Extreme Wide Receiver Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these figures can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be the final part of the three-part series that concludes with the wide receiver position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

Robby Anderson: 5.86: The Jets didn’t win much in 2018 but when they did, Robby Anderson was involved as he registered a touchdown in three of those four victories.  He closed out the campaign strong and given another offseason with second-year starter Sam Darnold, their chemistry can only continue to flourish.

DeAndre Hopkins: 5.57: Opposing secondaries  that were able to somewhat stymie Nuk held him to 82.8 receiving yards and .4 touchdowns in Houston losses.  Those that fell to his wrath allowed 105.27 receiving yards and .82 touchdowns in Houston wins.  Hopkins and Davante Adams were the only two receivers to maintain a floor of 12.4 fantasy points in every game they suited up.

Jordy Nelson: 4.9: We hadn’t been accustomed to seeing Jordy Nelson without Aaron Rodgers and from Week 5-Week 12, it wasn’t a pretty sight.  In three Raider wins that he played, he maintained a double-digit FPPG average while he was boom or total bust in 12 losses.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 8.89: Antonio Brown had a +1.37 FPPG differential in Steeler losses but still posted more fantasy production in games they were victorious.  Meanwhile, JuJu’s variance was much more extreme at a +8.89 FPPG differential in defeats as well as generating more production in those losses.  JuJu had a solid sophomore season as the WR8 in PPR scoring and put on a display in losses that he erupted for over 30+ fantasy points against Kansas City, Oakland, and Denver.

Tyreek Hill: 6.8: He generated 17 catches for 357 yards and five touchdowns in two shootouts against the Patriots and Rams that resulted in Chiefs losses.  Since 2017, Kansas City is 3-5 straight-up when their defense surrenders 30 points or more, a scenario Tyreek Hill thrives in as he has registered 20+ fantasy points in five of those eight matchups.

D.J. Moore: 4.06: His ceiling game of 28.7 fantasy points in a loss to the Lions was the major cause of this variance for the rookie receiver out of the University of Maryland.  His only competition at the position looks to be Curtis Samuel as he looks to build on a successful rookie campaign and possibly take the reins as the #1 receiver in Carolina.  

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Alshon Jeffery: +.07: While consistent in this metric in 2018, Alshon Jeffery has shown a more positive correlation in production with Nick Foles throwing him the football vs Carson Wentz doing so since 2017.  Whether Foles remained with the Eagles or not, Jeffery will compete for looks with Zach Ertz, Wentz’s preferred option and the team leader in receptions each season since Wentz was drafted in 2016.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Amari Cooper: 10.37 (Cumulative with Oakland and Dallas): One of the ultimate boom or bust receivers throughout his career in Oakland, that attribute carried over when Amari Cooper was dealt to Dallas.  However, when he did erupt, it was in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum/AT&T Stadium as 68.46% of his receiving yards as well as seven of his eight touchdowns came in home games.  

Brandin Cooks: 8.73: He had a positive correlation in games at Gillette Stadium in his brief stay with New England but as Jared Goff’s home/road splits were drastic, so were Brandin Cooks as his +8.73 FPPG differential at the L.A. Coliseum demonstrated.  He had nearly two times as many receptions in home games at 53 compared to 27 receptions on the road in 2018.

Michael Thomas: 8.52: While the inverse occurred in 2017, Michael Thomas flourished in games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the tune of a +8.52 FPPG differential in games at that venue in 2018.  Drew Brees regressed back to his norm in games inside the fast-paced dome last year and that translated to a strong positive correlation in home games for both the future first ballot Hall of Famer and his trusty receiver.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Antonio Callaway: 8.89: Callaway was a non-factor in games at FirstEnergy Stadium as his 3.89 FPPG average in eight games played strongly suggests.  He was serviceable on road trips as he saw almost double the amount of receptions in road games as well as registering all of his five touchdowns away from Cleveland.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 8.56: Victim of another strong correlation, JuJu was as useful in games the Steelers played outside of Pittsburgh as he was in games that they were defeated.  He posted crooked numbers in hostile territory with a floor of 14.8 fantasy points and posting 20+ fantasy points in five of eight road matchups.

