Fantasy Football

Fantasy football metronome Mike Evans still a ridiculous draft value after a decade of production

Fantasy football metronome Mike Evans still a ridiculous draft value after a decade of production

Mike Evans has shown no signs of slowing down, but he’s not being drafted like the WR1 he is in fantasy football. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Mike Evans is coming off the standard-issue Mike Evans season, which is to say he was great in 2023.

In fact, Evans was better in his first year with Baker Mayfield than he’d been in his last year with Tom Brady. He caught 79 passes last season for 1,255 yards on 136 targets while producing a league-best 13 touchdowns.

Evans has now played a full decade in the NFL and has caught at least 70 passes in eight different years, plus he’s scored a dozen or more TDs five times. Famously, he has never finished a season with fewer than 1,000 receiving yards.

If you’re looking for any signs of decline in the performance of Evans in his age-30 season … well, good luck. No such indicators exist and all the underlying advanced numbers look excellent. Last year, he once again finished among the leaders in contested catches (16-for-30) and average depth of target (15.0) while setting career highs in both yards-after-catch (333) and YAC per reception (4.2). Evans also played all 17 games in 2023, so there are no health concerns here.

If we just gave you the raw numbers on Evans without a name attached, you’d probably assume he was a locked-in WR1 in fantasy, a consensus second-round pick in nearly all formats. His per-17 average season over the course of his career looks like this: 84 receptions, 1,289 yards, 10 TDs. Evans pretty much nailed those stats last year — five fewer catches, three more touchdowns — while finishing as the overall WR4. In six of the past eight seasons, he’s delivered a top-eight positional finish.

Basically, the man never gives us a dud. Evans hasn’t yet ranked outside the top 30 at his position in fantasy at the end of any season, and he has seven top-10 finishes. He’s as bankable as it gets among great players.

However, the fantasy community has clearly become bored with all these 1,200-12 seasons from Evans, because his early average draft position has almost no relationship to his actual history. He’s currently the WR19 in terms of ADP, despite having not finished that low in any season since 2017. Evans is going later than several younger, buzzier receivers who have never produced at the level he consistently reaches.

This, of course, is a recurring phenomenon in fantasy across all sports. Many of us are so focused on drafting the next big thing that we overlook the current big thing. People are gonna victory-lap pretty hard if we get an 80-1,150-8 season from Drake London at WR12, even if Evans gives us his usual 80-1,200-10 at a friendlier cost.

It’s likely that a few of you are dismissing Evans due to age — he turns 31 in August — but, again, he displayed zero signs of decline last year. None whatsoever. It's not as if his best years were a pure product of a Tom Brady offense, either. This man has caught two-thirds of his career touchdown passes from a rogues gallery of QBs that includes Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Mike Glennon.

When we last saw Evans in action just four months ago, he was absolutely cooking the Lions in the postseason (8-147-1).

Evans has been winning with size, strength, length and separation ability for the past 10 years, and there’s no reason to think 2024 will look substantially different from any other season of his career.

Fade this fantasy legend at your own peril.


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