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History of WR Changing Teams

In dynasty fantasy football there is a vast spectrum of ways to frame a player’s situation. When it comes to a wide receiver switching teams, the public opinion can be polarizing. For a wide receiver like Robby Anderson or Breshad Perriman, it may be viewed that they are freed from bad situations. On the other hand, elite wide receivers like Deandre Hopkins and Stefon Diggs are severed from their high target shares and quarterbacks connections.  Blow is a  history on these situations to see if there are any observable trends.

Production Dip 1st year vs 2nd year of new Offense

The sample is comprised of all wide receiver seasons dating back to 2000. In a subset of this sample, there are 184 wide receivers under the age of 30, who scored over 5 PPR points per game in a year before changing teams change (5PPG minimum threshold to weed out the truly irrelevant players). The table below shows the results, subset by PPG prior to the move. Each subset progressively isolates the more productive wide receivers in order to see if the effect of the team change is greater or lesser for higher caliber wide receivers. The first row shows the percentage of players that experience a production drop in year 1. The second row shows how many of those players bounced back in year 2. The third row shows how many were still below their pre-move total in the second year of the new offense.

Although the sample size gets smaller (and therefore less reliable) as we isolate the more productive wide receivers, the empirical evidence is obviously not positive for them. At each extra step of isolation, we see a higher rate of production drop in year 1 of the new system. We also see progressively lower bounce back rates (row 2), and progressively lower rates of returning to the former glory they exhibited with their prior team. 

3-Year Average Analysis

To circumvent any outlier seasons from a player the 3-year averages before and after a team change were compared.  Below are the results, this time the rate at which wide receivers experience a drop in 3-year average PPG is shown (row 1), as well as the average size of that drop (row 2).

Again, we see an overall negative outcome for changing teams, and that is amplified with the more productive wide receivers. It is important to note that only 9 wide receivers had over a 15PPG 3-year average so the sample was quite small. Interestingly Brandon Marshall was the only one not to drop in production, he managed to adapt quickly when he moved from Miami to Chicago in 2012.

Takeaways

 Lower Tier WRs- The likes of Breshad Perriman, Robby Anderson and Randall Cobb weren’t staples in starting lineups in 2019, and all have changed teams this off season. Given the findings above and the shortened offseason it’s hard to imagine any of them vaulting into relevance.

Brandin Cooks – Cooks is hard to pin down, his PPG number last season was heavily influenced by health issues, and the three-year sample prior to that consisted of seasons with three different teams. He seems to have an almost comical history of changing team and still producing. Your guess is as good as mine.

Stefon Diggs and Deandre Hopkins – Both of these guys crack the top echelon grouping (Over 15 PPG) and will see their first year in a new system in 2020. History suggests a decline should be expected for both as the average drop in 3-year average for player in that group is 5.08 PPG. Remember only Brandon Marshall has ever maintained or outperformed their prior production from that tier.

Odell Beckham Jr. (Year 2)- As a highly debated player entering his second year on a new team, Odell Beckham Jr. also falls into the top group in terms of productivity prior to the move. Results suggest it is unlikely that OBJ returns to his former ceiling. Only 38% of wide receivers above the 15 PPG threshold managed to rebound following a poor first year in a new offense and none returned to their prior form.

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