Jake’s Takes: Pricing Breakout PerformersBlog
Jake’s Takes: Pricing Breakout Performers
This NFL season has seen so many players explode onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere this season and in this edition of Jakes Takes, I was excited to look into recent breakout stars and dive into how Huddle traders price these situations.
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The first player to achieve immediate success was the Los Angeles Rams rookie fifth-round WR, Puka Nacua who exploded for 10 catches and 119 receiving yards in his NFL debut, helping the Rams defeat Seattle.
Week 3 saw the rise of Dolphins third-round rookie RB De’Von Achane. Despite being viewed as too small (5’8.5”) for the NFL, Achane dominated the Denver Broncos defense in Week 3 totalling 203 rushing yards, 30 receiving yards, and 4 touchdowns.
While I would love to write about each week’s unique breakout players (Josh Dobbs, Trey McBride, etc…), this week I’m going to focus on one of the most recent breakout running backs, on a Super Bowl contending team. From a pricing perspective, it was fascinating to talk to Huddle traders like Graham Eversden about how they project and price potential breakout stars. Was there a tie-in between breakout performances and Huddle’s predictive pre-match and in-play pricing? I was determined to find out.
Our player of focus this week is the Baltimore Ravens undrafted free-agent rookie RB Keaton Mitchell who broke out with a 9-carry, 138-yard rushing performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9. Mitchell looks to emulate Achane as the speed back in the Ravens backfield, the lightning to Gus Edward's thunder. He’s someone who can threaten a defense simply by being on the field - a true big play risk every time he touches the ball.
Graham Eversden, one of Huddle's traders said:
“Trying to price a breakout star creates a unique problem when looking at player props compared to the full game team strength. With Mitchell, the Ravens giving him more carries than Gus Edwards only marginally increases their offensive efficiency. It’s not that Mitchell hasn’t provided a new element to their run game – if anything, it’s that their ground game is just dominant no matter which back you plug and play. Looking at props, last week Mitchell had only 3 carries for 34 yards, but it was the second consecutive week he’s produced multiple explosive plays. Even their coach [Harbaugh] said after the game that they will try to involve Mitchell more moving forward. Trying to project the share of carries split between him and Gus Edwards, not to mention Justice Hill, requires looking for practice snap information from beat reporters, as well as parsing coaching press conferences for useful nuggets of info.”Graham Eversden, Huddle Trader
That’s no easy task, which is why it can be difficult to project future breakout stars, especially at this point in the season where it’s uncommon for rookies to break out. Luckily, Huddle's world-class trading team combined with our cutting-edge technology keeps our partners ahead of the trend and limits exposure in player breakout markets.
So, who is the next star to break out? My pick is Tyjae Spears, the Tennessee Titans third third-round rookie RB. Spears hasn’t eclipsed more than 8 carries in a single game, but if the Titans fall further out of the playoff race, they might give Spears more opportunities. Derrick Henry is still a top-end RB1, but he’s only averaging 4.2 yards per carry (Spears is averaging 5.3) and will be 30 next year, carrying a dead cap of only $4.7M. It’s not inconceivable that the Titans might want to cut a 30-year-old running back with over 1,900 carries.
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