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Rewind: The Dynasty-Fantasy Value of Allen Hurns in 2016

Date:
January 23, 2018 11:52 PM
March 21, 2016 10:45 AM
— Our offseason ‘Rewind’ reports are where we look at an individual player’s previous season(s) of work–analyzing and researching it for clues on whether it was a ‘blip’ performance, or signs of future greatness…or signs of a mega-bust approaching. We try to do two per week in the offseason. —

Well, now I hate Allen Hurns more than I did before. I just watched several of his games in 2015, using the ‘all-22’ tape to watch his every move…and I’m disgusted.

Before I set out to watch/study Hurns in 2015, I went back and looked at our computer scouting model grades and notes that I had…basically, Allen Hurns was too skinny (6′1″/190+), not that fast (4.55), with no vertical (31″), awful agility times (4.50 short shuttle/7.23 three-cone), and not a top performer for Miami of Florida (not a real starter until his senior year, and 6 TDs that final campaign). There was no way he was going to make it in the NFL, according to our scouting models. He went undrafted to the Jaguars of all franchises, which cemented how flimsy a prospect he was in our minds.

When he dropped two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles in his NFL debut as an opening-day starter in 2014, I saw it as more luck than anything else. When he posted a solid season in 2014 overall, I thought he benefited from a weak Jags roster, and getting playing time that he really shouldn’t. In 2015, I was surprised to see him starting again. As he scored touchdown after touchdown each week, I had an excuse and a sarcastic line for all of it. In two years, I’ve never said a nice thing about Allen Hurns, ever.

Because I had made my mind up, and was so negative about him from our internal scouting models, but then seeing a guy who has scored 16 touchdowns in his first two seasons in the NFL…I wanted to dig deeper into what was happening this offseason. The nice production versus our negative scouting didn’t make any sense. Was it really a bunch of garbage time action, or could Hurns be a little bit better than we thought?

The answer is neither. Garbage time is not to blame, and Hurns not a little better than we thought. The correct answer is: I’m a complete idiot, and Allen Hurns is A LOT better than I realized.

You don’t know how difficult it is to admit that.

I’m not kidding you. Allen Hurns is really, really good. I’m stunned. I watched game after game, looking to justify my prior negative position, only to have it softened at first and then about 3–4 games in—and I had to admit I was wrong. Once I admitted that I was wrong, I could then start to see that it just wasn’t that he was better than we thought—he’s a very good, very savvy, talented wide receiver. More about that in a moment.

It pains me to admit this mistake. Not because I’m obstinate (per se), but I spend so much time trying to create and modify formulas that will point me in the right scouting direction, and I also watch endless hours of tape in season and in the off-season…with all this time and effort, and with plenty of scouting success that defies conventional wisdom the past few years…and I just flat-out missed it with Allen Hurns. Missed it by a lot. Missed it because I wasn’t really looking.

My Allen Hurns scouting is a great lesson in the downfall of most football scouts. We are only human. Some less than others. The human side of us can easily carry biases, and we see things through a warped lens of our flawed perspective—with minds already made up, predisposed to the answer/conclusion. We’re not really open/looking for an answer, because we’ve already made a decision, and we see what we want to see—not with malice, often subconsciously; unwittingly.

I’m mad about this mess, because I committed the cardinal scouting sin…something I would crucify another football analyst for, and mock endlessly…and will again tomorrow I’m sure. I committed the sin of assuming, and when the results were not balancing with my scouting, I didn’t take a deep enough look to see if we were wrong—I just kept holding on to the bad cards, assuming I was right. I should’ve seen this sometime during 2015. I could’ve caught this if I was really looking, but I had my mind made up.

With my error of idiocy, I need to produce several apologies…

1) My apologies to Allen Hurns, because I’m sure he’s a big FFM reader. I’ve written several flippant remarks about how lucky or talentless Hurns is/was during his nice production run—because my scouting said so. He isn’t lucky (more than you know). He isn’t talentless. His surface scouting data IS terrible—we had a negative scouting grade on him coming out of Miami of Florida—like less than zero on a 0–10 scale. There’s no way I could’ve found him coming out of college, there wass nothing on his college or pre-draft resume that suggests this success was possible…but in the end we’ve been proven wrong by Hurns.

