One of the questions that I’m fielding the most this offseason is – What do we do/make of Courtland Sutton now?
The reason that question is bubbling to the top of the charts is two-fold: (1) The Denver change at QB (to Flacco), and (2) because I spent all 2018 saying he was arguably the best WR prospect that I have ever scouted coming out of college.
When I say that a WR prospect is the best I’ve ever scouted…well, then many moved on that notice. Many drafted him in dynasty last year or acquired him in-season as the price dropped. Many, today, who don’t have him in Dynasty would like to know if now is a time to ‘buy low’ or just ‘buy’? Those starting to draft are wondering – if he’s worth it?
Let’s set the stage for his valuation, today, and roll into the conclusion on his valuation – we’ll do so through a series of questions:
Am I still as high on Sutton today as a year ago?
As a talent, absolutely. He became a starter in short order and then eventually made it comfortable for Denver to dump Demaryius Thomas. The deck is cleared for Sutton to be the #1 WR for the Broncos…over Emmanuel Sanders, who may not be there much longer either.
Talent-wise…we’re on track with what I scouted last year. He’s a great. A legit #1 NFL WR.
What impact does Joe Flacco have?
I think this is a problem…a bucket of cold water thrown onto the situation. Actually, there are two buckets…make it three buckets I’m worried about. Hell, make it four buckets.
Bucket #1: Flacco is a mild upgrade from Case Keenum. Possibly, not much of an upgrade at all. However, Sutton will see more targets this year by nature of being ‘the guy’ all the time, not a backup or 3rd-wheel like last offseason/regular season start.
I want great WRs working with great QBs for fantasy. That seems like a ‘no duh’ statement, but I have to maintain an investing discipline on it. I have to be careful to not over-value Sutton because I love his talent and then ignore all the surrounding issues/limitations on him. Sutton is not Tyreek, where QB doesn’t really matter. Sutton needs a real QB to flip the switch from ‘B’ output to ‘A’…and that’s not Joe Flacco.
Bucket #2: I’m becoming more and more convinced that John Elway is terrible at his job. Bypassing Nick Foles to acquire Joe Flacco is ridiculous. You have a franchise-level QB (Foles) just sitting there for the taking…and he doesn’t take it because he doesn’t see it.
In fact, Elway hasn’t seen it ever. He bought Peyton Manning, anyone would have. He tried to replace Peyton with Brock Osweiler in-season the Super Bowl year when Peyton was falling apart. He tried to sign Osweiler to a big deal, but Houston was stupider. After Osweiler left, his plan was…Trevor Siemian, draft Paxton Lynch, draft Chad Kelly, cut Kyle Sloter (best QB he’s had organically), bring back Osweiler, sign Keenum to a big deal, trade for Flacco.
All those QB machination is leading to Elway needing to draft his new savior hopeful this year…and I know it’s going to be Drew Lock as sure as I sit here and type. And Drew Lock stinks…and if you didn’t think so, the fact that Elway loves him is reason enough to doubt Lock.
Denver is, today, two years (minimum) away from getting a decent QB. If Elway really drafts Lock…it could 2-3 years away before Sutton has a real QB to work with. It limits Sutton’s fantasy upside. I don’t think Sutton will bust, but I’ll take (example) a lesser-talent but far superior situation Davante Adams instead. Swap Adams for Sutton in the NFL, right now…give me Sutton. I’ll take good WRs with great QBs/offenses vs. great WRs with bad QBs.
Bucket #3: Vic Fangio is not a real NFL head coach, and what he does bring to the table is on defense. Fangio hired an NFL-lifer/never-was to run the offense…so, I’m not thinking we’ll see a radical offense here. We could be staring at a John Fox or Jeff Fisher or Mike Zimmer event about to happen – not good for the offensive weapons for fantasy.
I want good WR + great QB + offensive-minded coach...
Sutton has a broken down QB + defensive-minded coach.
Bucket #4: The 2019 WR class.
We’re getting a WR class like none other this year. The college ranks are flooding the NFL with QB and WR talent. I’m not sure there is one WR in this draft class definitively better than Sutton, as a scouting grade from me…but there might be 3-4-5-6-7-8 of them that are close. Some of them will land in a far better situation.
Sutton’s value…the value of a lot of ‘speculative’ existing WRs (Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, Dante Pettis, D.J. Moore, Tre’Quan Smith, James Washington, etc.)…gets even more watered-down by the influx of talent coming in. 2019 is going to be the year of ‘WR deflation’, economically speaking. A ton of supply, and lower demand/places to land and start/star/see targets.
So, what do we do with Sutton?
I’m a ‘buyer’ in general. Most people outside of CFM/FFM do not believe in Sutton like we do. He’s just another ‘good’ young WR, so they’re told by know-nothing analysts. His #100-125 ADP in early 2019 Redrafts tells me no one cares all that much…the #50 +/- WR off the board. I’m buying that all day long.
But don’t overpay, don’t push too hard for it. We have some issues here as previously stated. He can be a super-talent prospect and yet be a WR2/3 for years because of his situation. I think he’s a WR2.5 given the Denver situation…moves to WR2 if Sanders is ditched. Sanders coming off a major injury might be enough to catapult Sutton to WR2 in 2019…even with all the challenges.
Best Ball…I’ll take a shot on Sutton a little ahead of his early ADP. I want a chance that he does breakout and Flacco just flings everything at him. Worst case, the floor is not too low…but the ceiling is terrific.
In Dynasty, I want him…but more as a speculative investment. I don’t want to count on him as a starter, but I like having him ‘in the hole’ and seeing what happens. You could have worse WRs on your bench/’in waiting’…you might have a star by Week 3. Elway could surprise us and make a good QB draft pick this year or next and change things.
Would I trade a 2nd-round Dynasty Rookie Draft/2019 pick for Sutton? Probably. If I needed to build my WR reserves. Sutton’s further along than any of the great 2019 rookie WRs about to hit…and we don’t even know where they will hit/what situations they’ll get stuck in.
I believe in Courtland Sutton. He could be good enough to overcome all the headwinds and become a WR1.5 in 2019. That’s a real possibility, which makes him a value at today’s prices – but we have to be very aware we have everything from QB to coaches to the GM fighting us on this. It’s not a given. For the price…I want in.
If I could only have one WR for 2019 or Dynasty -- Kenny Golladay or Courtland Sutton?
Golladay is fighting the same mess that Sutton is, but not as bad. Plus, we’ve seen Golladay become a star. Sutton hasn’t given us a preview quite like Golladay has.
I might lean Golladay for 2019 only, and then I’d probably roll the dice on Sutton for the future/dynasty/2019+…but it’s torture trying to decide. My heart says Sutton and my head says Golladay. For the price…Sutton is the better bargain today, obviously.
Detroit adding Darrell Bevell as the offensive coordinator this offseason is maybe the worst O-C a passing game could have, so I’m even more worried about Golladay’s surroundings.
Both are mega-talents, but both are in one of the five worst passing game situations in the NFL. Healthy Cooper Kupp, the #2-3 WR target for the Rams, is potentially a better fantasy WR than either because of ‘situation’.
That’s the power of ‘situation’ on these things now.
Situations are going to get turned on their heads when this draft class of talent gets dumped into the league.