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What If We’re Right? Part 2: High Risk Holds at WR

This article is part of a series on dynasty WRs looking at the RotoViz redraft rankings and asking “what if we’re right?”1 After all, our rankings are trying to determine the most likely outcome for the upcoming season. So what if we look at each WR in the top 40 of our redraft ranks, and ask: what happens to this WR’s dynasty value if they finish at exactly this spot in 2019? How would the dynasty market react to them hitting these expectations? In other words, where is their 2020 dynasty ADP likely to be compared to where it is now?2

Predicting a player’s future value based on their 2019 finish is obviously a subjective exercise to a large degree. But the history of the dynasty market is instructive here. There are clear trends we can identify in when and players increase or decrease in value.

Therefore, this exercise can help clarify what we’re actually hoping for when we roster a WR. Does your WR need to drastically exceed expectations in order to increase in value? Or can they maintain or even increase in value by simply meeting 2019 expectations?

Part 2: High Risk Holds at WR

Part 1’s title “Strong Sells” was pretty self explanatory, but “High Risk Holds” might require a bit of clarification.

Some of players below may be good targets for contending teams, but they should be considered sells for those not in the hunt. Others have significant trade value upside if they beat expectations, but are likely to lose value if they simply meet expectations — therefore they should only be targeted if you believe they will exceed their projected finish.

PlayerRV Redraft WRFFPC Dynasty WRDynasty Premium
Julio Jones67-1
Adam Thielen12120
TY Hilton1315-2
Julian Edelman2030-10
Sammy Watkins24240
Chris Godwin26188
Mike Williams28253
Robby Anderson3040-10
Alshon Jeffery3138-7
Larry Fitzgerald3760-23

*Dynasty Premium = Redraft ranking minus Dynasty ADP


Julio Jones

  • Jones’ 2019 finish as WR6 would be a fall-off from his 2018 WR2 finish and the third time in four years that Jones has finished outside the top five.
  • 2020 will be his age 31 season.
  • Jones will be entering the final year of his deal in 2020 and this could ding his ADP if he looks likely to hit the open market in 2021.
  • As an older player potentially nearing the end of his time with the Falcons, Jones’ ADP is likely to fall to into the 10-12 range among WRs.
    • This value decrease is roughly equivalent to losing an early-third-round rookie pick.
      • For contending teams that’s not a lot of value to lose in exchange for keeping a WR6 season on the roster.
  • For contending teams Jones makes a much better target than A.J. Green or Antonio Brown who are going just behind him.
  • However, Jones has reached the point of his career where he should only be on contending teams, due to substantial downside risk if he fails to meet expectations, and the likelihood that he’ll lose value even if he does.

Adam Thielen

  • Thielen’s 2019 WR12 finish will represent either:
    • A reduced output from his 19.2 points per game 2018.
    • An injury shortened season.
  • In either case, Thielen will be 30 as he enters 2020 and Stefon Diggs looms as the long-term WR1 in Minnesota.
    • Diggs is signed long-term and Thielen can be cut after 2020 fairly easily.
      • After under-performing his standout 2018, 2020 will look like critical year for Thielen to remain a Viking.
  • A WR12 season will likely keep Thielen’s WR ADP around 20th.
    • This decline is roughly the equivalent of losing a late-second-round rookie pick.
      • Like with Jones, this may be an acceptable amount of value loss for contenders. But Thielen should only be owned by contenting teams.
  • Of the two, Jones looks like a better target than Thielen. Despite Jones’ higher cost, he’s projected for a higher finish and is likely to lose less value if he hits expectations.