2) I apologize to the Jacksonville Jaguars personnel department. Even if this was more luck that they had assistant coaches from the Miami, Florida staff (all gone now, I think) who had the knowledge to bring in Hurns as an undrafted free agent. The Jags may have been lucky, but they made the call when no one else did. I rail against the Jags personnel department mercilessly. In this case, they were correct and I was a fool. I humbly bow before them on Allen Hurns.

3) I apologize to the readers of Fantasy Football Metrics. It’s one thing to mis-scout a player coming out of college, you can’t win them all…but we win a lot. I can take an occasional scouting loss. I don’t like to, but I know we can’t be perfect. However, I should’ve seen this at some point last season. Instead, I spent the entire time advising clients and readers to pass on drafting him, or ignore grabbing him off waivers…and anyone who did snag him, the moment Hurns had Fantasy value, I was pushing the trade; a ‘sell high’.

I shouldn’t have been as dismissive. It was an opportunity…a cheap Fantasy opportunity to capitalize on, to hold—and I missed it. And I continued to miss it all 2015 season. It’s my job NOT to miss these things, but I missed this one. I apologize to any of you who traded Hurns because I was mocking him, and maybe you got a worse player(s) in return. Those who skipped on him on waivers…it’s my fault.

It won’t be the last time I lead you down the wrong road on Fantasy advice. However, I did want to apologize because this was a bad move on my part. My mistakes are usually more things I can (legit or not) blame on the player not getting a chance—I can’t here. I can cry that the Vikings haven’t used Cordarrelle Patterson like they should. I can squawk that the Chargers screwed us onLadarius Green for years. There will probably be a day where I will celebrate that I was right all along. That’s different than a guy who’s playing well, and I’m running around saying it’s a hoax…and it’s not a hoax, it’s actually better than what is showing. That’s bad for business. My apologies.

Some of you reading this, have held or used Allen Hurns despite my warnings, and you’re just glad I’ve seen the light. Some of you, are probably still picking yourself up off the floor. I railed so hard against Hurns as ‘just fortuitous’…now here I am apologizing, and embracing what I previously despised.

Let me start the healing. Let me show you what I see…if I had to describe Allen Hurns, I would say he is kind of a version ofStefon Diggs, which is somewhat of a way to say a wide receiver is a version of Antonio Brown. Please don’t run off a cliff thatAllen Hurns equals Antonio Brown, I’m not saying that…not fully, anyway.

What a Hurns, or Diggs, or Brown have in common for me is that their NFL Draft measurables did not really equate to what they’ve become in the NFL. The running theme with them is that they are such great route runners, such instinctual wide receivers, that whatever deficiencies they might have in speed and agility can be made up for by impeccable timing and their excellent hands…and a warrior’s heart to make catches in traffic. What they have is almost immeasurable…at least from my vantage point. I’m going crazy trying to figure out how to find these guys with data, but I haven’t been as successful in doing so yet.

Watching Allen Hurns play in 2015, it’s a wide receiver I don’t even recognize. His data from college and pre-draft says it’s not possible. Hurns explodes off the line of scrimmage as graceful as any receiver you’ll find. He glides into his cuts across the middle or maneuvering a double move. The guy just gets out of the gates quickly, and finds openings (usually deeper down the field). He has an uncanny feel for the game.

Not only does Hurns move well, but in all the games I watched, I don’t believe I saw a clean throw that he dropped. If the target to him was on the money, he would make the catch…his only misses from throws that were not catchable. I did not see him make highlight reel catches, he’s is not ‘wow’ player…he just kills you with quiet excellence. I cannot recall seeing a bad drop or gaffe in the games I watched of his in 2015 (about 10 games play-by-play studied).

