After finding that if a player finished as a WR1 with under eight YPT that he was likely to decline in the following season, I wanted to research the opposite. How receivers performed after finishing a WR1 season with eight or more YPT. Would we see as large of a decrease in fantasy points in their following season?
At first glance, the list is overwhelming as 151 players fit the criteria versus only 41 who were under eight YPT. Naturally, this makes sense as most WR1 seasons happen by players who have good seasons and are efficient.
The full list is posted below.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||2014||10||297||9.2||319.7|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||2015||9.2||319.7||8.1||298.6|
I sure hope you skimmed through that list as I did.
Incredibly, we see almost identical results as we did for the inefficient WR1s. The average efficient WR1 declined 39.18 points, as opposed to the 39.15 points we saw the inefficient WR1 declined to the following season.
At first glance, we see that regardless of how efficient you were, if you finished as a WR1 you were more likely than not to decline the following season. This makes intuitive sense – if you climb to the top of your position the only way to go from there is down.
- 23 of 151 players increased on their point total the following season (15% vs. 17% for inefficient WR1s)
- 72 of 151 players finished as a WR1 the following season (48% vs. 41% for inefficient WR1s)
We see a slight increase in WR1s the following season from this cohort, but nothing substantial or actionable.
We see a major difference in targets between efficient and inefficient WR1s, as inefficient WR1s averaged 167.78 targets in their WR1 season.
We see the targets of these WR1s are actually much lower than the inefficient ones as if you’re efficient you won’t need as many targets to reach a WR1 season. The following season we only see a decrease in targets by 4.36 which is a much smaller margin than the inefficient WR1s, who decreased in targets by 21.85 the following year.
Let’s start diving in a little more to see if there is something hidden we can find between these differentiating WR1 seasons. What happens if we increase the efficiency threshold to nine YPT for these WR1 seasons to see if we can start to get a higher probability for following season production?
Increasing the efficiency to nine yards per target drops our sample size down to 88 players.
With a decline in 39.63 points the following season, we see here again that previous year YPT has literally no effect on the following season’s PPR point production.
- 15 of 88 players increased on their fantasy point total the following season (17%)
- 44 of 88 players finished as a WR1 the following season (50%)
With a last-ditch effort to see if we can find any use for YPT to help predict the following season, let’s try and see how their age affects this.
Players who were younger still saw a solid decrease in fantasy points the following year, but overall slightly more fantasy points than the original group with only a 32.6 point reduction in points.
- 21 of 105 players saw an increase in fantasy points the following season (20%)
- 53 of 105 players finished as a WR1 the following season (51%)
Let’s see how the older players faired.
We see a much bigger decline in the following season production as this group scores on average 59.3 fewer points the following season. This falls right in line with what we saw in the first part of the study.
- 8 of 46 players saw an increase in production the next year (17% vs. 6% for the inefficient WR1s)
- 19 of 46 players had a WR1 the following seasons (41% vs. 25% for the inefficient WR1s)
What these numbers tell us is that while the overall average decline is fairly large, we see that a decent amount of these players were still able to manage WR1 seasons the following year. This falls in line with Mike’s study on the decline of WRs at their age-30 season.
While it’s a risky bet to draft a WR1 who is age 30 or older, it’s a safer bet to draft the receiver who had a YPT over eight the year prior. This YPT study really helps to illustrate the age curve of WRs and why we should be avoiding WR1s who are 30 years old or older – especially the ones coming off a season under eight YPT.
It also helps to show us that efficiency really doesn’t matter for predicting the following season performance for WR1s and how hard it really is for these players to maintain WR1 status year in and year out.
Looking into 2020’s WR1s
Here is the full list of players to qualify as a WR1 according to the study.
We touched on Julian Edelman, Allen Robinson, and DeAndre Hopkins in Part 1.
The remaining players are all guys we should be considering to sell high in dynasty except for Chris Godwin due to his young age. Knowing that most of these players are going to decline in fantasy points next year, this is a good time as any to capitalize on that peak value and sell. Remember, receivers generally start declining after turning 27 years old.
Thanks for reading along and I hope that you learned something new in this article. My goal was to try and find an edge in efficiency, but this just reaffirmed my beliefs in the age curve for receivers as well as understanding the true volatility of the WR1.
Thanks to RotoViz for the awesome tools they have that allowed all this research to get done.