In the fourth and final analysis piece of the series, we look at
the wide receiver position.
Over the past 10 seasons, every time a receiver was drafted in
the top-5 overall, he did exactly what his fantasy owners wanted
– he won the position. Meanwhile, every time the first receiver
came off the board after the fifth pick, he didn’t finish
ADP of the No.1 Fantasy WR
Odell Beckham Jr.
Fantasy Finish of the Top Drafted
Which makes things interesting for fantasy owners who are seriously
looking at the Saints’ Michael
Thomas and his 5.7 ADP. He’s right on the borderline. There
are a number of factors working against Thomas in 2020 which I
went into detail back in June.
The short version is that of all the receivers who saw at least
185 targets since 2010, the average drop in production the following
season was 17.72%. In addition, New Orleans added a quality second
receiver in the offseason in Emmanuel
Sanders, who has averaged 116.3 targets over the past seven
seasons, while last year’s No.2 wideout in New Orleans saw just
But the top wide receiver position has been pretty consistent
in a number of categories. He usually comes out of the first two
rounds. Only twice has a long-shot paid off by winning it all.
Once was rookie Odell Beckham Jr., who exploded onto the scene
in 2014 and put up 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns worth 24.8 FPts/G.
The second time was the “freak” Josh Gordon season
in 2013, when despite not playing until Week 3, racked up 1,646
yards and nine scores for a league-leading 22.5 FPts/G.
So the question for many fantasy owners, who won’t have
a shot at Thomas because they are selecting at the end of the
round or who chose a running back in the top-four picks instead
… Where can I find the best receiver in 2020?
Based on the numbers, there is an 80% chance the top wideout
will be drafted in the first two rounds, so that means the top
pick will likely come from one of seven receivers: Thomas, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Godwin
or Kenny Golladay. All of these guys have the ability to be No.1,
but not all of them have the team qualities to push them over
Winning or losing team isn’t a factor. Five of the 10 times
the best receiver came from a team with a losing record.
Additionally, they are rarely challenged by the No.2 wideout
for target share. In fact, they averaged almost double the targets
given to the No.2 receiver (165.2-to-83.1).
A No.1 receiver also needs to get the ball into the end zone.
Only once has a receiver won the title with less than eight touchdown
receptions and Calvin Johnson had to produce a record 1,964 receiving
yards to do it.
So which of the first- or second-round wide receiver options
fits the above parameters?
Adams, Green Bay (ADP 10.3) – Adams
has the talent, the quarterback and the target-share dominance
to be No.1. The recent decision of free agent signing Devin
Funchess to opt out of playing in 2020, leaves just Allen
Lazard (52 targets in 2019) as the likely next best receiver
Lewis (15-156-1) or Jace
Sternberger (zero catches) as the starting tight end. Adams
could become the favorite to win the position.
Hill, Kansas City (10.7) – Great
talent, great quarterback, but too many mouths to feed and a quarterback
who doesn’t simply look at his No.1 target ala Stafford and Calvin
Johnson. Hill didn’t even lead the team in targets in 2019, Sammy
Watkins did with 90. The addition of rookie running back Clyde
Edwards-Helaire could take additional targets from the receiving
Jones, Atlanta (14.6) – Perennial
elite receiver, quality quarterback, but doesn’t get into the
end zone often enough. Jones has averaged just 5.6 touchdowns
per season over the past seven years. The top producing wideout
has averaged 10.3 touchdowns per season and Jones has reached
double-digits just once in his career. The Falcons had three other
wide receivers see at least 74 targets last season including improving
who saw 93 targets and seven touchdown catches.
Hopkins, Arizona (16.4) – A lot
is expected from Hopkins, who may just be the most talented wideout
in the game. But he’ll need Kyler
Murray to throw more than 542 times and improve on his 3,722
passing yards if Hopkins is to produce as much as needed to win
the position. Without much offseason work and no preseason games,
the two will have to come together very quickly. The team still
has two 100-target receivers on the roster in Larry
Fitzgerald and Christian
Kirk, but they will take significant hits and a back seat
to Hopkins. If Murray is really an elite passer, Hopkins could
win it all, but that has yet to be proven.
Godwin, Tampa Bay (20.5) – He has
the “GOAT” at quarterback and even at age 43 Tom
Brady can still find and hit his receivers. What Godwin doesn’t
have is a clear-cut No.1 role. Both he and Mike
Evans will likely see comparable targets in the 130-range.
And while the running game isn’t much of a concern, particularly
in scoring touchdowns, the addition of Brady’s all-time favorite
tight end, Rob
Gronkowski (he’s caught 78 touchdowns from Brady including
57 from inside the 20-yard line), will be an issue in the red
zone for both wideouts.
Golladay, Detroit (25.1) – A possible
late second-round pick, Golladay added “touchdown-maker” to his
resume in 2019 reaching the end zone 11 times. Assuming Stafford
(back) is healthy again, we know from his time with Johnson that
he can support a No.1 overall receiver and if Golladay continues
his ascent toward elite that could happen. Working against him
is two other receivers who saw 90+ targets last season in Danny
Amendola (97) and Marvin
Jones (91). Meanwhile, tight end T.J.
Hockenson was a factor with Stafford in the lineup (22-296-2),
but not with David
Blough and Jeff
Driskel under center (10-71-0), so he could see close to 75
targets limiting Golladay’s opportunities even further.
And lastly, a long-shot, not quite “sleeper,” but
well outside the first two rounds.
Fuller, Houston (87.1) – The 2016
No.1 pick out of Notre Dame, has shown he has explosive talent,
scoring once every 10.6 touches for his career. His average score
comes from 29 yards out. Brandin
Cooks, the replacement for Hopkins (150 targets), averaged
95 targets in Los Angeles the past two seasons and will never
have played a down with quarterback Deshaun
Watson heading into Week 1, leaving a big opportunity for
Fuller to expand his game in 2020. If he can stay healthy (a big
if for a man who has missed 22 games in four season), he could
see 130 targets. For his career, Fuller has averaged 1.84 FPts/target
which would translate to 239.7 fantasy points for 16 games. In
2019, that total would have ranked him as the No.4 fantasy wide