T.Y. Hilton

  • A WR13 finish in 2019 would actually be a slight improvement on Hilton’s 2018.
    • Hilton averaged 17.1 points per game but missed two games to injury.
  • Hilton will turn 30 during the 2019 season.
    • This explains the slight discount Hilton’s dynasty ADP shows compared to projected production.
  • Hilton has no dead money on his deal in 2020, allowing the Colts to save 14.5MM by releasing him.
    • However, with back-to-back productive seasons in 2018 and 2019, the Colts are very likely to at least let Hilton play out his deal and may work out a short extension.
      • An extension with the Colts would keep Hilton’s age penalty in check for 2020.
      • If Hilton is allowed to play out his contract however, he’ll likely become discounted compared to his 2020 projection.
  • With a WR13 finish Hilton is likely to fall a few ADP spots but still stay in the range of WR20.
    • This loss of value is likely to be equivalent to a third-round rookie pick.
      • This should be a palatable risk for contending teams who need another WR starter.
  • Hilton looks more likely to retain value than Jones if he hits expectations, but he’s less likely to be a difference maker.
  • Hilton looks like a better target for contenders than Thielen. And a much better target than Green or Brown.
  • However, Hilton has under-appreciated risk to be off the Colts in 2020 if 2019 doesn’t go to plan.

Julian Edelman

  • A WR20 finish in 2019 would be a significant decline for Edelman, who finished as WR13 in 2018.
    • This finish likely means one of the following:
      • Edelman’s points per game dropped off by three to four points from 2018.
      • 2019 was the fourth year in the last five that Edelman missed four or more games due to injury.
    • Either of these outcomes will be highly disappointing given the available targets in NE this season.
  • Edelman is 33 years old.
    • At Edelman’s age, he has very little realistic upside in trade value. Simply maintaining his ADP would be a highly positive outcome.
  • Edelman is also at risk of Brady retiring, or of retiring himself.
  • Edelman also stands to lose targets in the event of a N’Keal Harry breakout.
  • On the positive side, Edelman has the largest ADP discount of any WR projected to finish in the top 24, with an ADP of WR30.
  • With a WR20 finish, Edelman’s ADP will likely drop into the WR45 range, and that’s before taking into account Brady’s potential to retire or fall off.
    • In case that drop seems drastic to you:
      • In 2017, Larry Fitzgerald was entering his age 34 season. Fitzgerald was drafted 32nd among WRs despite having just finished as WR9 in 2016, and WR7 in 2015.
      • Edelman is currently being drafted as the 30th WR coming off a WR13 season.
      • In 2020, Edelman will be entering his age 34 season coming off a disapointing WR20 campaign.
  • For true championship contenders, Edelman is cheap enough that he makes some sense as a target. But even then I would aim to get him a little below his WR30 price tag. And even then he should really only be a target if you think he can beat WR20 expectations.
    • Personally, I think we may be low on Edelman and I recently added him to a strong contending team for a bit of a bargain.
  • Anyone who’s not a prohibitive favorite to make the playoffs should head for the exits while he’s still tradeable.
    • On another team I was able to trade away Edelman and some scraps for picks that yielded Noah Fant and some rookie RB fliers. Edelman still has a bit of juice in the trade market, so I would not recommend riding his value to zero unless you’re truly in the hunt.

Sammy Watkins

  • A WR24 finish in 2019 would be a clear missed opportunity for Watkins and would mean one of the following is true:
    • Despite Tyreek Hill‘s absence, he barely improved on his 11.5 points per game from 2018.
    • Watkins failed to play a full season — as he has failed to do in every year since his 2014 rookie season.
    • Tyreek Hill was somehow not suspended for the full season.
  • In any of these scenarios Watkins would be entering 2020, his age 27 season, having failed to secure the lead role in the KC offense.
  • Moreover, because Watkins is only signed through 2020, this finish sets up 2020 as a make or break year with KC.
  • However, because owners are likely to want to maintain exposure to the KC offense, Watkins ADP can only fall so far.
    • Donte Moncrief‘s 2017 ADP is likely instructive.
      • Moncrief finished 2016 with just 11.4 points per game in an injury shortened 9 game season.
      • This was decidedly not the third year breakout his owners had been looking for.
      • Moncrief entered 2017 on the last year of contract, in what was ultimately his last year with Andrew Luck and the Colts.
      • Yet Moncrief still managed an ADP of WR33, which meant he still retained value equivalent to a mid-1st round rookie pick.
    • Despite being older than Moncrief was in 2017, Watkins has the advantage of being tied to Mahomes, which is likely to hold even more appeal than being tied to Luck did.
  • With a WR24 finish, Watkins is likely to drop to 30 – 35th in WR ADP.
    • With that ADP drop, Watkins would lose the equivalent value of a late-second round rookie pick.
      • While that is a significant drop, Watkins possesses huge upside if he does manage to become the Chiefs’s WR1.
      • I wouldn’t fault anyone for betting a second round pick that RotoViz (and the majority of other ranking outlets) are being too conservative in projecting Watkins’ 2019 finish.

