TE’s with 16).
Let’s examine our future Value for each player. As of now, early 2021 ADP for Kelce has him going around late 1st round pick and Waller as a middle 3rd rounder. Where your value comes in would be who would you replace each other in those draft slots. For example, on draft day would you rather have a Jonathan Taylor or Michael Thomas as your late first rounder and Darren Waller in the 3rd coming off of such a productive year with upside? Or Travis Kelce as your 1st round pick and say Adam Thielen or Joe Mixon in the 3rd? For this passage, we find Value in the Victor; Darren Waller.
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