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Reggie Wayne

Posted by Doug on April 19, 2006

I got an email a few days ago with the subject line: "Idea for a blog post." Because coming up with one entire idea per day can get to be a grind after awhile, sending me such an email is Step One to getting on my good side. I can use all the help I can get. But Step Two is the tricky part. That's where most people stumble, because it's a pretty sizeable leap from a subject line to an actual idea for a blog post. Most of the time the ideas are good, but often they are not feasible. Sometimes, though, they just don't make sense.

I'll let you be the judge on this one. Here is the email in full:

Man did Reggie Wayne have a down year. How does N+1 look for 27-29 year old WRs who ranked between 5-10 in N-1 and dropped at least 10 spots/out of the top 20 in year N while missing <3 games?

If that makes sense to you, you are an odd bird. If not, consider yourself lucky and allow me to translate:

Man did Reggie Wayne have a down year? If we distill his season down to its bare essentials, what we see is a young-to-prime-aged wide receiver who had an extremely good year in 2004 (he was the #8 ranked fantasy WR) and then followed it up with a disappointing 2005 (#21 ranked WR). Historically, have guys fitting that profile tended to bounce back the following year?

This will be my first post that officially gets categorized in the "Fantasy" category. While this is not a fantasy football blog, I would hope that many of the posts have some fantasy relevance anyway. Likewise, when a post is tagged as "Fantasy," I would hope that wouldn't prevent it from being interesting to non-fantasy types. The only thing you need to know is that players are ranked according to the scoring system and valuation scheme found on this page.

Let's get to the numbers. Following the emailer's suggestions, we label the good year Year N-1, the disappointing year Year N and the following year Year N+1. We require the wide receiver to be aged 27--29 in Year N+1, we require him to have finished between #5 and #10 in Year N-1, and #20 or lower in year N (while not missing more than two games). Here are all such players since 1978:

==== rank ====
Player YearN N-1 N N+1
Eddie Brown 1989 5 25 17
Plaxico Burress 2003 8 28 43
Robert Clark 1991 10 34 127
Willie Davis 1994 9 28 47
Donald Driver 2003 10 51 10
Michael Haynes 1993 9 33 18
Tim McGee 1990 8 46 30
Stanley Morgan 1983 10 26 31
Peerless Price 2003 7 31 50
Sterling Sharpe 1991 8 21 1
John Taylor 1990 9 21 10
Hines Ward 2004 6 28 10
Steve Watson 1985 8 21 35
Reggie Wayne 2005 8 21 ??
Calvin Williams 1994 10 38 43

Aside from Wayne, there are 14 players on that list. I'll let you decide for yourself to what extent each of them truly is comparable to Reggie Wayne. Four of the fourteen returned to the top 10 the following year. Five of the fourteen ever returned to the top 10. Only Sterling Sharpe had more than one additional top 10 season in him, although the book is obviously not yet closed on Burress and Ward.