After reading some of “Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know by Jonathan Bales”, I came across an interesting section about the age of players and their production. I always heard that running backs start to loose some of their swag after the age of 27, but I never really took that into account for my drafts. Running backs seem to leave the league much quicker than quarterbacks or wide receivers, so age doesn’t always come to mind when you are drafting your running backs for the most part. Production normally overrules age, so even though 26 year old Rashard Mendenhall’s average draft position was 32, it turns out that it would have been better to draft 32 year old Fred Jackson at the 42nd pick.
With that being said, wide receivers seem to have a strong correlation between age and production. In his book, Bales discusses the most productive ages for wide receivers. “That peak has historically come at age 26. Actually, the three-year window from ages 25-27 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 wanted to see what the age for the top twenty wide receivers looked like, so I did some investigation on Wikipedia.
Let us start with the top five wide receivers in standard scoring formats
1. Calvin Johnson- 28
2. Demaryius Thomas- 25
3. DeSean Jackson- 26
4. A.J. Green- 25
5. Brandon Marshall- 29
Average age of top five wide receivers-: 26.6
The age of the 6th-10th highest scoring fantasy wide receivers was a little bit older
6. Jordy Nelson- 28
7. Antonio Brown- 25
8. Andre Johnson- 32
9. Dez Bryant- 26
10. Wes Welker- 32
Average age of 6th-10th ranked wide receivers-: 28.6
I found it interesting to note that there were two players past their 30’s in this group. All together, the top ten wide receivers average age was 27.6.
The next group of wide receivers were surprising as well.
11. Vincent Jackson- 30
12. Alshon Jeffrey- 23
13. Victor Cruz- 27
14. Pierre Garcon-27
15. Josh Gordon-22
Average age of 11th-15th ranked wide receivers: 25.8
If Josh Gordon had been able to play all of the games this year, he would most likely be a top ten wide receiver right now which may slightly skew this data. Even so, we have two players in this group who are younger than 24, two who are 27, and one who is 30. As Bales suggests in his book, it normally takes a wide receiver a few years to develop, and rookies being an immediate impact are normally the exception rather than the rule.
Wide receivers 16th-20th also produced some interesting data
16. T.Y. Hilton- 24
17. Riley Cooper- 26
18. Torrey Smith- 24
19. Eric Decker- 26
20. Jerricho Cotchery- 31
Average age of 16th-20th ranked wide receivers- 26.2
So the average age for the 11th-20th ranked fantasy football wide receivers is 26, and the average age of the top twenty fantasy football wide receivers is 26.8. It looks like that Mr.Bales may be on to something. Now some of these guys are just freaks and Calvin Johnson could still produce until he is in a nursing home, but this type of information can really give you a competitive advantage against your opponents. Depending on the starting quarterbacks for the Giants and Ravens next year, it may be better to take Torrey Smith over Victor Cruz. Torrey has been productive since his rookie season, and he theoretically has not hit his peak yet and should have three more high performing seasons. Victor Cruz at 27 however, is theoretically in one of his final seasons where his productivity will be at it’s highest. I want to break down this information for Quarterbacks and Running Backs as well, so I will post a few articles on that in the upcoming weeks.
You can follow Jonathan Bales on twitter at https://twitter.com/BalesFootball