About this time every year, I like to shine a light on each position
and focus on how they fared among their peers on a weekly basis.
While I am very much a believer that fantasy football is a weekly
game and play the matchups as much as anything when it comes to
fringe players, knowing how each player ranked among his position
group each week is a handy little tool - whether you want a quick
reference guide in your redraft leagues to help set expectations
for a certain player or need an idea on the range of a player's
performances to help break a tie between two or three options in
your DFS lineups.
For the sake of time and space (not to mention my sanity), not
every player that has scored a point appears below. My qualifications
at wide receiver: at least five games played and one top-30 finish.
(I kept a non-qualifier such as Michael Thomas on the table below
for the sake of reference.) "Best" refers to the player's
highest weekly fantasy finish, while "worst" obviously
refers to his lowest. "Aver" is the player's average
weekly finish. Squares were left blank when the player was active
but failed to register a fantasy point. Got it? Good.
At least in the mind of this fantasy analyst, Davante Adams was
a fairly obvious pick to be the overall WR1 this year. We may not
have been able to anticipate him missing three weeks (two games
and a bye) with a hamstring injury, but the fact he has been so
consistently excellent should not have come is that much of a surprise.
The degree to which he is scoring right now is a bit of a surprise.
The list of receivers that appear after him is an order no one could
Tyreek Hill was a bit of a bust in a "weather game"
against Buffalo in Week 6, but his average weekly finish in his
eight other outings is 14.1. That is incredibly impressive for
a player who may have been considered by many to be an elite vertical
threat and not much else this summer. D.K. Metcalf is busting
those same myths about his game as well. Although he hasn't delivered
the goods every single week, he has finished as a WR2 or better
in six of eight games (including four WR1 efforts). That's not
bad for a player who many thought could run about three routes
at this time last year. His only kryptonite so far was seeing
Patrick Peterson on 85.5 percent of his routes in Week 7. To be
fair, however, it's reasonable to wonder if that game (against
the Cardinals) was more about exploiting Dre Kirkpatrick in coverage
(receivers converted 13 of 16 targets for 136 yards and two touchdowns
in his coverage) than it was about avoiding Peterson.
There didn't appear to be much doubt before the season whether
or not Calvin Ridley could be a WR1 in 2020, but his consistency
has been impressive nonetheless. If we count only the six games
in which he wasn't either affected by injury somewhat (Week 4)
or left early due to injury (Week 8), his average weekly finish
is 10.5, and his lowest weekly finish is 25. He's not going to
benefit from easy matchups for the remainder of the year per se,
but he's an alpha receiver on a team with a bigger and badder
alpha (Julio Jones), so he will continue to see favorable coverage
regardless of how difficult a matchup might appear on paper. Ridley
has already excelled in what were supposed to be difficult on-paper
matchups against Chicago in Week 3 (5-110-0) and Carolina in Week
5 (8-136-0) when Jones was out and Ridley was the focus of the
Although such observations are tricky because the public usually
isn't privy to such information week after week, OC Tim Kelly
has reportedly called plays for the Texans all season long. (The
one week he was supposed to give those duties up to HC Bill O'Brien,
the latter was fired.) The reason I mention this is because very
little about the offensive brain trust has changed since O'Brien
departed. However, it is probably more than coincidence that Brandin Cooks has posted a WR1, WR1, WR2 and WR3 finish in the four games
since O'Brien's departure. (For those that may not remember, Cooks
was borderline droppable after three weeks.) His average weekly
finish since O'Brien left is 16.5, while Will Fuller's is 19.8.
It's not a statement that Cooks has passed Fuller as the top dog
in Houston, but the pair appears to be on equal footing. Given
the Texans' defensive issues, it's probably a safe bet Fuller
and Cooks maintain their current level of production.
Do we need to beware of Minnesota receivers? HC Mike Zimmer has
made it abundantly clear he wants his offense to run the ball
and it makes sense when Dalvin Cook can turn 25 touches into 200-plus
yards. While it's not necessarily Cook's volume that affects the
receivers, Minnesota has established a firm pattern in its wins
and losses: in three wins, Kirk Cousins has attempted no more
than 22 passes and thrown a total of 56. In the Vikings' five
losses, he is averaging 30.6 attempts. It may not appear to be
a huge difference, but the extra 7-8 targets per game make a huge
difference in the receivers' ability to pay off in fantasy. During
Cooks' two-game surge since Minnesota's Week 7 bye, Adam Thielen
and Justin Jefferson have seen a total of 17 targets. As a result,
Jefferson's 53rd place finish last week is the best the duo has
posted in that stretch. It's likely a blip on the radar since
at least one receiver was paying off in the three previous games,
but let this serve as a reminder there is rarely enough volume
in this passing game to allow both players to hit in fantasy in
the same week.
Of note: The Rams' devotion to the running game has the same
kind of effect on their receivers as it has on the Vikings' wideouts,
although Robert Woods has been more immune to inconsistency than
Cooper Kupp, Thielen and Jefferson. Woods been given at least
eight opportunities (targets plus carries) in all but one game
and scored at least 14 PPR points in five of eight games (at least
11.3 in six contests). In the Rams' three losses, he has averaged
21.2 fantasy points. In five wins, his average drops to 12.3.
Kupp topped 12 fantasy points for the first time in a month in
the Rams' last game (Week 8). Unlike Woods, who has been a top-26
receiver in five of eight outings, Kupp has been a low-end WR3
or lower in five of his eight. … I can't wait to find out
the story behind the story this offseason regarding Mike Evans
and D.J. Moore. Most people know Evans is operating at far less
than 100 percent, but let's break down his weekly ranks anyway:
two WR1 efforts, two WR2s and four other performances where he
was 46th or lower among his position group. Moore's breakdown
looks very similar: two WR1s, two WR2s and five efforts that ranked
49th or lower among all receivers. … The fantasy world is
justified in believing Jakobi Meyers won't be able to repeat last
week's 12-169-0 performance on 14 targets. But once folks realize
his 37.9 percent target share since Week 7 trails only Davante Adams (38.8) over that span, they might be a little more willing
to buy into him as a weekly starter moving forward.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.