Welcome to the first edition of the 2018 Game Level Similarity Projections (GLSP) for wide receivers! This will be a weekly column designed to help you set your season-long lineups and even identify DFS standouts.
GLSP uses historical matchup, team, player, and Vegas data to generate situation-agnostic projections. The low projection is equivalent to the 25th percentile point total from the comparable matchups. The median projection provides a benchmark, with even odds of the player producing more or less. The high projection is equivalent to the 75th percentile point total from the comparable matchups.
Remember, GLSP should not be used to decide which player is optimal between two that have a small projection difference. The most valuable way to incorporate GLSP into your lineup setting process is to identify surprisingly high and low projections.
These are the projections from Dave Caban. They’ll be available each week on Wednesdays as part of the Weekly Explorer. The apps version of the GLSP will be available after Week 1.
|Odell Beckham Jr||NYG||JAX||14||19||25||20|
Surprisingly Strong Projections
Keenan Allen, the WR6 by ADP, sits at the very top of the WR projections for Week 1. He and DeAndre Hopkins have a sizable distance on the field. Allen’s massive volume upside is reflected in his Week 1 projection of 13 targets. His projection is bolstered by facing the Kansas City defense. The Chiefs allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs last year. It is scary to think that Allen’s projection might actually be undershot. The model does not account for the Chiefs’ defense potentially being even worse with the loss of Marcus Peters and an ailing Eric Berry. The GLSP model offers an immediate refresher on the impact an opposing defense has on fantasy production.
JuJu Smith-Schuster clocks in tied for the fifth-highest median projection. Smith-Schuster’s volume spiked in the second half of 2017 after he began his career with a 13 percent target market share through Week 7. From Week 8 through Week 17 last year, it grew to 23 percent. Excluding Antonio Brown’s missed games still left Smith-Schuster with a 20 percent target share from Week 8 through Week 15. It is possible the public has incorrectly written off his target growth as the product only of Brown’s two-week leave.
Target Market Share
Week 1 – Week 7
Week 8 – Week 15 (Brown on field)
Week 8 – Week 17
Smith-Schuster had his best game of the year against Cleveland in Week 17 when he gashed them for 35 PPR points. That historical matchup trend plays into the projection, but the Browns did rank 16th versus receivers, so it’s unlikely that the specifics of the matchup are massively bolstering his projection. Smith-Schuster may be highly undervalued at his ADP this year. It would be prudent to lock Schuster into your lineup this week, and it will be interesting to see if the GLSP model continues to peg him as a top-12 option in other matchups.
Larry Fitzgerald and Demaryius Thomas come out as top-10 options this week versus Washington and Seattle, respectively. Their projections suggest that if they continue to produce similarly to their career levels, then they will still be incredibly valuable this year. You should ride them until their wheels completely fall off. Notably, GLSP has Thomas outpacing Emmanuel Sanders by a seven-point margin on average this week. There is noise in that projection, though, resulting from Sanders’ injury-riddled 2017 season. The better takeaway is to note the strength of Thomas’s projection and to ignore Sanders’ poor projection.
Robby Anderson, the WR1 for his team, is pegged for a top-20 finish in Week 1. Anderson’s projection speaks to the efficacy of a model like GLSP that can ignore the noise surrounding a player and elucidate a purely statistics-based projection. Anderson’s historical numbers suggest he could be a league-winner at his WR35 ADP this year.
Surprisingly Poor Projections
Doug Baldwin is projected to struggle versus a historically staunch Denver defense which surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to WRs last year. The uninspiring projection does not even account for Baldwin’s injury or Schottenheimer’s ineptitude as a play caller. Exhibit caution with Baldwin in Week 1.
The model picked up on the statistical evidence that made Mike Evans a fade in redraft this year and deals him a projection of WR35 for Week 1 despite his WR10 ADP. After Vincent Jackson went down in 2016, Evans exploded with a 30 percent target market share and an overall WR3 finish. Last year signaled Tampa Bay’s view of Evans’ role in the offense, though, as DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin were brought in to drop Evans’ target share to the 24 percent mark. Evans is likely to leave his fantasy owners unhappy as he has been consistently and similarly inefficient year-over-year with a 0.53 air conversion ratio (RACR) the last two years and an average catch rate of 53 percent the last three years. Evans is extremely volume dependent, and his impending matchup with Marshawn Lattimore is particularly daunting. Evans averaged three catches for 34 yards and zero touchdowns in his two matchups versus the Saints last year. Consider other viable options over Evans this week.
The GLSP model trashes Amari Cooper with an average projection of nine PPR points, leaving him at WR53. This projection is a reminder that Cooper was miserable last year with a 50 percent catch rate on a 20 percent target share. Do not take this projection for face value, since Cooper does have significant upside this year, but do remember that Cooper has produced as a top-24 wide receiver for only a single year and that he has underperformed relative to his ADP every year. Temper your expectations in Week 1 since we are yet to see Gruden’s new1 offense in action.
Positional PPR PPG Rank
A.J. Green and TY Hilton have shockingly low projections of WR28 and WR46, respectively, for Week 1. Cincinnati is a formidable opponent for wide receivers, but Hilton’s projection is obviously low-balled because of his career-worst performance last year sans Andrew Luck. Similarly, Green had career lows in catch rate and RACR last year and is likely under-projected because of it. Hilton and Green are elite wide receivers who should be in your starting lineup nearly every week.
The GLSP model does not know of Miami’s climaxing hatred for Devante Parker, nor does it account for Parker’s broken finger. Bump Kenny Stills up significantly, as he should take on a larger target share with Parker’s absence this week.
Do not start Ted Ginn with the expectation of a WR31 performance on average from him. The model fails to account for the presence of Cameron Meredith or Tre’Quan Smith.
- Old*…very** old… (back)