Now that free agency, the NFL Draft, and the schedule release have all passed, we have our initial layout in place in team depth charts and strength of schedule. With that, we want to take a look at some players across the fantasy landscape that are either polarizing, over/undervalued, or just interesting topics of discussion and walk through some pros and cons of where those players are regarded in fantasy circles through these long days of summer leading into the actual starts of training camps and actionable news.
Week 1 Age: 28.0
Contract: Signed through 2023
Using the Dynasty ADP app available at RotoViz, for the first time since his rookie season, Evans is no longer a WR1 Dynasty selection. Coming off a 70-1,006-13 campaign in 2020, currently being selected on average at 49.6 overall and the WR20, Evans was selected at pick 28.4 and WR8 at this time a year ago.
Mike Evans Career Stats
Evans snuck over the 1,000-yard barrier for the seventh consecutive season in 2020, becoming the first player ever to hit that mark in each of his first seven seasons in the league. Through seven seasons, Evans ranks 10th in all-time receiving yardage and 15th in receiving yardage per game.
Despite setting history in extending his 1K streak while also posting a career-high 13 touchdowns, the 2020 season did have some blemishes for Evans. He also set career-lows in targets (6.8), receptions (4.4) and yardage (62.9) per game with a career-low 14.4 yards per reception, although that mark was second on the team behind Scotty Miller (15.2 yards per grab). I have some more notes on the 2020 season to get into shortly, but Evans and his fantasy perception offer a unique conversation point for us to walk through for a moment.
Boom, Bust, and In-Between
Although Evans has been a perpetual WR1 in fantasy, he has never been a wideout that carries the same WR1 clout as his peers since he has always been regarded as a hyper-volatile fantasy player.
Consistency and the value of it has always been an ongoing dialogue for fantasy gamers. It may be unpopular, but I actually am in the “consistency is overrated” crowd, especially at wide receiver. The primary reason is that there are very few players who are consistently high scoring on a weekly level per season and fantasy scoring on a player level is not a bell curve. It is carried by spike moments among those players.
At the end of the day, year-over-year consistency is unstable. In-season variance for players can be alleviated across a full lineup. When we lose, we are inclined to designate fault to the low individual scores not matching their per game output, but the answer is almost always a lack of peak performances across the board in our lineups.
Pair that with the knowledge that the average fantasy matchup outcome is not as tight to begin with as we believe as highlighted by Adam Harstad in this golden oldie on the subject, and what I am really saying here is that low weeks do not lose you matchups in a fashion like high points win them for you.
Getting back on track and bringing this back to Evans himself, the first question to ask is Evans actually a volatile player or is it just a narrative surrounding him?
Looking at the top-50 non-rookie wideouts in ADP, here is where Evans ranks in the rate of his career WR1, WR2, WR3, and WR4 or lower scoring weeks compared to the field.
Mike Evans Career Weekly Scoring Rank Rate
|WR||WR1||Rank||WR2+||Rank||WR3+||Rank||WR4 or Lower||Rank|
For his career, Evans has been a WR1 in PPR scoring in 36.8% of his career games played, a rate only bested by Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham. One interesting layer here is that although Evans has had an extremely high rate of WR1 scoring games over his career, his 25.9 points per game in those WR1 weeks ranks 18th among 25 wideouts with double-digit WR1 scoring weeks over their careers from that bucket of players. Evans has had his share of monster games, but the notion that when he pops he goes nuclear is a bit misleading compared to the field.
Looking above, you can see that there is some trickle down to where Evans ranks in WR2 or better scoring weeks and WR3 or better scoring weeks compared to his ranking in rate of WR1 scoring weeks. That perceived inconsistency and floor is true when comparing Evans to his WR1 peers such as a Michael Thomas or Julio Jones, but he still offers a better floor than given credit floor as he ranks 15th out those 50 wideouts in WR3 or better scoring rate. Evans also averages 8.0 PPR points per game in the weeks that he has been a WR4 or lower in weekly scoring, which ranks as the fourth-highest among these 50 wide receivers, trailing only CeeDee Lamb (8.3 points and only one season under his belt), Michael Thomas (8.3), and Antonio Brown (8.2).
At the end of the day, Evans’s lack of consistency has largely been a half-truth (only true compared to the very elite wideouts) while his actual floor has been much higher than given credit for.
