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Success & Ages of Wide Receivers For Fantasy Football in 2015

week 14 targets

For Fantasy Football success, age is not just a number. Unfortunately, for most Fantasy Football players, misinformation blurs what is really important when it comes to age and success, and what is just noise.

Instead of just giving in to the noise, I wanted to focus on what could not only help myself, but other Fantasy Football players win their leagues. What ages of wide receivers should we consider targeting? Running backs? Quarterbacks?

There will be a number of aging veterans in the league in 2015, and the 2015 NFL Draft class will welcome some of the newest stars to your Fantasy Football draft board.

With that in mind, which players should you draft and who should you avoid based on their age?  Should you avoid a running back after age 30? Do second-year receivers generally have their breakout year?

That’s what this three-part series is going to discuss. Read on as I get to the bottom of what you need to know.

2015 Fantasy Football: Age and Success

Ages of Wide Receivers & Fantasy Football Production

In Jonathan Bale’s “Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know,” the misconception and misinformation around age and Fantasy Football production is clarified for each position with extensive research.

Fortunately, Bale also provides the ages where players generally reach their peak. “That peak has historically come at age 26. Actually, the three-year window from ages 25 to 27 is often the most productive for wide receivers. Over the past decade, receivers in each age of that range-25,26, and 27-have produced over 97 percent of their peak production, as a whole.”

I compiled a list of the Top 10 wide receivers, as well as their ages entering the 2014 season to test the accuracy of Bale’s research.

  1. Antonio Brown – 26
  2. Demaryius Thomas – 26
  3. Jordy Nelson – 29
  4. Dez Bryant – 25
  5. Odell Beckham Jr. – 21
  6. Emmanuel Sanders – 27
  7. Randall Cobb – 24
  8. Julio Jones – 25
  9. Jeremy Maclin – 26
  10. T.Y. Hilton – 24

When I totaled the numbers, I found that the average age of the Top 10 wide receivers from the 2014 Fantasy Football season was 25.3. Even with Beckham Jr. being a little bit of an outlier, you can still see the accuracy of this data. I found it also interesting to note that Brown and Thomas were 26 upon entering the 2014 Fantasy Football season, and each receiver finished as the highest and second-highest scoring receiver respectively.

Now, in case you were wondering about the rest of the Top 20 receivers, I accounted for that as well.

  • Mike Evans – 21
  • Alshon Jeffery – 24
  • Golden Tate – 26
  • Calvin Johnson – 28
  • DeAndre Hopkins – 22
  • DeSean Jackson – 27
  • Kelvin Benjamin – 23
  • Mike Wallace – 28
  • Torrey Smith – 25
  • Steve Smith Sr. – 35

So, what was the average age of the 11th-20th ranked wide receivers? Their average age was 25.9. It is interesting to note, however, the amount of younger receivers who made enough of a Fantasy Football impact to find themselves as a Top 20 receiver in 2014. Evans and Benjamin were rookies, and Hopkins was a second-year player. When you combine the data, the average age of a Top 20 receiver in 2014 was 25.6.

While this is interesting information, how can you apply it to your 2015 Fantasy Football league?

First, I think this data suggests you don’t want to place too much emphasis on aging receivers. When you think of an older receiver, there are two main barriers for them to achieve Fantasy Football success:

  1. Injuries
  2. Increased opportunities and production from younger receivers

The older a player gets, longer recovery periods are needed to return from an injury. In that time frame, a younger receiver can step up, and by the time the older player returns to the lineup, he may not be relied on as heavily. If an aging wide receiver is not injured but shows signs of slowing down, that opens the door for a younger player to receive increased opportunities.

Last season, I relied too heavily on Reggie Wayne in one of my leagues. He was solid in my PPR format for the first nine games of the season, but heavily faded towards the end. I like Andre Johnson in 2015 Fantasy Football leagues, and while he is a little younger and a different player than Wayne, I’m going to be more cautious this year than I would have been last season. With Hilton and a young Donte Moncrief in the mix, Johnson will face barriers to finding Fantasy Football success, even with Andrew Luck throwing the ball.

There will always be outliers such as Beckham Jr. and Smith Sr. making the list, but why try to beat the market? I wouldn’t use this data as my main criteria for drafting a wide receiver, but it would obviously help narrow down some of my choices.

Now that you’ve learned about strategy involving ages of wide receivers, stay tuned as we roll through the other positions in the coming days.

Demaryius Thomas Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall

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