Alshon Jeffery: 7.68: Like Antonio Callaway, Alshon Jeffery was another receiver that was nonexistent during the home portion of the Eagles 2018 schedule, a variance that became more extreme from 2017.  He saw 6.14 receptions and .71 touchdowns in seven road games vs 3.66 receptions and .17 touchdowns in six games at Lincoln Financial Field. 

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Curtis Samuel: +.16: He’s at worse the #3 receiving option for the Panthers behind  Christian McCaffery and D.J. Moore heading into 2019 but was the best in home/road consistency among evaluated receivers.  He was a low-ceiling fantasy option but when given additional snaps beginning in Week 12, Curtis Samuel maintained a solid floor of 11.2 fantasy points in five of those six games.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Amari Cooper: 13.88: (Cumulative with Oakland and Dallas): Amari Cooper will have his breakout games as he has shown but Zeke being the focal point of the Dallas offense reduces his output some weeks.  Two of his three breakouts in 2018 were when his respective team entered the game as a favorite, averaging 71.2 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in four of those instances vs 40 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns in the underdog role.  

Nelson Agholor: 11.03: This variance reoccurring in 2019 would be quite the surprise as Nelson Agholor was rendered useless to the tune of .9 fantasy points in two games the Eagles went in as underdogs.  With the exception of the final two weeks, 2018 was a disappointing campaign that saw his touchdown receptions slashed in half from 2017

Allen Robinson: 6.46: The Allen Robinson that slaughtered the Eagles in the divisional round only appeared once in regular season action as his days of being drafted in the first four rounds may be over.  In fact, in PPR scoring, he finished just 1.4 fantasy points ahead of Taylor Gabriel for the WR1 on the Bears.  His variance exists largely due to the carnage he created against the Lions secondary in Week 10 last year.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Tyreek Hill: 20.5: Since 2017, the Chiefs are 4-3 in games they enter getting points from their opponents with Tyreek Hill averaging a ridiculous 31.18 FPPG in six games in that role; he didn’t suit up Week 17 against the Broncos in 2017 as the Chiefs were locked in as the #4 seed.  He’s crossed the pylons at least one time in each of the last six instances he played in a game the Chiefs were underdogs.

Mike Williams: 11.25: Tyrell Williams departing for Oakland slots Mike Williams as the #2 wide receiver for the Chargers.  Underdog performances against the Rams and Chiefs saw the former 7th overall pick out of Clemson average eight catches for 78.5 yards and two touchdowns, a main contributor to Williams possessing this large differential.

Michael Thomas: 9.14: As Drew Brees saw a +11 FPPG differential in three games the Saints were underdogs, Michael Thomas was just as insulted in that role as he had a floor of 19.9 fantasy points in those matchups.  The Saints should be favored in nearly every game in 2019 with the exception of an NFC Championship rematch against the Rams, a secondary Michael Thomas torched for a 12/211/1 clip in Week 9.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Jordy Nelson: +.29

The Raiders version of Jordy was a sad sight to behold after years of success with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.  Age and injuries have caught up with him and it’s no surprise to see him enter retirement after a successful 11-year career that netted him a Super Bowl ring in 2010.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE TOP HALF IN PASS DVOA

Amari Cooper: 10.29: Back for a third mention, Cooper wrecked havoc on some of the stronger secondaries as he posted 20+ fantasy point performances in five of six occurrences against defenses ranked in the top half in pass DVOA.  It’s maddening that he couldn’t put those performances together against the weaker secondaries but again, Zeke touching the ball as much as he does can be attributed to this issue.

Robert Woods: 8.29: Robert Woods was at his best when the secondaries were of the tougher variety.  While Brandin Cooks better correlated against defenses in the bottom half in pass DVOA, Woods was the opposite as he posted 87.2 yards and .5 touchdowns in 10 games against the top half vs 57.83 receiving yards and .17 touchdowns in 6 games against the bottom dwellers.  