While that is some added context for his career, Evans still lacked the typical boom weeks gamers have previously chased in 2020. He had four WR1 scoring weeks with one true week winner (and league winner if you got there with him) in Week 16 with 40.1 PPR points, but it was the fewest WR1 scoring weeks for his career. If anything to knock Evans for regarding consistency in 2020, it would be his lack of spike weeks in a twist of fate for his career narrative.
It is worth noting that Evans began the season with a hamstring injury in the preseason, although he did not miss a game at all during the season. He was on the injury report three different times in season with hamstring, ankle, and knee issues. Despite missing no games and only exiting one game early, Evans still was banged up last season.
That is not an excuse, just a note. At the end of the 2020 season, a career-high 13 touchdowns and 11.9% touchdown rate elevated Evans over his actual opportunity. 31.4% of his fantasy output stemmed from touchdowns alone, his highest dependency in that department over his seven seasons. His previous three seasons were at 20.6%, 16.9%, and 14.8%. His 11.9% touchdown rate per reception was the first time he hit a double-digit rate in his career.
Since 1992, there have been 96 wide receivers to score on 10% or more of their receptions with at least 25 grabs on the season. Of those 96, 88 of them caught fewer touchdowns the following season with an average loss of 5.6 receiving scores. We know Evans has always been a highly targeted player in the end zone, but it is realistic to expect him to move back into the 7-9 area of touchdown grabs in 2021.
Evans ranked 36th among wide receivers in target per game last season (6.8), receiving just 17.4% of the team targets that he played in, it was the lowest target share that Evans has had over his career.
*Tm Tgt% is in games played
With the Bucs going to a more diverse offense under Tom Brady, Evans shared the spotlight with more talent than he ever has over his career. Evans had three or fewer receptions in seven regular season games, and then in three of the four playoff games for the Bucs.
Even with the loss of an elite target share, Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown played 10 full games together with Evans still coming out on top of the trio as the primary wideout for fantasy due to his edge in targets and the types of targets he receives.
Tampa Bay WRs In 10 Full Games Played Together
*Week 17 excluded due to Evans playing just 11 snaps
The receptions here were even across the board while Evans had a slight target lead overall on Godwin, but Evans was able to get ahead to being used downfield and in the end zone over both. Evans matched Rob Gronkowski with a team-high 14 end zone targets on the season and received more end zone looks than both Godwin and Brown combined in their full games played together. Commanding quality targets no matter his overall volume is something Evans has remained consistent in over his career. Here are his ranks among the top-50 non-rookie wideouts in downfield and end zone targets, which carry the most fantasy weight.
Mike Evans Career Target Distribution
In dynasty, every player has potential to be both a buy and sell at the same time. You just have to find the proper context for your league in which he is valued per owner. I am in lockstep with the current market as I have Evans as the WR20 in Dynasty.
Entering the 2021 season at age 28, there is not much Evans can do at this stage to raise his dynasty value significantly. It is just going to continually tread water or dip from here on out. The main concerns for Evans moving forward are that he should be expected to have immediate scoring regression in 2021, may never get back to pushing the 25% mark of team targets the way Tampa Bay is currently constructed, and we still have no idea when Brady moves on and Tampa Bay has to reset at the position. The latter note is not too much of a concern given Evans has performed with a litany of poor quarterback play.
If buying at the lowest cost of Evans’s career, the pros are that he has also delivered, can still see a target spike compared to 2020, and has always commanded high-leverage targets on the looks he does receive no matter expected regression in the scoring department. His 2020 season is also a testament to why you select players with true trump cards in the first place, because even when they have their worst statistical season, they can prevent bottoming all the way out. Although he can do little to move his value upwards at age 28, Evans still has significant meat left on the bone for production beyond 2021 as well since he has been one of the most precocious players at his position.
Startup ADP and cost is not going to be an exact market for you with team context a driving force in established leagues, but here are the buy and sell point suggestions using that as a guideline pending which side you fall on.
Market 2020 Rookie Pick Value: Mid-First (1.05-1.07)
Market RB Value Targets: Javonte Williams, David Montgomery, Chris Carson, Kareem Hunt
Market WR Value Targets: Keenan Allen, Tee Higgins, Courtland Sutton, Diontae Johnson
Market TE Value Targets: T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews