Mining the Apps
One of the best features at RotoViz is our suite of Apps. Today I’ll use the Career Graphs App to compare four wide receivers: Marques Colston, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, and Roddy White.
Why these four? They’re all bigger WRs over 30, and are, or have been until recently, their team’s top WR. Selfishly, I own (or have the opportunity to acquire) these players in several leagues. Obviously there are many other receivers worthy of evaluation–head over to the App to do your own work. What can the career graphs tell us about these players? Should I expect continued strong production?
I set the App to look at a five-year period of time. I figured that would be long enough to give me a sense of the player’s overall performance, and to note any trends. Let’s take a look.
Targets per Game
Johnson, Marshall, and Colston hold up well over time. White? Not so much. Was adding Julio Jones to the offense to blame? Perhaps. But then the Saints employed Jimmy Graham heavily starting in 2011, and the addition of Alshon Jeffery in Chicago last season led to a small, but less precipitous, decline in targets for Marshall. Injury was obviously a factor for White last season as well.
Receptions per Game
We can see the same reduction in White’s performance here. We can also see that Jeffery ate into Marshall’s work a little bit last season, but he’s still at the same career level, overall. Smooth sailing for Colston and Johnson.
Yards per Reception
Interestingly, White’s yards per reception bounced back when Jones joined the team, before falling again last season. Marshall is holding steady. Colston shows a bit of decline each year, as does Johnson. There could be several reasons for the decline in Johnson’s and Colston’s yards/reception, but ultimately for this brief exercise I’m only interested in knowing that this number is declining. I’m less interested in the why, although the simplest explanation (aging) is where I’d put my money.
Receiving Yards per Game
Once again Colston shows some signs of steady decline. Johnson’s numbers may reflect the presence of Deandre Hopkins, and White’s may be related to injury and the general malaise the Falcons went through last season. Whatever the reason, the overall trend is down for both players. Marshall’s numbers are down from 2012, but still higher than 2011 and 2010. Nice.
Receiving TDs per Game
Hello, Brandon Marshall! Colston’s production took a tumble last year but had actually been improving three years running prior to that. Johnson’s production fell off a cliff in 2011 and hasn’t recovered. White’s trend is really unmistakable. And bad.
What to make of this? Some hashed out, closing thoughts. Please keep in mind that these trends, while real, still require interpretation. For example, White’s steady decline could be an indicator of age-related decline. Or, it could represent a big opportunity if you think he’ll revert to the mean. What follows are just my personal interpretations. Yours may differ, and if so I’d love to hear about them in the comments. I should also say that each of these players has value this year–it’s just a matter of getting it at the right price.
- Johnson remains a focal point of the offense (targets and receptions holding steady), but his efficiency is waning. His yards/reception is gradually declining, and his TD production has cratered. It’s not clear to me that either a journeyman quarterback or an untested rookie QB can do anything to elevate those numbers. Not trying to dump him in dynasty, but open to moving him. In redraft he seems fairly valued. He’s being taken as the 21st WR. Last year the 21st WR in PPR formats scored 15 points/game, less than Johnson’s 17.5. So even if he declines a bit he should still be able to produce at a rate commensurate with his ADP.
- Marshall shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps it’s Marc Trestman magic, or perhaps he’s just aging more slowly than the others. Whatever it is, his numbers are solid across the board, and improving where it matters most: scoring TDs. In dynasty not only am I holding, I would even try to acquire. In fact, I recently took Marshall in the second round of a dynasty start up. As I mentioned previously, these are just trends, not guaranteed indicators of future performance. But the absence of any negative trends is certainly encouraging. In redraft Marshall also seems fairly valued. He’s being selected as the seventh WR; he finished last season as the number 8 PPR wideout.
- Colston also maintains a steady role within his offense, as suggested by his targets and receptions per game. But his efficiency and production (yards/reception, yards/game, TDs/game) is slowly but steadily declining. This could be farewell. Definitely not acquiring him, and will be looking to move him in dynasty leagues where I own him. In redraft though he’s probably fairly valued. As the 38th WR, his WR Sim App projection (12.1) is right in line with expected scoring (11.5).
- White is the most troublesome of the four, in my opinion. The steady decline in targets and receptions suggests he’s getting inefficient or getting replaced–or both. Though less perceptible, there’s also a decline in yards/reception and yards/game. And his TD production trend is absolutely concerning. A player I’d be willing to move at a “discount” if I own him, and will not be adding him to any teams this season. In redraft he’s currently the 27th WR taken. Last year’s 27th WR scored over 13 points/game. White himself managed less than 12, and the WR Sim App gives him a median projection of just over 11 points/game for 2014. I’m personally not sure he’ll rebound enough to match his ADP, and I think there are several other more likely candidates being selected in the same area.
Now it’s your turn. Head over to the Career Graphs App and investigate the career trends of some players that matter to you.