Cleat Geeks

A Dynasty Slot To Be Grateful For

As dynasty fantasy football players, we are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve and acquire a player (whether in a startup or rookie draft or via trade) at a reasonable, if not at a discounted price prior to their breakout year. We will try to look for trends or changes in a team’s makeup that could possibly lead to a breakout for a player that typically has flown under the radar or has been severely underdrafted.

I went with a different approach for my first dynasty fantasy football article. As opposed to looking at an entire position, I am attempting to break it down even further and will be identifying a potential breakout slot receiver in the upcoming 2018 season based on some historical data.Image result for golden tate

While it is extremely difficult to predict when a player will break out, there are trends and historical data available that could give us a helping hand. What I have done is decided to focus on one slot receiver over the past 3 years that have been severely undervalued in the dynasty startup draft. I have collected data ranging from offensive line rankings, target share, team’s number of rushes in a season, and simply asking myself “Are there any significant changes from one season to the next that resulted in a breakout?”

Of the three slot WRs I have focused on from 2015-2017 (Baldwin, Tate, Thielen), there is some information that could help in predicting a future breakout for another slot receiver. While for Baldwin and Tate, their respective teams have all but neglected the running game in the past 2 years, ranking 20th/21st and 32nd/31st respectively, the narrative is slightly different for Adam Thielen. While the Vikings ranked 2nd in total rush attempts, they also were number 7 in total plays, which still resulted in a significant amount of passing attempts, 520.

There have been increased discussions in “How does the caliber of an offensive line impact fantasy RB production?” As this is a topic for another time, the short answer is…there is no correlation. However, I do not believe the same holds true for “How does the caliber of an offensive line impact fantasy slot receiver production?” As a quarterback is more likely to get pressured/hit, there is a greater chance that he will be looking for a quick pass, whether it is to a RB on a quick screen or a slot receiver on a short route. As noted below, there is not one season during the timeframe being discussed in which the Seahawks, Lions, or Vikings ranked better than 19th in terms of offensive line rankings.

Year of Dynasty Startup Draft 2015 2016 2017
Player Doug Baldwin Golden Tate Adam Thielen
Positional ADP in Dynasty Startup Year Prior to Breakout Outside of top 61 WRs 29th 51st
Team’s Rushing Attempts 2014: 525 (2nd)

2015: 500 (3rd)

2016: 403 (20th)

2017: 409 (21st)

2015: 354 (31st)

2016: 350 (32nd)

2017: 363 (31st)

2016: 380 (26th)

2017: 501 (2nd)

Total Offensive Plays 2014: 1,021 (15th)

2015: 1,035 (16th)

2016: 1,012 (19th)

2017: 1,007 (17th)

2015: 1,030 (17th)

2016: 981 (29th)

2017: 980 (28th)

2016: 1,006 (23rd)

2017: 1,055 (7th)

Offensive Line Rank 2014: 19th

2015: 30th

2016: 32nd

2017: 27th

2015: 24th

2016: 19th

2017: 19th

2016: 29th

2017: 22nd

WR Rank 2014: 43rd

2015: 10th

2016: 8th

2017:11th

2015: 24th

2016: 17th

2017: 13th

2016: 29th

2017: 8th

Target Share 2014: 98/432 (22.7%)

2015: 103/472 (21.8%)

2016: 125/548 (22.8%)

2017: 116/526 (22.1%)

2015: 128/622 (20.6%)

2016: 135/582 (23.2%)

2017: 120/565 (21.2%)

2016: 92/585 (15.7%)

2017: 142/520 (27.3%)

With historical data behind us, here is the one slot receiver I am targeting (hopefully his new QB does the same) during the 2018 off-season, as I believe he can be had at a reasonable price and will ultimately yield a nice return on investment.

Jamison Crowder

Year of Dynasty Startup Draft 2018
Player Jamison Crowder
Taken in 2018 Startups WR34
Team’s Rushing Attempts 2014: 401 (21st)

2015: 429 (15th)

2016: 379 (27th)

2017: 401 (24th)

Total Offensive Plays 2014: 1,006 (26th)

2015: 1,011 (23rd)

2016: 1,009 (21st)

2017: 982 (27th)

Predicted Offensive Line Ranking 12th

2017 – Ranked 22nd in QB hits allowed (93)

WR Rank 2015 – 51st

2016 – 31st

2017 – 33rd

Target Share 2015 – 78/555 (14.1%)

2016 – 99/593 (16.7%)

2017 – 103/534 (19.3%)

Similarly to Adam Thielen prior to his breakout, Jamison Crowder will be working on building a rapport with a new quarterback for the 2018 season, Alex Smith. While there is certainly a debate as to whether or not the Cousins to Smith change is an overall downgrade for the Washington offense in terms of fantasy production, there is some information available to suggest this might not be the case. Throughout Alex Smith’s 13-year career, he has had 12 different receivers receive a target share of 19%.

Image result for jamison crowder redskins

Photo by; NBC Sports

Smith is also touted as being one of the best deep ball throwers in the league. While Josh Doctson still has room for improvement, he could be the weapon that Washington needs to allow defenses to be stretched, which will open up underneath routes for Crowder to compile a career high target share (current high of 19.3%).

While projected to be a top 12 offensive line, there is a concern of injury history, which resulted in 27 offensive line combinations used in 2017 (2nd only behind the Eagles with 28). With a constant shuffling across the offensive line, the Redskins had allowed 93 QB hits in 2017, which ranked 22nd. Constant pressure applied to Smith in 2018 would result in quick underneath throws allowing Jamison Crowder to have ample opportunity to improve his value, as he is currently being drafted as WR34 in dynasty startup drafts.

Adding Derrius Guice to the backfield and incorporating Chris Thompson back into the mix after a fractured fibula ended his 2017 season early, it would make sense that this could feasibly result in fewer opportunities for Crowder to make a big impact in 2018. Under Jay Gruden, the Redskins have never ranked better than 15th in rushing attempts. I do not see a drastic coaching style change in Gruden’s 5th season as the Redskins’ head coach.

With a current dynasty startup value of WR34, Jamison Crowder is in a similar situation as Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Adam Thielen before him and is poised to make a splash as the next big slot receiver in the NFL.

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