Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2013 WR Risers
February 6, 2014 | Rich Hribar
As the dust settles on the Super Bowl, we’ve officially made it to the 2014 season. In dynasty we don’t have a grace period to forget, regroup and reestablish our strategies once summer approaches. We still have a few weeks before the NFL ushers in their new recruits to perform in the Underwear Olympics, so I’m going to take that time to review each position based on whose stock rose and dropped based on their 2013 campaign (check out our full 2013 receiver review). I’ve been digging in on receivers and since the position will make up the majority of rosters, so let’s start there with some the risers from this past season.
Since Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery were obviously the two biggest movers and slam dunk dynasty wide receiver ones, we’ll gloss over them. Both are guys you want grip tightly, so grab a bottle of red and throw on some Sade while they’re on your roster. I’m also going to leave out anyone that’s already over or becoming 30 years of age this season. So sorry, no mention of Anquan Boldin (34 next season) and how he had his best season since 2009 other than this blurb.
Using ADP taken from April through August of last season from Dynasty Football Warehouse and early ADP collected from January from Dynasty League Football (we aren’t looking for perfect accuracy here, just the temperature) let’s go over some of the risers from 2013.
Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 2014 Age: 23 NFL Season: 2
2013 Startup ADP: WR31 2014 ADP: WR10
Patterson ended up being what everyone was hoping they’d get in return from Tavon Austin last season. It took the Vikings staff 10 weeks to get him involved on offense for more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps, and shockingly, they were all fired after the season. Once he was on the field regularly, he delivered. Over those final seven weeks, he totaled 38 touches for 457 yards and six scores, finishing the season with nine total touchdowns and finishing seventh out of all NFL receivers in touch percentage per snaps (10.6 percent).
He’s perceived as a running back trapped in a receiver frame (6’2 216 pounds) and it showed with 61 percent of his receiving yardage coming on yards after the catch. Five of his nine combined touchdowns (four receiving, three rushing and two on returns) were on plays 30 yards or longer, so the underlying good news is that he’s not reliant on the Vikings providing a major upgrade at the quarterback position.
He never produced an elite receiving season while in college while at Tennessee, so he’s still very much a work in progress in that regard. His detractors will point to him not fitting the prototypical lead receiver mold but new offensive coordinator Norv Turner has had a history of getting the football into the hands of his most talented players, regardless of who they happen to be. He was also around when the Chargers took on the project of Vincent Jackson when he was coming out of Northern Colorado. Not an apples to apples to comparison, but cut to the brass tacks, Norval’s influence bodes well for Patterson.
The biggest downside with Patterson is that early ranks (even my own) and early ADP may have his ceiling already built in. If you are holding him on deep roster, it’s more than worth exploring your league to see if someone is willing to pay that iron price right now. His touchdown production could be volatile since his receiving ability may never catch up to inevitable big play regression, so if you want to get out, now is the time. For myself, I’m holding. The addition of Turner, combined with the current Vikings major skill players Adrian Peterson and Greg Jennings on the wrong side of age regression, give him every bit of an opportunity to flourish.
Antonio Brown PIT 2014 age: 26 NFL Season: 5
2013 Startup ADP: WR25 2014 ADP: WR9
In 2013, Brown was much more reliable than the delivery service that coins their slogan after his name, notching 11 top 20 weekly PPR finishes, most in the league. He set a franchise record with 110 catches for 1,499 yards and eight scores on his way to finishing as WR3 overall in leagues that award full catch points.
That’s going to be as good as it ever gets for his owners, so the time to move is now. First, Brown has major touchdown regression on the horizon. His frame (5’10 180 pounds) is damaging to sustaining elite touchdown totals and it comes to light when looking at his usage. That shows up big time since the Steelers threw the ball more in the red zone than any other team outside of the Broncos last season and Brown had only one red zone score and converted none of his four targets inside the 10-yard line. He’s a distance scorer, with only five of his 14 career receiving scores coming in the red zone and only one from inside ten yards.
That’s not to say that he won’t hold some value, Pittsburgh has always built their offense around svelte receivers and Brown does still come with that big play potential. With those 110 receptions already very likely to come down, the loss of three to four scores will push him back into high to mid WR2 levels where he belongs, not the current WR1 status he’s carrying early into 2014. He’s still in the prime age of the WR apex, so owners in your leagues that value catches over touchdowns may very well be willing to pay top dollar for him. I would be shopping all day.
