Were you aware that most wide receivers have similar career trajectories? You’re likely familiar with the old investment adage of buying low and selling high. It’s difficult to execute in dynasty formats because we fall under the spell of certain players.
How can you determine which wide receivers to trade away? Who should I trade for? When do WRs begin to lose value? This article will answer those questions and more. The ability to project WR productivity is a valuable skill in dynasty formats.
Mike Braude, co-founder of Apex Fantasy Leagues and RotoViz contributor, conducted a study years ago around the Peak Age of an NFL WR. Blair Andrews, managing editor at RotoViz, wrote about WR breakouts. These two articles are excellent resources to better understand how when a WR breaks out and age affects fantasy point production. Those WRs drafted in the early rounds who break out in their first seasons have a higher probability of success.
According to Braude’s research, 306 WRs have had a peak season of 225 or more PPR fantasy points since 2000. Did you know that 67 percent of those peak seasons occurred between the ages of 21 to 28?
WR production begins to decline at age 28. There will always be outliers, but hope is not a winning fantasy football strategy. It’s a sub-optimal strategy for you to always be attempting to catch a falling knife. This article will share with you five WRs you should sell now rather than wait a year too late.
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DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
I can almost hear you questioning my sanity with the thought of trading away Hopkins. He has averaged 10.2 targets, six receptions, and 84 receiving yards per game since 2014 with positive receiving fantasy points over expectation. Hopkins has started 95 regular season games in his career and has missed only one.
The soon to be 27-year old is one of the most coveted dynasty WRs outside of Odell Beckham. This is something you can use to your advantage when analyzing potential blockbuster packages in the DLF Trade Analyzer.
Hopkins is in his physical prime with a reliable quarterback in Deshaun Watson and the Texans have surrounded him with other talented WRs including Will Fuller, DeAndre Carter, and Keke Coutee. He signed a five-year, $81 million extension back in 2017 that included a $7.5 million signing bonus, $49 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $16.2 million.
Hopkins’ contract has a potential out in 2020 which would result in $3 million in dead cap space according to Spotrac. He is signed through 2022, but the Texans front office could already have some wheels in motion of life with Hopkins. He has averaged nearly 18 PPR fantasy points per game since 2014. The optimal time to cash in your chips on Hopkins is now.
Keenan Allen, LAC
Allen had a productive rookie season in 2013 with the Chargers and continued to see success in subsequent seasons with QB Philip Rivers. He has averaged 8.8 targets, six receptions, 74 receiving yards, 0.4 touchdowns, and 16 PPR fantasy points per game in his career finishing with positive receiving fantasy FPOE every season except 2014.
The only seasons Allen has had 225 or more PPR fantasy points were in 2017 and 2018. Injuries had played a part. Allen did miss 26 games from 2013 to 2016. He dealt with a PCL sprain during his junior year at the University of California in 2012. As a result, Allen did not attend the NFL Combine, but did run routes at his school’s Pro Day. Allen suffered a broken right collarbone at the end of the 2014 season, a lacerated kidney in 2015, and an ACL tear in 2016.
Allen continues to be drafted in dynasty formats as a top-20 wide receiver over the last four seasons. The soon to be 27-year old will open the season as the Chargers’ number one receiver with former first round pick Mike Williams taking over as the number two receiver due to the lost of Tyrell Williams to Raiders in free agency. Travis Benjamin, Artavis Scott, or Dylan Cantrell will fill the Chargers’ number three role.
Rivers is at the tail end of his career at 37 years old. Second-year WR Williams took a step forward in 2018 with 664 receiving yards, ten touchdowns, and ranked third in fantasy points per target with 2.70. His progression over the next two seasons could impact the decision the Chargers front office has to make regarding Allen once he becomes a free agent again in 2021. The time to act is now.
Davante Adams, GB
Adams has had a peak season and double-digit touchdowns in two of out of the last three seasons with the Packers playing 75 percent or more of the offensive snaps. Were you made aware that 2018 was his first 1,000-yard season? Adams has averaged 11.2 targets, 7.4 receptions, 92.4 receiving yards, and 0.87 touchdowns per game with positive receiving FPOE. He has the added bonus of catching passes from QB Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers has a history of diversifying targets among his WRs. Adams has the most targets (169) of any Packers WR in a single season since 2008. This was Rodgers’ first season as the team’s as the starting QB. The second most targets of any Packers receiver over that time frame was Jordy Nelson (152) back in 2016.
Adams is unlikely to see a similar target share this upcoming. Despite losing Randall Cobb in free agency, the team has a young and talented group of WRs. The Packers will get Geronimo Allison back after appearing in just five games last season due to an abdominal injury. The team should also see improvements from second year WRs J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown.
The Packers have found their franchise running back in Aaron Jones. He averaged 116.7 total yards per game in eight starts last season before suffering a sprained MCL. Jones will also be involved as a receiver out of the backfield in new head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. He is in a prime position to have a career season.
Adams will turn 27 years old this December. This is an optimal window to trade him away. Here is an example trade involving Adams using our Trade Analyzer.
Adam Thielen, MIN
Thielen is entering his age-29 season after recently signing a four-year, $64 million extension. He set career highs in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Thielen has averaged 8.1 targets, 5.7 receptions, and 75.3 receiving yards per game over the last three seasons. History suggests that 2018 was his peak statistically.
Thielen’s number of opportunities could come down quickly with Vikings teammate Stefon Diggs entering his age-25 season. Running back Dalvin Cook may be the most important part of the offense in 2019. The addition of Gary Kubiak as an offensive advisor implies that the running game will be emphasized. Cook has the ability to threaten defenses as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. These two Vikings players will threaten Thielen’s target share. Only ten percent of the peak seasons have come from WRs during their age-29 season.
Robert Woods, LAR
Woods’ trade value will never be any higher than it is right now. The 27-year-old receiver finished last season with a career-high 265 PPR fantasy points after never crossing the 700 receiving yard mark. Cooper Kupp’s season-ending ACL injury provided Woods an opportunity to run more routes from the slot and be given additional targets.
Brandin Cooks, Woods, Kupp, and Josh Reynolds are all under contract for years to come. Can the Rams’ offense sustain three fantasy-relevant WRs in 2019? Something has to give and I believe it will be Woods opportunity.
Cooks learned the Rams offensive scheme quickly and produced his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. The $80 million extension speaks volumes and another off-season with the team should only strengthen 25-year-old receiver’s connection with Rams QB Jared Goff. Cooks’ breakout early in his career and number of peak seasons (2015, 2016, and 2018) are things that Woods does not have.
It’s challenging to build a dominant dynasty team by always feeling comfortable. Trading any of the WRs mentioned above will make your stomach uneasy. You will try to rationalize why Hopkins, Allen, Adams, Thielen, or Woods should stay on your roster. You know deep down inside that there is a high probability that the statistical production won’t last.
It’s time to act now. Now is the time to place these WRs on the trading block and be proactive with offers to others in your league. Imagine the abundance of playmakers you could have on your roster heading into 2019 and beyond.
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