- What stats matter the most for Wide Receviers?
- How each type of Wide Recevier scores their fantasy points
- Which WRs are due to score more or fewer TDs in 2019?
Make sure you don’t miss any part of our fantasy football draft prep by checking out our fantasy football draft kit, which will feature all of Rich Hribar’s articles, rankings, and a printable cheat sheet.
Staying consistent with our ongoing theme, after exploring the wide receiver position for fantasy from a wide view, we’re going to dig into a bit of player analysis. Before we officially get there, though, we still want to lead off with that stats matter the most for the position on a per-game level and which statistics for wide receivers carry the highest year-over-year rollover.
Highest Correlation to Points Per Game for Wide Receivers
|Cat.||PPR Pts||St. Pts|
As a reminder, we’ve taken every game played over the past five seasons. On a per-game level, yardage means the most wideouts for fantasy scoring in either format, which inherently makes sense since the yardage produced varies from player to player per opportunity the most. Wide receiver yardage results are tethered to depth of their targets, volume of said targets, and their ability to create yards after the catch.
As has been the case with tight ends and running backs, you really get a great stance on the importance that touchdown scoring carries in standard formats. Predicting actual touchdown output is the hardest thing in our game, but in those formats, you should be prioritizing the players you believe have higher touchdown odds while discounting the players who don’t get the paint often. Combining that touchdown weight with target opportunity being reduced in standard formats, overall opportunities aren’t as crucial in standard leagues as opposed to what a player does with them in terms of big yardage per reception and touchdown rates.
Year-Over-Year Correlation Categories for Wide Receivers
|Team Tgt %||0.4442|
Just as was the case with tight ends and running backs, your focus should be on per-game output over seasonal output when it comes to the stickiest year-over-year stats for wideouts. Players who missed time last season but were still among the best in per-game output can become values if the market is pricing them more towards their bulk output. Julian Edelman ranked 11th at the position in targets per game (9.0), 10th in receptions per game (6.2), and 12th in PPR points per game (17.3) which are three of the top-four stickiest yearly stats for wideouts, but is still the WR17 in current ADP in PPR formats.
As mentioned above, touchdowns per game and season have a lot of fluctuation from the year prior. We’re going to go over a few players who ran hot and cold in that department a year ago in this post, but we also highlighted a number of wideouts who overachieved and underachieved in the red zone a few weeks ago.
At the bottom, we have nearly all of the rate stats. Which carry little to no weight in rollover. Catch rate, yards per catch, per target, and touchdown rate hold nearly no stickiness value and shouldn’t be the main crutch of propping a player up or knocking one down. If a player ran hot in terms of efficiency on marginal opportunity the year prior, that player better be one that is projected to have an opportunity spike the following year.
Relying on Receptions
|Player||PPR Rec Pt%||2018||STYD%||2018|
These are wideouts who had over 36 percent of their career PPR fantasy output come solely from receptions while over two-thirds of their standard scoring output has one from the subsequent yardage of those receptions. These are largely your prototypical slot wideouts who aren’t scoring many touchdowns.
As far as high-end draft capital goes, the one player here that requires you to spend up on is Keenan Allen. Allen’s reliance on receptions and volume over touchdown production — he hasn’t scored more than six times in a season since his rookie year in 2013 — is what forces him to have periods each season in which he runs really cold and then gets really hot. In 2018, Allen had nearly an identical type of season as to the one he had in 2017 by finishing fast after a slower start. Prior to the Chargers’ Week 8 bye, Allen was WR24 for the season, with just one touchdown reception. After the bye, Allen caught fire and closed the season as the WR8. He ranked seventh in receptions (6.2 per game) with five touchdowns over the back half of the season. With Hunter Henry back in action this season and Mike Williams being a career touchdown producer dating back to college, Allen still has a pedestrian touchdown ceiling, but has shown that he can run hot as a WR1 in stretches within a season over the past two seasons while he’s played in all 16 games each year.
