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Injury Opportunities

Ryan McDowell’s article a few weeks back is a perfect segway to this, but I’m going to take a bit of a different spin. I find that people are not taking advantage of the value proposition that injuries create as the general consensus and the natural inclination is to downgrade a player coming off an injury. The more I try and trade Andre Johnson in two of my leagues, the more this sinks in and the more I realize there’s an arbitrage opportunity for dynasty owners with Johnson or any other 2011 injured player.

I’ll start by detailing some reactions I’ve gotten for Andre Johnson offers over the past few weeks in two of my 14-team PPR leagues. I found most, if not all, puzzling. When considering these reactions, keep in mind that this is after Andre Johnson played in two playoff games and finished with 13 catches for 201 yards and a TD with the mighty T.J. Yates at the helm. If you don’t have that pocket calculator handy, that’s an average of 19.5 points per game in a standard point per reception league – that’s after missing nine games in the regular season.

Here are some responses to my offers: 

  • “The most I’ll deal for [Andre Johnson] is Sidney Rice.”
  • “The only way I’ll deal for him is for Torrey Smith and Michael Crabtree.”
  • “AJ is old and my team is on the young side. I’m not interested in dealing for an old WR.”
  • “I might do Justin Blackmon for Andre.”

Sure, many will claim that Johnson is injury prone or old, but is that really true? Partially. To start, this is only his first season in four years without breaching 1,000 yards. Secondly, he finished as the WR1, WR1, and WR7 in standard PPR leagues from 2008-2010, respectively.  Old? Yeah, he’s 30 years “old.” That’s become the dreaded WR age, but there’s no reason he can’t be a top 5-10 wide receiver for four more seasons. There are very few receivers who play at a top level well into their 30’s, but given his talent, there’s no reason to believe he won’t. He’s had some nagging injuries, sure, but only two of his nine seasons were tarnished with major injuries that resulted in a serious amount of missed game time. With all this said, Andre’s dynasty value is not really the specific point I’m trying to argue here, so I’ll table that for now.

The point is that these reactions to offers of Andre Johnson got me thinking. How many times do people devalue players because of injury, only to have them bounce back in a big way the following season or two? And, does this represent a buy low opportunity for a guy like Andre Johnson or other 2011 injured players? 

Let’s take a look at some major injuries to some star players over the past few years and back test some trades that occurred over the past few seasons to see how they worked out:

History:

Here are recent injured players who bounced back and proved to be tremendous value targets when injured:

Wes Welker, WR NE

In 2009, Welker ripped up his MCL and ACL. Many claimed, “he’ll never the same.” Owners panicked and fantasy experts downgraded Welker into the WR25+ range in dynasty rankings. In fact, he was drafted WR28 in a dynasty startup I participated in back in 2010 and I also saw him traded for Owen Daniels and Dustin Keller (1.5 PPR for tight ends league). Now, he’s being ranked by most as a top 10 dynasty WR coming off a 120+ catch and 1500+ yard season and Dustin Keller and Owen Daniels are, well, underperforming.

Matthew Stafford, QB DET

As we all know, shoulder injuries plagued his young career and after two repeated incomplete seasons as a result, his dynasty value fell off a shelf. Now, after a dynamite 2011 he’s widely viewed as a top 5 dynasty QB after being ranked and drafted around QB15 prior to the 2011 season. To give you an idea on where he’s being valued currently, he was drafted in round one of our DLF Mock draft. No one ever questioned his talent, just his ability to stay healthy, and those that bought low in the 2011 offseason were rewarded handsomely. There were plenty of signs in those incomplete injury seasons where he averaged well over 20 points per game, you just needed to hop on the train at trough value.

Demaryius Thomas, WR DEN

Thomas tore his Achilles working out in February of 2011 after a mediocre rookie season and went from being drafted as a top 10 rookie pick in dynasty leagues to an afterthought. He was immediately written off by most. As evidence of that, in a startup of mine in February 2011, he was drafted as WR61 and widely ranked in that area by many fantasy experts if not lower in the WR70 range. Fast forward to this year and he’s now ranked in the top 25 after finishing 2011 with a few stellar performances. This guy was dirt cheap and could have been bought for mediocrity like Steve Breaston, Davone Bess, Mike Sims-Walker and Robert Meachem a year ago. If you saw that playoff overtime play against the Steelers, you certainly saw this boy motor – he hasn’t lost anything due to the injury.

