Good athletes perform well in OTA’s. The problem is that most everyone in the NFL is a quality athlete. It means nothing. It takes more than athleticism to separate oneself in the NFL. Fans want to hear that new members of the squad are going burst on the scene and light up the fantasy football world from the very start of their careers. Coaches give them a taste of what they want in the off-season and the media is more than happy to oblige. The internet is littered with articles written about well player X looks while performing without pads. It is unavoidable.
The real issue is that fans often do not take what they read with a grain of salt. Players usually develop in increments if they develop at all. A player may be more than able to light up the marker board but many of them simply can not translate that intelligence to the field where tenths of a second count. Many players over the years have proven themselves to be living, breathing practice highlight reels but game time duds. Many players drop off the face of the earth once in pads. As a fan, we often fret when a player does not live up to expectations and the explanations for that disappointment are many. Very few drafted athletes are able to have average NFL careers and fewer still can perform at a high level. A star player is rare and a superstar is rarer still. Until someone has proven themselves in a game, they need to stay out of your first four picks.
June and July is where unwarranted expectations live. The preseason, in August, may even reinforce those dreams of potential. Yet by December, any delusions about a rookie draft class are often dead and buried. Blame it on the coaches. Blame it on the media. Blame it on the world of fantasy football if you must but just do not get caught up in it. Nothing proves an athletes worth like the regular season. TJ Yeldon and Allen Robinson have yet to prove anything. One is a first year player dependent on a young offensive line and the other is a second year hopeful whose success hinges on a second year Quarterback whose play have been less than desirable to date. They may very well light up the preseason and our hearts regardless. The hype is not entirely without merit as many trusted talent evaluators have them earmarked to standout.
But this doesn’t mean you should burn a 4th round pick on either of them in fantasy. Do not let your fandom blind you to their situations. When drafting a fantasy team, over drafting can cost you depth. Depth is often what wins you championships. The ability to rotate players due to bye weeks and injury without a drop in fantasy production is hallmark of a well drafted team. These are extremely young players on a bad team. Inexperience is inexperience. Either could quickly prove to be cornerstone player but each could also turn in mediocre performances due to a variety of factors. It is possible that Yeldon could become the focal point of an offense devoid of playmakers. Robinson may take a second year leap and play much more efficiently near the red zone. But what is the likelihood that either outperforms mid-round starter status? I have seen mock drafts where TJ Yeldon was picked in the 3rd round. Allen Robinson has went as high as the 4th. This happens every year with unproven players and it is lunacy. Odell Beckham was an anomaly that does not come along often. Play the odds and stick to proven production to build the foundation of your fantasy team instead of trying to look like a fantasy football genius. Unproven first and second year players are usually only worth gambling on after you have established your two deep at RB and WR.