Trade and Fade: Wide Receivers

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Written by: Kyle Pottorf (@kyle_pottorf)

The NFL off-season can be one of the most hectic times of the year for NFL media, fans, and especially NFL players that are looking for a new team to join. It can also be one of the most exciting times of the year for NFL and specifically fantasy football players. Each dynasty owner goes into the off-season looking at all of the teams and situations that their dynasty players could get signed to that would increase the player's value. Obviously, every player will not be signed to each dynasty owner's ideal team, but there is almost always extreme optimism when it comes to each free agency signing. Even with the levels of optimism that surround these players that are joining new teams, those players rarely meet the expectations that are put upon them. Production decrease when changing teams is fairly true for most positions in the NFL, but is even more prevalent with wide receivers that are changing teams. There are so many examples of this happening that it seems much smarter to fade, trade, or at least adjust expectations on wide receivers that will be on new teams.

Over the five previous years, there have been a multitude of instances where very good wide receiver fantasy options have their current contract expire and sign one with a new team, or two, the wide receiver is traded away from the team they had been successful on. After sifting through loads of data and stats on wide receivers that changed teams, there were six instances that really stood out as examples of why you should fade or trade receivers that are changing teams.

Jarvis Landry WR, CLE: Jarvis Landry was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL draft. Landry displayed a wide range of skills in his years with the Dolphins. In the offseason before the 2018 NFL season, Landry was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Cleveland Browns. The previous season Landry totaled 112 receptions, 987 yards, 9 TD's and finished as the WR7 in 1/2ppr scoring. After joining the Browns, Landry was given a huge contract and was expected by many to increase his production. In 2018 Jarvis Landry finished with 81 receptions, 976 yards, 4 TD's and finished as the WR19 in 1/2ppr scoring.

Odell Beckham Jr WR, CLE: Odell Beckham Jr. was drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. OBJ quickly erupted in the NFL with an electric rookie season. Beckham rose very quickly in the wide receiver ranks and proved himself to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Beckham was awarded a huge five year $95 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2018 season. OBJ only played 12 games in 2018 and averaged 6.4 receptions, 87.66 yards, 0.5 TD's per game. Beckham finished as the WR6 in fantasy points per game in 1/2ppr scoring leagues. Following the 2018 season, he was traded from the New York Giants to the Cleveland Browns. In his first season with the Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. was projected to be an elite number one option for rising star quarterback Baker Mayfield. However, Beckham was a major disappointment in 2019 in which he averaged 4.6 receptions, 64.68 yards, and 0.25 TD's per game. OBJ finished as the WR35 in fantasy points per game in 1/2ppr scoring leagues.

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Golden Tate WR, NYG: For a very long time in fantasy football, Golden Tate had been billed as one of the most consistent wide receivers to produce out of the slot. Tate had four straight seasons of 90+ receptions from 2014 to 2017 with the Detroit Lions. Tate was looking to continue that streak in 2018 when through seven games he had amassed 44 receptions, 517 yards, 3 TD's with the Lions. Through those seven games, Tate was the WR18 in fantasy points per game in 1/2ppr scoring. Midseason in 2018 he was traded from the struggling Lions to the wide receiver needy Philadelphia Eagles. Golden Tate ended up playing eight games with the Eagles and finished those eight games with 30 receptions, 278 yards, and 1 TD. In the second half of the year with the Eagles, Tate was the WR71 in fantasy points per game in 1/2ppr scoring.

Terrelle Pryor WR, FA: Terrelle Pryor had one of the most interesting and unique football careers in recent memory. Pryor left Ohio State University on a bad note when he was going to be suspended for the start of his senior season. Pryor decided to enter the NFL supplemental draft and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders as a quarterback. He wasn't very successful at the NFL level as a quarterback, outside of his elite running ability. After not being signed for the 2014 season, Pryor decided to make the switch to wide receiver and was eventually signed by the Browns at the very end of the 2015 NFL season. Terrelle Pryor entered 2016 as one of the few outside receiving threats on the Browns and he took advantage of the lack of positional talent. Pryor came out of seemingly nowhere to have 77 receptions, 1007 yards, 4 TD's, and finished the year as the WR20 in 1/2ppr scoring. Pryor was a pretty hot commodity in the wide receiver free-agent market after that year and even turned down a four year $32 million offer from the Cleveland Browns. Pryor accepted a one year "prove it" contract with the Washington Redskins to go play for Kirk Cousins. Due to his overwhelming success in 2016 and signing with a good offense that needed a number one receiver, he was being drafted in the second round of many fantasy football drafts and was projected to be one of the better fantasy wide receivers in the NFL. Pryor was one of the biggest busts in that 2017 season when he totaled just 20 receptions, 240 yards, 1 TD, and finished the year as the WR108 in 1/2ppr scoring.

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Allen Robinson WR, CHI: Allen Robinson is the most current example of a wide receiver with elite talent and ability, yet still is not able to consistently produce stats that reflect his talent due to the lack of quarterback talent he has had. Robinson was drafted by the Jaguars in 2014 and had a breakout sophomore season with the team. Robinson’s last full year with the Jaguars he finished with 73 receptions, 883 yards, 6 TD's, and was the WR25 on the season in 1/2ppr scoring. He got hurt in week one of the 2017 season and didn't play another game in that season. Allen Robinson signed with the Chicago Bears prior to the 2018 NFL season and prior to the season was viewed as the number one receiver for recently drafted #2 overall pick QB Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky struggled as a rookie and that prevented Robinson from achieving his full potential for the Bears. In his first season with the team, he had 55 receptions, 754 yards, 4 TD's, and finished as the WR41 in 1/2ppr scoring.

Obviously this information does nothing to help you with any of the players that I named because their dynasty value has changed due to the players' productivity after they changed teams. You should look to use these examples and implement them into current day dynasty fantasy football by looking at players that have changed teams over this offseason. Some of the players that would fit this narrative are De'Andre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, and Robby Anderson. Each one of these players signed or was traded to a new team this offseason.

After reading through all of these stats, information, and all the players that meet the criteria this year, you may be thinking "okay so what do I do with this information?" The answer to that question would be determined by the makeup of your dynasty roster. If you own an above-average wide receiver that just changed teams, then you should look into trading that player and trying to capitalize on the high current value of the player. If you don't own any of the players that meet this criterion, then it would be beneficial to avoid these players for this year and possibly try to capitalize on the players lowered value next offseason if he does indeed underperform. Being able to understand and identify trends in fantasy football and just NFL football, in general, is a phenomenal way to get a better grasp of the transactions that you should and should not be making. This will make you a much better dynasty fantasy football player and should help you lock up some fantasy football championships in the very near future!

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