These three are a few of the most notables in the last few years. Are there others who were injured and clearly struggled to get back? Of course. Guys like Sims-Walker and Deuce McAllister were never the same. However, there are also many other success stories like Willis McGahee and Kellen Winslow.

As you can see, the three notable players above were traded at a serious discount. There are many other guys over the years who were traded similarly as a result of an injury. Injuries create perfect buy low opportunities that come with little risk given the discount that some of these players are traded at right now. The perceived injury risk and long-term effects impact owners’ value perception significantly.

2012 Targets:

With that, here are the potential injury targets this offseason for 2012:

Note that I’ve left off young guys like Mark Ingram, Jamaal Charles, etc. because they don’t seem to be trading at that much of a discount due to their injuries.  Ingram is trading at a discount predominantly due to his performance and Charles is still high in the rankings from the majority I’ve seen.

Andre Johnson, WR HOU

See above for explanation on why he’s a target. While I received those responses to my offers, there are still many who have him in their top 10. He’s was drafted at WR6 in the DLF Mock Draft. However, if the owner in your league doesn’t value him there anymore and is freaking with the injury like many seem to be in my leagues, he’s a perfect buy target. It’s worth a poke around to see if the owner in your league is looking for “safer” options.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB PIT

He wasn’t phenomenal in 2011 and lost a number of snaps to Isaac Redman in passing situations, but Mendenhall will only be 25 at the start of the 2012 season and still averaged more than 4.4 yards per carry in before the injury last season. Sure, he may start 2012 on the PUP list, but he’s still a very young back. Patience will be key here with this soon to be 25 year old, but now is a perfect time to enter at the ground floor with the PUP speculation.

Darren McFadden, RB OAK

McFadden was just drafted as RB11 in the third round of the DLF Mock draft. For a guy that finished in the top five two years ago and had outscored the likes of Ray Rice through six weeks of 2011 prior to his injury, that’s some nice value. Like Mendenhall, he’ll only be 25 at the start of next season, so he’s still young.  However, given his injury history you’ll need to accept that he comes with obvious injury risk. When healthy, McFadden is a fantasy difference maker and well worth a shot at RB11.

Steve Smith, WR PHI

His value can’t get any lower with a second consecutive season ending injury. He was recently dropped in one of my deep dynasty leagues and I quickly scooped him up. He’s dirt cheap. He only signed a one year deal with the Eagles, so he’ll likely sign on elsewhere this offseason. He’s worth the current asking price of a bag of baseballs given his talent as a possession wide receiver. Don’t forget that two years ago he finished with over 100 receptions at WR8. Even if he never plays again, do you really need that third or fourth round rookie pick that he’ll cost? Smith is a much better gamble with more upside given his prior production than a pick like that. He didn’t appear to be completely healthy last year, either, so it’s quite possible 2012 is a different story.

Leonard Hankerson, WR WAS

In week 8 of 2011, Hankerson finally started seeing snaps at receiver. Unfortunately, he tore his labrum in week ten during a breakout performance against the Dolphins. Washington has nothing at wide receiver other than Santana Moss, which leaves a starting spot wide open for Hankerson. He needs to improve on his concentration and improve on his drops, but that is something that can be worked on. He was just drafted in the tenth round of the DLF mock draft, which will likely be higher than he’ll be drafted in most leagues. It’s a perfect time to pitch an offer to the Hankerson owner and steal a potential 2012 starter with great upside.

David Gettis, WR CAR

In Gettis’ rookie season, he finished with 37 catches for 500 yards and three touchdowns. After his solid play down the stretch, he was a popular sleeper headed into last season. Of course, he tore his ACL and was dropped like a box of rocks in fantasy leagues across the globe. He is still sitting on the wire in some leagues and with how Cam Newton produced last year along with the lack of talent at wide receiver in Carolina, this guy is a nice pickup or cheap buy.

Alex Green, RB GB

Ted Thompson was impressed with this kid – that’s all you need to know. He is the perfect size for a running back and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. Green Bay’s running back situation is in flux with an unimpressive Ryan Grant and James Starks, which leaves opportunity at the position headed into 2012. Buzz was building around Green after the draft last year, but ended with a torn ACL mid-season. Not many people are talking about him for right now and they should be. He may not be ready for the start of the season depending on how quickly his recovery goes, but even if he isn’t, late 2012/2013 may be when he gets his opportunity.

