The Gut Check No.367: What Makes a Fantasy WR1?


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Waldman examines players capable of top-tier wide receiver fantasy production in 2016.

What does a prototypical fantasy receiver look like in a 12-team league? Is he earning a lopsided majority of the workload in the passing game? Is he the leading option in a balanced attack? Does a specific combination of physical skills matter?

Do teammates of quality “take away” targets from other teammates? This week, the Gut Check examines these questions and profiles receivers with the skills and supporting cast to earn top-12 fantasy production at the position.

Between 2005-2015, there has been a correlation between top-12 fantasy receivers and at least one fantasy starter at receiver or tight end that forces opposing defenses to respect balance in the passing game.

I examined 11 years of top-36 wide receiver rankings and top-12 tight end rankings. The percentage of the team representation as WR2s, WR3s, and TE1s during that 11-year period (72.4%) is lower than the percentage of WR1s with at least one fantasy-worthy cohort (78.8%), which is a sign of positive correlation. Here’s the data for those of you curious.

Pct. of Teams Represented among WR2s-WR3s-TE1s 

Year WR2/WR3/TE1 Teams Pct
2015 20 32 62.5%
2014 25 32 78.1%
2013 24 32 75.0%
2012 22 32 68.8%
2011 21 32 65.6%
2010 20 32 62.5%
2009 25 32 78.1%
2008 24 32 75.0%
2007 24 32 75.0%
2006 23 32 71.9%
2005 27 32 84.4%
Total 255 352 72.4%

Pct. of WR1s With Fantasy Starter Cohorts at WR or TE

 

WR 1 Sample Size 132
Qualify 104
Exceptions 28
Pct.  78.8%

Top Fantasy Wide Receivers With Starter Teammates at Receiver and/or Tight End

Note: Rankings in parenthesis are provided for the secondary options (“Starter Teammates”). Quarterbacks listed for teams with three more fantasy starters or a single WR1 that didn’t have any fantasy starter teammates (listed with an asterisk).  

