Which Under-Achieving Receiver is a Buy-Now?

Woody McClelland

Editor’s Note:  The following article was written by new Member Corner writer Woody McClelland.  Member Corner writers  are passionate DLF followers with a strong interest in developing their writing skills.  We’re happy to offer this uncompensated area to allow them to hone their skills, receive exposure and interact with our community.  Please be constructive with all comments.  

After week four of the 2016 season, the general consensus was that Golden Tate [redraft average draft position (ADP) of 52 overall (WR25)] was a bust. He was playing in a good offense having undergone major offseason turnover with a young QB1 and had produced yet another fantasy dud, putting him as the overall PPR WR82 after four weeks. In his age-28 season, his production from the previous season (overall WR19 from weeks 1-16) had fallen off a cliff (only 26 targets through week four) despite the offseason loss of his team’s target leader from the prior year, and not only was he not startable, many believed he was barely rosterable.

After week four, Tate’s offensive coordinator (in his first full season as play-caller for this wide receiver) publicly declared that this player would “step up and have a huge week this week” (1). The result: 7.5 PPR points on only five targets, after which he was dropped in many redraft leagues and several dynasty leagues.

His targets weren’t coming, and the general consensus after the first four weeks of the 2016 season was that Tate was no longer a top-30 caliber wide receiver since the early retirement of Calvin Johnson (Megatron). After his dud in week five, for the vast majority of the fantasy community he was a certified bust.  Some labeled him “arguably the biggest bust this season”. He failed to top 45 yards from scrimmage in any game and had yet to score a touchdown through five weeks (2).

Many know what happened afterward: Tate was the overall WR8 from weeks 6-16, finishing the fantasy season (weeks 1-16) as the overall PPR WR17 with 200+ fantasy points, catching 90 passes for the third consecutive season. Nearly all subsequent off-season analysis completely overlooked his horrid start, with many claiming him as a solid, high floor WR2 for 2017 drafts (3).

The time to buy Tate was when many believed he was a bust, in that four to six week window. You would think such an opportunity wouldn’t present itself again, would it?

Well, through week four of this season, another wide receiver [redraft ADP of 71 overall (WR30)] playing in a good offense having undergone major off-season turnover with a young QB1 produced another fantasy dud, putting him as the overall PPR WR75 after four weeks. His production from 2016 (overall WR25 from weeks 1-16) has fallen off a cliff despite the off-season loss of his team’s target leader from the previous season and not only has he not been startable, many believe he is barely rosterable.

Like Tate, this wide receiver is dealing with a different play-caller from his previous season, not getting sufficient target volume (only 19 through week four), is predominantly a slot receiver and has an excellent special teams production pedigree. His name: Jamison Crowder.

We know that Kirk Cousins is a slow-starter (yet finished as a QB1 each of the past two seasons), that he is coming off a 4,900+ yard passing season (the aspect of quarterback production with the least year-over-year variance), and that other than Jordan Reed, Crowder is his most reliable target. With new acquisition Terrell Pryor also underachieving thus far, it doesn’t take a large imagination leap to think that the Washington coaching staff (whose current play-caller, like Cooter in 2016, is in his first full season due to the off-season loss of Sean McVay) uses the week five bye to retool the offense (adjusting to the off-season loss of two 1,000 yard receivers) to give Cousins more high-percentage throws to the slot, where Crowder excels with his short-area quickness, reliable route running and excellent hands.  Furthermore, the absence of a reliable running game (Rob Kelley injury, Samaje Perine ineffectiveness) only increases the incentive for the Washington offense to become more pass heavy, which increases the target floor for Cousins’ wide receivers. As with Tate in 2016, this change may not be seen immediately with Crowder, whose week six performance (like Tate’s 2016 week five performance) right after his play-caller publicly stated during the week five bye:

“I think you’ll see more of Jamison Crowder, hopefully…He is one of our best skill players. We have got to get him more involved in the offense. That is partly my fault, to get more balls targeted for him. Whether it’s quick game, whether it’s getting the ball out in space somehow, bubble screen, whatever it might be. I have got to get the ball to him in space more often and get him the flow early.” (4)

…only emboldened those who believe he is an unredeemable bust. Sound familiar?

The time to buy-low on Crowder is now while the fantasy world is on tilt from his poor start thus far. If you can offer a productive-yet-older (age 30+) player for him straight-up (i.e. Danny Amendola who was the WR28 after five weeks), or package a younger surprisingly producing player (i.e. Devin Funchess, the WR15 after five weeks) for Crowder and a pick (2018 2nd/3rd), now is the time to do it, just as using Mike Wallace (the WR23 after week four last year) to land Tate this time a year ago would have strengthened your dynasty team both in the present and future given the age difference between the traded players.  Because Crowder is not an elite athlete, nor does he have high draft pedigree, it is possible that many owners view his 2016 as the aberration rather than his current season.  Such thinking gives wise dynasty owners the opportunity to pounce.

Unlike Tate, Crowder is still young (age 24 season versus age 28 season). The biggest arguments against Crowder are that: 1. unlike Tate, he has no top-24 seasons on his resume, which we know from Jake Rickrode’s work is associated with future top-24 wide receiver production (a big reason Tate was such a great buy low at this time last season), and 2. the path to receiving 8-10 targets/game the rest of the season may not be as clear for Crowder  in 2017 as it was for Tate 2016.

However, Crowder was a top-30 WR last fantasy season, and was firmly top-20 most of the year until playing through a hip injury contributed to his production drop-off at the end of the season. He was also listed with a hip injury to start this season, which may in part explain his poor start. If you believe the bye has given him the opportunity to physically recover from his hip and hamstring injuries, Crowder is an excellent buy-low in dynasty as well as redraft PPR leagues.

(ADP and ranking data is per myfantasyleague.com)


  1. https://www.google.com/amp/s/articles.mlive.com/lions/index.ssf/2016/10/jim_bob_cooter_golden_tate_goi.amp
  2. https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/gallery/fantasy-football-steals-and-busts-through-first-four-weeks-100616%3Famp=true
  3. https://www.google.com/amp/www.isportsweb.com/2017/08/27/fantasy-football-golden-tate-detroit-lions-pass-catcher/amp/