Evolve or Die – WR Edition

Evolve or Die – WR Edition


Throughout this series, I’ll be your guide in taking you through the ins and outs of how each position is evolving in the fantasy football landscape. My goal is to give you actionable advice that you can use to become better fantasy players. This advice will shed a light on positional trends, and enable you to properly evaluate which players and positions you should be prioritizing. Whether you are using this information for your startup drafts, rookie drafts, or simply general strategy, I promise you will leave more informed than you came.

Checkout the other editions in the series here:

QB Edition

RB Edition

TE Edition

I’ve got news for you. If you haven’t realized it already, the wide receiver talent pool in the NFL is becoming extremely diluted compared to years past. With a special rookie wide receiver crop breaking out all over the place in 2020, and an equally heralded class coming in next year, fantasy players must adjust their process and adapt with the changing NFL landscape. 

Because the WR position is becoming flooded with talent, there is more inconsistency as far as who finishes in the upper echelon each week. There are many different receivers who will finish as a top 20 receiver on any given week over the course of a season. But a great portion of these guys are not consistently top 20 receivers…this is a stark contrast to the running back, quarterback, and even tight end positions.

We are not playing best ball, and we want the guys who can be top 20, or better yet, top 10 on a consistent, week in week out basis. Because of this, a winning strategy in dynasty, or any season long format for that matter, is prioritizing guys with higher floors who may leave a bit to be desired on the ceiling front, over guys with sky high ceilings but low floors. 

In order to get a good feel for which wide receivers displayed the best floors, ceilings, and consistency, I put together a chart which documents the percentage of games in which each top 30 wide receiver (on the season) finished in the top 30, top 20, and top 10 at their position. Top 30 and top 20 percentages are a good indicator of floor. Top 10 gives a good idea of ceiling. Lastly, the WR volatility ranking shows how consistent each player was throughout the season. 

2020 WR Statistical Analysis: Floor/Ceiling/Consistency

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Top 10 Takeaways:

  1. Player volatility is really weekly standard deviation. In other words, how much does the player’s score deviate from their season average on a week to week basis. Guys with low volatility: you know what you’re getting, what to expect. Players with high volatility on the other hand, are very hard to project on a weekly basis, as they have a much wider range of outcomes.

  2. Low volatility doesn’t necessarily correlate with a higher floor, and higher volatility doesn’t necessarily correlate with a lower floor. Guys with higher mean fantasy scores (see Adams and Tyreek) can have high volatility while also providing a nice floor.

  3. Could Tyler Boyd be a discount DJ Moore? He was a top 30, top 20, and top 10 receiver at an equal or higher rate than Moore this year. Not to mention he is tied to Joe Burrow through 2023. 

  4. Is Curtis Samuel possibly a discount Tee Higgins? Samuel does come with some uncertainty, as he is an impending free agent and his offensive coordinator may be gone even if he resigns. However, Samuel is still only 24 years old and posted very similar numbers to Chase Claypool and Higgins, who are unanimously viewed as significantly more valuable.

  5. The enigma of Will Fuller: one of the best performing WR’s using these measurements. How much basis does the narrative that he only stayed healthy because of PED use really hold? Not so sure PEDs can help one stay healthier…. he could be a sneaky buy. Don’t overpay though, as there are uncertainties as of where he will be next year, and we don’t know how he will do without PEDs (performance wise). 

  6. Ceedee Lamb provided an incredible floor considering all of the quarterback hindrances that he faced his rookie year. It is clear that his ceiling was affected, but whose wouldn’t have been? Had Prescott not gotten injured, Lamb would have finished neck and neck with Jefferson, and would have had a shot at breaking multiple rookie records.

  7. Is DK Metcalf overpriced? Widely considered the #1 receiver in dynasty, he was significantly outproduced by Calvin Ridley according to these measurements of floor, ceiling, and consistency. Along these same lines, one could sacrifice some youth while getting very similar production with guys like Keenan Allen and Allen Robinson. I personally view both of these players as having 2-3 years of elite production left in the tank at the very least, and they come at a fraction of the cost that Metcalf does.

  8. While Tyler Lockett was the WR13 overall this year in PPR formats, he only produced a top 30 weekly performance 33% of the games he played in! He is the epitome of someone who is not worth targeting in season long formats. 

  9. Justin Jefferson posted numbers that compare favorably with DK Metcalf, or at the very least, comparably… and he did this as a rookie! When it comes to the Jefferson vs. Metcalf debate, give me Jefferson every single time.

  10. You really don’t need any kind of statistical analysis to understand just how historic DeVante Adams’ season was this year, but the numbers provide a nice reminder. Being a top 10 receiver in 62% of your games in a season where we saw strong wide receiver play across the league simply speaks for itself.

That’s all for now folks! If you like what you read, stay tuned into FFAffair.com and keep your eyes peeled for the RB Edition of our new series: Evolve or Die. In this series of articles, I will lay out how each positional group is changing, and how we can exploit these changes as fantasy managers in order to gain an edge on our opponents.

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