“The time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.”
~ Baron Rothschild
Think back to last year. A couple of the wide receivers that had fantastic seasons included Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker, Michael Crabtree and had it not been for a freak injury, Keenan Allen’s 134/1,450/8 pace would have been headlining this list. While Allen’s season was cut short, at the time of his injury he was sixth in WR points per game. The other aforementioned players finished the season as WR3, WR7, WR13, and WR17 respectively.
Now, think back to where these players were selected in drafts.
These were not the sexy names that people were ogling last August. Looking at their positional ADP, Allen was 18th, Marshall 24th, Decker 35th, Fitzgerald 36th, and Crabtree 61st. This was a significant drop in ADP from just the year prior. Outside of Decker, the other four players were being drafted between WR6 and WR20 in 2014. Each of these players had significant ADP drops after having either 1) an underwhelming year, 2) an injury that hampered their season, or 3) uncertainty with a scenario change. For Marshall it was all of the above!
Dr. Renee Miller has written extensively on how the brain works and how this can be applied to fantasy football. While examining the primacy effect and recency effect, she used the following image.
Recency Bias is what drives ADP. Those WRs were “bad” in 2014, so their price went down in 2015.
Another characteristic that these players share is that they are all proven assets. Outside of Crabtree, all of these players had top 24 WR finishes within the past one or two seasons; we had to go back three years for his. As Jacob Rickrode points out, the same guys tend to finish in the top 24 every year. With this in mind, we need to be cognizant any time one of these WRs sees a dip in ADP.
Using My Fantasy League’s historical ADP,1 we can identify these players. By taking any year’s positional ADP, and dividing it by the previous year’s ADP, we can get an ADP Index. By looking at recent top 24 WRs, we can use this ADP Index to create a small list of potential bounce back WRs.
2015’s Possible Bounce Back WRs
|WR ADP||2015 WR Finish||2014 WR Finish||2013 WR Finish|
|2014||2015||Index||PPR Pts||Pts/Game||PPR Pts||Pts/Game||PPR Pts||Pts/Game|
- Three of the top seven names hit big, finishing inside the top 17.
- Injuries derailed both Vincent Jackson and DeSean Jackson’s years as they combined to play in only 18 games.
- While there are a few clunkers in here, several of these we could’ve seen coming. There were plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about Roddy White and Marques Colston. Victor Cruz was an obvious fade to those who were paying attention.
Before we move on to present day, a quick look back at 2014 will reveal similar results.
2014’s Possible Bounce Back WRs
|WR ADP||2014 WR Finish||2013 WR Finish||2012 WR Finish|
|2013||2014||Index||PPR Pts||Pts/Game||PPR Pts||Pts/Game||PPR Pts||Pts/Game|
- This exercise provided us again with four WRs who bounced back in to the top 24 in Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, and Mike Wallace. Smith highlights the list as he was the WR4 through the first six weeks, scoring 19 points a game.
- In the six games Carson Palmer played, Larry Fitzgerald averaged 15.4 points per game; for context this would have paced him as WR13 on the year. In the games Palmer missed, Fitzgerald could only muster 7.6 points a game. It was unfortunate for the Cardinals and fantasy owners.
- Injuries crushed Marshall, Green, Cruz, and Reggie Wayne.
- Again, we see some names that were avoid players if you were paying attention in Josh Gordon, Wes Welker, and Brian Hartline.
2016’s Possible Bounce Back WRs
|WR ADP||2015 WR Finish||2014 WR Finish|
|2015||2016||Index||PPR Pts||Pts/Game||PPR Pts||Pts/Game|
- Thomas was the player that got this whole idea started. Last month I wrote about why there’s reason to be optimistic and he should be a target in drafts. He gets 1,200 words all to himself as he is a clear bounce back target. In Anthony Amico’s piece exploring WR values based on projected targets, Thomas was the only WR of the first 17 drafted that came in as an undervalued asset. His projected targets revealed a player that should have an ADP of WR12.
- Of the 10 WRs being drafted outside the top 24 in my study, eight of them showed up as being undervalued in Amico’s piece; only Boldin and Smith were not.2
- Vincent Jackson has been a recurring name on these lists which is not a great sign; this time it’s due to injuries. We have to go back three years to get his last successful season. Crabtree was the only other player that was three years removed when he had a bounce back year, but he was in his age 28 season; Jackson is entering the year at 33. While a top 24 season might be out of reach, he could still have a bounce back season. 14Team Mocker points out that there’s plenty of room for him to pay off his WR53 price.
- Two top 10 point per game producers in Smith and Julian Edelman are coming at an injury discount.3 They could turn out to be great bargains.
- Alshon Jeffery’s median projection using the Sim Score App would’ve put him at WR12 last year; his high projection would’ve been good enough for WR7. *Forrest Gump voice* And that’s all I have to say about that.
- Despite being three years removed from a top 24 finish, Torrey Smith is an excellent value. His last three finishes in Baltimore were WR 28, 23, and 29. Poised for an uptick in volume in Chip Kelly’s fast paced offense, he could easily bounce back.
- Julio Jones doesn’t need to bounce back from anything, but he was drafted as the WR2, finished as the WR2, and is now the third wide out off the board. He outscored Odell Beckham Jr. by more than 50 points last year. Just imagine if he improves on his current three year touchdown rate of 3.8 percent.
- With the Game Splits App we can see that T.Y. Hilton put up 17.6 points a game with Andrew Luck last season. Take the value.4
- Wright, Garcon, and Boldin are the players I think we can ignore.
- Besides Thomas, the names that intrigue me the most to bounce back are Randall Cobb, Jordan Matthews, and DeSean Jackson. I’ll be diving deeper into these three bounce back WR candidates in an upcoming article.