Year Player Starter Teammates Starter Teammates Starter Teammates QB
2015 Antonio Brown Martavis Bryant (32)
2015 Julio Jones* Matt Ryan (18)
2015 Brandon Marshall Eric Decker (11)
2015 Allen Robinson Allen Hurns (14)
2015 Odell Beckham, Jr. Rueben Randle (29)
2015 DeAndre Hopkins* Brian Hoyer (26), Ryan Mallett (36)
2015 Doug Baldwin* Russell Wilson (3)
2015 A.J. Green Tyler Eifert (6)
2015 Larry Fitzgerald John Brown (22) Michael Floyd (34) Carson Palmer (5)
2015 Calvin Johnson Golden Tate (33)
2015 Eric Decker Brandon Marshall (3)
2015 Brandin Cooks Willie Snead (35) Ben Watson (7) Drew Brees (6)
2014 Antonio Brown Heath Miller (12)
2014 Jordy Nelson Randall Cobb (6)
2014 Dez Bryant Jason Witten (10)
2014 Demaryius Thomas Emmanuel Sanders (7) Julius Thomas (8) Peyton Manning (4)
2014 Odell Beckham Larry Donnell (11)
2014 Randall Cobb Jordy Nelson (2)
2014 Emmanuel Sanders Demaryius Thomas 4) Julius Thomas (8) Peyton Manning (4)
2014 Julio Jones Roddy White (26)
2014 Jeremy Maclin Jordan Matthews (24)
2014 T.Y. Hilton Coby Fleener (6)
2014 Mike Evans Vincent Jackson (36)
2014 Alshon Jeffery Brandon Marshall (34) Martellus Bennett (5) Jay Cutler (13)
2013 Josh Gordon Jordan Cameron (4)
2013 Demaryius Thomas Eric Decker (8) Wes Welker (21) Julius Thomas (3) Peyton Manning (1)
2013 Calvin Johnson* Matt Stafford (4)
2013 A.J. Green Marvin Jones (22)
2013 Brandon Marshall Alshon Jeffery (9) Martellus Bennett (10) Jay Cutler (24)
2013 Dez Bryant jason Witten (5)
2013 Antonio Brown Emmanuel Sanders (3 ) Jerricho Cotchery (31) Ben Roethlisberger (8)
2013 Eric Decker Demaryius Thomas (2) Wes Welker (21) Julius Thomas (3) Peyton Manning (1)
2013 Alshon Jeffery Brandon Marshall (5) Martellus Bennett (10) Jay Cutler (24)
2013 DeSean Jackson Riley Cooper (25)
2013 Jordy Nelson* Aaron Rodgers (26)
2013 Andre Johnson* Matt Schaub (30)
2012 Calvin Johnson* Matt Stafford (9)
2012 Brandon Marshall* Jay Cutler (23)
2012 Dez Bryant Miles Austin (26) Jason Witten (5) Tony Romo ( 8)
2012 A.J. Green Jermaine Gresham (10)
2012 Demaryius Thomas Eric Decker (7)
2012 Vincent Jackson Mike Williams (18)
2012 Eric Decker Demaryius Thomas (5)
2012 Andre Johnson Owen Daniels (8)
2012 Julio Jones Tony Gonzalez (3) Roddy White (10) Matt Ryan (6)
2012 Roddy White Julio Jones (9) Tony Gonzalez (3) Matt Ryan (6)
2012 Marques Colston Lance Moore (21) Jimmy Graham (1) Drew Brees (1)
2012 Wes Welker Brandon Lloyd (34) Rob Gronkoswki (2) Tom Brady (5)
2011 Calvin Johnson Brandon Pettigrew (11)
2011 Jordy Nelson Greg Jennings (18) Jermichael Finley (5) Aaron Rodgers (2)
2011 Wes Welker Rob Gronkowski (1)
2011 Victor Cruz Hakeem Nicks (12)
2011 Larry Fitzgerald* John Skelton (29)
2011 Steve Smith (Car)* Cam Newton (4)
2011 Percy Harvin* Christian Ponder (28)
2011 Roddy White Tony Gonzalez (4) Julio Jones (17) Matt Ryan (8)
2011 Mike Wallace Antonio Brown (24)
2011 Vincent Jackson Malcom Floyd (32) Antonio Gates (7) Philip Rivers (9)
2011 Marques Colston Jimmy Graham (2) Lance Moore (34) Drew Brees (1)
2011 Hakeem Nicks Victor Cruz (4)
2010 Brandon Lloyd* Kyle Orton (16)
2010 Dwayne Bowe* Matt Cassel (14)
2010 Roddy White Tony Gonzalez (8)
2010 Greg Jennings* Aaron Rodgers (1)
2010 Mike Wallace* Ben Roethlisberger (18)
2010 Calvin Johnson Brandon Pettigrew (12)
2010 Reggie Wayne Pierre Garcon (31) Austin Collie (32) Peyton Manning (2)
2010 Hakeem Nicks Mario Manningham (17)
2010 Andre Johnson* Matt Schaub (8)
2010 Steve Johnson* Ryan Fitzpatrick (17)
2010 Mike Williams Kellen Winslow Jr (5)
2010 Miles Austin Jason Witten (1)
