When thinking about receivers, many fantasy owners think too much
about yards and receptions while not thinking enough about the basics
- touchdown catches. In fact, I’m going to show you a direct
correlation between touchdown catches and wide receiver fantasy
Over the past five seasons, the average top-10 fantasy receiver
caught 9.08 touchdowns. That compared favorably to wide receivers
ranked 11-20, who caught 7.16 touchdown passes and 21-30, who
caught just 5.5 touchdown passes.
As the chart below clearly shows, the numbers have been consistent
over all five seasons.
Fantasy WR Touchdowns
5 Year Avg
Looking at the individual totals, just six receivers in five
years cracked the top-10 while scoring five times or less. The
most impressive of those were Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones
in 2017 and Steve Smith in 2015 who managed top-10 production
while reaching the end zone just three times. At the other end
of the spectrum, 21 of the 50 receiver totals, or 42-percent of
the top-10, posted double-digit touchdowns.
So what does this mean for fantasy owners?
If you are drafting a wide receiver early, say the first or second
rounds, you should be very sure that he’s going to post
a big touchdown total, preferably 10-or-more.
And what do wide receivers who racked up double-digit touchdowns
have in common?
Now let’s analyze the next dozen to consider who can be first-
and second-round worthy.
Beckham Jr., Cleveland (12.9 ADP) –
Sure the talent is there, but Beckham is going to a team with
more talent on the offense than he’s been on in the past. And
a lot of that talent is in the backfield. There is no guarantee
that quarterback Baker Mayfield throws 30 touchdowns this season
with Nick Chubb and later on Kareem Hunt running the ball. And
even if he does throw that many (Peyton Manning threw 30 TDs just
once in his first six seasons), Beckham will have to “share” with
his friend Jarvis Landry, Rashad Higgins, Antonio Callaway and
up-and-coming tight end David Njoku. This ADP is because of his
name and all the preseason Browns hype. Don’t buy into it.
Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh (15.0 ADP) –
The entire world assumes that Smith-Schuster will simply step
into Antonio Brown’s shoes and produce at the latter’s level.
I’m not so sure. With the exception of Week 16 of 2017, JuJu’s
big games were while Brown was the focal point of opposing defenses.
It’s a lot different when you are covered by the opposing No.
1 corner with the safety sitting over the top.
Brown, Oakland (18.9 ADP) – Derek
Carr is no Ben Roethlisberger and while no Raiders wide receiver
had more than three touchdown receptions last season, Carr has
done enough to support quality receivers in the past. Michael
Crabtree averaged 8.3 TDs a season with Carr and he’s no Antonio
Brown. Brown posted 15 touchdowns last season and averaged 11.8
over the past five season. His end-of-the-second ADP is too low
and you should take advantage if he’s still there early in the
Tampa Bay (21.1 ADP) – Evans’ statistics are curious
in that he’s produced top totals in even-numbered years only.
He’s averaged 11.8, 12.8 and 12.5 FPts/G in 2014, 2016 and 2018,
respectively and 9.9 and 8.7 in odd-numbers years. It’s 2019.
The loss of Desean Jackson’s deep threat makes for smaller windows
and both third-year guys, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard, will demand
more targets. Plus, we are still waiting for Winston to put it
together for 16 games.
Allen, LA Chargers (24.4 ADP) –
Allen has averaged 1,295 yards the past two seasons, but managed
just six touchdowns in each season which limited his production.
The forecast for 2019 should be more of the same as Mike Williams
(10 TDs) and the return of tight end Hunter Henry is likely to
keep Allen’s touchdown total in check.
Thielen, Minnesota (26.0 ADP) –
Everything went Thielen’s way last season as he racked up an eight-game
100-yard streak and a six-game scoring streak. He did fade late
in the season, particularly during the fantasy playoffs, which
is concerning. This Vikings offense has a lot of mouths to feed
(Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Kyle Rudolph and rookie Irv Smith
Jr.) and Thielen’s 2019 total may have been his “career year.”
Hilton, Indianapolis (27.1 ADP) –
Hilton has always been a big yardage guy, but has never scored
more than seven touchdowns in a season … not even in four years
at Florida International. Luck returned from injury to produce
big numbers and should do it again in 2019 barring his current
calf injury being anything serious. This might just be the year
Hilton sets his personal touchdown mark as its unlikely Eric Ebron
matches last year's baker’s dozen total and I doubt Devin Funchess
will impact Hilton’s production.
Cooper, Dallas (30.1 ADP) – The
Raiders and fantasy owners soured on Cooper after a disappointing
2017 and slow start in 2018, but the trade to Dallas certainly
helped Cooper’s outlook for 2019. Still, Cooper was up and down,
producing a 217-yard and a 180-yard game in Dallas, but he also
threw up four “clunkers” in eight games. The Cowboys offense is
a run-first operation and it will continue to be feast or famine
for the Dak Prescott-Cooper hookup. Like Hilton, Cooper has never
produced more than seven touchdown catches in an NFL season.
Diggs, Minnesota (34.7 ADP) – For
the same reason Thielen is a question mark, so too is Diggs. But
his issue is with health as in four years he’s never played in
all 16 games. On the other hand, he’s the more likely Vikings
receiver to crack double-digit touchdown catches. I think he’s
likely to over-produce as a fourth-round selection.
Cincinnati (36.9 ADP) – If Diggs is worrisome due to
an injury past then Green is a downright frightening selection.
He has failed to finish two of the last three seasons and just
this Wednesday needed ankle surgery and is expected to a couple
of games. Throw in the “red-headed enigma” and I’d stay away completely.
Edelman, New England (38.8 ADP) –
The Patriots’ passing game is a question mark due to the retirement
of Rob Gronkowski. Who will inherit the targets, yards and more
importantly, the touchdowns? It’s unlikely to be Edelman, who
has just nine scores since 2016. He’ll certainly get you the tough
yards and the important first downs, but he’s just not the guy
Tom Brady goes to at the goal line. He’s a great guy to have on
the team you root for, just not your fantasy team.
Cooks, LA Rams (40.9 ADP) – This
is another situation where there are too many mouths to feed.
Cooks produced nicely last season (80-1,204-5), but with Todd
Gurley, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp all getting their fair share,
Cooks’ upside is limited.