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Top Ten Takeaways from Week 4: The WR Opportunity Report
gene puskar / ap
gene puskar / ap

This is the fourth of a weekly series examining the actual fantasy production of wide receivers compared to what they would have been expected to do given the targets that they saw. Got it? We determine that second part using line of scrimmage data. For a more detailed explanation, here’s the first iteration of this article from last season.

Here are the main terms you need to know:

  • FP- This is the raw total number of receiving fantasy points a WR scored. Scoring is .5 PPR.
  • reEP- This the total number of receiving fantasy points you would have expected a WR to produce given his targets.
  • reFPOE- This stands for receiving Fantasy Points Over Epectation. This is the difference between FP and reEP. As an example, Calvin Johnson scored 31.9 FP in Week 1. His reEP was 14.56. That means he scored 17.34 reFPOE. If you started Johnson in Week 1 you got 17.34 points more than would have been expected given NFL averages.
  • reFPOEPT- The PT stands for per target. So this is just reFPOE divided by the number of targets a player had. Johnson had 11 targets, so 17.34 divided by 11 equals 1.58. That’s his reFPOEPT for Week 1.

All of this information comes from the wonderful Fantasy Efficiency App. Here are my observations from the Week 4 data.

  • If you were to just look at his reFPOE of -10.15 you would definitely see cause for concern for Jeremy Maclin. But here’s the thing: He led the NFL in targets in Week 4 with 16. He also led the NFL in reEP. Barring injury, Maclin seems destined to finish this season as a PPR WR1 one way or another. He’s a solid buy-low candidate after that poor offensive showing by the Eagles.
  • Andre Holmes got extra opportunities in Oakland thanks to the absences of Denarius Moore and Rod Streater. I’m a professed fan. He doubled James Jones in targets (12 to 6), more than doubled him in reEP (12.48 to 6.04), but was far less efficient in terms of reFPOEPT (0.29 to 0.88). Of course, he was still efficient and on bad teams1 you want the guy who is getting the most volume. For this week, that was Holmes. It’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
  • What happened to Pierre Garcon this week? I mean, besides Kirk Cousins playing like a guy who was drafted in the fourth round? Well he only got six targets for a market share of 0.182 and he was inefficient with them. Including Week 4, he’s averaging 9.5 targets per game for a market share of 0.25 and a slightly positive reFPOEPT of 0.08 on the season. Bear in mind he played on a short week with a QB who was just making his second start of the year against a defense we probably underestimated. This is what a buy-low looks like, just be prepared for the possibility of future stink bombs from Cousins.
  • In both standard and PPR formats, Eddie Royal is a WR1. Through four weeks he has a reFPOEPT of 0.73. For context, anything above 0.70 over the course of a season suggests an elite player. There are years where not a single player reaches that threshold. So we probably don’t need to admit that we’re wrong on Royal, regression will come. There are two kinds of hyper-efficient QBs for fantasy purposes: The kind that make multiple receiving options consistently startable, and the kind that spreads the ball around so much you can never predict who to start. Philip Rivers is the latter. Even after a week where he had 11 targets, I’m still wary of Keenan Allen.
  • Randall Cobb is the No. 5 overall WR in PPR formats. Jordy Nelson is No. 2. It’s going to be difficult for Aaron Rodgers to support two different top five WRs over the course of a whole season. Nelson has a target market share of 0.380, whereas Cobb’s is 0.233. Cobb is on pace for 20 TDs. Nelson is on pace for 12. It’s possible the targets even out some, but nothing the Packers have said or done suggests that they plan on utilizing Nelson less. What is almost certain is that Cobb is not going to score 20 TDs. Sell him high.
  • Is Reggie Wayne back? No, probably not. Prior to his injury last year Wayne was commanding a target market share of 0.268. In Week 4 that number was a 0.200, and his seasonal number is even lower. That’s a huge difference for a volume receiver. Andrew Luck isn’t going to throw for four TDs every week. Wayne is a strong sell-high in an unpredictable, crowded receiver group.
  • Confession: I am a Titans fan. I was frustrated when Ken Whisenhunt blamed Sunday’s loss on the WRs. Unfortunately, they allowed themselves to be scapegoated. Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright had reFPOEPTs of -0.74 and -0.08 respectively. For the season, Wright has a reFPOEPT of exactly 0.00 whereas Hunter’s is -0.41. Here’s the rub though: Wright only has four more targets than Hunter, for 30 total. We know he’s a volume receiver, and he’s only on pace for 120 total targets. That’s not a guy you even need to own. Because Hunter has such tremendous upside, I’m actually OK with the possibility that he only finishes the season with a little over 100 targets. Despite his lower volume and efficiency thus far, Hunter is actually more roster-worthy than Wright. He might be a buy-low candidate.
  • Vincent Jackson is currently WR48 in PPR formats. He’s also currently sixth overall in reEP, with a total of 44.33. You can probably infer that he’s been quite inefficient. But is that just noise? Jackson is widely considered a boom-or-bust WR, and he’s only played four games so far. Maybe the booms are coming? I can confidently say Jackson has disappointed all of his owners so far. This is a situation where I’d probably focus more on the usage and target him as a buy low. His bye is in Week 7, so you may want to wait. But he’s also got two soft matchups against New Orleans and Baltimore, so if you need WR help you may not be able to afford to wait.
  • Jarius Wright got a full third of Minnesota’s targets on Sunday. That’s unsustainable. The only WR in the league who is averaging over a third of their team’s targets is Nelson. Wright is probably a legitimately talented WR, but do you ever see yourself starting the third WR in Minnesota? He’s probably not worth adding to your roster unless Greg Jennings or Cordarrelle Patterson get hurt.
  • Rueben Randle finally showed up this week with eight receptions for 89 yards. Unfortunately, he should have been even better, as he posted a very slightly negative reFPOEPT of -0.01. For the season his reFPOEPT is -0.21. The good news is that in 2013 it was 0.42 and in 2012 it was 0.52. So you should expect some positive regression going forward. If you’re a believer, he makes for a solid buy low, but he’s probably not going to emerge into a league-winner either.

  1. Pro tip: If a team fires their head coach after Week 4, they are a bad team.  (back)

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