Mike Williams: 7.67: Against 10 defenses that the Chargers faced that ranked in the top half in pass DVOA, Mike Williams saw double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring in seven of those games.  Despite injuries that hampered his rookie season, Williams rebounded nicely and will syphon some of the 64 targets that Tyrell Williams leaves behind.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE BOTTOM HALF IN PASS DVOA

Calvin Ridley: 8.03: He was on pace for 24 touchdowns at the conclusion of Week 4, a sure sign that regression would and did strike as Calvin Ridley only had four touchdowns in the final 12 games.  He thrived against defenses in the bottom half in pass DVOA, averaging 14.02 yards per catch to complement his 61.7 receiving yards and .9 touchdowns per game vs 10.2 yards per catch, 34 receiving yards, and .17 touchdowns per game against the better half.

Christian Kirk: 6.54: Nearly an identical situation as Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk was more effective against the weaker defenses in his rookie campaign.  While Ridley knows who will be throwing him the ball in 2019, Kirk awaits to see if Josh Rosen will be traded and the Cardinals take Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in Nashville in a few weeks.

Odell Beckham Jr.: 6.54: His situation certainly improves as he moves on from an aged Eli Manning to a blossoming Baker Mayfield.  Regardless, Eli always made it a point to target OBJ throughout his time in New York, more so against the weaker secondaries that saw the former Giant average 100.33 receiving yards and .83 touchdowns per game against bottom-half pass DVOA defenses last year compared to 75 receiving yards and .17 touchdowns against stiffer competition.

SMALLEST PASS DVOA VARIANCE

Adam Thielen: It was the tale of two seasons as the first eight games saw Adam Thielen average 25.38 FPPG while that number regressed to 13.16 FPPG in the final eight.  Dalvin Cook may have been a factor as Thielen posted a 9.6/111.4/.8 clip in 5 games Cook was inactive vs a 5.91/74.18/.45 clip in 11 games Cook suited up.  Regardless, Thielen posted stellar performances against superior and inferior defenses in 2018, especially in the earlier portion of the campaign.

WHO WERE THE MOST CONSISTENT WIDE RECEIVERS OF 2018?

This portion of the article is reserved for those who demonstrated a consistency in all of the above metrics.  As the WR9 in PPR scoring, Mike Evans rebounded from a disappointing 2017 campaign and reached double-digit fantasy points in 12 of 16 contests in 2018.  With the exception of a variance just shy of three in top-half vs bottom-half pass DVOA opponents, Evans was remarkably consistent with FPPG differentials no greater than 1.25 in the other three metrics.  The Bucs move on from one offensive-minded coach in Dirk Koetter to another in Bruce Arians, one that will continue to benefit Evans moving forward.

As mentioned above, Adam Thielen performed equally well against stingy and porous secondaries.  That consistency also carried over in the other evaluated metrics with variances no higher than three fantasy points.  Thielen has benefitted from Dalvin Cook’s inability to stay healthy in his first two seasons in the league, a positive for Thielen to keep in mind as his ADP currently sits around the end of the 2nd round/beginning of the 3rd round at the time of this writing.

Parris Campbell: Young, Talented and Plenty to Like

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Parris Campbell (6’1”, 208), Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Parris Campbell seemed to be flying a bit under the radar heading into Draft season. After tearing up the NFL combine, he has officially started to get some buzz. The question here, as is the case with all of the combine warriors, is if the buzz is warranted? In the case of Parris Campbell, it’s an emphatic yes.

18.3 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

Parris Campbell was born in 1997. Let that sink in for a minute (ok now that we’re done feeling old) and realize that Campbell will just be turning 22 in time for training camp. For the 2015 season, he was 18. For the 2016 season, he was 19 and for the 2017 season he was 20. His production during those 3 years was nothing special. He accumulated just 53 catches for 705 yards and 3 touchdowns.

It wasn’t until his senior year that Campbell would finally break out and have a stellar season. He totaled 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is extremely young but has worked for 4 years to refine his craft as a wide receiver. I believe he can be very productive at the NFL level.