I would also take this one step further, watching his 2015 games…he had a great season (1,000+ yards, 10 TDs), but it could’ve been so much more. Allen Hurns has good-not-great catch and yardage totals not because he’s just a lucky TD guy in garbage time on a horrible NFL team—he has those weaker catch and yardage totals (compared to his TDs) because Blake Bortles is god awful. I assure you, I will not be writing a mea culpa about our Blake Bortles scouting. He’s dreadful. I did not watch every single game from 2015 on Hurns, because it became monotonous at a certain point…but I’d hazard a guess that there were probably 2–3 TDs left on the table for Hurns because of Bortles misfiring.

**See more of our football studies at College Football Metrics.com**

 

Allen Hurns is like the perfect #2 wide receiver for an NFL team. The #1 wide receiver should be an explosive game changer, and then it’s sweet when you’re #2 WR is a steady, old reliable who can flourish against the other team’s lesser cornerbacks. The thing with Hurns is—he did fine against top cornerbacks in 2015 as well, on the rare occasions that they were on him, and not Allen Robinson. I watched Hurns work Josh Norman just fine on opening day 2015…as fine as could be expected. Hurns had a poor statistical day against the Buffalo Bills in London, a game that I would’ve used to mock Hurns as a junk wide receiver (2 catches on 8 targets). However, watching every play from Hurns’s perspective, the issue was on Blake Bortles. Hurns was really not struggling with Stephon Gilmore or Ronald Darby in that game. Blake Bortles was the one who was struggling (13-29 for 182 yards).

So what do you want to do with this information for Dynasty-Fantasy purposes? Do we run out and embrace Allen Hurns, and go acquire him as fast as possible (if you don’t already own him)? What do we do here? That’s a good question.

I think most people see Allen Hurns as a bit of a fraud as well. Nothing good ever comes from Jacksonville, and if it does its named Allen Robinson not Allen Hurns. It was a nice FF-ride with Hurns for some last year, but they feel more fortunate/lucky in the moment than they did they feel like they had a future star. I want to say that there is Fantasy value in Hurns being undervalued, but we have the Blake Bortles issue. 2015 may be the apex for Allen Hurns for Fantasy production as a Jaguar. The perfect storm of Allen Robinson seeing a ton of coverage attention, and one of the easier schedules in all of football. When the Jaguars face a stiffer schedule in 2016, it’s going to hurt both of the Allens in some capacity—not because of their own issues, but because of what these defenses will do to Bortles.

My Dynasty advice on Hurns would be as follows—I’d be a buyer if someone was really undervaluing him. A comparison that comes to mind because of recent free agency: I’ll bet most Dynasty-Fantasy GMs have a more favorable opinion in the future ofMarvin Jones than they do Allen Hurns…worst-case equal-ish valuations. If you could swap Marvin Jones for Allen Hurns, I’d get Hurns in that deal…knowing that I might have to grin and bear it a touch for 2016. The future looks good with Hurns, especially if he changes teams in 2017…he’ll be a restricted free agent, and it could get interesting.

For those who have been trying to sell off Hurns from his hot 2015, yesterday I would’ve told you to do so ASAP. Now, I would advise more of a hold, until Hurns gets more fully appreciated. I would sell Hurns if someone gave you strong WR2 value today (because I fear Bortles), but more likely you’re looking at offers valuing him as a WR3…I don’t take it. He is a strong WR2.

So there you have it. Allen Hurns is good, and I’m an idiot. Blake Bortles is still horrible, and you have to deal with that in your Jacksonville WR equations for Fantasy—the garbage time did Hurns fine in 2015. I fear the strength of schedule a bit in 2016.

If I’m right about Hurns, now/finally, Jacksonville has an amazing 1-2 punch at WR. This team is so close, but yet so far away. I hope Hurns leaves in free agency, and joins a franchise with a more meticulous quarterback. Allen Robinson can thrive chasing Blake Bortles jump balls in a 20+ point deficit. Allen Hurns is more of a precision receiver—a Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger would catapult him to new heights.

Allen Hurns is really good. My bad.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>