Tony Moeaki, TE KC

Moeaki is a forgotten man. In his rookie year, he finished at TE17, which is impressive given that tight end production for a rookie has historically proven to be challenging. He lost the 2011 season as a result of a torn ACL leaving him on the wire in some leagues and at the end of benches in others. Moeaki was also just selected in the fifteenth round of the DLF Mock draft making him an excellent buy low candidate. He’s a great target with his pass catching ability on a team without a solid option at tight end.

Danny Amendola, WR STL

He’s not sexy, but he produces. As a result of his 2011 injury, many quickly look past his 85 catches and 690 yards he posted in 2010. He started week one of 2011 in a similar fashion when he tore his triceps, which ultimately cost him the season. The bottom line is that Sam Bradford trusts him – Amendola is his security blanket. Even if they bring in a big time receiver to St. Louis through the draft or free agency, Amendola is still going to work underneath in a Welker type role. He’s one of those guys that you can get as a throw in to a deal and work him into your lineup as your low end third or high end fourth wide receiver come next season. It’s unlikely he’ll be on the wire in your league, but as a result of the injury he’s a forgotten player who is very likely to outperform his current value.

Marcus Easley, WR BUF

Unless you’re in a league with me, I’d be willing to bet Easley is not rostered in your league. Well, he should be. Looking back to last summer, Stevie Johnson told me Easley was looking good before he was diagnosed with a heart ailment.  Fast forward to today and that heart ailment issue is quietly a thing of the past as the condition is “completely solved”.  That hasn’t made its way around the fantasy community much yet. Easley was a raw receiver coming out of UConn with limited experience at wide receiver, but he has speed (4.40 speed) and tremendous size at 6’2”, 225 pounds. Neither David Nelson nor Donald Jones has been impressive enough to hold of Easley headed into 2012. Don’t look past his solid preseason performance last year as well; he’s a perfect stash right now.

 Editor’s Note: Steve Wyremski can be found on twitter @SteveWyremski

 

 

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Coach
10 years ago

depending where he lands… tim hightower might be a decent guy. probably a handcuff. i think he’d fit in great with the ravens

Eric
Reply to  Coach
10 years ago

hightower to ravens I like the thought…

Coach
10 years ago

also RBs Ryan Williams and Mikel Leshoure

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Coach
10 years ago

Yes, I agree on Williams/Leshoure and considered adding them, but given where I’ve seen them drafted as of late, they appear to be about fair value at this point.

If you can get them on the cheap, I’d definitely suggest going after them given they were highly touted in last years draft and both are in beneficial situations.

Jon
10 years ago

Well said Steve W. I agree with the two rookies Williams and Leshoure are also interesting. I agree completely about Andre J. Alot of dynasty owners have written him off completely and I’ve noticed that he has very little perceived value but I feel his point producing value (reality) is and will be for the next few years much much higher than what most are feeling. Great stats in Playoffs…. weird how people didn’t notice that. People see and remember what they want. I also held on to Amendola for the exact reasons you stated. I too feel he could be a ppr monster and a reliable go to wr for Bradford. Well done.

Greg G.
10 years ago

Excellent article as usual. I’ve been trying to improve my scouting game but I don’t follow college football. Trent Richardson has been receiving a lot of hype. Is he the best back in college or the best back coming out this season? Who is better? Thanks. I’ll hang up and listen.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

He’s the best back and a better back than the 2011 crop. I’d equate him to Peterson in terms of prospect quality. Many scouts are claiming he’s a “rare” prospect for a RB.

Greg G.
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

Thanks!!!

ester michalek
10 years ago

Totally agree on the Alex Green pick. Grant and Starks are a joke. Green came out of Hawaii’s spread offense. Not want the Packers run but pretty close. If his knee is right and he can pick up the blitz protections, he will have every chance to be the lead back on one of the best offense’s in football.

o0flipz0o
10 years ago

In my salary cap league, Javhid Best will be available once FA begins… What % of cap space would you bid on him?

Would he be worth the risk of committing say 5% of your cap?

Reply to  o0flipz0o
10 years ago

no. he’s a concussion away from never again. cut bait and let him float in the water till another fish nails him. leshore is the detroit back to own.

