Dynasty Football Buy: Keenan Allen
In this article series, I am going to go over some players I have ranked higher than the Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) on FantasyPros. I will highlight three players in the coming days, then another three who I have ranked lower than the ECR. While ECR and Average Draft Position (ADP) are not always aligned, I tend to think that the expert rankings are closer to actual dynasty values because let’s face it: Dynasty players are sharper than redraft players. Having said that, I will use these articles to show how my values differentiate from ECR, and how you can take advantage of that if your league disagrees with us.
You can call these players “buys” based on value alone, but understand not every league has the same value for players. For instance, Sammy Watkins could have easily made this list but ECR is nearly as high on him as I am. In most leagues, Watkins could be bought for cheaper than I have him ranked, but I am going to stick to ECR differences of at least seven ranked spots. So target these players in trades if you can pay the prices of ECR.
The first player I want to highlight is Keenan Allen. His injury history gives him a bad taste and he may own the largest “injury prone” flag of anyone in the top 100 players. With the news of Mike Williams potential season ending back surgery, Allen has moved up a little bit in value, but he is still not where he should be.
At just 25 years old, Allen is still one of the elite talents at the wide receiver position when healthy. The world of sports injury prediction is extremely difficult. The truth is, there is no perfect data to predict if/when a player will be injured. Sports Injury Predictor, a site that claims to be the best in the business says they were “able to predict which players would or would not be injured 75% of the time.” They do not get into exactly what that entails. However, for lack of better resources, I will note they have Keenan Allen as the sixth most likely WR to be injured, with a 54.6% probability of injury this season. This is an improvement from last year, where they gave him an 83% probability.
I am not going to deny that ACL injuries are more common (in both knees) in those who have had a previous ACL injury. This risk is heightened in the 24 month period following the initial ACL injury. This doesn’t appear to bode entirely well for Allen despite his recovery looking pretty good earlier this year:
— Keenan Allen (@Keenan13Allen) April 1, 2017
— Keenan Allen (@Keenan13Allen) April 1, 2017
However, where I make the case is this: in a dynasty league, you are always going to have injury risk, and if teams are going to shy away from players having labeled them “injury-prone” they would have left a lot of value on the table, especially when talking about some of the elite athletes. The lacerated kidney from 2015 is a freak injury and does not add to one being injury prone. So if our only genuine concern is the ACL re-injury and the upside is a player who finished 6th among wide receivers in PPG in 2015, I will gladly take that upside every time. I have already baked in the injury potential when I ranked him as dynasty WR13. The risk is worth acquiring a player who, since he joined the league in 2013, is WR15 in PPG over that same period of time (minimum 30 games).
Let’s get into the projections for this year. Even if Mike Williams is not done for the season, there is no reason to believe that Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt won’t lean heavily on his most talented offensive player in Keenan Allen. We didn’t get to find out last year how Whisenhunt would use him, but the last time he was with the Chargers in 2013, Keenan Allen was a rookie who played in 15 games. In that season he was second on the team in targets (105), led the team in receiving yards (1046), and hauled in 8 touchdowns. That year Antonio Gates led the team in targets with 114, and Danny Woodhead was third with 88. Last year Tyrell Williams (119) and Dontrelle Inman (97) were the top two targeted players on the team. Keenan Allen’s healthy floor is reasonably close to his rookie season with maybe a few less touchdowns. Further, if you take Allen’s last 16 games played, the stat line is 116 Receptions on 166 Targets for 1217 yards and 8 touchdowns. That line would have finished with 285 PPR points and finished as the 5th wide receiver last year in fantasy.
I actually wanted to try and find an on-field reason not to call Keenan Allen a top wide receiver, but I could not find it. It simply comes down to health concerns and exactly how much they should drag a player down the rankings board. Given what we have seen, it is not overconfident to say Keenan Allen’s range of outcomes does not include a healthy bust. A healthy bust (like DeAndre Hopkins last season) impacts one’s fantasy team much more than an injury because you are trotting out the guy every week and getting poor production. While there are players in Keenan Allen’s dynasty ECR that could absolutely turn healthy bust (unproven Corey Davis, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, and Mike Williams, to name a few), the only way Allen’s talent could turn into a “bust” is an injury to himself or Philip Rivers. I only make this case because we should all want so badly to see a full season of Keenan Allen while he is still young, and that the risk isn’t overwhelming considering the healthy bust potential of those around him. The reward (an actual league winner) far outweighs the risk (an injury and replacement level production).
On a Chargers offense that has finished in the NFL’s top 10 passing yards for the last four seasons, Keenan Allen is not only good enough to provide a solid return and a value at his current ECR, but could easily finish as a top ten wide receiver. At age 25, this is an easy buy for me and you should consider acquiring him where his “injury prone” tag has caused his owner to be overly concerned.