After finishing as WR26 in 2015 points per game, Mike Evans is currently being drafted as WR8. He’s going ahead of Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall. Let’s look at why he shouldn’t be selected ahead of those players.
The Buccaneers Offense
One concern with Evans is the run-heavy nature of his offense. Last season the Buccaneers had the eighth most rush attempts in the NFL. More rush attempts means fewer pass attempts which in turn means fewer opportunities for Evans. Some may believe that was due to their personnel and that they passed less frequently when Vincent Jackson was injured.
Actually the contrary is true, the Bucs threw less when Jackson was healthy. How did Evans play when Jackson was healthy?
With Jackson healthy, Evans saw over four fewer targets per game. After re-signing Doug Martin and with Charles Sims receiving glowing reviews, I don’t expect the run-heavy philosophy to change. That is not good news for Evans’ fantasy prospects in 2016.
On this chart of 2015, Evans has the fewest targets, receiving yards, touchdowns, and the lowest catch rate.
One of the main arguments in favor of Evans is touchdown regression. The narrative is he’s an elite touchdown scorer because of his size and it’s a fluke that he only scored two touchdowns.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and compare him to his peers without touchdowns. We’ll take our projected pass attempts for each team in 2016, take the market share of targets that each player is receiving, and create a projection that doesn’t include touchdowns.
|Player||16PPA||15MS%||ATgt||15CR||ARec||15 Y/T||ARecYds||Non-TD FPs|
Key: 16PPA = 2016 Projected Pass Attempts, 15MS% = 2015 Market Share of Targets, ATgt = Assumed Targets, 15CR = 2015 Catch Rate, ARec = Assumed Receptions, 15 Y/T = 2015 Yards Per Target, ARecYds = Assumed Rec Yards, Non-TD FPs = Non-Touchdown Fantasy Points.
Allen doesn’t have the highest market share, but his team is expected to pass the most. Allen leads the cohort in catch rate because of the depth of his targets, leading to the most receptions.
Marshall has a healthy balance of pass attempts and market share, he also had the highest yards per target average in 2015.
Jeffery’s team is expected to pass the least, but he captures the highest share of targets. When he was healthy, the Bears threw more frequently. In all seven games where Jeffery played 55 percent of the snaps, he saw at least nine targets.
Evans saw a high market share but the combination of his team’s low volume of pass attempts, low catch rate, and average yards per target gives him the fewest non-touchdown fantasy points.
Evans’ apologists will point to his 55 percent catch rate and 8.54 yards per target as a rookie. Let’s see what happens if we plug those in with his increased volume.
|Player||16PPA||15MS%||ATgt||15CR||Arec||15 Y/T||ARecYds||Non-TD FPs|
Even with the improved numbers, Evans finishes last on the list by a decent margin. There’s certainly a chance that he improves in his third year, but the Buccaneers run-heavy play-calling is a big concern.
Since we are all a little biased, let’s see what the Similarity Scores App predicts for this cohort.
The group is almost exactly in-line with the non-touchdown fantasy points. Allen comes out ahead on the low and median sim scores. He also finished as WR5 in points per game scoring last season. Marshall has the best high score belying age concerns.
If I wanted to take a chance on a superstar in a low volume offense, I’d prefer to select Jeffery who has outscored Evans on a per-game basis in each of the last two years. If you remove the two games that Jeffery played less than 55% of the snaps, he looks like a genuine superstar.
Much of the concern for Allen and Jeffery has to do with injury. I’m here to tell you not to play scared: one out of 12 teams wins, and you’re not going to do so without taking risks. Don’t be the owner who takes someone that you acknowledge to be a worse player because of injury risk.
Mike Evans had a wonderful rookie year and could become a great player, but his average draft position is cutting him too much slack. While we can make excuses for his touchdowns, he’ll have to catch a higher percentage of his targets, improve his efficiency, AND score more touchdowns to become a value at his current draft position. His team’s run-heaving play-calling doesn’t help his odds.
Put simply, too much has to go right for Evans to be a value at his ADP.