Dave
Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

What about Kevin smith?

Reply to  Dave
10 years ago

kevin smith is still fairly young, but is not the long term answer. best is really only a sproles’ type player. leshore was drafted to be a starting workhorse sized back that kevin smith already once proved he can’t be and best won’t be either. they drafted leshore at the end of the first round, and they will give him another shot to prove he is it.

Mangelo
10 years ago

I don’t understand, are you buying or selling Andre?

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Mangelo
10 years ago

Clever.

I was trying to deal him in two of my leagues because I need to build up my RBs in one and WRs in another and was looking for top 10 value in return. Regardless, I think that point is clear as written above.

Mangelo
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

It’s a matter of price, but what would you pay/accept for him? Justin Blackmon seems like a nice exit point if I owned him. Is that underselling Andre?

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Mangelo
10 years ago

I think it is.

Blackmon isn’t a can’t miss prospect. Yeah, he’s currently the top WR in this draft, but he’s not a Calvin Johnson type of prospect. Because of that, I do think you need more along with Blackmon for Andre. Blackmon/Little (or a future pick or even Hankerson) for example. With how much people overvalue youth around combine/NFL draft time, I doubt something like that is accepted right now, though. Maybe the Hankerson one. Simply, for a WR in the 15-20 range and a high upside WR, RB, or future pick.

There’s a wide range of things I’d pay/accept for him if asked, but to deal for a guy like Blackmon straight is selling low, which is exactly the reason I decided to stick with Andre for that same offer.

Eric
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

I would definitely have included LeShoure and Williams. I understand you think they are fairly valued, but they each represent high end boom/bust prospects of the type I find very interesting in dynasty

Scott
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

I really doubt anyone would trade pick 1.02 in 2012 for Andre Johnson in dynasty leagues, which would be a Justin Blackmon pick. I think AJ might be good for one or two more good years, and I just can’t see anyone trading anything more than a late first round pick for him.

Scott
10 years ago

I’m not a huge Andre Johnson fan, at this point in his career. Not only are his injuries becoming a routine issue, but it takes him a long time to recover from them. If AJ gets hurt, he’s gonna be out awhile. For those reasons, I would only want him on my team for a bargain price, and most owners won’t want to give him up with a significant mark down. So, I doubt he will be on any of my teams next year.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

A late 1st for Andre Johnson? So you’re equating him to the likes of Mohamed Sanu, Juron Criner, and others? You’d say his fair value is about an 8th or 9th rounder in a startup? Really?? That’s quite surprising.

I understand what people are saying Blackmon vs. Andre Johnson, I just don’t get it from the reasons stated in the article. What I find ironic is that people are saying that wouldn’t deal Blackmon for Andre Johnson, and yet in startups for 2012 so far, Andre Johnson is going well before Blackmon.

Scott
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

I wouldn’t take AJ before round 6 in a dynasty startup for sure. The first five rounds, you’re probably going to grab 1-2 WRs at least, and I would not feel comfortable at all if AJ were my WR2, and certainly not my WR1. The past two years, AJ has started to decline. Injuries have taken their toll. Plus, once AJ is hurt, he takes a long time to recover, for whatever reason. Add to that, Houston has become a power running team, and Matt Schaub has his own injury questions, and AJ’s value has declined. I would be surprised if AJ has anything more than two good years left, and I don’t think that equates to the value of pick 1.02 in a dynasty startup. That’s just my opinion, though.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

I think you mean 1.02 in a rookie draft as opposed to startup, correct?

Yeah, I can respect the opinion, I just don’t happen to agree with it based what I’ve written above. I’d contend that it’s a misnomer that he’s always injured. As I noted above, this was the first time in the last 4 years he finished outside of the top 5. At 30 and what age these guys play two, 2 more years appear a conservative estimate. AJ has proven to be nothing but a hardworking guy. In my estimate, 4 more years is more likely.

I’d rather the proven, solid production with Johnson, despite the injury risk, over the 1.02 rookie pick which carries the shiny new toy value, but also carries a ton of risk.

Thanks for the perspective on the other side of the argument, Scott. These are obviously all opinions and it’s good to hear both sides.

Greg G.
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

Not comfortable with AJ as your number two????!!!

Scott
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

I know it’s controversial. Maybe I’m biased since I owned him last year and he drove me crazy, LOL.

