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Forgetting Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall
Forgetting Brandon Marshall
FFDynasty260
By: DynastyGuruFF (Twitter: @DynastyGuruFF)

Remember him? No? Well allow me to refresh your memory.

He’s the man who caught 109 balls for 1,500 yds with 14 TDs in 2015 and who now is basically forgotten in the minds of Dynasty owners just 18 months later as he is currently being taken as a WR5.

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Per the June Dynasty ADP Startup Rankings by DLF, Brandon Marshall is the WR 57 off the board. 57!?!?!?!?!? Yes, he’s going after guys like Will Fuller, Tyler Lockett, Laquon Treadwell, and Kevin White who last year to put up 108 rec, 1,437 yds., and 3 TD’s COMBINED!

All of which begs the following questions…

“Did Brandon Marshall die?”

“Did he lose a limb?”

“Did he forget how to play football?”

NO! The answer to all of the above is, no. None of those things happened, yet the FF community has decided to put him out to pasture already and would rather take a guy who did break his leg or who only caught 1 pass for 15 yds last year rather than the guy who has (8) 1K+ yd seasons and never finished below 700 yds outside of his rookie year. This is INSANE, absolutely insane.

So if none of those happened why have people forgotten about Brandon Marshall?

  1. Age?  – He turned 33 in March – the average WR falls of the cliff at age of 34, but the greats have shown they can go on even longer and Marshall falls under the current batch of greats at the WR position IMO.
  2. Performance?  – He was a top 10 WR in 2015 but his #s dropped off dramatically in 2016, and now he’s not even making the Top 50 for this year. But was it all his fault?

In Dynasty, many of us become ageists, we see a guy in his early 30’s and say “He’s done. It’s over. Time to cut bait.”  But what we don’t take into consideration is that there are a select handful of players that can play the game at an elite level into their later years. Those guys continue to be productive for much longer (see: Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald) than the average NFL Joe. So while age is a legitimate concern, it may not apply to Marshall, who has been a FF stud most of his career and is only 18 months removed from 100/1,500 campaign.  History suggests he should continue to be productive for a bit longer.

So if age doesn’t scare us off, it leaves us with his 2016 performance being his main and only issue. But was his 2016 year as bad as it seemed? Did his skills drop off or was it more a result of the Jets QB’s carousel (Fitz, Smith, and Petty) and the overall offense?

Let us dive in and take a look at Marshall’s career and 2017 projections with the New York Giants.

  1. Brandon Marshall’s Per Game Averages

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  • For his career Marshall averages 6/80/.5 for 17.2 PPR points per game.  For a full season that comes to roughly 275pts which puts him in the yearly WR1 neighborhood and Top 10 finish for his career.
  • 2015 was amazing for Brandon.  He had one of the best seasons, if not the best season, of his career.
  • 2016 was a rough season for Marshall as he went from a monster year to one of his worst. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see that it was the tale of two drastically different halves.
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick played in/started 9 games last season and for the season he saw a reduction of -48% in TD’s and increase of +51% in INT’s per game.
    • In the 9 games he played (Line 4 in the above table) Marshall saw decent production.  While it wasn’t anywhere near his 2015 season it was closer to his career average. In fact, he actually exceeded in Y/R over both 2015 and career averages.
    • Once Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of Smith and Petty, Marshall’s numbers just plummeted. He saw significant reductions in every category across the board, most notably FF points where he went from 13.5 to 5.7 (-58%). Had Fitzpatrick stayed on all season – as awful as he was – Marshall would’ve had a projected 216 FF points, but instead he ended up with 156.
    • Removing Fitzpatrick’s worst games when he threw for less than 200 yds (including a 6 INT 0 TD game), Marshall’s numbers hovered around 6 receptions per game – 1 less than 2015.  He had a better catch rate than his 2015 season and his FF points per game jumped up to 15.3.

It’s clear to see now that Marshall was still performing well enough to be a WR2 last year when he had anything close to resembling decent NFL QB level play. The Jets QB’s are mostly to blame for Marshall’s poor EOY results as Petty and Smith never gave him a chance after taking over.

So what can we expect from Marshall now that he’s with the NY Giants, after two seasons in which we saw the best and worst from him? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

In order to get to my forecast for Marshall I first took the data from the Giants over the last few years under HC Ben McAdoo and put it up against the GB last few seasons.  McAdoo came from GB and installed a very similar offense in NY.

The results were more alike than even I could’ve imagined.

GB v NYG

Everything starts with market share of targets (MSTgts %), and across all position ranks NYG and GB are nearly identical over the last few years. The one area they differ the most is WR, especially at WR2 (-6%), but let’s compare Eli Manning’s WR 2’s over the last few years (Sterling Shepard & Rueben Randle) to Aaron Rodgers’ WR 2’s (Devante Adams & Randall Cobb).

Aaron clearly has had the leg up in talent at the WR 2 position, until now. This is the best WR 2 that Eli has had since the Victor Cruz/Hakeem Nicks days.

Last year Marshall had a 33% MSTgts even with the bad QB play he had to deal with. This year Marshall gets a better QB in Eli Manning and overall better offense. In addition, he gets to go up against CB 2’s all season long, which means minimal to no double coverage, since they will need to respect OBJ on the other side of the field.

We still need a reasonable way to close the 6% gap to try to get more in line with the GB offense, but where will it come from?

Well we can see that the RB 3-4 over index for NYG with a combined 6% vs GB’s 2%.  Next we can take 1% from OBJ as he has been less efficient with more targets over the least 2 years, owners won’t miss the 1%. Finally, we’ll take 2% from the WR 3 role (Reported the NYG are moving to more 2 TE sets) and that brings us to a 22% MSTgts for Brandon Marshall for 2017, still down 8% from last year with the Jets, but in line with what GB averages at the position in the same offense.

So now that we have a reasonable MSTgts % for Marshall we can now forecast what he, OBJ, and Shepard will produce for 2017 and see if it’s in line.

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Well, will you look at that! Even with a -1% drop in targets for OBJ we see his FF point projection actually increase over last season to 310 points – told you owners wouldn’t miss it. Shepard meanwhile takes the biggest hit and falls to 100 points on the season, landing firmly outside the Top 50 WR’s, and maybe even the Top 75, yet he’s going WR 40.  Again, why is he going so damn high in Drafts?

Finally, our forgotten man, Brandon Marshall, comes in with a projected line of 79/1000/8 for 228 points which would make him a strong WR 2 and good for WR16 last year per FantasyData.com.  That’s quite the leap from WR 57 which is where he is currently going in ADP. Also, imagine his upside should OBJ miss any time with injuries.  He’s a top 5 WR each week OBJ is out.

As a quick gut check I wanted to see how the NYG 2017 forecast compared to GB from 2016 and as you can see it’s pretty close. Not surprising since they run the same offense, throw the nearly the same number of passes, and have almost identical MS %’s across all positions.

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So what’s worst case scenario? Well, 16% MS of tgts is most likely the worst case scenario, and if that does happen then Brandon Marshall is being drafted at even value at WR 55.  That % would net him nearly identical numbers to last year with the possible exception of some positive TD uptick so even if he lies somewhere between 16%-22% you’re still getting value no matter what happens.

So please don’t be like the rest of the FF community.  Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls, and don’t go on forgetting about Brandon Marshall. In fact you should have his name highlighted, starred, and circled  as a draft day/trade target in your league.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed the article you can also find me on Twitter @DynastyGuruFF, give me a follow.

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