Why Mike Evans is the most overrated wide receiver in the NFL

by Mark Leipold ·

Mike Evans is viewed among the top wide receivers by dynasty league players, but is he worthy of inclusion in the group of elite wideouts in the NFL? Using ADP as a proxy for perceived value by the dynasty community, Mike Evans is considered a Top 10 receiver by the dynasty community, ranking 8th among wideouts in ADP, per Fantasy Football Calculator. Since Evans ranks 8th, I’ve sandwiched him with seven wideouts on either side, and will be comparing him against the rest of the Top 15 group. Here is that list.

ADP Player Name
1 Odell Beckham
2 DeAndre Hopkins
3 Antonio Brown
4 Michael Thomas
5 Davante Adams
6 Keenan Allen
7 Julio Jones
8 Mike Evans
9 Stefon Diggs
10 A.J. Green
11 Amari Cooper
12 Tyreek Hill
13 Allen Robinson
14 T.Y. Hilton
15 JuJu Smith-Schuster

Athletic Profile

Mike Evans slots in about average among the Top wide receivers in dynasty ADP in terms of athleticsm. He is among the tallest, at 6-5 and the heaviest of the group at 231-pounds. At just over 25 years old, no one ranking higher than Evans is younger, and only three in the group are younger: Amari Cooper and Tyreek Hill at 24 years old and JuJu Smith-Schuster at 21 years old. Evans also possesses 35 1/8″ (99th-percentile) arms, which leads the group.

Mike Evans Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Evans has a 112 Athleticism Score on PlayerProfiler.com, slotting him in second among the group behind only Julio Jones (112.3). Antonio Brown has the lowest score of the group at 92.5, and none of the Top 5 are above a 105.3 score (that belonging to Davante Adams). Evans’ 10.32 Catch Radius also trails only Julio Jones (10.40), and likewise, the Top 5 group are all at or below a 10.20 except Odell Beckham, whose Catch Radius ties Evans at 10.32. Evans has impressive athleticism when adjusted for size. Evans boasts a 115.7 (96th-percentile) height-adjusted Speed Score and a 124.2 (68th-percentile) Burst Score. Evans lacks only in agility, with a 11.34 (34th-percentile) Agility Score.

When considering raw athleticism, however, Evans’s results aren’t quite as rosy. Evans possesses a 108.0 (59th-percentile) SPARQ-X Score, which is above the average NFL wide receiver, but below the average of the elite group, with Evans slotting in 8th out of 13 (no score is available for Keenan Allen or Amari Cooper).

College Résumé

Mike Evans was an extremely highly-regarded prospect coming out of Texas A&M University, as he was selected with the 7th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Evans has a decent but uninspiring college resume relative to the group of elite wideouts. His 30.2% (51st-percentile) College Dominator Rating places him ahead of only Tyreek Hill in this group. Evans leads the group in College Yards per Reception, however, at 20.2 YPR (94th-percentile). Evans ranks right in the middle of the pack with a Breakout Age of 19.0 (88th-percentile). While he’s well above average, the elite group broke out very young as a whole, and Evans is tied for 6th among this group with Allen Robinson, with Tyreek Hill having no mark since he never eclipsed a 20-percent Dominator Rating.

Opportunity & Production

One thing that all elite NFL WRS do on the football field is command targets from their quarterbacks, and Evans has done that respectably though four seasons in the league. Evans slots in above average for our group in Red Zone Targets in three of four seasons, and exactly in the middle in 2015, as he possesses a big frame and strong athleticism — he’s a Red Zone monster. Taking a crude average of Evans’s Target Share numbers through four seasons yields a 27.4-percent share of his team’s pass attempts. This places him behind only DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and A.J. Green since 2014, which is excellent company. On a per-snap basis, Evans is about average, posting a 17-percent Hog Rate, just above the average of the group since 2014. As expected, Evans has commanded a 26.8-percent Red Zone Target Share, besting the average mark of 23-percent for the group. However, despite his size, Evans trails Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams (2016-2017 only), and A.J. Green.

With all of those targets, Evans has delivered over 300 receptions, averaging 15 yards per reception, four 1,000+ receiving yard seasons, and 32 touchdowns in four seasons. Those are undeniably impressive numbers. Evans has been an Air Yards monster since entering the NFL, trailing only DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, and Julio Jones in Air Yards per season. Evans has racked up more Air Yards per Target than any of those three, though, and his 6.75 Air Yards per Target mark over four seasons leads the whole group. However, his Yards After Catch (YAC) numbers have been nothing short of abysmal. Evans ranked dead last in this group in three of his four seasons in YAC per Target, and in 2015 only finished ahead of DeAndre Hopkins (0.9) and Davante Adams (1.6, before his breakout). His 1.22 YAC per Target over his four seasons is miles behind the group’s average of 2.66. Despite his perception as a Red Zone monster, and strong Red Zone Target Share numbers, Evans has only recorded 6.25 Red Zone receptions per season since entering the NFL, while our group of 15 averages 8.51 per season. Evans’s 8 touchdowns per season is better than the group’s average of 7.2, though.

