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 starters, there is something to be said for the handful of
players who stack one top 10 or top 20 finish upon another. Among
other things, it suggests that defenses have not found an answer
to slowing him down (or that the offensive play-caller consistently
puts him in positions to succeed).
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 fantasy point appears below. The
first cutoff was that a player had to score at least five fantasy
points to be ranked for that week. (My reason for doing this was
to avoid punishing a player who mixed in a 110th place finish
with three top 20s, for example.) The second qualification was
that a receiver had to reach the first cutoff at least six times,
which should theoretically remove non-regular players and minimize
any fluky occurrences. The third qualification was for the receiver
to post an average rank of at least 48 (the worst finish for a
Players with an asterisk by their name are likely out for the
Key to the table below:
AR - Average weekly finish Max - Best weekly fantasy finish Min - Worst weekly fantasy finish WR1 - How often he finished among the top 12
at his position WR2 - How often he finished between 13th and
24th at his position WR3 - How often he finished between 25th and
36th at his position WR1% - Percentage of WR1 finishes WR2% - Percentage of WR2 finishes WR3% - Percentage of WR3 finishes WR1-2% - Percentage of top 24 finishes
If there is more supply than demand at any position, it might be
at receiver. With that said, there is no such thing as an abundance
of high-end fantasy performers in any season. What does that mean?
There isn't so much talent available that a fantasy manager can
expect to recover if he/she had the misfortune of relying on Julio Jones and Chase Claypool as their top receivers following an RB-RB-RB
1) Much as the case was with the competition around the league
at running back, it makes sense to begin the discussion of WR1
viability at the average rank around 24 instead of 12. Assuming
that is an acceptable bar, 13 players are clearing it through
2) Cooper Kupp is riding a five-game streak of top-10 finishes,
which is insane. It is just as impressive that he has finished
as something other than a WR1 only twice all season.
3) Had I lowered the bar to four (qualifying) games, Antonio Brown would rank second on this table. Amazingly, Brown is going
toe-to-toe with Kupp in this analysis in the weeks both players
4) As I alluded to two paragraphs earlier (and with the running
backs), it is probably unfair to expect WR1 production more than
half of the time from any receiver. Of the 73 players on this
list, only Kupp, Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill have managed to
do it. (Obviously excluding Mike Williams and Cole Beasley because
the former has posted four duds that were not part of the average
rank column, while the latter has recorded three.) Thus, it makes
sense to pay more attention to the WR1-2% column. Here we find
Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb have been money almost as often
as Kupp with Diontae Johnson just a bit lower. After those four
receivers, we can generally expect the other wideouts to fall
short of WR1 or WR2 status in one of every three games.
5) To give readers a sense of the role reputation can sometimes
play (and how wrong it can be) in fantasy, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Brown and Corey Davis have essentially been the same kind of fantasy
receiver this year based on their weekly finishes. You would never
know it based on how often Brown is "poised for WR1 production
this week" or that Hopkins is a "locked-and-loaded WR1"
versus how often "Davis is a fringe WR3 option." Davis
has played one less game than Hopkins and two fewer than Brown.
He has one less WR1 effort as well as the same number of WR2 and
WR3 performances (one apiece).
Taken one step further, you would never know Christian Kirk has
been a better fantasy receiver than Hopkins or Brown based on
traditional fantasy analysis. Admittedly, Kirk's fantasy scoring
average (13.4) isn't quite as high as Hopkins' (15.7), but it
beats Brown's (13.0). The fourth-year pro does not have quite
the upside (one WR1 finish versus three apiece for the other two),
but he has finished inside the top 24 receivers 55.6 percent of
the time (50 percent for Hopkins and Brown).
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.