Jarvis Landry has been a volume-based fantasy commodity for his entire career, scoring more than five touchdowns in just one of his first five seasons in the league. With the addition of his former college teammate Odell Beckham, Landry’s steady stranglehold on his team’s passing volume may finally be compromised in 2019. Over the past four seasons, Landry had 61, 56, 44, and 96 more targets than the next closest player on his team. What is worse for Landry is that in the eight games he played after Freddie Kitchens took over the offense, Landry dropped to 6.9 targets per game — a 20.6 percent team share of the targets — from 11.7 targets per game (a 30.3 percent team share) prior.
Corey Davis has had a tough time producing through two NFL seasons and has yet to live up to his supreme draft capital. After a touchdown-less rookie season in 2017, Davis made overall strides in a terrible offense in 2018, but ultimately churned out a lot of empty fantasy production on tangible volume. Davis commanded the seventh-largest team target share in the league (25.6 percent), but the results for fantasy did not follow. Despite that large team share, Davis still ranked 19th among all wideouts in overall targets (112) and finished as the WR38 in points per game while he accounted for 11 weeks as a WR4 or lower. With Marcus Mariota entering the season healthy, Davis can find more stability and efficiency, but like Landry, Davis also runs into a situation where his target share should be reduced. Davis had 45 more targets than the next closest Titan last season (Dion Lewis) while the team added Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown to the mix while getting Delanie Walker back from an injury that forced him to miss 15 games in 2018.
Relying on Yardage
This group of wideouts is made up of the players that had over 75 percent career standard scoring production stem from yardage alone while that yardage has made up over half of their career PPR output.
The first thing is you’ll notice is a smattering of rookies here. The sample size on those players is still far too small to stock since we’re cooking in just one season of lower-end touchdown output from those players.
As far as the bigger names with resumes that we care about, it’s no surprise we see Julio Jones appear. Jones has long been knocked for his lack of high-end touchdown ability compared to his overall volume and athletic profile, but he’s the best yardage-per-game producer we’ve ever had at the position. 2018 was business as usual for Jones as he led all wideouts in targets (170) and receiving yards (1,677) while he finished third in receptions (113). Averaging an NFL all-time high 104.8 receiving yards per game, Jones has now averaged over 100 yards receiving per game in five different seasons, which is the most in NFL history.
T.Y. Hilton isn’t quite Jones in terms of production, but he’s another high-yardage option who produces so much yardage over touchdown production that he pops here. Hilton has scored six or fewer touchdowns in four consecutive seasons and has a career-high of seven in a single-season over seven NFL seasons. But Hilton has ranked sixth (90.7), third (90.5), and sixth (89.7) in receiving yards per game over his past three full NFL seasons with Andrew Luck. In 2018, Hilton set a new career-high with 90.7 yards receiving per game while he practiced just twice over the final six weeks of the season and still led the league in receiving yards (685 yards) over that span.
Relying on Touchdowns
|Player||PPR TD%||2018||St TD%||2018|
Making up the touchdown-reliant bucket, we have the wideouts who had 20 percent of their career output come from touchdown production while those touchdown points accounted for over 30 percent of their standard output.
I went ahead and stripped the rookies out here for just the one season of sample size and for table maintenance purposes, but if they were included, Anthony Miller (34.9% PPR/48.2% standard), Tre’Quan Smith (29.9%/41.3%), Calvin Ridley (29.0%/42.1%) and Dante Pettis (28.9%/39.2%) would have made the cut.
We’ve already covered the 2018 scoring prowess of Mike Williams and Davante Adams, so we won’t eat up more space here.
There’s a good mix of player archetypes here, ranging from WR1 types such as Odell Beckham, some strong WR1A types in Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins, interior options such as Cooper Kupp and Zay Jones, and some vertical, splash-play wideouts in Marvin Jones, Kenny Stills, and Will Fuller.
I’m going to touch on a few of those receivers shortly but wanted to spend some brief time discussing two players who have sort of a six degrees of separation in Devin Funchess and Donte Moncrief. Moncrief has been getting buzz as he’s seemingly the favorite to start for the Steelers in two-receiver sets opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster given the departure of Antonio Brown. Moncrief has secured just 74 passes for 1,059 yards and five touchdowns over the past two seasons, but that was while playing with Jacoby Brissett, Blake Bortles, and Cody Kessler. In three seasons while playing Andrew Luck, Moncrief at least showed promise as a touchdown scorer, catching 16 touchdowns over the first three seasons of his career on 126 receptions.
