Brandon Marshall, Megatron, and Demaryius Thomas Headline the Complete RotoViz WR Workshop

A couple of weeks ago, I put together the Comprehensive RotoViz RB Workshop which pointed to guys like Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, and Trent Richardson having significantly more value than even their lofty first round grades indicate. That’s the kind of information that can be very valuable in an auction setting, but it’s also extremely valuable in the environment where many leagues now find themselves: the post-draft but still pre-season trading frenzy.

The wide receiver version offers the same value. Whether you’re drafting over the holiday weekend or trying to pull off that blockbuster trade before the season starts, spotting the big inefficiencies is your key to a title.

In creating the Comprehensive Rankings, I’ve combined the results from three RotoViz tools. Let’s briefly look at what each tool is designed to do.

The WR Sim Score App

The original app is designed to provide you with a set of comparable players, an N+1 projection, and a Year Over Year Change Plot that gives a visual representation of how those players performed the following year. The biggest factors tend to be size, age, efficiency, targets, and touchdown percentage.

The WR Sim Score Lab

Using the Sim Lab I was able to create a version of Megatron who didn’t play in an offense with 700-plus pass attempts but didn’t get tackled at the 1-yard-line five times either. I was also able to remake Larry Fitzgerald such that he played with Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians instead of John Skelton.

In Part 2, I was able to compare big, young WRs with veteran speedsters, and the results were surprising. Even if you disagree with the specific projections, the general conclusions are pretty obvious. (Don’t draft the speed guys.) Next week I’ll have a look at surface value versus hidden value when it comes to receivers and suggest ways to supercharge your roster.

The WR Custom Cheat Sheet

The Cheat Sheet allows you to generate a quick set of rankings and export it to Excel. Like so many of the RotoViz tools, it’s highly flexible and you can spend as much or as little time with it as you want. It allows you to adjust for number of targets and by week of the season. It also allows you to change the ‘games played’ adjustment, which is one of my favorite buttons to fiddle with and see the morphing of results.

In a small upset, Brandon Marshall was No. 1. Before the hip melodrama, I don’t think you would have been completely crazy to make him the first receiver off the board. Now you should hope to scoop him as the perfect second round faller.

My Final RotoViz Board

These rankings use the three sets of projections. Because they most closely represent my own beliefs and because they may make a few important adjustments for context, I’ve weighted the WR Sim Lab results at 60% and the other two at 20% each. The numbers and rankings are for PPR leagues, but all of the apps can also give you standard and half-ppr numbers. As always, I encourage you to interact with the apps yourself.

The links in the “Notes” section provide an index to the main feature articles we’ve done on these players this summer.

