Player Points - Lee Evans
By Chase Stuart
June 22nd, 2010

In 2006, Lee Evans was one of the most dominant receivers in the league. He gained 1,292 yards on 82 catches and scored eight touchdowns; perhaps most impressively, he did it with little help. Of the 19 wide receivers with 1,000 receiving yards that season, Evans' Bills threw significantly less frequently than the teams for which those other receivers played. Buffalo passed just 431 times in '06; next up on the list of teams with a 1,000 yard wide receiver were Javon Walker's (1,084 yards) Broncos, with 454 attempts, and Andre Johnson's (1,147) Texans, with 481 passes. Evans averaged an even 3.00 yards per team pass attempt, by far the most in the league that season (Chad Johnson was second at 2.62; Marvin Harrison was third at 2.45). And those passes weren't coming from Peyton Manning, either: J.P. Losman was the only player to complete a pass for Buffalo that season. The table below shows how productive Evans was: it lists the top 20 receivers over the past 10 seasons, minimum 1,000 yards, in receiving yards per team pass attempt:

Receiver
Team
Year
Yards
TmAtts
Y/A
Steve Smith
CAR
2005
1563
449
3.48
Steve Smith
CAR
2008
1421
414
3.43
Roddy White
ATL
2008
1382
434
3.18
Randy Moss
MIN
2003
1632
520
3.14
Santana Moss
WAS
2005
1483
481
3.08
David Boston
ARI
2001
1598
526
3.04
Lee Evans
BUF
2006
1292
431
3.00
Marvin Harrison
IND
2002
1722
591
2.91
Randy Moss
MIN
2000
1437
495
2.90
Andre Johnson
HOU
2008
1575
555
2.84
Torry Holt
STL
2003
1696
600
2.83
Rod Smith
DEN
2000
1602
569
2.82
Hines Ward
PIT
2004
1004
358
2.80
Terrell Owens
SFO
2001
1412
506
2.79
Torry Holt
STL
2000
1635
587
2.79
Reggie Wayne
IND
2007
1510
551
2.74
Marvin Harrison
IND
2001
1524
557
2.74
Joe Horn
NOR
2000
1340
497
2.70
Chad Johnson
CIN
2005
1432
538
2.66
Andre Johnson
HOU
2009
1569
593
2.65

I guess I wasn't the only one really impressed by Lee Evans' performance that year, because he's been continuously overvalued since then. After an 8th place finish in 2006, Evans had an ADP of WR12 in 2007. He played in 16 games but highly disappointed, coming in as the 33rd best fantasy receiver. Fantasy owners dinged him in '08, but it didn't matter: despite an ADP of WR25, Evans (who again played in every game) underperformed with a WR29 finish. Last year, again with an ADP of WR25, Evans had his most depressing season yet, finishing as just the 38th best fantasy receiver. He had a career-worst 44 receptions, made more depressing by a career low 612 receiving yards. How could a 28-year-old Lee Evans be worse than the 23-year-old version who only started 11 games? The easy, and obvious answer, is to blame the supporting cast. Buffalo's offensive line -- never a strength of the team during Evans' career -- hit rock bottom in 2009. The pass protection was awful, which hurt a deep threat like Evans more than it might hurt other receivers. Further, while J.P. Losman wasn't Manning, he was (at least for Evans) a much better fit for the offense than a weaker-armed, risk-averse quarterback like Trent Edwards.

What does this mean for 2010? Is there any chance Evans will again be overvalued? With an ADP of WR42 as of early June, it will be hard for even Evans to disappoint again. He's been a fantasy bust three years running, which means he's bound to have burned some owners in your league. Until Buffalo improves their offensive line and gets competent quarterback play, it's tough to imagine Evans ever matching the numbers he put up in 2006. But based on talent alone, I have to think he's significantly undervalued right now.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.