What we really care about, of course, is fantasy points, so I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Our group has averaged 16.38 PPR fantasy points per game since 2014 (in the games they have played), while Evans has notched only 15.68 per game, ranking him 8th among our group, right in the middle.


Sadly, yes. When advanced efficiency metrics are introduced, Evans looks less competitive with the group of top-end Wide Receivers. Evans is great at reeling in contested catches, with a 62-percent Contested Catch Rate since entering the NFL. That outpaces the group’s average of 57-percent during that time span. Evans trails Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs, Allen Robinson and JuJu Smith-Schuster in conversion rate of contested passes.

Check out Mike Evans on PlayerProfiler’s Updated Seasonal & Dynasty Rankings:

That’s where the good news ends. Evans is horrendous at separating from NFL Defensive Backs, which is why his raw athleticism is as important as his size-adjusted metrics. Yards of Separation at Target is a newly tracked metric as of 2017, and Evans posted a dismal 1.01 mark, leading only DeAndre Hopkins (and technically Allen Robinson who had one Target, and caught it for 17 yards). Evans has also struggled in raw Catch Rate, converting just 53.4-percent of his receptions since entering the league, while the group has averaged a conversion rate of 61.7-percent. Part of this can be attributed to Evans being targeted on deep routes (third in the group in Average Target Distance at 14.2 yards), but poor throws is not part of the reason — Evans has received a 72.1-percent Catchable Target Rate (new for 2017 as well), which is only slightly below the group’s average of 75-percent.

Mike Evans is a poster child for inefficiency at the Wide Receiver position in the NFL. Below are the key efficiency metrics tracked by PlayerProfiler.com that show how much production a Wide Receiver gives on a per-route or per-target basis using rate statistics. Evans also ranks last in the group in QB Rating When Targeted — his signal-callers posted a 79.4 Passer Rating when targeting Evans, compared to the group’s average of 98.9, which would have been the seventh-best mark in the league in 2017. If Evans is removed from the group average, it jumps to 100.4, which would have been 0.1 points behind Jared Goff for fifth on the list.

Mike Evans Group Average
Yards Per Pass Route (2017) 1.83 2.29
Yards Per Target (2014-2017) 7.95 8.52
Drop Rate (2017) 6.6% 6.1%

Most importantly, Mike Evans does not deliver production above what would be expected of him. His Dominator Rating of 21.3-percent in 2017 finished him behind everyone in this sample (technically except Allen Robinson, but his exclusion has been noted). So, while Evans is getting a high proportion of his team’s targets and scoring a good amount of touchdowns, he is not accounting for as much of his team’s production on a relative basis as the other receivers in our sample due to his inefficiency. Evans had an excellent rookie year, destroying two signature metrics of PlayerProfiler.com — Target Premium and Production Premium. Evans racked up an excellent +50-percent Target Premium in 2014, the second-best single season among our 15 wideouts since Evans entered the league, trailing Tyreek Hill in 2016. Evans also logged a +25.3 Production Premium, trailing only Odell Beckham in 2014 and Michael Thomas in 2016. However, after his rookie season, it’s all downhill. Evans has posted Target Premiums of -13.7-percent, +8.10-percent, and -17.80-percent in his last three seasons. The group’s average is +9.89-percent over that span, so for three straight seasons, Evans has produced less in any given down-and-distance than our group’s average, and even less than the average NFL Wide Receiver (the average is zero), in two of three seasons. In Production Premium terms, Evans has posted -11.5, +10.7, and -7.2, while the group has averaged +9.42. In two of his last three seasons, then, Evans has been less dominant over his teammates than our sample set, and in those same two, Evans was even performing at a level below that of his average teammate on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Evans exploded in Week 1 of the 2018 season, catching all seven of his targets for 147 receiving yards and a touchdown, which will more than likely be a blip on the radar of another season where he will likely fail to live up to his lofty average draft position in fantasy football leagues. Evans’ prolific week 1 performance will confirm the biases of the legions of efficiency-agnostic fantasy gamers who strongly believe Evans is elite. A zoomed out perspective shows that Evans was less efficient than league-average wide receivers (as well as the average Buccaneers receiver) in two of the last two seasons. Mike Evans is the most overrated wide receiver in the NFL.