Continuing my look at players with similar profiles but significantly different ADPs, this article presents another case study.
Our subject player changed teams this offseason, and in the process switched from being his old team’s second option in the passing game to third or fourth for his new team. His new team has a more potent offense, but also more competition for targets. He’s only once topped 700 yards or six touchdowns in a season.
Our comparable player is older, but also bigger and has posted legitimate WR1 numbers in the past, including three, 1,000-yard seasons. Overall his 2013 campaign was disappointing, and there are certainly questions about his 2014 outlook as well. But he’s still his team’s number one option in the pass game and comes at a four-round discount to our subject player.
The Case Against Sanders
So the big thing to consider right off the bat is the concussion suffered this weekend by Wes Welker. If Welker isn’t cleared for the regular season, or has his workload drastically curtailed, then obviously Sanders could benefit. In fact, it kind of looks like Sanders is the eventual Welker replacement anyway. But even then, he’d still be behind Demaryius Thomas and likely Julius Thomas. In the preseason game where Welker was injured, it was Andre Caldwell who filled in. That may not mean much- perhaps Denver was just more willing to risk Caldwell than Sanders. But Denver also drafted Cody Latimer, who could figure into the mix as well. The point is that, so far anyway, Sanders’ outlook for 2014 doesn’t seem to match his ADP. Peyton Manning figures to regress (although still be excellent of course) from last year’s gaudy output, Denver’s schedule is tougher, Sanders is lower on the totem pole than he was in Pittsburgh, and he’s never produced a season better than PPR WR32. For Sanders to really have a breakout season would require both Welker’s absence and Sanders’ holding off Caldwell/Latimer for the bulk of available targets. Sanders is kryptonite.
The Case for Bowe
It’s hard to make a case for a player whose finger is shot and who is also suspended for the first game of the season. In fact, Justin Winn argued in favor of cutting bait back in June. On the other hand, his ADP punishes his poor 2013, but doesn’t account for a potential bounce back in 2014. He is after all his team’s top receiving option and there aren’t many of those available as deep in the draft as you’ll find Bowe. His past production suggests that, if he does bounce back this season, it could be in a big way. Rich Hribar makes a good argument that Kansas City will have worse game script this year, and as a result Bowe’s production could spike. The Game Splits App supports this idea. Starting in Week 10 last season, when Kansas City started giving up more points, Bowe’s production jumped.
Sanders appears priced based on a series of favorable assumptions, any of which, if unrealized, sink his prospects. Bowe of course could bounce back a bit. Using the same inputs that Shawn Siegele used to project Kansas City’s offense, and setting Bowe’s filter options to average his past two seasons, results in a WR31 projection for Bowe.
Of course, that’s based on 16 games played, and at most he’ll only get 15. On the other hand, realistic projections for Sanders put him in the WR34 to WR38 range, so their projections are roughly similar. It’s also true that Sanders’ ADP has risen two full spots in 24 hours, while Bowe’s has fallen a half round in the past week.
So if you’ve yet to draft, the value proposition continues to shift in favor of Bowe. But honestly, neither receiver appeals much to me. Sanders appears priced at his ceiling, while Bowe might have a little bit more upside. I’ll take Bowe. Reluctantly.