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The Last Best Argument You Need to Draft Eric Decker in 2014
Tim Farrell
Tim Farrell

When writing about players RotoViz likes more than their current ADP, Fantasy Douche said “I’m not really sure what else we can write about Eric Decker.” Well, here’s something.

I’ve been spending a lot of time with the ADP Arbitrage App lately. I noticed that Decker’s name kept coming up. Take a look at the list of players for whom Decker is suggested as a comp:

NAME SEAS OFF AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
Eric Decker 2013 DEN 26 215 16 8.5 5.44 80.5 0.69 0.31 9.47 37
Comparables SEAS OFF AGE WEIGHT GMS TRGS RECS YDS TDS recFPOP YPT ADP
Jordy Nelson 2013 GB 28 217 16 7.94 5.31 82.12 0.5 0.3 10.35 7
A.J. Green 2013 CIN 25 211 16 11.12 6.12 89.12 0.69 0.12 8.01 4
Randall Cobb 2013 GB 23 192 6 7.83 5.17 72.17 0.67 0.27 9.21 10
Dez Bryant 2013 DAL 25 220 16 9.94 5.81 76.5 0.81 0.16 7.7 3
Alshon Jeffery 2013 CHI 23 216 16 9.31 5.56 88.81 0.44 0.19 9.54 9
Demaryius Thomas 2013 DEN 26 229 16 8.88 5.75 89.19 0.88 0.51 10.05 2
Brandon Marshall 2013 CHI 29 230 16 10.25 6.25 80.94 0.75 0.15 7.9 5
Larry Fitzgerald 2013 ARI 30 218 16 8.44 5.12 59.62 0.62 0.06 7.07 16
DeSean Jackson 2013 PHI 27 175 16 7.88 5.12 83.25 0.56 0.5 10.57 21
Average 2013 0 26.22 212.00 14.89 9.07 5.58 80.19 0.66 0.25 8.93 8.56

Collectively, those comps are a great match for Decker’s 2013 season. And they’re all a lot more expensive. Should Decker should be one of our draft targets?

Wait a Minute

I’m not going to say “Decker will outproduce all these guys!” so keep reading.1

I know, I know. Decker 2013 happened with Peyton Manning at the helm. Decker 2014 will be with Geno Smith tossing passes. The fact that Decker will now be the top option in his team’s offense rather than the second doesn’t offset the change in quarterback in the eyes of drafters, who have dropped him to WR 37 despite last year’s top 10 fantasy finish.

While I think it will be hard for Decker to finish as a top 10 fantasy receiver this year, many of his comps could have trouble returning their ADP value. A.J. Green is in a new offense, and Marvin Jones is injured, so defenses may be able to pay more attention to him. Dez Bryant is in a new offense, which may not be good for him. His back may also be an issue. Alshon Jeffery performed notably worse with Jay Cutler at QB vs. Josh McCown. Larry Fitzgerald also seems to be declining. DeSean Jackson changed teams. Randall Cobb is a number two receiver coming off injury. You get the idea. The risk with some of these guys isn’t accounted for in ADP like it is with Decker.

The Case for Decker

The first part of the case for Decker is in the previous paragraph: Many of 2013’s similar receivers may not return their ADP value and thus represent risk, while Decker’s risk is priced into his ADP. But the affirmative case for Decker goes something like this:

  • The change in QB may not be that bad. This article from 538 explains how a receiver’s production would have changed had they played with “a league average” QB vs. whichever QB they did play with. In Decker’s case, the change from Manning to league average would have resulted in a loss of eight catches, 142 yards, and two touchdowns. That’s 34 PPR points. So instead of finishing as WR11 he would have finished as WR15. So, can Geno become an average QB? Team RotoViz thinks so. In any case, the chances that Smith becomes average are much better than the chances that Smith becomes Manning. A Manning-like QB isn’t necessary for Decker to significantly outproduce his ADP.
  • In my own Jets’ projections, I suggested Decker could post numbers in line with a WR17 finish in PPR. Again, well ahead of his current ADP.
  • Decker’s QB change is reminiscent of Vincent Jackson’s and Pierre Garcon’s. It worked out fine for them, and could for Decker as well.
  • Decker is really good at scoring TDs. He has more multiple-TD games in the past three seasons than anyone other than Calvin Johnson. He could dominate the Jets’ red zone looks.
  • The table of comps above demonstrates the type of company Decker keeps based on past production. Other than Jackson and Cobb, they’re all elite. And those two are very good, despite their different physical profile. And all have put up good numbers despite not always playing with great QBs. I expect Decker to do the same.

Eat Your Cake

I’m not suggesting you draft Decker instead of Thomas, Bryant, Brandon Marshall, etc. The point of those comps was to illustrate the type of production Decker offers. But the best part about Decker vis-a-vis his ADP Arbitrage comps is that it’s not an either/or proposition. You can draft any of those players and still draft Decker.

Imagine getting WR1 upside with your WR3 selection. That’s what Decker represents. I’d argue that he is as, or more, likely to produce WR1 numbers as any of the 10 receivers drafted ahead of him.

decker

We’ve already explored how Decker could post solid WR2 numbers. The projections from 538 suggests borderline WR1 numbers are possible if Smith matches his performance from his better half of 2013. And since Decker has a top-notch physical profile and top-notch past production, there’s a good chance he’s capable of producing well again. Draft confidently.

———-

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