Name Sim Scores PPR Sim Lab Overall Notes
1 Brandon Marshall 17.2 16.99 16.5 16.7 No. 1 in the CCS, Marshall’s hip drama is creating tremendous opportunity.
2 Calvin Johnson 15.6 16.13 17 16.5 The Sim Lab champion should be in conversation for No. 1 overall in WR-heavy formats.
3 Demaryius Thomas 14.4 15.35 16.2 15.7 Mildly undervalued, Thomas is a dynasty foundation piece.
4 Dez Bryant 15.7 15.47 15.4 15.5 Solidly in the mix to be No. 2 off the board.
5 Marques Colston 15.7 15.19 15.3 15.4 Very little variation in Colston’s projection makes him FD’s No. 1 redraft target.
6 Andre Johnson 14.4 13.46 16.1 15.2 Andre1500 is the perfect mix of ceiling and safety and a clear R3 target.
7 Vincent Jackson 15.7 15.28 14.9 15.1 Jackson is the answer to the question, why should I start RB-RB instead of RB-WR?
8 Julio Jones 14.2 13.91 15.5 14.9 Jones finally got his due in the Sim Lab, but we still like D. Thomas better.
9 Roddy White 15.6 15.69 14.3 14.8 White finished No. 3 in the CCS rankings, but with his ankle injury I’m back to thinking he fits better on the All-Trap Team.
10 A.J. Green 14.3 14.98 14.4 14.5 Many drafters like him as a proxy for Megatron, but his low projection here shows Why Cheaper Isn’t Necessarily Better.
11 Eric Decker 13.8 13.65 13.7 13.7 The most undervalued player in FF.
12 Jordy Nelson 13.8 13.79 13.5 13.6 With health looking better, he’s a crazy steal.
13 Victor Cruz 13.5 13.65 13 13.2 Not one of my official trap players, but I avoid fairly valued guys almost as much as the overvalued.
14 Steve Johnson 13.4 12.96 13 13.1 The namesake for the Stevie Johnson All-Stars.
15 Antonio Brown 11.2 13.09 13.2 12.8 Bolstered by an excellent score in the Sim Lab, Brown could be this year’s possession receiver extraordinaire.
16 Wes Welker 13.3 10.88 13.2 12.8 One of the most overvalued players, he’s only a target if you think Manning will throw for 5,500 yards (and I actually think that’s a justifiable belief).
17 Josh Gordon 13.5 13.18 12.3 12.7 Perhaps the No. 1 target of the whole RotoViz staff, but no longer going at any discount.
18 Reggie Wayne 12.2 12.26 13 12.7  On the decline
19 Hakeem Nicks 10.7 12.54 13.4 12.7 Randle may make him expendable.
20 Larry Fitzgerald 7.9 8.38 15.7 12.7 Even with an excellent Sim Lab, there are reasons for concern.
21 Mike Williams 12.9 12.51 12.4 12.5 More upside than Torrey Smith?
22 Pierre Garcon 13.2 12.96 11.9 12.4 A target based on his score in the Volality metric.
23 Torrey Smith 12.8 11.54 12.5 12.4 Bryan Fontaine is conductor on the hype train.
24 Dwayne Bowe 11.3 11.81 12.5 12.1 History shows upside at his ADP.
25 James Jones 12.7 11.75 12 12.1 A Red Zone target star.
26 Randall Cobb 11.1 12.81 12 12.0 A good reality player but a strong fantasy sell.
27 Denarius Moore 11.9 11.66 12.1 12.0 I would ignore this rosy projection, but FD still likes him as a WR4.
28 Danny Amendola 11.7 11.82 12 11.9 Check out his crazy high projection in the Sim Lab.
29 T.Y. Hilton 10.5 10.48 12.8 11.9 This is a battle of overall history (strong buy) versus history of small, speed receivers (strong sell).
30 Cecil Shorts 11.3 13.55 11.5 11.9 His Custom Cheat Sheet rank of No. 14 is probably most accurate. He was No. 1 on my original undervalued list.
31 Greg Jennings 10.5 13.25 11.2 11.5 Not a good score on the WR Upside Ratio.
32 Justin Blackmon 11.2 12.54 11.1 11.4 DR and HaSS see an overrated ceiling.
33 Brian Hartline 12.7 10.68 11.2 11.4 But the WR Upside Ratios love Hartline.
34 Mike Wallace 10.9 11.22 11.4 11.3 Exhibit A in why you don’t draft veteran speed receivers.
35 Lance Moore 12 11.14 10.8 11.1 Drafters are forgetting how reliably Moore comes through.
36 Anquan Boldin 10.7 10.34 11.1 10.9 Charter member of the All Surface Value team.
37 Steve Smith 10.4 9.69 11.4 10.9 He ranks No. 44 in the Sim Lab. A roster killer.
38 Andre Roberts 9.3 9.38 11.6 10.7 If you want what you saw from Hilton last year, maybe you should look here.
39 Greg Little 8.4 8.44 12.1 10.6 Few sleepers exist anymore but Little is one of mine.
40 Golden Tate 10.7 10.56 10.6 10.6 Your Golden Ticket?
42 Ryan Broyles 6.4 11.14 11.7 10.5 Look out for Patrick Edwards.
45 Sidney Rice 9.1 10.09 11.1 10.5 Younger than you think?
46 Chris Givens 7 10.43 11.6 10.4 The speed receiver you want over Hilton, Jackson, and Smith.
47 Miles Austin 8.9 12.3 10.3 10.4 We’ve spent a lot more time on the next Austin than the real one.
48 Michael Floyd 7.7 7.86 12.1 10.4 DR and HaSS love Floyd. (Last year they loved Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant.)
49 Darrius Heyward-Bey 8.2 10.09 11.1 10.3 Steadily improving and now with Andrew Luck.
50 Kenny Britt 9.1 8.56 11 10.1 Britt is an example of how not to fill your Flex position.
51 Kendall Wright 9.6 8.92 10.7 10.1 Another big DR and HaSS red flag player.
52 Mohamed Sanu 8.5 8.68 11 10.0 Inadvertently left out of the Sim Lab, Sanu was the Bengals most efficient receiver in 2012.
53 DeSean Jackson 8.2 9.38 10.3 9.7 Even when I tried to make Jackson look good, he fell to No. 45 in the Sim Lab.
54 Brandon LaFell 7.9 7.99 8.8 8.5 He’s a poor man’s DHB.
55 Nate Burleson 9.7 9.75 7.4 8.3 … evidently still in the NFL.
56 Alshon Jeffery 6.8 6.98 9.1 8.2 Features as counterpoint in great piece on Rookie Derangement Syndrome.
57 Stephen Hill 5.9 4 10.3 8.2 If you haven’t checked out Sportswunderkind, you’ll want to read this.
58 Malcom Floyd 9.5 8.36 7.3 8.0 In battle with Keenan Allen… to see who can be more frequently injured.
59 Emmanuel Sanders 5.9 5.59 8.5 7.4 The Steelers have a type.


And No. 60 is Rueben Randle who comes in with a 6.6. But you’re not betting on his NFL projection so much as Jon Moore being on the bandwagon and DR and HaSS picking him as the No. 2 breakout candidate.

Also check out my Round-by-Round WR Targets, and the Fantasy Douche’s full WR strategy.

Those looking for my Comprehensive QB Workshop – targetsstrategy, and exploded myths – start with Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, and the QB Safety Rankings.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.