Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room: WR Devonta Smith #Alabama And Winning Against Tight-Physical Play

Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room examines a play from Alabama WR Devonta Smith’s portfolio and illustrates why the 2021 NFL Draft prospect’s size will not be a negative factor for many teams. 

The online draftnik community has a niche of fans and analysts concerned about the relative value of Alabama wide receiver Devonta Smith because he’s 170 pounds. It’s understandable.

Many of them are armchair scouts who study players so they can win money in fantasy leagues and their skill in fantasy is at its core is playing the odds more than studying the actual game of football. We often conflate excellence in fantasy football with football knowledge. Depending on the silo of football we’re talking about, this is a fallacy.

Many good fantasy analysts lack a strong grasp of what happens at a deeper level on a football field and have little understanding of what makes a skillful and talented player. There’s no shame in this.

Scouting, X and O’s strategy, and how to draft and set a winning fantasy football lineup are completely different skills based on a sport with a massive amount of depth and complexity. There are overlaps, but we often make more of these intersections and give them more value than they deserve.

And many in these communities will reaffirm this claim when they’re right about what they thought about the player. Look no further if Smith fails to perform to their expectations of an early-round draft pick. They’ll cite history and claim a statistically unsound, but rhetorically convincing correlation of receiver weight and successful careers.

If you’re an odds-based fantasy football player, there’s nothing wrong with avoiding the outliers. Just don’t conflate your process of avoiding uncommon player types with knowing a lick about wide receiver talent.

Smith is a talented wide receiver who has already faced his share of physical coverage against top college talent—including cornerbacks that he’ll face again on Sundays—and he’s won. Although this week’s video only profiles one play, it’s representative of one of several things I’ve seen Smith do to defeat physical coverage that will translate to the NFL.

Will Smith have to match or exceed DeSean Jackson’s statistical production to earn his draft value? Considering that Jackson is one of the few receivers of any height and weight combination during the past 20 years with multiple years of  top-12, top-15, and top-20 production, the answer is no.

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), download the 2021  Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95.  

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, a percentage of each sale is set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse.


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