Dynasty Buy Low Candidate: Mike Evans (Fantasy Football)
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It is no secret that Mike Evans was one of the biggest fantasy disappointments of 2017. Drafted as a top five WR in re-draft and startup dynasty drafts, Evans finished the season at No. 17 in total fantasy points among wide receivers (PPR scoring). Some of his difficulties can be attributed to the struggles of his QB, Jameis Winston, who also had a down year, but ultimately if you drafted Evans this year, he left you disappointed.
There is only one good thing to come from a star player having a down season, and that’s buying him at a low price from a panicked owner. Even though it seems like Evans has been in the NFL forever, he is going into his fifth season and will be only 25 when the season starts. In other words, he is still very young for an NFL wide receiver and is just now entering the prime of his career.
After his down season in 2017, he has now alternated good and bad seasons over his first four years. He broke into the league as a rookie with 12 TDs but followed that up with only three the next season.
In 2016, he had a career year with 1,321 yards and 12 TDs before his disappointing 2017 season. If history repeats itself, we can expect a big bounce back for Evans in 2018.
His 2017 season wasn’t entirely a disaster, as he still had over 1,000 yards receiving, 136 targets and was firmly in the WR2 range for the season. The 136 targets he got was the second-lowest total in his career — only his rookie season was worse — but despite that number being near a career low, he still ranked as the 11th-most targetted wide receiver in the league. That was more targets than the likes of Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Devante Adams, and Golden Tate, all of whom had better fantasy season then did Evans.
His biggest drop off in fantasy production came from his lack of TDs, with only five on the season. Despite being tied for the seventh most red zone targets (19), he only converted four of them into scores — only Adam Thielen and Julio Jones had fewer TDs for receivers with at least 19 red zone targets. If we took that a step further and looked at targets inside the 10-yard-line, his 11 percent catch rate inside the 10 was the second worst for receivers with at least nine targets — only Adam Thielen’s nine percent was lower.
In fantasy football, opportunity trumps everything else, and Evans had plenty of opportunities in 2017, which is encouraging for dynasty owners as we look ahead to 2018. I think Evans’ season was the exception not, the rule.
If he gets similar chances next year with 130-plus targets and 19-plus red zone targets, his production will adjust to the mean resulting in a much better fantasy season. Some trigger-happy owners may not think that way, and you might be able to put together a package of low-end fantasy players, or draft picks to try and pry Evans away to reap the benefits next season.