Michael Floyd ARI 2014 age: 25 NFL Season: 3
2013 Startup ADP: WR46 2014 ADP: WR13
There’s a changing of the guard coming in Arizona, and Floyd’s unspectacularly solid 2013 may be enough that owners may be caught in limbo on him. He totaled 65 receptions for 1,041 yards and five touchdowns in his second season, finishing as a cumulative low end WR2 across most formats. Oddly enough, his role in Bruce Arians offense has generally been the touchdown producing one through his coaching career. Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace and TY Hilton led Arians offenses in touchdowns over Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne, players who played the possession role inside. Larry Fitzgerald was in that role, but still maintained touchdown dominance with Arians. Fitz also dominated red zone looks (24 to Floyd’s 14) and inside the 10 targets (12 to six). That’s damaging to Floyd’s immediate prospects of jumping into low WR1, high WR2 territory, but will likely be short lived.
Fitz just restricted his deal to save Arizona nearly $10 million in cap space in 2014, but it also pushes his cap number to a staggering $23.6 million in 2015 (when he’ll be 32 years old) and over $17 million for the four subsequent years (which he’ll never see under that deal). Floyd’s biggest breakout still may not even come this upcoming season which could create a better time to buy next year, but there’s still time to strike now if his owner was hoping for more sooner.
Kendall Wright TEN 2014 age: 25 NFL Season: 3
2013 Startup ADP: WR32 2014 ADP: WR26
Wright was one of the most inefficient receivers in 2013 based on nearly any metric and was carried by immense volume. Wright totaled 94 receptions in year two, but unlike a smaller sized volume producer in the aforementioned Brown, he comes with absolutely zero touchdown upside because he has little big play explosion.
Of his 158 receptions in his first two seasons, only 23 (14.6 percent) have gone for 20 yards or more. That number ranks 35th in the league and is the same number that Greg Olsen has over the same run on his 142 catches. The same is true for his minuscule touchdown production. He has only six touchdowns so far in his young career and five of those are from 15 yards and in with the longest being 23 yards. Don’t mistake that as him being a red zone factor however, either. He had just 10 red zone targets, four inside the 10-yard line, converting just two.
He was a poor performer in my target multiplier and in Pro Football Focus points per opportunity metrics, so there’s support to that he was inflated by volume. That volume existed for the most part because the Titans never established any presence on the outside. Kenny Britt pretty much quit on the season, Justin Hunter showed special skills but had little burn, which forced them to lean on Nate Washington heavily to carry their vertical passing game. Washington, Britt and Damien Williams will all likely be on new teams next season, so Hunter will have an opportunity to make an impact. They also had a dysfunctional running game and are expected to move on from the horrendous contract they gave Chris Johnson in 2011. Hunter’s emergence, at least greater than Washington’s, and a far more consistent running attack could cut into some of that hollow volume going forward.
Without him ever being an elite touchdown scorer his ceiling will consistently fall in the WR25-30 range in standard and WR20-25 in PPR leagues. I spent the better part of this week seeing what most owners would give for Wright and many said they would give a late first for him. If that’s the case, pull the trigger. In this draft, there are number of players (not just receivers) that can trump his ceiling. If you do happen to miss on your pick, losing on Wright won’t put you in any type of bind.
Marvin Jones CIN 2014 age: 24 NFL Season: 3
2013 Startup ADP: WR82 2014 ADP: WR49
I thought about using Jones’s former college team mate, Keenan Allen here, but let’s have a little fun. Jones has a litany of outlier production that led to his PPR WR29 finish in 2013. He had the four touchdown game against the Jets, only four top 24 weekly finishes and turned a Gronk-like 20 percent of his 80 targets into touchdowns for the season. My grandma is aware of all of this, and his early ADP suggests that your league mates are clued in as well.
Here’s where I throw you a curveball, because I want in, especially at this price. No, I don’t see him ever being a consistent WR2, but I believe owners will be so worried about his regression that the overcompensation can create opportunity to buy under cost, even off of last season. Nine of his 14 red zone targets turned into touchdowns, a percentage that is sure to drop. He did have spouts of solid red zone production in college before his senior season when he was completely outplayed by Allen. A.J. Green and the emergence of Tyler Eifert should provide favorable coverage in the future in that area of the field and the fact that he had so much usage near the end zone is encouraging as well considering the Bengals sporadic use of him in general.
It took the entire season, but Cincinnati finally figured it out in the end; with Jones playing 68.8 percent of the offensive snaps over their final four games including the playoffs while the incumbent Mohamed Sanu played only 49.5 percent. Jones played 40 plus snaps in all four of those games, something he did in only two of the previous 13 games. In those four games he snagged 24 of 34 targets for 324 yards and two scores, catching five or more passes in every game. With an expanded role for Jones and a diminished one for Sanu, I expect Jones to even out some of that regression. If an owner in your league is antsy to sell based on 2013, come in low and keep hammering away on him into the summer if they are asking for too much.
*Stats provided by ProFootballReference and ProFootballFocus