It is a very interesting article, and a topic that I suspect is polarizing. Obviously, AJ has been an elite player for a long time, and maybe he will come back next year and resume his elite status. If that is the case, I would be happy for whomever owns him.

AJ is just one of those players that I won’t trade a lot to get. There are a few factors involved. Again, obviously injuries are a factor. But, I think that team runs through Tate/Foster now. I also am concerned about Schaub as the QB, given his injury risks. If you own AJ, I think you have to keep him, because present owners will get low-balled until he returns to elite status. He will be 31 next year, and has declining numbers the past two years. Plus, I think it is fairly high that the Texans draft his replacement this year, much like ATL did with Roddy White and Julio Jones.

He is just a player that I don’t want to touch, but I understand if others would want to own him based on past production. It will be tough to trade AJ since his current owners will value him as an elite WR, and other owners may want him at a discount given all of the above. So, impasses will be all too common.

Thanks for writing the article, though. It is an interesting topic to discuss, and DLF is a fantastic website!

10 years ago

in all views, i’d have to agree with steve on this one. yes blackmon is tempting and youth is definetly on his side,….but….look at the team that blackmon is probably going to end up with and look at where andre plays and who he plays with. and then factor into effect that this is fantasy football and rumor has it that if peyton manning is freed, he may land in houston as there missing piece????? that alone would get me to hang onto andre for a couple of more years. and hey, schaub is no schlouch.

Matt
Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

Zero chance, less than zero Manning plays in Houston next year.

Reply to  Matt
10 years ago

don’t be so sure on that. manning will not be in indy. he will only sign with a “super bowl” contender. he will be miffed at indy when he leaves. and he will get back at them. according to brad biggs fantasy sports writer.

Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

brad also covers the bears at the chicago tribune, and writes for NFP.

Greg G.
Reply to  bigd
10 years ago

Blackmon or AJ? I would take AJ. Even at 30, he is the go to guy in Houston, almost exclusively. As for the running game, it works to his benefit. Blackmon has proven nothing and as stated above will probably end up on a team that is nowhere near the level of Houston. I only wish the owner in my league holding AJ shared the same sentiment as Scott. I would surely make him an offer! He showed what he can still do in the post season this year.

Scott
Reply to  Greg G.
10 years ago

Time will tell. It is entirely possible that AJ is about to fall off, given his age and recent trend. The whole reason why this article came to be is probably the variation in value placed on AJ by his owners versus those who don’t own him. His age is a red flag, and given his recent injuries with a decline in performance, AJ is a big risk IMO. But, we should ask this question again next year. I think AJ bounces back to a degree, but he is unlikely to reach his previous high numbers of three years ago. I don’t want to spend a first or second round pick in a dynasty startup for a WR on a decline. But time will tell who is right.

Paul
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

This AJ-Blackmon discussion really depends on your team makeup. If you finished top 3 for a reason and don’t want to deal with an older player that’s a fair viewpoint. If you are a playoff team and are asked to deal off a first and second that’s a great deal also. If you’re in-between then you gotta evaluate if you have enough youth.

Scott
Reply to  Paul
10 years ago

Very true. I could see picking AJ if you are hoping to compete right away in a dynasty start-up. Based on historical data, WRs above the age of 30 can have a 2-3 years of high-level production, but there is usually a huge fall-off.

The risk in this discussion does include the bust factor at pick 1.02, and I acknowledge that exists.

However, there is a risk that AJ might have a dramatic fall-off, too. He could end up being Marvin Harrison, and we can’t tell the future. We do know that WRs tend to have erosion of skills after age 30, but might still be able to put up good numbers for a while longer (ie Randy Moss or Terrell Owens). But, if AJ becomes another Marvin Harrison, then a startup dynasty team just spent a high draft pick on a player with minimal value. That risk is there, too.

The value of AJ depends how an owner perceives his risk as above.

One factor that deserves discussion is the impact of Arian Foster and Ben Tate on the Houston offense. Owen Daniels used to be a top 5 TE in fantasy, but now he is more like a TE2. Injuries have been a factor, but the Houston offense has changed. Gary Kubiak comes from the Denver zone-blocking offense that made Terrell Davis famous. Arian Foster and Ben Tate both are incredibly good at this offense, and Kubiak will run them into the ground. To make matters more complicated, Schaub checks down to Tate and Foster a fair number of times. In fact AJ’s targets have dropped for the past two years, including targets per game when you factor in time lost from injury.