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score 4.3 (Personal Score 4)

Campbell has good game speed and can burn. He works in and out of his cuts with ease and has the ability to turn on the burners. While I would argue his agility and ability to make quick cuts is his bread and butter, he still has speed to boot. He ran a 4.31 at the NFL Combine, which is blazing fast. No concerns in this area of his game.

Route Running: Aggregate Score 4.6 (Personal Score 5)

This is where Campbell really shines. He is an absolutely electric route runner. He can get open at will and is just a wide-open target waiting to happen. It is difficult to tell just how much the Ohio State offense helped in this regard but I believe Campbell deserves a lot of credit for his ability to find sot spots in the opposing defenses. He is already an elite route runner and an NFL team will fall in love with him because of this aspect of his game.

Blocking: Aggregate Score 1.6 (Personal Score 2)

The only negative to Campbell’s game is his blocking, which was virtually non-existent in the tape that we watched. While he may have some blocking chops, he just didn’t do it enough to warrant a high score. I know this is for fantasy football and those that play could give a hoot about blocking but this is a way to stay on the field. If you’re not a good blocker, then you will be coming off the field for someone who is and it therefore takes more opportunities away from you.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score 3.6 (Personal Score 3)

The best thing going for Campbell when it comes to this category is he has some fire in him. If you come to the line and press him, he has the ability to embarrass you. He’s a gamer and he won’t just let you dominate him at the LOS. He has good enough size to shake defenders at the line and if you get beat when trying to press him then good luck trying to catch him.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score 4 (Personal Score 4)

His combine speaks to his athleticism. He posted elite scores up and down the board. The only area he scored poorly in was the bench press where he posted just 11 reps and everything else was in the upper echelon for wide receivers. Campbell clearly possesses some traits that NFL teams would love to have on their team. He can be a game breaker with the way he plays the game.

Conclusion: Late 1st– Early 2nd

Campbell projects to be a slot receiver in the NFL and while I understand those projections; I can’t help but think he can be something more. I may be higher on Campbell than most but the combine along with the tape just doesn’t lie, he can be an elite receiver. Sorry if you’ve heard this before but his landing spot will matter big time. If he can find himself on a team like the Patriots or the Saints then I will gladly take him in the late 1st or early second round. His potential is undeniable.

DFS in Review: Perfect DraftKings Lineup Wide Reciever Trends

Part 3 of the series reviews a wide receiver position that rebounded from a real life and fantasy perspective from 2017.  As a whole, wide receiver receptions, yards, and touchdowns saw sizable increases in 2018.  Also notable, wide receiver rushing attempts and rushing yards had substantial bumps from the prior year.

As you will discover from this piece, the position can be a roller coaster to evaluate each week.  44 different receivers made the perfect lineup out of a possible 55 occurrences.  Compared to the running back and tight end positions that saw 62% and 64% of its respective slots represented by different players, 80% for wide receivers shouldn’t be too surprising.  Especially when you consider there are at least two reliable receivers on most teams vs a single bell cow back or tight end that is heavily relied upon.

Some of these receiver trends aren’t as concrete as those that were presented in the previous two articles of the series regarding the quarterback and running back positions.  The wide receiver position displays more variables that show the fickle nature of the position.  At times, these variables can make it feel rather unpredictable as the trend below and others discussed in this article will illustrate.

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THE PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS COMBINED FOR A RECORD OF 29-24-2

Tyreek Hill was the WR1 in Week 10 in a win that he did nearly all of his damage when the game was still within reach for the Cardinals.  In opposite fashion, Taylor Gabriel caught two touchdown passes in what already a rout against the Buccaneers.  Remaining cognizant to how coaches and coordinators approach and utilize their passing games in positive gamescript can be critical when a game gets out of hand.  Some may like to keep the foot on the gas while others may be content running the ball and draining clock. 

Negative gamescript can move one from six DK points and WR63 for the week and boost him all the way up to 23 DK points and WR8 on a deep throw in hopes of a late rally.  Of the 50 perfect receivers that did score a touchdown in their respective games, 30 of them did so when their team was trailing.  This isn’t breaking news but sometimes, a reminder of the obvious can be a cure for the overthinking that is possible on a week-to-week basis.  In this case, rostering receivers that are expected to be in a close game or playing from behind.

