During the 2013 NFL season, I did Tuesday rundowns of all the NFL wideout situations, and now I’m back to business as usual—if you can call what you’re about to read “usual.” Also, since these reports are quasi-actionable only in the loosest sense, check out RotoViz’s Buy Low Machine, Wide Receiver GLSP Projections, and Efficiency App.
Here we go!
Despite playing on a team in shambles—despite the loss of Brandon Marshall; Jay Cutler’s affinity for throwing interceptions; his offensive coordinator’s inept decision to bash Cutler in the media as an anonymous source; head coach Marc Trestman’s impending departure; and the defense’s utter collapse—despite all of this, and despite his slight statistical regression, Alshon Jeffery has improved as a touchdown producer this season and probably been an all-around better player. Of all the young WRs close to but outside of the top tier, he might possess the most inherent long-term value in dynasty leagues.
By the way, on Monday Night Football, Marquess Wilson’s TD provided Drew Dinkmeyer the points necessary for him to win the Week 15 Millionaire Maker tournament by DraftKings. Yep, that’s one million dollars. Drew was a guest of the RotoViz Radio podcast in August, and he dispensed some great daily fantasy sports wisdom at the time. We at RotoViz couldn’t be happier for him. Well done, Drew—it’s nice to see a good guy have such outstanding success—and well done, Marque$$ Wil$on.
Since his fluke-infused first month of the season, Steve Smith, Sr., has scored only three TDs in 10 games and averaged just under 50 yards receiving per game in that time. Even with Torrey Smith injured over the last two weeks, Smith has been rather ordinary. Look at it this way: In Week 15, Senior turned five receptions into 37 yards and no TDs. With the same number of receptions, No. 3 WR Marlon Brown accumulated 66 yards. And with no offensive touches, No. 4 WR and special teams player Kamar Aiken, returning a blocked punt for a TD, still outproduced Senior on the week.
When guys who don’t ordinarily touch the ball on offense score more fantasy points than a team’s ostensible No. 1 WR, it’s time to examine what the phrase “No. 1 WR” actually means.
San Francisco 49ers
The true sign of how horrible this passing offense has been this season actually isn’t the middling performance of Michael Crabtree and atrocious campaign of Vernon Davis—it’s the (once again) “good” production that we’ve seen out of Anquan Boldin. If a team is feeding a 34-year-old always-slow-and-getting-slower WR with tight end downside often enough for him to approach a 1,000-yd. season, the odds are high that the team in question is bad.
Kansas City Chiefs
I’m going to say this only in a whisper, and then I’ll walk away—if you ignore that one was an undrafted free agent from the Sun Belt Conference and one was a top-20 NFL draft selection and a two-time All-American, as NFL prospects Albert Wilson and Jeremy Maclin look a lot alike. Similar build and athleticism, similar enough production and versatility, and now they have the same head coach. Don’t be surprised if in 2015 Wilson does a decent and surprisingly somewhat useful impersonation of his Philadelphian counterpart. It’s not as if Fantasy Voldemort is going to get in his way.
Since the merger, only eight WRs have achieved a season of 1,600 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs: Calvin Johnson, Torry Holt, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin, Herman Moore, and Jerry Rice.
Last week, we looked at all the 2014 WRs with a chance of reaching that benchmark. Let’s revisit these WRs now.
Before his playoff-killing Week 14, Demaryius Thomas was on pace. Now, even with his 123-1 performance in Week 15, he’s pacing to finish with 1,587 yards. He already has 11 TDs on the season, so for DT it’s all about the yardage. He needs 211 yards over the next two games. That’s certainly doable.
No teammates have ever had 1,600-10 campaigns in the same season, and it looks like for at least another year that will remain the case. A month ago, Emmanuel Sanders was on pace for a 1,600-10 season, but as the Broncos have committed themselves to the running game, Sanders’ production has become merely non-historic. He hasn’t scored a TD in a month, and although he has managed a more-than-respectable 323 scrimmage yards over that timeframe that production has taken him off the 1,600-10 pace. Sanders has had a great season, an unexpected top-10 season—but not a historic season.
Sanders’ former running mate, however nn, is having a historic season. As the No. 1 fantasy WR, Antonio Brown has 1,511 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs. The fewest receptions Brown has had in any game this season is five, and he’s averaging 13.0 yds/rec this season and 13.5 yds/rec for his career. It would take an injury or some unforeseen circumstance for Brown not to hit 1,600 yards.
He was always a dark horse, but before his hamstring injury T.Y. Hilton really had a shot at the 1,600-10 season, as he entered Week 15 already on pace for the yards and was in the middle of a massive TD streak, having scored seven times in the previous eight games. Now, he’ll need 235 yards and three TDs in the next two games to get there. A healthy Hilton would have a shot, but a hamstrung Hilton doesn’t. Still, that shouldn’t take away from what Hilton has done this year. He’s still likely to finish 2014 with one of the most productive third-year WR seasons of all time.