So, I think AJ will probably have a couple years left of good to great production, but the fall-off for WRs his age is wicked. Look at Reggie Wayne. I recently got Wayne at pick 13.01 in a dispersal draft. Wayne is 33 years old, and one off year, and his value has crashed. AJ will be 31 next year. Realistically, I think maybe 2 years of good production are left for AJ, and that is assuming he doesn’t get injured again. AJ has a big time name value, but I personally think there are red flags all around him.

Scott
Reply to  Paul
10 years ago

One more thing. The WRs historically who have sustained production, like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss or TO, tend not to have repeated issues with injuries. Now, whether that is related to luck or how each player handles an injury is up for debate. AJ seems like a great guy and a hard-worker, but repeated injury histories for players above 30 are a huge red flag, IMO. Go back and look at players with sustained production past 30, and you will probably find players that escaped significant injuries. Repeated injuries are hard to recover from, especially if you are a player above 30. I’m sure if you look at players missing time with significant injury after the age of 30, you will probably find a correlation with productivity. It’s hard for a player above 30 to sustain production due to the erosion of skills, but it’s made worse when such players have to overcome repeated injuries. That will likely accelerate their demise. That is an important factor to consider when deciding on where to draft AJ, especially in a dynasty start-up.

tebow
10 years ago

any back 28 and older wont be on my team and any wr over 30 wont be on my team unless its dirt cheap and as a backup

Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

AJ vs Blackmon, It depends on the structure of your league. We have salary caps and 4 year max contracts. Unless your league has lifetime contracts, you would be out of your mind to trade AJ for a rookie receiver. I do love Blackmon though. AJ was great in the playoffs and he is going to be fine next year, regardless if Shaub is healthy.

Scott
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

If your team is competing for a title, then it is reasonable to get AJ. But, I don’t agree that a team would be insane to trade AJ for Blackmon. There is risk with AJ, and risk with Blackmon. But Blackmon has a lot of time left and is heading to his prime for physical skills, while AJ is past his prime and his skills are eroding. Maybe AJ can compensate for his declining skills to a degree, but if anyone thinks AJ is elite at WR beyond maybe a year or two, good luck with that one. Again, look at Reggie Wayne. Torry Holt. Marvin Harrison. All went from elite to old seemingly overnight. The crash for WRs tends to be sudden and steep. You have to time a trade correctly. If you wait for a former stud to decline in numbers, it’s already too late to deal him for value. Now, if you can handle riding out AJ into the sunset, fine. But, I think picking a player like Luck, RGIII or Blackmon is perfectly fine in exchange for AJ. I see no reason to suggest otherwise, given proper assessment of risks with WRs over 30 vs failure rate of top picks.

Scott
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

Let’s look at the rookie WRs drafted in the past three years:
1. 2009: Crabtree, Maclin, DHB, Nicks, Britt, Harvin and Mike Wallace.
2. 2010: Dez Bryant, Mike Williams TB, Demaryius Thomas, Arrelious Benn, Emmanuel Sanders and Eric Decker
3. 2011: AJ Green, Julio Jones, Greg Little, Torrey Smith, Titus Young, Randall Cobb

I would say the vast majority of the above players have been fairly productive, and yet are still much younger with room to grow. It’s hard to call any of the above players complete busts, although DHB and Crabtreee come close. Some have been hit by injuries, like Benn and Sanders. But, I would say picking a top WR is relatively safe. Certainly, I don’t think the data support a high failure rate when picking players at 1.02 at WR.

Furthermore, Blackmon seems to be regarded as a notch below AJ Green. So, let’s take a 25% reduction in his numbers compared to AJ Green. Let’s say Blackmon is able to get 50 catches, 800 yards and 5 TDs. That’s not bad at all. Judging by recent data from AJ, let’s say he gets 75 receptions, 1100 yards and 7 TDs. Yes, he is technically a better player statistically, but Blackmon’s numbers may not be that far off. Plus, JB can only get better, while AJ’s numbers will start to regress towards JB’s stats. So, as an investment, JB represents more upside, with an acceptable risk of failure.