Defenses that possess a strong competency in stopping the run may be more targeted via the wide receiver.  Take the Saints as they surrendered the fourth fewest FPA to running backs but hemorrhaged the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers.  These stout rushing defenses can funnel additional passing attempts and create more opportunity for damage through the air, especially when the secondary is a porous one.  The Saints allowed four perfect receivers with their inability to contain the position.

As evidenced, a lot goes into deciding which receiver to choose.  Where the perfect running backs show a positive correlation towards winning their respective games, it’s nearly a 50/50 proposition with their wide receiving counterparts.  Of course, none of this matters if there isn’t opportunity to make a difference on the field.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE WIDE RECEIVERS WAS 7.96 

Targets are fantasy gold that create opportunities for wide receivers to produce.  Without them, that receiver serves no purpose in lineups, especially when running backs are seeing increased touches and roles in the offense.  With the limited amount of opportunities they have each week, it is critical for receivers to capitalize on those balls thrown to them.  

For those that achieved perfection, the average number of receptions per game was 7.96 off 10.23 targets.  Michael Thomas saw a perfect lineup ceiling of 16 receptions in Week 1 while Tyrell Williams needed as few as three of them to do his damage.  Of course, Tyrell needed more than three receptions for 118 yards to get on that list by scoring two touchdowns on the day.  It’s no surprise that 50 of the 55 wide receivers on the list posted at least one touchdown. 

35 OF THE 55 WIDE RECEIVERS WERE PRICED AT $6000 OR LOWER

Considering 21 of the 34 perfect running backs, not including flex options, we’re priced over $7000, inexpensive wide receivers needed to be rostered and were available each week.  In fact, at least one perfect wide receiver was priced as low as $5000 in all but one main slate in 2018; Week 2 was the only week that featured all receivers over $6000.  

Needless to say, a wide receiver under $6000 won’t land a team’s #1 option in most cases.  However, a team’s second or third made the perfect lineup in 15 of 17 weeks as 44 different receivers made the list.  Targeting susceptible cornerbacks comes into play in identifying those cheap receivers that have favorable matchups.  P.J. Williams, M.J. Stewart, and Jalen Mills were just some of the corners that were weekly targets in the 2018 DFS landscape.  One secondary fell victim to more perfect receivers than the other 31 teams and resides in a division with strong quarterbacks and receiving corps.

CAROLINA ALLOWED SEVEN PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS

In one corner sits Matt Ryan with his lethal perimeter receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.  In another contains the surgical duo of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.  Don’t forget about Jameis Winston and his trio of talented receivers in Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin; it remains to be seen if DeSean Jackson returns in 2019.  That’s a tall order of firepower for any secondary to endure in 6 of 16 games.  

The damage inflicted upon a Panther secondary that was in the top 5 in FPA to perimeter receivers wasn’t just limited to divisional foes.  Kenny Golladay got the best of them at one point as well as a pair of Seattle receivers in David Moore and Tyler Lockett that both posted 100+ receiving yard games en route to the perfect lineup.  Odell Beckham Jr. threw a touchdown pass on top of the carnage he created opposite James Bradberry and Donte Jackson.

Carolina’s 2019 schedule outside of divisional play features some tough perimeter receiver matchups to include Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, the Rams duo of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, and the aforementioned Tyler Lockett.  For what has been an Achilles heel for this defense the last two years, the Panthers need Jackson to continue to develop as he enters his second year in the league and Bradberry to shut down opposing receivers not just named Mike Evans.

CONCLUSION

DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown were the only two receivers to eclipse 300 fantasy points in PPR scoring in 2017, the fewest receivers to hit that benchmark since 2012 when Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall were the only two to do so.  In 2018, five other receivers joined Brown and Hopkins in this club, reiterating the aerial revolution that is sweeping the NFL.

As long as this pass-first mentality continues, the state of the wide receiver shouldn’t bottom out as it did in 2017 and maintain its current upward trend.  Even with the running backs more involved in the passing game, the current household names at the receiver along with the ascension of some younger stars projects a bright outlook for the position for the next few years.