Chris Godwin

  • A 2019 finish of WR26 would be a major letdown for Chris Godwin’s dynasty owners.
    • This is because Chris Godwin is carrying on the long tradition of bandwagon breakout candidates — going as 2019’s 18th dynasty WR after a WR26 finish in 2018.
      • Past examples from this rich tradition include:
        • 2017 Stefon Diggs who went 23rd on a WR31 finish.
        • 2016 Donte Moncrief who went 22nd on a WR37 finish.
        • 2014 Michael Floyd who went 14th on a WR25 finish.
        • 2013 Torrey Smith who went 20th on a WR28 season.
        • 2012 Demaryius Thomas, who went 16th on a WR63 season.
    • On the one hand, that list includes some of fantasy’s most profitable breakouts.
    • But on the other hand, Moncrief, Floyd, and Smith show that things can get ugly if the breakout doesn’t happen.
      • Moncrief averaged 11.4 points in nine games.
        • His ADP dropped from 22nd to 33rd.
      • Floyd finished WR44 on a full 16 games.
        • His ADP dropped from 14th to 31st.
      • Smith finished as WR23 on a full 16 games.
        • His ADP dropped from 20th to 25th.
  • The critical thing to remember here is that Godwin’s breakout is not projected to happen.
    • In some ways, that is totally normal. Virtually all breakouts exceed projected production.
    • However, unlike some other breakout candidates — who we’ll be covering in the next articles — Godwin carries significant downside risk if he simply meets, but does not exceed, his projected 2019 output.
  • A WR26 season would likely see Godwin’s ADP fall to the 30 – 35 range. 
    • This is a very similar situation to Watkins.
    • Like with Watkins, when you bet on Godwin you only win if he exceeds his projected finish. 
      • That said, like with Watkins, the upside with Godwin is large enough that betting on him to beat his projected finish may be the right call.

Mike Williams

  • A WR28 season for Williams would represent a failed third year breakout.
  • Williams will be entering 2020 on the verge of turning 26 and on the last year of his rookie deal without having emerged as anything resembling a difference-maker.
  • However, a WR28 season this would technically continue Williams’ upward trend in scoring, and given his draft pedigree, it might be good enough for owners to stick with him for another year.
  • Williams would be at elevated risk to WR additions through Free Agency and the draft, but barring a premium WR add, Williams will likely be selected around WR30 – 35.
  • Williams is a cheaper bet than Watkins and Godwin and so has less to lose by dropping into the 30-35 ADP range next season — his value loss would be more along the lines of a third round rookie pick.
  • But ultimately, it’s the same story as with Watkins and Godwin. You should only target Williams if you believe he will beat his projected 2019 finish.
    • If he does, the value he accumulates could be much more higher than the risk you took on by owning him for 2019.