Lastly, if you look at Crabtree, the past two years, he has been able to average 64 catches, 810 yards and 5 TDs. I’m not saying Crabtree is a better player than AJ is now, but the bust rate amongst top level WRs in fantasy football is not that high. Plus, if you hit it big with AJ Gree, JJ, Nicks, Maclin, Harvin or Britt, then you’ve got elite production for a decade. Heck, I didn’t even include Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, both of which have tremendous potential.

I haven’t even mentioned the value in picking the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning or even RGIII. Both of those players could set up an owner for a decade with an elite player.

So, while I understand the love for AJ, I think the value in pick 1.02 is being undersold here.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

Like i said, it is contingent upon league structure. For every receiver that you have given me that has fallen off precipitously at ages 30-33, i can give you one that hasn’t. In our league, i WOULD trade AJ for Blackmon. That’s because, in my league, Blackmon is going to be 15/16 dollars, and AJ is currently sitting at 35. That being said, AJ is a top five receiver for the next three years. If their salary/contract lengths are comparable, you can’t justify trading the guy for an unknown quantity.

Sorry, not buying it. Someone has to catch passes from Matt Shaub.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

“if you hit it big with AJ Gree, JJ, Nicks, Maclin, Harvin or Britt, then you’ve got elite production for a decade”

Like i said, my league is 4 year contract max, so that’s the only time period i am concerned with. Not a decade.

Scott
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

I agree with you, the answer to this question depends on league structure, at least to a degree. But, again, if you have AJ under contract for 4 years, but he only gives you two years of elite production, the value in that would be in question. Bottomline is, we don’t know the future, and maybe AJ returns to elite production for 5 years. Personally, I doubt that will occur for all the reasons I mentioned above. It has been mentioned on this thread that the idea of taking Blackmon over AJ is insane, and I think that is not true. Whether or not you take Blackmon or AJ depends on the state of your team and risk tolerance. But, either way, I think there are arguments to support having AJ or Blackmon on a time. It just depends on the circumstances involved.

Scott
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

We will just have to see how it shakes out. Right now, the million dollar question will be when AJ has the steep fall off. I think that is coming in 1-2 years, but if he truly does have 5 years of elite production left, then I will admit I’m wrong. Of course, we will need to raise this thread topic again in five years. I set a reminder on my iphone. 😉

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

The thing is, I don’t think anyone in here is claiming 5 years (i.e. top 10 production at 35). I think realistically we’re looking at 3-4 years of top production, and even MORE realistically 3.

I’d be absolutely shocked if next year is his last season as a top WR in this league. He’s just too talented and (yes) too young.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

Scratch that, I see the 5 year comment. That, I’d be surprised with.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

My money is on AJ having 3 years of elite production left in him. Blackmon won’t be elite his first year, so the most i can expect out of him is 3 years of elite production also. The Rams are going to be in the conversation for worst team in the league for the next 5 years.

Remember, my arguments are based on the assumption that Blackmon goes to the Rams. If he does not, all bets are off here.

Scott
Reply to  Sensai_John_Kreese
10 years ago

“For every receiver that you have given me that has fallen off precipitously at ages 30-33, i can give you one that hasn’t”

I agree. However, this speaks to the risk involved. You might have a player that continues WR1 production, but you might also end up with a player that falls off a cliff. That clock starts ticking after age 30.

If you take all players who have maintained WR1 production from age 30-35, nearly all of them have avoided missing substantial time from injury. AJ, on the other hand, has been injured quite a bit in the past two years. Like I mentioned above, players older than 30 have to deal with a decline in skill set, but those who will be most successful will be those who do not have to overcome significant injuries. I believe that significant injuries after age 30 is an important red flag to notice. So, we should keep that in mind whenever we compare AJs situation to Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and TO (no major injuries between 30-35).

Lastly, AJs injuries last year both were non-contact in nature, and again that makes me concerned. That tells me AJs body may be in the beginnings of a break down. Maybe it was a fluke, but when things start to break on WRs over 30 without any contact, that is yet another red flag, IMO.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

We’re comparing Reggie Wayne to Andre Johnson?

These two guys are not even close in terms of natural talent. That was absolutely clear with Reggie Wayne this year with Manning out. Manning had a LOT to do with Wayne’s success.

Andre is more like the TO’s of the world who are uber-talented. Wayne’s had a very successful career, but he’s nowhere near the talent level of AJ.

