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Spotting Public Misconceptions at Wide Reciver

By Steve Schwarz | 6/30/22

In the second of a multi-part series we examine where the “public” thinks a player should be ranked versus where an “expert” ranks those same players. Today we cover wide receivers. The reason we want to make this comparison is if we can find a large variance between the public and experts, we can find bargains and conversely, we can also spot where the public is overrating a player to avoid paying too much.

We used the average of 2,693 mock drafts from June 10, 2022-June 20, 2022 on as representing the current public consensus and our highly-knowledgeable team at projections from June 28, 2022 as our “expert.”

Below, you can find the comparison of the two rankings and there is a lot we can learn from the chart.

The first thing I noticed was too many of the public think Calvin Ridley will play football in the NFL this season. Otherwise, how do you explain him being the 38th wide receiver off the board? He will not play due to his indefinite suspension for gambling on the NFL last year (expected to be through the 2022 season).

Secondly, the public and the experts mostly agree that the top-five will be; Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams in some order.

I also noticed how, in general, the public prefers “well-known” names versus rookies and lesser-known players. It will be a major part of their downfall.

Here are a few examples;

DeAndre Hopkins is the 16th player off the public board despite the fact he is expected to miss the first six games due to a suspension. Our experts have him at No. 45. Which means if you like “Nuke” for your playoff run, you would have to draft him well before where he should go based on his production (40.2 ADP or end of the fourth round) when his actual production is about an eighth-round value.

The Eagles’ DeVonta Smith is being selected as the 27th receiver off the board. That’s ahead of players like Darnell Mooney, Jerry Jeudy and Marquis Brown. I’m a die-hard Eagles fan and even I know that’s a mistake. The Eagles have a new No. 1 receiver in A.J. Brown and a quality receiving tight end in Dallas Goedert which will make it very hard for Smith to get the targets he needs to compete with the above three wideouts. And while I expect the Eagles to pass the ball more than last season (when they were the most run-first team in the league), Smith’s target share shouldn’t increase.

The public still sees Michael Thomas as a star receiver and has almost ignored the fact that he hasn’t played much football in the past two seasons. They are also ignoring the additions of a quality veteran like Jarvis Landry and the Saints’ first-round selection of Chris Olave. Given these question marks, Thomas’ public rank of No. 17 seems far too high and our experts rank him at No. 29.

Now let’s talk about the bargains.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Amon-Ra St. Brown is getting no respect from the public for what he did last season. It’s likely because his season-long numbers were pedestrian (ranked 22nd). But look deeper. From Week 1-9 he averaged 7.4 FPts/G on an average of 5.4 targets. From Week 10 through Week 18 he averaged 16.2 FPts/G and nine targets. Sure, they drafted Jameson Williams, a talented receiver out of Alabama, but he won’t be ready to start the season (torn ACL in January national championship game). The public is also overestimating the value of D.J. Chark, who signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Lions.

As you can clearly see, the public doesn’t see the value in a couple of rookies; Drake London and Olave. In Atlanta, the only receiving options are London, tight end Kyle Pitts and hybrid running back Cordarrelle Patterson. I’ve said in past writings I thought London would have some trouble adapting to the size and speed of defenders in the NFL as compared to the PAC-12, but any receiver who is expected to see 100+ targets should be ranked higher than 55th. Our experts have him producing 69-885-5 in his first season for 184.5 fantasy points and 33rd at the WR position.

Ignore Mecole Hardman at your own risk. His targets have increased each season with Patrick Mahomes from 41-to-62-to-83 last season. Of anyone in the wide receiver room, Mahomes is likely the most comfortable throwing to him as he’s the only one of the top-four receivers on the depth chart that has caught a ball from him in a game (JuJu Smith-Schuster played in Pittsburgh last season, Marquez Valdes-Scantling was in Green Bay and rookie Skyy Moore).

