As the NFL season approaches, one topic that always comes up is the performance of wide receivers in their contract year. Many NFL fans and analysts believe that players tend to perform better when they are playing for a new contract. But is there any truth to this?
First, it`s important to define what we mean by a „contract year.“ In the NFL, contracts are typically structured with shorter-term deals that allow players to hit the open market more frequently. For example, a player might sign a four-year contract with a team, but the final year of that contract is referred to as their „contract year.“ This is because if the player does not sign a new deal with their current team before the end of the season, they will become a free agent and be able to sign with any team in the league.
So, do players perform better in their contract year? The data suggests that there might be some truth to this idea. In a study conducted by Pro Football Focus, it was found that wide receivers tend to have higher yards per reception, catch rate, and overall production in their contract year compared to the rest of their career. While this is not a guarantee that a player will perform better in their contract year, it does show that there is a trend of increased performance in this situation.
One reason for this trend might be the added motivation that comes with playing for a new contract. When a player knows that their performance in the upcoming season will directly impact their future earnings, they might work harder, practice more, and be more focused on their performance. Additionally, players in their contract year might get more opportunities on the field as their current team tries to showcase their skills for potential suitors in free agency.
Of course, there are also potential drawbacks to playing in a contract year. Players might be more prone to injury as they push themselves harder, and the added pressure of performing for a new contract could also lead to mental stress. Additionally, teams might be less likely to sign a player to a long-term deal if they feel that the player is only performing well because they are playing for a new contract.
So, what does this all mean for fantasy football owners? If you are considering drafting a wide receiver who is in their contract year, you might want to take a closer look at their performance history and the situation surrounding the player. While there is a trend of increased performance in contract years, it`s not a guarantee, and there are many other factors that could impact a player`s performance. Ultimately, it`s up to each fantasy owner to weigh the risks and rewards of drafting a player in their contract year.