Each Fantasy season, Fantasy owners do their best to make educated decisions on which players have the most talent and best opportunities. Unfortunately, Fantasy owners are at the mercy of the play calling and personnel decision by NFL coaches. There are times we get beat by bad decisions. Other times, we can make the right call, but an injury kills a player’s value. The last and most frustrating is when our player with upside doesn’t get the proper chance to prove his worth on the field on Sundays.
A poster on the ScoutFantasySports.com message board was quick to point out that we whiffed on Samaje Perine as a breakout player in 2017. His final results were well below expected value, which leads us to this season and what is his proper value.
Perine was undraftable in most formats before the Derrius Guice injury, but now he is at least worthy of a late dart on draft day. The Redskins haven’t stated who will be their lead back heading into the regular season, which does create a possible buying opportunity. Chris Thompson is the clear best option in the passing game when healthy, but he doesn’t appear to be in top form based on his path over the summer.
So back to the message board post; the poster described Perine this way: Samaje Perine (pronounced P-I-SUCK). I understand he failed to live up to expectations, but there are many times in the NFL where a player who struggles makes a big step forward the next season.
For my rebuttable on the boards, I compared the lack of success by Perine to that of Joe Mixon who is getting touted on may sites as a breakout type back. Here’s a look at last year’s stats:
Both players struggled to make big plays in the run game leading to losing value in yards per rush (Mixon – 3.5 and Samaje Perine – 3.4). In the end, they finished 33rd and 43rd in RB scoring in PPR leagues. So my throwback question was: If Perine was a bum, how much better of a bum was Mixon who is getting drafted in the second round in most formats in 2018?
Mixon is the better pass catcher based on his college resume (65 catches for 994 yards and nine TDs) compared to Perine (40/321/2). Joe gained over 6.7 yards per rush in his college career while Samaje gained 6.0 yards per rush.
The most interesting thing about these two players is that they already competed with each other for playing time at Oklahoma. Here are their stats for 2016 when both players were active in the passing game:
Of the two players, Mixon is the player with the most talent and upside. The key to his breakout value this year will be opportunity. A Fantasy owner has no idea in the middle of August if Perine will get a viable chance at starting snaps and if he’ll even have success over a long season.
Here’s a look at the final yards gained rushing and receiving in 2017 for the Bengals and the Redskins RBs:
Both teams had almost identical results rushing the ball with both teams failing to make an impact. Their offensive lines ranked at the bottom of the league. Washington was the better team in the passing game from the RB position with Chris Thompson producing most of the upside (39/510/4).
Now when looking at each team’s second option for touches at RB, Giovani Bernard as the better body of work in the NFL. Here are his stats over the last five seasons:
It’s pretty easy to see that Bernard has plenty of talent, and he’s going to get 150 touches at the minimum in 2018 if he plays 16 games. His pass catching ability will limit the opportunity for Mixon again in 2018. If Cinci finished with similar results in both rushing yards and receiving yards at RB this year as they posted in 2017, Mixon looks to have about a 250 touch opportunity. If the Bengals play better offensively, and their offense line creates bigger holes, Joe will post a much better number in yards per carrying with a better chance of more touches. The bottom line here is that Mixon has a healthy, talented player competing with him for playing time which makes it tough to believe in him becoming a 300+ point Fantasy back without an injury to Bernard.
In Washington, the split for playing time will be a lot different if Chris Thompson is able to be ready for Week 1. Here’s a look at Thompson’s NFL path over the last three seasons:
Last year Thompson had his best season in the NFL while looking to be on a path to rank highly at RB in PPR leagues. He enters 2018 with concern for his health after breaking his leg late in 2017. If he plays a full season, Chris will average between six and eight rushes per game while being the top receiving option in the passing game. I’d expect him to get 75 percent of the RB catches in Washington with a full season of games.
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If Perine wins the starting job in Washington and holds it all season, he’ll have a better opportunity on early downs than Mixon while only being a token player in the passing game. If Thompson isn’t healthy, Samaje or another combination of backs will need to pick up the slack in the passing game for the Redskins.
Again, I’m not making a case that Perine is anywhere near as valuable as Mixon nor does he offer as much upside. I’m simply explaining that he may have a better than expected opportunity in Washington while owning a nice resume in college and talent.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Washington rotation at RB should work itself out. Perine doesn’t suck, but he did play poorly in his rookie season even though he averaged 12.8 Fantasy points per game in PPR leagues over his last six games with starting snaps. A Fantasy owner needs to keep an open mind when building a Fantasy roster as difference maker players will be tough to find after round ten. Samaje is a must-follow going forward with sneaky upside, which works as backend running back option.
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