Robby Anderson

  • A finish of WR30 would represent a missed opportunity for Anderson.
  • With a clear lead in the depth chart and a talented young QB, Anderson will be leaving points on the table if he can’t improve on the 11-12 ppg he’s produced thus far.
  • Moreover, as a low pedigree prospect on a one year deal, Anderson will likely need to do better than a WR30 season to remain in the same role with the Jets, or even on the team.
    • And given his inability to truly breakout in NY with free run of the depth chart, free agency poses a major threat to his value.
      • Therefore, Anderson could meet expectations and still undergo a total ADP collapse.
  • However … RotoViz loves itself a discount.
    • Of the WRs projected to finish top 40, Anderson is tied with Edelman as the fourth most discounted player in dynasty.
  • Anderson is a volatile asset, where you only come out ahead if he beats expectations.
  • But in a scenario where he puts together a borderline top-20 season and earns a new contract, he could be quite profitable.
    • With that type of year, and further development by Sam Darnold, Anderson’s WR ADP will likely be 20 – 25 in 2020, which would be a big payday for those bold enough to grab him at WR40.

Alshon Jeffery

  • A 2019 WR31 finish for Jeffery means one of the following:
    • Jeffery returned to his disappointing point per game totals from 2016-2017.
    • Jeffery had an injury shortened season for the fourth time in five years.
  • Either way, drafters will not be pleased as they look at the 30 year old for the upcoming 2020 season.
  • Jeffery is under contract until 2022 but the Eagles can save $13MM in 2020 by cutting him after this season.
  • Despite the discount drafters are applying to his projected production, his WR ADP could fall quite a bit further into the 45 range with a WR31 finish, particularly if buzz begins to build on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
    • And Jeffery is at risk of an ADP collapse if he is released by the Eagles after the season.
  • Because drafters are significantly discounting Jeffery relative to his projected production, he may hold some appeal for contenders willing to bet on him beating expectations. But owners looking to maximize value in 2020 should avoid Jeffery.

Larry Fitzgerald

  • A WR37 season in 2019 may be the end of the road for the 36-year-old Larry Fitzgerald.
  • Fitzgerald is a free agent in 2020, and this finish would likely not be strong enough for him to return to the team – in which case his value would likely fall to zero.
    • Even if Fitzgerald does return, after a WR37 season, it may be in a reduced role.
  • However … Fitzgerald is the most discounted dynasty WR in the projected top 40.
    • Going at just 60th in WR ADP, Fitzgerald should only cost about a third round pick to acquire.
  • For contenders lacking WR depth, he’s a no-brainer add as a cheap bet that he has one last top-24 season in him.
  • For everyone else … well … yea … he’s 36.

Previous Installments:

Next up, Part 3: Safe Holds at WR


Here’s the full list of redraft rankings vs. dynasty ADP:

PlayerRV Redraft WRFFPC Dynasty WRDynasty Premium
DeAndre Hopkins110
Michael Thomas25-3
Odell Beckham321
Davante Adams431
JuJu Smith-Schuster541
Julio Jones67-1
Mike Evans761
Antonio Brown811-3
Stefon Diggs910-1
Amari Cooper1082
Keenan Allen1192
Adam Thielen12120
TY Hilton1315-2
Brandin Cooks14131
AJ Green1517-2
Kenny Golladay16142
Robert Woods1722-5
DJ Moore18162
Cooper Kupp19190
Julian Edelman2030-10
Tyler Lockett2129-8
Jarvis Landry2226-4
Tyler Boyd2327-4
Sammy Watkins24240
Calvin Ridley25214
Chris Godwin26188
Will Fuller2739-12
Mike Williams28253
Allen Robinson29281
Robby Anderson3040-10
Alshon Jeffery3138-7
Christian Kirk3234-2
Corey Davis332310
Courtland Sutton34331
N'Keal Harry352015
Sterling Shepard3643-7
Larry Fitzgerald3760-23
Curtis Samuel3854-16
Keke Coutee3946-7
Dante Pettis40373

Image Credit: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Julio Jones.

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  1. I’m using the royal we here since I don’t actually contribute to our rankings. Many thanks to our redraft rankers: Blair Andrews, Curtis Patrick, Dave Caban, Hasan Rahim, Monty Phan and Shawn Siegele.  (back)
  2. For ADP, I am using WR positional ADP from FFPC startup drafts. These leagues are shallow and have a slight preference for older WRs than MFL leagues, but that preference is fairly muted and we can be sure that the data is built from high quality drafts.  (back)

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