Brandin Cooks has been a reliable receiver through the years no matter who the quarterback. He’s been a 1,000-yard receiver with Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson. But he’s also been a 1,000-yard receiver with Jared Goff and a combination of Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor last season. He’ll be a 1,000-yard receiver in 2022 in a wide receiver room consisting of Nico Collins, Alabama rookie John Metchie and Chris Conley. Yet, the public has him as barely a No. 2 receiver, the 24th receiver off the board with a 57.7 ADP.

When you look over the chart below, recognize that when you see a positive double-digit variance, unless you are in a draft with other experts, you can likely get the player a round below where you believe his true value lies. Conversely, a receiver with a negative double-digit is likely going a full round ahead of your expected value. If you still want him, you will have to reach for him.

  FFT Rk vs FFC ADP: Wide Receivers
Player Tm FFC ADP FFT Rk Variance
Mecole Hardman KC 65 40 25
Amon-Ra St. Brown DET 40 17 23
Drake London ATL 55 33 22
Chris Olave NO 56 38 18
Jakobi Meyers NE 59 41 18
Robby Anderson CAR 68 50 18
Christian Kirk JAX 49 32 17
Kenny Golladay NYG 60 43 17
Darnell Mooney CHI 31 18 13
JuJu Smith-Schuster KC 44 31 13
Courtland Sutton DEN 36 24 12
Brandin Cooks HOU 24 13 11
Jerry Jeudy DEN 33 22 11
Tyler Boyd CIN 53 42 11
Mike Williams LAC 30 20 10
Michael Pittman Jr. IND 21 14 7
Rashod Bateman BAL 42 35 7
Marvin Jones JAX 70 63 7
D.J. Moore CAR 22 16 6
Treylon Burks TEN 52 46 6
Jameson Williams DET 66 61 5
Keenan Allen LAC 11 8 3
Diontae Johnson PIT 14 11 3
Hunter Renfrow LV 29 26 3
Tyreek Hill MIA 8 6 2
Kadarius Toney NYG 50 48 2
Tim Patrick DEN 62 60 2
Stefon Diggs BUF 5 4 1
Mike Evans TB 10 9 1
Rondale Moore ARI 58 57 1
Cooper Kupp LAR 1 1 0
Justin Jefferson MIN 2 2 0
Ja'Marr Chase CIN 3 3 0
CeeDee Lamb DAL 7 7 0
DK Metcalf SEA 12 12 0
Davante Adams LV 4 5 -1
Tee Higgins CIN 13 15 -2
Terry McLaurin WAS 19 21 -2
Russell Gage TB 51 53 -2
Marquez Valdes-Scantling KC 61 64 -3
Deebo Samuel SF 6 10 -4
Adam Thielen MIN 23 27 -4
Allen Robinson LAR 32 36 -4
Van Jefferson LAR 48 52 -4
Chris Godwin TB 18 23 -5
Elijah Moore NYJ 25 30 -5
Marquise Brown ARI 34 39 -5
Chase Claypool PIT 41 47 -6
DeVante Parker NE 45 51 -6
Jamison Crowder BUF 69 75 -6
Gabriel Davis BUF 37 44 -7
Christian Watson GB 63 70 -7
Amari Cooper CLE 20 28 -8
Tyler Lockett SEA 26 34 -8
Robert Woods TEN 28 37 -9
Skyy Moore KC 64 73 -9
A.J. Brown PHI 9 19 -10
Jaylen Waddle MIA 15 25 -10
Michael Thomas NO 17 29 -12
Michael Gallup DAL 43 56 -13
Brandon Aiyuk SF 35 55 -20
Jarvis Landry NO 47 68 -21
DeVonta Smith PHI 27 49 -22
Sammy Watkins GB 67 89 -22
Corey Davis NYJ 54 77 -23
Allen Lazard GB 57 85 -28
DeAndre Hopkins ARI 16 45 -29
D.J. Chark DET 46 79 -33
Calvin Ridley ATL 38 x x

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