And, why is this relevant I’m sure you’re asking? Because the super talented guys seem to be the ones that play longer into their 30’s (TO, Rice, Harrison, etc).

Scott
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

Don’t take this wrong, Steve. I have a ton of respect for you. But, trying to devalue Wayne relative to AJ is silly.

AJ’s career averages: 78 catches, 1072 yards, 6 TDs

Wayne;s career averages: 78 catches, 1064 yards, 7 TDs.

Plus, Reggie Wayne is two years older than Wayne and yet had comparable numbers despite having QBs like Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky throwing it to him in 2011.

AJ at least had Schaub for almost the entire year last year, and yet still couldn’t beat Wayne’s numbers in 2011 (even when time missed with injury is considered).

Plus, Wayne has missed no games for the past nine years. AJ has missed 22 games in the same amount of time.

Lastly, trying to devalue Wayne’s numbers just because he had Peyton Manning throwing to him is kinda silly. I mean, does that mean Jerry Rice has to apologize because he had Joe Montana throwing him the ball?

I’m not trying to sound like an a-hole, but I have to point these things out.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

Jerry Rice was an anomaly. Montana AND Young? I don’t even bother including his situation in arguments. That was a perfect storm.

I find myself in a unique position in this discussion, because generally speaking, i am all about youth. AJ is literally the only guy over 30 years old that i am buying right now.

I am deep enough at receiver that i would only be spot starting him anyways. Blackmon wouldn’t sniff my starting rotation.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

A few things I’d like to address on that comment:

1.
AJ played in 4 games this year being healthy. 2 others when he tried to come back, but was trying to push it and a 3rd in week 17 when he was super rusty.

I don’t see how anyone can remotely expect AJ to match Wayne in 2011 regardless of the QB situation when Wayne played a full year and AJ played 4 “real” games.

2.
I understand and know what Wayne’s stats are, however, he’s plain and simple, not of the same talent level. He’s a great football player, hard working guy, and a great route runner, and a injury-free role model but if we’re talking about talent/natural ability — it’s not even close. AJ wins that hands down.

3.
All of Wayne’s numbers have been with one of the best quarterbacks to EVER play the game. EVER.

AJ put up his first 1,000 yard season with David Carr. The rest were with Schaub who is an average NFL QB.

4. AJ put up his numbers with no help opposite him. Wayne had Harrison for quite a few years freeing him up quite a bit (3 years specifically).

5.
Yes, there’s no doubting that win trumps AJ and many NFL players with the health card. He’s been absolutely fantastic.

I like Wayne quite a bit and respect the career he’s had, but he’s had a hell of a lot more help in the QB and other offensive weapon department.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

I’m with you Sensai — I’m normally all about youth, as well, but AJ is a special talent

Scott
Reply to  Steve Wyremski
10 years ago

“That was absolutely clear with Reggie Wayne this year with Manning out.”

Reggie Wayne in 2011: 75 catches 960 yards 4 TDs 3 100 yard games

Andre Johnson in 2011: 33 catches, 492 yards, 2 TDs and 1 100 yard game.

Reggie Wayne’s numbers aren’t that bad considering he had Orlovsky/Painter as his QB.

AJ had Schaub for almost the entire year as his QB.

I can’t see how Manning is the sole reason for Wayne’s numbers. I will also add that Reggie Wayne is two years older than AJ, and yet still almost got 1000 yards receiving with the worst QB situation in the NFL last year.

Steve Wyremski
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

I addressed it above, we can’t take these numbers in a vacuum. AJ came back for two games mid season trying to push back, was rusty, and re-injured himself. He then came back week 17 and was SUPER rusty.

2011 is a non-event for AJ for all intensive purposes, in my view.

Sensai_John_Kreese
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

To be fair, AJ only had Shaub for 3 and a half games, and put up 352 yards.

Scott
Reply to  Scott
10 years ago

I see what both of you are saying. We will see in time how things turn out with AJ. It’s been a fun debate for sure, and thanks, Steve, for writing that article. Lots of good info as usual.

We will see how things shake out in 1-2 years for sure. Since I think DLF is a fantastic resource, I will be around, so I will take the pleasure or pain either way, depending on how things turn out with AJ.

I hope I’m wrong, as AJ is a good guy, and I’d like nothing more than to see him succeed in the coming years.

🙂

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