2009 Andre Johnson* Matt Schaub (3)
2009 Randy Moss Wes Welker (12)
2009 Miles Austin Roy Williams (36) Jason Witten (8) Tony Romo (5)
2009 DeSean Jackson Brent Celek (4)
2009 Larry Fitzgerald Anquan Boldin (23)
2009 Reggie Wayne Austin Collie (3) Dallas Clark (2) Peyton Manning (4)
2009 Roddy White Tony Gonzalez (5)
2009 Sidney Rice Visanthe Shiancoe (6) Percy Harvin (25) Brett Favre (6)
2009 Brandon Marshall* Kyle Orton (16)
2009 Vincent Jackson Antonio Gates (3) Chris Chambers (35) Philip Rivers (6)
2009 Steve Smith (NYG) Hakeem Nicks (28) Mario Manningham (29) Eli Manning (10)
2009 Wes Welker Randy Moss (2)
2008 Larry Fitzgerald Anquan Boldin (7) Steve Breaston (28) Kurt Warner (4)
2008 Andre Johnson Kevin Walter (19) Owen Daniels (6) Matt Schaub (21)
2008 Calvin Johnson* Dan Orlovsky (33)
2008 Greg Jennings Donald Driver (23)
2008 Steve Smith (Car) Mushin Muhammad (26)
2008 Roddy White* Matt Ryan (15)
2008 Anquan Boldin Larry Fitzgerald (1) Steve Breaston (28) Kurt Warner (4)
2008 Antonio Bryant* Jeff Garcia (22)
2008 Terrell Owens Jason Witten (2)
2008 Randy Moss Wes Welker (21)
2008 Brandon Marshall Eddie Royal (20) Tony Scheffler (12) Jay Cutler (3)
2008 Vincent Jackson Antonio Gates (4)
2007 Randy Moss Wes Welker (11)
2007 Terrell Owens Patrick Crayton (34) Jason Witten (1) Donovan McNabb (7)
2007 Braylon Edwards Kellen Winslow Jr (4)
2007 Reggie Wayne Dallas Clark (5)
2007 Larry Fitzgerald Anquan Boldin (19)
2007 Chad Johnson T.J. Houshmandzadeh (7)
2007 T.J. Houshmadnzadeh Chad Johnson (6)
2007 Marques Colston* Drew Brees (4)
2007 Brandon Marshall Tony Scheffler (10)
2007 Plaxico Burress Jeremy Shockey (11)
2007 Wes Welker Randy Moss (1)
2007 Greg Jennings Donald Driver (30) Donald Lee (9) Brett Favre (8)
2006 Marvin Harrison Reggie Wayne (3)
2006 Terrell Owens Terry Glenn (20) Jason Witten (12) Tony Romo (2)
2006 Reggie Wayne Marvin Harrison (1)
2006 Chad Johnson T.J. Houshmandzadeh (11) Chris Henry (31) Carson Palmer (9 )
2006 Donald Driver* Brett Favre (8)
2006 Torry Holt Isaac Bruce (25)
2006 Lee Evans* J.P. Losman (14)
2006 Steve Smith (Car) Keyshawn Johnson (35)
2006 Javon Walker* Jake Plummer (24)
2006 Roy Williams Mike Furrey (19)
2006 T.J. Houshmadnzad Chad Johnson (4)
2006 Plaxico Burress Jeremy Shockey (7)
2005 Steve Smith (Car)* Jake Delhomme (12)
2005 Larry Fitzgerald Anquan Boldin (8)
2005 Santana Moss Chris Cooley (4)
2005 Chad Johnson T.J. Houshmandzadeh (14)
2005 Joey Galloway* Chris Simms (27)
2005 Torry Holt Kevin Curtis (27)
2005 Chris Chambers Randy McMichael (9)
2005 Anquan Boldin Larry Fitzgerald (2)
2005 Marvin Harrison Reggie Wayne (21)
2005 Hines Ward Heath Miller (12)
2005 Plaxico Burress Amani Toomer (33) Jeremy Shockey (2) Eli Manning (4)
2005 Terry Glenn Jason Witten (6) Keyshawn Johnson (28) Dre Bledsoe (6)

OBSERVATIONS

Balanced Passing Games Rule

For the past 11 years, nearly 80 percent of the top-12 receivers come from balanced offenses with productive players that put defenses in a bind and create opportunities for primary options. Sometimes it’s a seam stretcher and reliable check-down magnet from the slot like Tyler Eifert who helps A.J. Green see optimal targets. Other teams have a “possession plus” receiver capable of plays all over the field like Allen Hurns complementing Allen Robinson.

Read the rest at Footballguys.com

Categories: Footballguys, Matt Waldman, Players, Wide ReceiverTags: , , , ,

1 comment

  1. Deandre Hopkins bucking the trend on this one

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