The 25-year-old Funchess is now playing with Luck. While there’s a different regime in Indianapolis from when Moncrief was there, Funchess is in that same mold of low-reception, high-touchdown capability. Over his past three full seasons, Luck has finished second, fifth, and first in the league in touchdown passes.
Will Fuller was due for some touchdown reduction after going absolutely bonkers playing alongside Deshaun Watson. Even though that reduction did occur, Fuller still scored four touchdowns in seven games in 2018. During his seven games played, Fuller was a WR3 or better in five of those games and a top-10 scorer three times. In 11 games played with Watson, Fuller has scored 11 touchdowns. This isn’t the first time that Fuller has demonstrated elite scoring upside as he caught 29 touchdown passes over his final 26 collegiate games at Notre Dame.
Wide Receivers that Lost the Most TD Production in 2018
|Player||Prior PPR TD%||2018||Loss||Prior St TD%||2018||Loss|
Here, we’re looking at which wideouts suffered the largest decline in touchdown production over the 2018 season from their prior career rates.
We talked about how Beckham was under par in the red zone last season and he also lacked for his flare-up, big-play touchdowns as his two longest scores of the year in 2018 were from 33 and 20 yards out. Scoring on just 7.8 percent of his receptions a year ago — the lowest rate of his career — Beckham trades in Eli Manning for an upgrade in Baker Mayfield. In his rookie season, Mayfield ranked sixth in the league with 11 touchdown passes on passes 20-plus yards in the air.
Watkins is the poster boy for the fluctuation of touchdown rate. He ping-ponged back and forth from being a touchdown-dependent option in 2017 with the Rams to being unable to find the end zone a year ago while playing with a quarterback who threw 50 touchdown passes. Lack of touchdowns aside, Watkins was a good on-field performer last season who just ran into poor touchdown luck. In the 10 full games Watkins played in 2018, he commanded 20.8 percent of the team targets and averaged 13.9 PPR points per game.
While Todd Gurley’s late-season injury had an impact on the Rams’ playoff run, it was actually the mid-season injury to Cooper Kupp that truly altered their offensive output. The primary benefactor of Kupp’s availability was, of course, Jared Goff, but right behind him was Brandin Cooks. Cooks posted 21.6 PPR points per game in the six full games he played with Kupp playing at least 80 percent of the offensive snaps. In those games, Cooks had four 100-yard games and four top-12 scoring weeks. Without Kupp on the field in full those other nine games, Cooks averaged just 12.1 points per game with one 100-yard game and one WR1 scoring week.
Wide Receivers that Gained the Most TD Production in 2018
|Player||Prior PPR TD%||2018||Spike||Prior St TD%||2018||Spike|
Now, we’re changing lanes to the other end and focusing on players that were on the positive end of touchdown production last season. Tyler Lockett and Tyler Boyd’s scoring spikes were already covered in our red zone article while Robby Anderson’s and Kenny Stills’ distance scoring ran on the plus side of variance in 2018. Corey Davis was coming off a rookie season in which he failed to score a touchdown, so he was bound to spike with any score as a sophomore and Chris Godwin was coming off a one touchdown rookie season on 55 total targets, so their jumps are more sample-sized induced from part-time rookie seasons.
One player here who ran extremely hot in the scoring department that you still have to pay for though is Antonio Brown. At age-30, 27.8 percent of Brown’s fantasy output stemmed from touchdown production last season after he averaged an 18.2 percent mark over the previous five seasons and 16.7 percent for his career. Brown turned 14.4 percent of his receptions and 8.9 percent of his targets into touchdowns last season after career rates of 8.0 percent of receptions and 5.3 percent of targets for scores for his career prior.
Adam Thielen found the end zone nine times in 2018 after scoring 10 career touchdowns prior and reaching the end zone just four times on 142 targets the year prior. Thielen had one of the more polarizing tales of two seasons in 2018, as he scored the third-most fantasy points ever for a wide receiver through eight games of a season and then couldn’t come close to matching that elite pace over the second half of the season. Over his final eight games, Thielen caught 39 passes (20th) on 57 targets (23rd) for 448 yards (27th) with three touchdowns, posting one week as a top-20 scorer.