Buying the Dip

One of the best times of the year for an avid dynasty fantasy football owner is the start of free agency. A player’s value can fluctuate quite a bit when a change of scenery is involved. Usually, it is much harder to buy a player when he hits free agency or settles into a desirable landing spot. Depending on your league and the landing spot of the player the jump in value could be astronomical in year one with that new team.

The first year in any new job can be tough. At the wide receiver position, these guys are dealing with a lot upon arrival. Different variables are going to affect their performance in the first year with a new team. Connection and timing with a new quarterback are some of the key issues facing pass catchers. Learning new assignments, and verbiage can also be sizable hurdles for receivers. What happens during year one could have a variety of outcomes.

So what does their production in their initial year in a new home mean for their future outlook? As we take a deeper look we can see some trends that develop. Many wide receivers can experience a “dip” in production in year one with a new team.

The model below is based on a couple of different criteria in order for you to consider “buying the dip”:

1. The wide receivers below each had a top 25 season the year before leaving the team through free agency or trade.

2. All players were in their age 30 season or earlier with their new team to qualify.

After joining their team for the first year, there had to be some drop in their fantasy production. Stefon Diggs leaving Minnesota and balling out in Buffalo presents no buying opportunity.

3.Using data from 2010 to 2020, there were a total of 14 players that fit this model. While it is not a giant sample size, the findings can definitely be applied to this year’s class of Free agents.

The Hits

A hit, in this model, is a player that rebounds after their first season on a new team by producing a WR2 finish or better. Many players had continued success, while some had a short-lived revival. Every guy on this list had a decent to a great career before the change in scenery. These dips in production would have provided a brief buy-window for dynasty contenders. The closer a player is to their age 30 season, the less likely it is that the player will continue their resurgence. One player in the model that gives me pause is Odell Beckham. When healthy he is one of the premier receivers in football. According to February start-up ADP(s), he’s being drafted as the WR 40. Given that price tag, he still seems like he could be a great value.

The Misses

Misses were categorized by those players that never rebounded. Looking at this list, you see a few one-hit wonders. An example would be when Josh Gordon was suspended and someone needed to catch the ball in Cleveland. In stepped Terrelle Pryor to the tune of 77/1007/4 on a whopping 140 targets. He signed a one-year deal with the Washington Football Team and never saw those numbers again.

 

Adam Humphries and Laurent Robinson were also one-hit wonders. Concussions derailed their starts with new teams. The only surprises on this list at the time were Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Desean is a difference-maker, but also the poster boy for injury-riddled seasons. Jeremy Maclin was a surprise, his drop from fantasy relevance had a lot to do with the addition of Tyreek Hill.

 

The majority of these players were not considered “buys”. Maclin and Jackson would seem to be the two real misses in this model, which would have put the hit rate to over 80%.

Dip Candidates 2021/2022

Out of these guys, the only one I’m keeping my eye on would be Curtis Samuel. Youth is on his side, and he still has time to rebound and produce at a higher level for a 3-4 year window. Now with Washington, and with coaches he had in Carolina, he will not have to learn a new offense.  The verbiage in the playbook will be the same. If he were to see a dip in production in 2021 then he would be the best buy of the bunch.

Will Fuller may follow more to the DeSean Jackson projection. He may be a better real-life football player as opposed to a fantasy contributor. Injuries are always a concern and the best ability is availability. Miami is an interesting destination, Tua’s progression will have a huge impact on Fuller’s output.

 Golladay will be a bit “older” for a wide receiver the following year for my liking if he drops in production in 2021. His price is a mid to early 2nd in 2022 rookie drafts if he performs as a low-end WR2 next season in a new offense. According to the model, he is still a buy if he doesn’t live up to his past performance, but proceed with caution.

 

Despite 2019 and 2020, the typical hit rate of a 1st or 2nd round rookie pick is usually 50% or below. You can get lucky and draft a Justin Jefferson. Or you could end up with; John Ross, Breshad Perriman, Kevin White, Anthony Miller,  or Hakeem Butler.

 

Only 27-30% of WRs drafted in the first 24 picks of rookie drafts have put up WR2 production in two or more seasons. (Sample Size: 2014-18)  It was not appropriate to include 2019/2020 as those guys have too few games played.

 

Dynasty is not a “short-sighted” game. Keep tabs on these players early in the season this year. If any of these guys have a steady decline in production, it could create a nice buying opportunity. May the odds be in your favor.

Jordan DiGiovanni
Follow me on Twitter: @FFdynastyDG

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