Green Bay Packers
In Week 15, Jordy Nelson dropped two separate important passes—the first went right through his hands in the end zone near the end of the first quarter, and the second went off his fingers on what would’ve been likely to turn into a 94-yard score at the end of the third quarter. It was horrible.
Now he needs 280 yards in the next two games to reach 1,600 yards—and if he wants to join the even more prestigious 1,500-15 club then he’ll need 180 yards and three TDs. If he had caught those passes, his inclusion in both clubs would’ve been likely. Now neither club is likely.
Say goodnight, Gracie.
Not a chance.
By the way, Jordan Matthews, I don’t care if you play to win the game. But you play to play the game, know what I mean?
Since transforming into Minitron five weeks ago, Charles Johnson has caught 20 passes for 355 yards and two TDs. Over that same time period, Cordarrelle Patterson has turned six receptions and two carries into 67 yards, no TDs, and a lost fumble. Come on! At least when Johnson fumbles, someone else on his team recovers it for a TD! Everything is going Johnson’s way right now, and, unlike 2013 Andre Holmes, this former GLIAC receiver looks like he actually has a chance of sustaining his late-season run into next season.
So here’s the question: If you were to do a trade involving only Minitron and C-Patz, would either of the sides need to add a draft pick to the deal, and if so which side and how high of a pick?
Let me just say this: I’m an original C-Patz apologist who thinks that he (perhaps) still has some NFL potential . . . but I’m also a Minitron believer—and I’m explicitly looking not to trade him. He hasn’t come anywhere close to reaching his peak dynasty value.
St. Louis Rams
Over the last four weeks, Tavon Austin has turned 12 carries into 105 yards and two TDs, on top of which he also has a return TD—which is fantastic for an occasional change-of-pace rusher and return man—and he’s also turned nine receptions into 50 yards and no TDs—which is horrible for a supposedly fulltime, second-year WR selected with a top-10 pick in the NFL draft.
Eventually, receivers need to receive.
New York Jets
It took only 15 weeks, 14 games, countless QB changes, one Percy Harvin trade, and one Percy Harvin injury—but Eric Decker finally has a 100-yd. receiving performance in 2014.
What a long strange trip it hasn’t been.
In Week 15, Nate Washington was the one to go down in history, the one to hoist this chalice of champions, this vessel of victory—the Tri-Whisenhunt Cup! And, yes, I’m borrowing from the movie, not the book. To those HP purists out there, I’m sorry.
James Jones has scored TDs in five games this season. In standard leagues, those are his five best games. In points-per-reception (PPR) leagues, those are five of his six best games, with the one non-TD game being one in which he accumulated 83 yards—his second-highest yardage total on the season.
We’ve always known that Jones is a TD-dependent player. I guess the good news is that Jones scores a TD over a third of the time. For a player who’s an afterthought, that’s not bad.
New England Patriots
Brandon LaFell is basically the James Jones who plays with Tom Brady. He has scored in five games, and those are his best in standard leagues and five of his six best in PPR leagues. If he doesn’t score a TD, he LaFails.
In Week 16, he’s playing against the Jets, which allow one TD per game to opposing WRs. I wonder if that TD will go to LeFell or Julian Edelman.
In general, I think it’s best to stay away from TD-reliant WRs if you can.
Here are the statistics for the 11 games in which Calvin Johnson has played this season.
|Game||Rec||ReYd||ReTD||Standard Pts||PPR Pts||1/2 PPR Pts|
On the one hand, I guess it’s natural for a WR to be at his best when he’s scoring TDs. On the other hand, when a WR’s yards and TDs are highly correlated, it’s pretty scary when he’s not scoring TDs.
This season, Megatron’s ceiling has been as high as it’s always been—but his floor has been lower than usual. That might just be a coincidence, but it’s probably a sign of what’s to come.
You know the drill by now.
Here’s a breakdown of what the speedy lead WR Mike Wallace and slow rookie slot receiver Jarvis Landry have done since their Week 5 bye.
|Player||Rec||ReYd||ReTD||Car||RuYd||RuTD||Gms||Standard Pts/G||PPR Pts/G|
When we use the word “arbitrage,” this is what we’re talking about.
By the way . . . nailed it.
Looks like my Paul Richardson train is starting to come in.
Jay, tell us what you really think.
Speaking of which . . .
Even though I occasionally at the end of the Backfield and Wideout Reports will get a little sociopolitical, for the last couple of months I’ve purposely avoided the topics of Ferguson, Mo., racial prejudice in the justice system, police incompetence and/or overzealousness, because I don’t want to piss anyone off in a way that won’t benefit anyone—and what else am I really going to add to this conversation anyway?—but I read something recently that made me want to make a quick statement here not about the recent police shootings of black persons in Ohio but about Andrew Hawkins’ explanation as to why he felt compelled to wear a t-shirt in protestation of those shootings.
As a fantasy player, I’m not a fan of old-ish 5’7” and 180-lb. former undrafted free agent WRs who didn’t have solid college production while playing at small football programs in non-Automatic Qualifying conferences. I’m an elitist dick that way. As a person, however, I just became a big fan of Hawkins. I wish him all the success he can find in the NFL—and when he leaves the NFL I hope he goes into public service.
