Ahead of the Curve

Ahead Of The Curve: Ahead Of The Curve: The Second Year Jump is an edition of a weekly series of fantasy football articles to help IDP owners gain that winning edge. From general advice to standard information, Ahead Of The Curve is an insightful and take-action series every week for those die-hard IDP owners. And certainly will become one of your go-to sources for everything on the defensive side of the ball for your fantasy football lifestyle.



The Second Year Jump

Without reading the contents of this article, you already know what this article is about.  The narrative is very straightforward and widely known.  The future elite NFL players always enter the NFL via the NFL draft and are subject to a learning curve.  If any high draft capital player does not produce in their first year, the narrative says that all players adjust to the NFL differently and some take longer to adapt than others.  “Playbooks are complex”, they say.  “It takes time to get to the top of the depth chart” is a standard massage.  The reality, which is supported by an abundant amount of data, is each draft there are many players who do not perform up to expectations.  The vast majority of those players start off poor, remain poor through the life of their career, and then end poorly.  They never have The Second Year Jump.


Looking at the 2020 NFL draft, it’s clear that Chase Young is already an elite NFL performer.  Jeff Okudah, the player selected right after Young and inside the Top 3 of the draft struggled to make an immediate impact.  The narrative, though, says he is about to take that second year leap.  Okudah started 6 games and played in 9.  His snap% was above 90% in 5 of his first 6 games but tailed off in his final 3 games to under 50% before getting injured.  The narrative says that Okudah has a full offseason to work out really hard and to study the playbook even harder in order to take the necessary steps to improve and make his Second Year Leap.  The narrative is wrong.

Players who are not good do not make this leap because they are not good.  Their production is static, it’s poor.  The most likely scenario is the step up in production for these second year leap players never comes.  Our case example of Jeff Okudah suggests he likely is not the next Jalen Ramsey, but likely is the next Eli Apple. 


As with everything, there are outliers, and these outliers keep the second year leap narrative alive and strong.  Fantasy players are aware that between Okudah, Isaiah Simmons, CJ Henderson, AJ Terrell, Damon Arnette, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jordyn Brooks, Noah Igbinoghene, Jeff Gladney, Xavier McKinney, Kyle Dugger, Yetur Gross-Matos, Ross Blacklock, Grant Delpit, Marlon Davidson, Darrell Taylor, Jaylon Johnson, Tevon Diggs, AJ Epensesa, Raekwon Davis, Josh Uche, Willie Gay, and Logan Wilson someone or two will break out.  The thing is, the price at the draft table to acquire these youthful up and comers matches the second year leap narrative.  A small minority of these players can be acquired at next to no draft capital cost.  Everyone else, you’re paying for expected production, when that expected production has a high probability of never arriving.


Do not buy into the second year leap.  It’s a mirage.  Players do break out in their second year, but it’s not because they are in their second year.  The majority of those players listed will not break out.  They will maintain their performance or get worse.  Players don’t get better simply because they managed to stay on a roster two years in a row.  Elite draft capital players don’t get better simply because they were drafted early.  Players bust every season, and paying up for players who have not performed at the level of fantasy draft capital necessary to draft them is a losing proposition.  That’s not to say I don’t think Isaiah Simmons will be great, I do.  I just will not be the person willing to pay the highest price for him in a fantasy draft.


Staying Ahead Of The Curve

Fantasy football for nearly everyone is about winning your league.  Fantasy football with IDP is nearly universally about winning your league.  Winning your league is about accruing fantasy statistics.  Accruing the most fantasy statistics means betting on the likeliest to produce them at their draft price.  This means more often than not avoiding these second year players because the second year leap is not real.  Don’t buy the narrative, buy reality.  Buy the players who are likeliest to perform.  Don’t fill your dynasty roster with a bunch of post hype players, it’s a losing strategy.  There is a reason the hype is gone but the narrative remains.  Don’t fall for it.

Thank you for joining us this week to get Ahead Of The Curve with The Second Year Jump.

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