Fantasy Football: Is Doug Baldwin Going Undervalued in 2018?
Test time, readers! Can you name the wide receiver who has been a top-10 option in Points Per Reception (PPR) formats two of the past three seasons and finished as WR14 in 2017?
Let's quickly eliminate Odell Beckham, who was lost to injury in 2017. We can toss out Julio Jones and Antonio Brown as well, as they remained elite top-10 options. And don't forget that DeAndre Hopkins wildly under-performed in 2016.
Give up yet? Well, the answer is Doug Baldwin.
Baldwin has had a boulder-sized chip on his shoulder ever since going undrafted out of Stanford in 2011. While the years of him being a sneaky late-round value have faded, though, owners can still get the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver with little risk.
Currently, Baldwin is being drafted as WR10 in PPR drafts (according to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP data), which means he's going early on in the third round. For those with a dynasty focus, the wide receiver turns 30 in September of 2018, and is being selected as WR18 early in Round 4. But, given the changes in Seattle, is he still going off the board too late?
Past Production and Opportunity
|Year||Target Market Share||Targets||Recs||Rec Yds||Rec TDs|
Over the past few years, as the Seahawks moved further away from the run-based offense that got them to the Super Bowl, Baldwin maintained a consistent hold on the team's market target share within the offense. And a deeper look shows that there is little reason to expect that to change.
|Year||Rec Yds||Air Yards||AirYards Market Share|
A great way of tracking how involved a player is in a team's offense is by looking at targets and Air Yards, which track how many yards a ball travels past the line of scrimmage. This measures the potential yards a receiver would produce if they catch the ball, and then are immediately down. This metric is great for measuring the intent of the offense and the player's role in the offense. And tracking that player's share of his team's Air Yards can be just as helpful.
Based on Air Yards, Baldwin has been a lock for nearly a quarter of the Seahawks passing game over the past four years.
One of the biggest knocks against Baldwin has always been his consistency.
Recently, ESPN put together their 2017 Fantasy Football Consistency Ratings, which showed that Baldwin can be a frustrating own in fantasy. But their data used standard leagues, so with a majority of fantasy owners moving out of the dark ages from standard scoring to PPR, we take a look at how he performed from week to week when returning a point per catch.
|Week||Targets||Recs||Rec Yds||TDs||PPR Points||PPR Finish|
So let's think about roster breakdown for a second. Most leagues have 3 starting wide receivers and there are 12 teams in your standard leagues. With that in mind, Baldwin only produced stud WR1 numbers in four games during the 2017 season, one of which was Week 17, when most fantasy leagues have moved on to the playoffs.
However, Baldwin was starter worthy (a WR36 finish or better) in 10 of 16 weeks. His duds, though, were back-breakers. For three weeks, Baldwin wasn't even a WR5 (the top 60 fantasy wide receivers), and his Week 15 finish was far from fantasy relevance.
In his six NFL seasons, Baldwin has been a model of good health, as he's missed only two games to date. He is a tough player who will remain in your lineup even while dinged up. You might have to deal with some absolute duds, but for the most part you can count on him being a startable commodity.
The Seahawks offense is in transition with opportunities abounding, as Jimmy Graham departed to the Green Bay Packers and Paul Richardson went to the Washington Redskins. With Graham leaving, it vacates nearly 96 targets in the passing game and 26 in the red zone alone. Richardson's departure vacates 80 targets in the passing game with 11 of those coming in the red zone.
At this time, it appears that the team will look to fill the void with an aged Brandon Marshall, speedster Tyler Lockett, and second-year wideouts Amara Darboh and Nick Vannett. Only Marshall has shown the pass-catching acumen of Baldwin, but that was three seasons ago. Since then, he's dealt with injuries and some real inconsistencies.
While Baldwin's not the late-round value that he once was, he is still a solid target for players in redraft leagues. For owners that target an elite running back in the first round, then target wide receivers in Rounds 2 and 3, Baldwin will make a solid second addition.