P.S. Ironically, Josh Gordon might be worth less now than he was when he was suspended. I hate Johnny Manziel.
I’m not convinced that in 2015 A.J. McCarron couldn’t be just as bad for A.J. Green as Andy Dalton has been in 2014 at a fraction of the cost.
San Diego Chargers
And now Keenan Allen might need to go see Madame Pomfrey: He should’ve been brought straight to her. She can mend bones in a heartbeat. And, yes, I’m once more borrowing from the movie, not the book. I’m a hack.
Once again, Larry Fitzgerald must endure the ignominy of attempting to catch passes from Ryan Lindley. Wasn’t this supposed never to happen again?1
The Buy Low Machine gave the Jaguars WRs the best Week 15 matchup at their position. Here’s what they did in that matchup:
|Player||Tgt||Rec||ReYd||ReTD||Standard Pts||PPR Pts||Half-PPR Pts|
|Cecil Shorts III||11||6||76||0||7.6||13.6||10.6|
It’s nice to see Marqise Lee taking full advantage of his opportunities.
Here’s what Robert Woods and Chris Hogan have done in the 10 games they’ve both played with Kyle Orton:
|Player||Rec||ReYd||ReTD||Gms||Standard Pts/G||PPR Pts/G|
I grant that there’s a difference between their averaged stats—but that difference is negligible in comparison to the difference that exists between the costs to acquire and roster each player. To the Bills, Woods is more costly; Hogan, more worthy.
The good news is that Andre Johnson is coming back. The bad news is who Johnson is bringing back with him.
New Orleans Saints
If Marques Colston somehow once again becomes a top-30 WR on the basis of production accumulated only after he ceases to be a reliable fantasy option . . . do you really need me to finish that sentence?
By the way, Willie Snead is on the Saints Practice Squad. He has a non-zero chance of becoming the next Lance Moore in 2015.
Terrance Williams started out the season as a TD machine, but for the last two months my mother’s new favorite player has handily outproduced him. Here are the stats for Williams and Cole Beasley’s last eight games:
|Player||Rec||ReYd||ReTD||Gms||Standard Pts/G||PPR Pts/G|
I’m not saying that Beasley is actually a startable option. I’m just saying that the extent to which Williams has not contributed to the Cowboys recently is astounding after what he did in the first two months of the season.
Since the merger, only two rookie WRs have achieved a season of 1,000 scrimmage yards and 10 TDs: John Jefferson and Randy Moss, both of whom were the No. 1 fantasy WR in their first NFL seasons.
This season, a rookie receiver isn’t likely to finish as the No. 1 fantasy WR—but three rookie WRs are pacing to finish with 1,000-10 seasons.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite having missed a game earlier in the season, Mike Evans is a top-10 WR on the strength of his 11 TDs. All the other WRs on his team have combined for 5 TDs on the year. Needing only 52 yards over the next two games to reach 1,000 yards, Evans plays against the Packers in Week 16. Yep.
A top-15 WR, Kelvin Benjamin has been both dominant and a little disappointing at times in his rookie campaign. As good as he’s been, with the opportunities he’s received you’d like to see even more production. Nevertheless, it’s hard to complain with a rookie who’s on pace to do something that hasn’t been done since 1998. K-Benjy needs 48 yards and a TD over the next two games. His Week 15 matchup against the Browns might be challenging, but in Week 16 he gets a good matchup against the Falcons. Regardless of whether he actually finishes with a 1,000-10 campaign or not, Benjamin’s 2014 has been a success—maybe even the most successful doubt-inducing rookie season of all time.
New York Giants
I partially blame the film guys for this—they really misrepresented who Odell Beckham, Jr. was as a NFL prospect. Not one of them said, “Shorter, lighter, slower, collegiately less productive, better route-running Randy Moss.” If they had said that . . .
I swear, every time I talk about Beckham I start sounding like Han Solo talking about the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive whenever it’s broken: “It’s not my fault. This is not my fault.”
In only 10 games, Beckham has already broken the 1,000-yard mark, with 972 yards receiving and 35 yards rushing. And with nine TDs, if Beckham’s stats were extrapolated over all of the season to this point he would be a legitimate candidate for the 1,600-10 club—as a rookie.
Moss is generally regarded as having the greatest receiving rookie season of all time, and with his 1,317 yards and 17 TDs in 16 games he averaged 14.6 standard pts/g. That’s amazing.
But right now Beckham is averaging 15.5 standard pts/g.
He truly might be the greatest rookie WR of all time.
Matthew Freedman is a writer for RotoViz and is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He serves as RotoViz’s (un)official ombudsman in the series The Dissenting Costanzan, and he also co-hosts the RotoViz Radio Football Podcast and writes The Backfield Report and The Wideout Report. He is the creator of the Workhorse Metric and the No. 1 fan of John Brown, the Desert Lilliputian.
- Damn straight I didn’t split the infinitive right there. I was taught to never do that . . . shit. (back)