The current era of the NFL is watching players switch teams at a faster rate than ever before, especially at the wide receiver position. Since 2000, there have been 704 instances of a wide receiver switching teams. Of those 704 instances, 378 occurred since 2010 (53.6%) and 153 occurred since 2016 (21.7%).
While this recent uptick in player movement is fun for fans and fantasy players, it can be a headache for actual fantasy production. I did some preliminary research on this subject last year, which led me to endorse Allen Robinson in 2019 in his second season with Chicago.
As we enter the 2020 off-season, I'm writing to update and expand upon this topic, and to look ahead to wide receivers who could be a value this year like Robinson was last year.
Method and Data
I have heard from various sources that wide receivers have a tendency to underperform in their first season with a new team compared to their usual production on their former team. A recent example of this would be Jarvis Landry, who signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2018 and saw a decrease in production across the board, including a 41-point drop in fantasy points.
To study this effect, I pulled a list of 704 receivers since 2000 who switched teams. I compared production with their former team the year before they switched teams against production on their new team the year of the switch.
To account for the difference in games played from one season to the next, I used game averages for year-to-year comparisons.
I finished by filtering out all players who did not 1) play at least 12 games in either season, and 2) have at least 4 targets per game (league average) the year before they switched. This gave us a final data set of 184 receivers.
Here is the Landry example with data from his final year in Miami and his first year in Cleveland:
The results of the study validate the theory that receivers tend to underperform in their first season on a new team. Shown below are four charts that show the averages of each receiving stat for all players in the data set the year before and the year after they switched teams: