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4 Under the Radar Wide Receivers You Need to Know

Kevin Cole has been pumping out some amazing regression tree analysis on a variety of topics. The one I was most interested in recently was his work on what makes a successful wide receiver prospect. Simply put, collegiate production is the only things that matters. Kevin then followed that up with four WRs that fit this template. But there are other WR prospects that deserve more consideration than what they are currently gathering. Here are four WR prospects you simply cannot ignore.1

wr_tree_prod_meas

Bryce Treggs, Cal

PlayerF AgeCar. MSRECYDRECYDSRECPG
Bryce Treggs21.70.169563.5

Bryce Treggs is currently unranked on the RotoViz Scouting Index, yet it seems he has a shot at NFL success. He did not meet the all-important .29 career market share of receiving yards threshold, but his outlook is still rather optimistic considering the rest of the data. He recorded over 933 yards in his senior year at Cal, and averaged well under 4.8 receptions per game. That puts him in the deep threat mold of Will Fuller, meaning he has as good of a chance at success as any WR to the left of the regression tree.

Mike Thomas, Southern Miss

PlayerF AgeCar. MSRECYDRECYDSRECPG
Mike Thomas21.40.2513915.5

Mike Thomas was already pegged as a sleeper by the great Jon Moore in January, and this regression tree analysis backs that up. He also falls on the left side of the tree, but did not meet the same low reception per game number that Treggs did (though it should be noted he averaged 19.6 yards per reception, so he was still a terrific big play threat). However, due to his age, he still falls in the 32 percent success node. We know that the rate of success for WRs who were not invited to the Combine is very low, but Thomas and Treggs seem to both have good chances to beat those odds.

On the Bubble: Rashard Higgins and Hunter Sharp

PlayerF AgeCar. MSRECYDMSRECYDYPRREC
Rashard Higgins21.20.360.3914.375
Hunter Sharp21.70.360.3711.771

Neither Rashard Higgins or Hunter Sharp fit into any of the nodes with a strong rate of success, but they are so close that I think we can make a case for them. Both of them make it to the right side of the regression tree due to career market share of yards, so the relevant data is a little different.

I’ll start with Higgins, who posted one of the greatest collegiate seasons ever as a sophomore before losing his head coach to the University of Florida and his quarterback, Garrett Grayson, to the NFL. Had 2014 been his final season, he would have wound up in the best node on the tree. The team used him differently in 2015, and his YPR number dropped from 18.2 to 14.3 in his junior year. His 75 receptions was just 3 away from the threshold to enter that node, and since he averaged over double that per game, I think it is reasonable to assume he would have gotten to 78.

The argument for Sharp is somewhat similar. Christopher Gerrish already identified him as a dominant small-school WR, though he does not have a season as prolific as Higgins’ sophomore season. He was also nowhere near as strong per-reception. However, much like Higgins, he finished just shy of the receptions threshold to make it to the 30 percent success node even though he was suspended for the first two games of the season. As a reference he averaged 6.5 receptions per game, so he probably would have gotten to 78 fairly easily.

(Editor’s note: It was pointed out to me by a reader that I read the decision tree incorrectly. Higgins and Sharp are actually already in the positive node based on their 2015 reception total. That said, maybe we should consider them to be “on the bubble” still since they probably would not have made those nodes had they played the full season.)

Conclusion

All of these prospects have their warts, but it would seem that they have a better chance of success than people are currently giving credit. Only Higgins is even ranked in the latest RSI, and I wouldn’t expect any of them to carry significant cost in rookie drafts. That makes them low risk, high upside selections, which is exactly what you should be doing with late rookie picks. Keep an eye on where they get drafted, and be sure to have them on your watch list in dynasty leagues.

  1. I am including the regression tree below as a reference.  (back)
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