Doubt Brandon Marshall At Your Own Risk
“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned” -W. Congreve
This article is part of an ongoing series that explores ideas related to exploiting recency bias. The first concept, “chasing the dragon,” applies to Rob Gronkowski and Andrew Luck and can be found here. If players outperform their ADPs significantly, it creates a situation where they are drafted near their ceilings in the following year because everyone is infatuated. Betting that last year’s big hit will be this year’s big hit despite a lack of predictability and a dramatic change in price is the kind of natural flaw in thinking that can be used to your advantage.
The second concept, exploiting emotionally fueled avoidance, helps us find underpriced assets. I first focused on how this seems to apply to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees; For wide receivers, I think it similarly applies to Brandon Marshall.
A LEGENDARY CAREER
|16 Game Pace Criteria||Receptions||Targets||Receiving Yards||Touchdowns||PPR Fantasy Points|
There are two ways to approach the obvious, dramatic drop in per target and per reception efficiency Marshall experienced last season. It’s certainly reasonable to worry if that was the age cliff, and he fell off. Alternatively, the possibility that it was an uncharacteristically down year marred by injury, leaves a potentially lucrative combination of floor, ceiling, and price.
As with other articles about draft strategy and identifying undervalued or overvalued assets, I use four tools to create a variety of projections.
-The 2014 season end finish of the player’s positional ADP.1
|Projection Tool||PPR Fantasy Points|
|2010-2014 ADP WR25||172.4|
|Writers' Composite Projection||215.3|
The range of projections for Marshall seems extremely low given his career production. Not only is the high projection far below his 16 game pace over the last three seasons, the low projection is far below his pace last season in what was an inefficient year. One of my favorite pieces this offseason was written by Jacob Rickrode, where he explored the careers of what he calls The Elite 24 Dynasty Wide Receivers. To say that this work positively highlights Marshall’s career would be a dramatic understatement.
Marshall’s career has been nothing short of astounding, with seven straight top 24 seasons, and six WR1 seasons in seven years. The only other player to accomplish that in the last decade is Larry Fitzgerald, who like Marshall had a WR3 year in his ninth season. Fitzgerald then did exactly what Marshall would need to do in order to beat his ADP expectations, which is bounce back to a WR2 season at 30 or older (WR17 in 2013). While Rich Hribar’s age declination research creates understandable anxiety about betting against the age cliff, the recent history of older WRs with Marshall’s elite pedigree should be comforting.
These projections paint an optimistic outlook that conservatively underperforms Marshall’s career numbers. Couple that with what WRs of similar career stature have been able to accomplish, and the questions then focus on his new offense and opportunity.
YES WE CHAN
I have previously written about why I am excited for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chris Ivory in New Jersey:
Chan Gailey has always been known as a spread specialist, normally operating an offense that has three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end. What’s interesting is the difference between Gailey’s tendency to operate a short passing game, and the pairing of Marshall with Eric Decker, who both thrive as downfield receivers. In Gailey’s three years in Buffalo, they were 28th, 15th, and 20th in Net Passing Yards per Attempt, posting a very consistent 5.7, 6.0, and 6.2 AYA.
Last season, Marshall posted 12.7 average depth of target2, with Decker posting 11.5. For yards per reception, Marshall had 11.8, with Decker at an even gaudier 13.0. An obvious argument would be that those numbers will drop because of Gailey, but Fitzpatrick was, albeit shockingly, fourth among 34 qualified QBs last season in yards per attempt, and fifth in adjusted yards per attempt. This coupling of Gailey’s offense and the Jets’ WRs will allow him to really open the field in a way he was never able to in Buffalo.
Anthony Amico has also written about why he believes in both Marshall and Eric Decker. His reasoning is that because Gailey has consistently enabled his top pass catching weapons, the targets should be there for both WRs.
The likelihood Marshall outperforms his ADP seems very reasonable, while the chances he underperforms without injury seem unlikely. This man is an absolutely special, elite talent that does not come around very often. To be drafted outside of the WR2 tier when he is only 31 years old, and playing for an accomplished coordinator in an offense loaded with talent, represents a great opportunity. Take the gift that your leaguemates are giving you when he falls into your lap as your WR3.