Sterling Shepard Offers Hidden Production & Upside (Fantasy Football)
I recently completed a Dynasty 10 team Superflex TE Premium startup draft with the following starting lineup requirements: QB/2 RB/3 WR/TE/SFLX/3FLX. I’m happy with my team but of course, mistakes were made. I pride myself on being genuine, so I want to write about one of those mistakes in hopes of helping others.
I’ll spare you the specifics of my team and the roster construction that caused me to make the decisions I did. Instead, I’ll just cut to the chase. I allowed someone else to receive extreme value by drafting Sterling Shepard in the 18th round (172 overall) and I’m not happy about it. Let’s dive in:
Here’s the thing, that insane value my league mate received is not an anomaly. According to Superflex FFPC Dynasty ADP over 45 drafts since the beginning of the year, Shepard comes in at WR59 and 174.2 overall. Things aren’t much different on the redraft side of things either. According to FFPC Classic Best Ball ADP over the past two weeks, Shepard ranks as WR50 and 150.3 overall.
Shepard’s ADP is likely this affordable because many, like myself, have stereotyped him as a boring WR that produces, but lacks the upside we crave in the later rounds. In this particular draft, I alluded to, I put this stereotype into practice, opting for a player like Jalen Hurd over Shepard. Rather than regretting my specific selection of Hurd, since I have high hopes for him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, I bring him up to compare and contrast.
Hurd missed his entire rookie season in 2019 with a back injury and has yet to prove anything in the NFL. That mystery carries with it the possibility Hurd will be a complete bust as well as the chance Hurd could become a stud. The possibility of the latter was tantalizing enough for me to pull the trigger. But what about what Shepard has already proven? Let’s take a look at his NFL career to date:
Shepard has produced every season and amassed 2,862 receiving yards so far through four years. This should come as no surprise as Shepard was a highly touted prospect entering the league who was drafted in the second round by the Giants after dominating in college, totaling 3,482 receiving yards in his four years at Oklahoma. Shepard posted 621 receiving yards as a true freshman and finished his collegiate career with a 1,288-yard senior season.
Shepard suffered two documented concussions last season, which caused him to miss six games. Concussions are no joke and this medical history must be taken into consideration. However, Shepard’s time off has allowed recency bias to creep in. Prior to 2019, Shepard posted 872 receiving yards in 2018 and 731 receiving yards in only 11 games in 2017.
Of course, recency bias isn’t the only factor in keeping Shepard’s price low. Fantasy owners are savvy these days, understanding Shepard has a lot of target competition with Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, and even Saquon Barkley. But let’s remember Shepard posted those 872 receiving yards in 2018 while playing with target-hog Odell Beckham for 12 games.
Shepard likely doesn’t have a 1,300-yard season within his range of outcomes but his collegiate and NFL track record both illuminate the possibility of a 1,000-yard season. The fact is, a productive player like this just simply shouldn’t be available in the 15th+ rounds in any fantasy format.
While Shepard is only 27 years old, Golden Tate will be 32 when the season begins. I’m not the biggest believer in Darius Slayton as profiled here, and there have already been rumors this offseason Evan Engram could be traded at some point in 2020.
Daniel Jones brings exciting upside to the Giants’ offense as he enters year-two, and Shepard stands to benefit. Don’t get suckered into the “boring” fallacy in drafts like I did when it comes to Sterling Shepard. Appreciate the value, proven production, and hidden upside.