Historical WR Rankings: Visualizing The Elite 24


I cataloged the total points scored (PPR) WR rankings for the last 14 years. I’d never seen this done in grid format before. I was searching for keys to drafting Dynasty players but this has plenty of redraft application as well.

The Positional Ranking is a unique metric. Rather than just looking at yards and TDs, the PR shows how a player’s stats compared to the rest of the league year to year. It will outline a player’s career consistency and longevity. Randy Moss’ 23 TD season in 07’ was followed by a year where his numbers drastically declined, however he still finished as a WR1. The rankings do not accurately reflect points per game. For example, Percy Harvin has never played a full 16 game season but has three top 24 finishes.

You could write a novel from studying the grid. Here are just some of my observations.

The Quick stats

2000-2013, 14 NFL seasons: all stats taken from FFToday PPR scoring

  •           336 = total # of possible top 24 spots (168 WR1, 168 WR2)
  •           169 = average # of WRs to register a reception per year
  •           117 =  WRs finished with at least one top 24 ranked season
  •           49 = WRs had only one top 24 ranked season
  •           20 = WRs had only two
  •           16= WR had three
  •           8= WRs had four
  •           24 = WRs with five or more top 24 ranked seasons
  •           11 = WRs placed in their rookie years


The Elite 24

These are the true Dynasty stars of the past 14 years. Below are all the WRs with at least 5 seasons of WR1 or WR2 production.

62.5% of the WR1 seasons can be found here. 50% of the WR1/2 seasons from the last 14 years are in this grid. Even when you split the 14 years in half, the numbers are identical. 83 top 24 seasons from 00-06 and 83 top 24 seasons from 07-13.


The Elite 24 grid is one of the reasons I believe Old WRs Win Dynasty Championships. Give me several of the Elite 24 in a dynasty start up. Some, if not most, of the above will continue their dominance. You’ll notice a large number of these were still getting it done past age 30. There’s plenty of arguments that Colston and Fitzgerald are on the decline. In general, it’s risky to gamble on a player on the wrong side of 30, but at the right price…I’ll roll the dice on any of the Elite 24. I plan on drafting Jennings everywhere. Roddy White will be an absolute bargain this summer.

The Rookies


WR Rookie hype is almost always overblown, especially in redraft. Of the 10 rookies that finished as at least a WR2, two never returned to that level of production.1 The majority have been excellent in subsequent seasons though. Three of these rookies would end up joining the Elite 24. This bodes well for Keenan Allen. Still a very low percentage of rookie WRs has achieved this success. If you are expecting a rookie to blow up in year one, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. This is a buyer beware to early drafters of Watkins and Evans.

One Year Wonders

Be careful when investing heavily in players coming off one big year. They could end up like some above or they could just be a flash in the pan like these.


Late Bloomers

There were plenty of other recognizable names I left off that qualified for the “One year wonder” list too. Donte Stallworth, Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, and Nate Burleson only have one WR2 season on their resumes.

Tread lightly on late bloomers having any kind of extended success either.


Who’s next?

Not many would question these four joining the future Elite 24.


I also like these four to have several more WR2+ seasons.


Say what you want about Decker leaving the Broncos. He’s had two WR1 years which points to talent regardless of who’s throwing the ball. Garcon didn’t get good until after he left Manning. 182 targets can make an above average WR great. Decker should get enough volume to stay relevant. If Cruz plays the last two games of the year, he’s in. Brown and Nelson are borderline WR1s in my opinion.

The Best of the Rest


Shockingly, all the players on this list are no older than 30. Nicks and Bowe are puzzling having started out so strong. You’ll notice of the Elite 24 only Boldin dropped below WR2 level for two years and was able to jump back in. I’m not a big Mike Wallace fan but he looks like a pretty good value based on where he’s getting drafted. He’s never been worse than WR3. The same can be said about Jeremy Maclin. Mike Williams, Steve Johnson and Miles Austin will all be available very late in drafts at practically no cost. They may worth taking as fliers.

2013 saw a record 8 WRs jump into the top 24 for the first time. The average number of First timers is 3 per year.


At least one of these won’t do it again. I already mentioned late bloomers not being good bets for extended success. The jury is still out on Josh Gordon, literally. There’s plenty of reason to believe that a few of these will join the Elite 24 though.

Take what you want from these positional ranking grids. I believe we’ll see history repeat itself with a relatively small number of WRs continuing to dominate the top spots in the future.

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