Wide receiver Mike Evans was an absolute stud in 2016 finishing as a top 3 receiver, largely due to his league-leading 173 targets.  That monster number came out of desperation in the Buccaneer’s offense, as the only other pass-catchers of note were tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Adam Humphries.  Because of his immense volume and scoring upside, he was taken as the fourth receiver in most fantasy drafts last season.  But he failed to live up to expectations as he finished outside the top 15 receivers in PPR points per game.

The warning signs were there for the 2017 season.  The Bucs signed DeSean Jackson and drafted tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Chris Godwin, setting up a significant target competition in their passing game.  Many drafters thought the additional weapons would take attention away from Evans and boost his efficiency on his targets, but the opposite happened.

Severe Inefficiency

While Evans took advantage of his target share in the fantasy points department in 2016, he was still inefficient.  Evans had a 56 percent catch rate and a yards per target of 7.7, both outside the top 50 of receivers.  In 2017, Evans’ catch rate dropped even lower to 52 percent and his yards per target to 7.4 percent.  His red zone targets remained the same (19), but his red zone receptions dropped from nine to five.

One place Evans already offered the bare-minimum was yards after the catch, which took another dip in 2017 from 175 to 95.  Pretty much everything was worse for him, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better for 2018.

Target Competition

Evans will now be facing more target competition than ever with Jackson, Howard, Brate, Humphries, Godwin, and pass-catching rookie running back Ronald Jones.  Head coach Dirk Koetter is already on record saying that they need to get Jackson the ball more, and it will be hard to keep Godwin from getting more involved after grading out as the second-best rookie receiver by Pro Football Focus.

Evans will also likely see fewer red zone targets this upcoming season with Godwin (6’1”), Brate (6’5”), and Howard (6’6”) all sporting big frames for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to throw to.  The 19 targets he saw last season likely won’t be replicated.

Quarterback Issues

Winston is also set to miss the first three games of the season after the NFL handed down a suspension stemming from an incident where he allegedly groped an Uber driver in March 2016.  This suspension likely puts veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick under center to start the season.

Fitzpatrick did not click well with Evans last season.  In the three games where Fitzpatrick started with Evans, he recorded a 46 percent catch rate, only one touchdown, and no 100-yard games.

Beyond 2018

It wasn’t long ago when Evans was considered the top overall dynasty asset by some experts.  Now his value is plummeting and with good reason.  For at least the next three seasons he will be desperate for targets.  Cameron Brate was signed to a six-year contract extension this offseason, O.J. Howard is set to see an expanded role and will likely get his fifth-year option exercised, and Chris Godwin is simply a beast and is signed through 2020.  Not to mention DeSean Jackson is still hitting the cap for $21 million over the next two years, according to Over The Cap. 

Evans’ dwindling target share will require a serious bump in efficiency if he wants to return to top 5 status.  But his career numbers suggest that he’ll never really be that guy.  I would try to ship him in any dynasty leagues I could while his 2016 season is still in the back of people’s minds.  If he flops again this year, his value might never recover.

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