As the years have progressed we have noticed a few positions get a little more protection in the NFL. The wide receiver has definitely benefited from the newer, safer game play. Naturally we would think that this would allow for wide receivers to add a few more good seasons to their career. So far, this hasn’t been the case.
First, let’s take a look at the last three years. In 2015, there were two Top 10 wide receivers over 30. In 2016, there was one. In 2017, there was one. If you remove Larry Fitzgerald from the conversation you have Brandon Marshall and Jordy Nelson as the only 30-plus wide receivers to have a Top 10 season in points per reception (PPR) league format over the last three years. Digging a bit deeper, in the last three years there are only 13 wide receivers who have finished in the Top 50 in PPR in the last three years.
Wide Receivers Over 30 Years Old in the Top-30
Brandon Marshall – 3rd
Larry Fitzgerald – 7th
Calvin Johnson – 12th
Jordy Nelson – 2nd
Larry Fitzgerald – 11th
Julian Edelman – 15th
Mike Wallace – 22nd
Pierre Garcon – 23rd
Larry Fitzgerald – 4th
Michael Crabtree – 30th
This is the year it changes and our 30-plus wide receivers will not only be relevant but win some championships. This year I think we will see three in the Top 10, and 10 in the Top 30! This is huge as not only does this buck the trend above, but these guys will potentially be seen in their decline and slip down the draft board. If you play in a redraft league, don’t let the age of these guys stop you from drafting them. Instead, reap the rewards when your league lets these guys drop too far in the draft. Let’s get to the players as some of these will surprise you!
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
This guy seemingly doesn’t have a decline. Brown will not slip down the board much either. Turning 30 on July 10 with the hopes of him being the best over-30 wide receiver since Jordy Nelson in 2016. He has posted five straight seasons of at least 1,284 yards and nine touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger knows that Brown is his safety net and will continue to feed him the ball every game. I don’t care where they are playing or who they are playing against – Brown always gets his numbers. Finishing in the No. 1 spot doesn’t sound like a reach but more of an inevitability in Brown’s case. Draft him early, no matter the format, and reap the rewards.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
Another top performer turning 30 this year (July 31). After finishing 10th last year in PPR I don’t look to see much regression here, and if anything, their offense may be better with another year under Joe Mixon’s belt. Andy Dalton to A.J. Green has been a model of consistency since they came into the league together in 2011. Green averages 1,173 yards a season for the last seven seasons and if not for missing six games in 2016 would have seven consecutive seasons over 1,000 yards. Even in 2016, he only missed the mark by 36 yards in 10 games. Last season was an up-and-down one for Dalton where he threw four more interceptions and almost 900 yards less than the year before. This year will be a better year for this offense and is a healthy Tyler Eifert away from being a great offense. Draft Green with the confidence that he will your WR1.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
This year may be the year that Baldwin takes it to the next level as there is no one else to throw the ball to. Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham left (for greener pastures) and not much target competition was added. The defense is in its decline and we will see games that need to leverage the pass a bit more than we have seen in the past. Baldwin has finished as the seventh, 10th and 11th wide receiver over the last three years. This year he will have every opportunity to put up better numbers and grab yet another Top 10 finish.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
It seems like yesterday we were watching Jimmy Clausen sling the ball to Tate at Notre Dame but those days are done and Tate turns 30 on Aug. 2. Both Tate and Marvin Jones turned in excellent seasons last year as they finished 13th and 12th in wide receiver PPR scoring, respectively. Having Matthew Stafford for a quarterback and no more Eric Ebron to steal red zone targets, we can expect this to be another up year for Tate. Tate has never scored more than seven touchdowns in a season and that ends in 2018 when he breaks into double digits. Finishing Top 20 seems like a given and Top 10 is not much of a reach.