Opportunity Scores: The Top Landing Spots for Rookie Wide Receivers

Last year, we attempted to create a numbers-based formula for determining which teams are the best landing spots for rookie wide receivers. In fantasy and real football, performance is largely a function of opportunity, whether created through talent, draft position or a lack of roster competition.

The foundation of our formula is the relationship between quarterback and receiver ADP. A higher drafted quarterback, presumably, will throw for more yards and touchdowns than one drafted lower. Receivers are the ones catching the ball and accumulating those yards, touchdowns and fantasy points. By analyzing the relationship between our assessments of a team’s quarterback and receivers, we can see which part of the equation is undervalued versus the other.

First, let’s look at that historical relationship between quarterback and receiver ADPs. You can see a strong relationship and trendline through the middle of the data.

qb_rec_adp

There are a few adjustments that make this formula work:

  • The receiver value calculation is the inverse of ADP: the last pick in a 20-round, 12-team draft (240) minus ADP. You then add up all the values for wide receivers and tight ends to come up with the combined score.
  • The receiving stats accumulated by running backs in an offense are accounted for by discounting the receiver value calculation by the percentage of receiving fantasy points to running backs.
  • Quarterback rushing production is also accounted for by discounting the receiver value calculation by the percentage of quarterback fantasy points from rushing, not throwing.

If you assume that quarterbacks are generally more fairly valued than receivers according to ADP,1 a team below the relationship trendline has receivers that are undervalued, and should be a great landing spot for a rookie wide receiver.

Below are the team differentials, which we called opportunity scores, for 2015 going into the NFL draft.

OSWR

Baltimore and Oakland used first round picks on wide receivers, while Cleveland and St. Louis passed to the detriment of their passing games.

Now we can apply the same formula for 2016. Luckily, we have the most accurate, up-to-date assessments of current drafters’ opinions through the RotoViz Best Ball ADP App. Using ADP from the app, here is a current landscape of quarterback/receiver relationships. 

qb_rec_adp_2016

Most teams are near the trendline, but there are a handful of outliers to investigate.

Now let’s translate the differentials between data points and the trendline into a more digestible format

rook_wr_os_2016

The Giants, 49ers and Falcons have the most opportunity in the league, meaning that they are the most favorable landing spots for rookie wide receivers, or their current receivers are very undervalued.

The Giants are often rumored to be considering a wide receiver in the first round at No. 10 overall, but a relatively poor pro day for top prospect Laquon Treadwell has cast some doubt on that prediction.

Is New York a great destination for a top receiving prospect? The Giants don’t have a viable tight end, and last year’s WR2 Rueben Randle left with his 90 targets to the Eagles. Eli Manning isn’t a top-notch quarterback, but he has supported two stud receivers before. In 2011, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined for over 2,700 yards and 16 touchdowns. There’s a real chance that a rookie receiver could put up big stats this year, even playing alongside target hog Odell Beckham Jr.

Rather than re-tell the story for why San Francisco is a good destination for a rookie wide receiver, you can just read FD’s take on how Leonte Carroo going to the 49ers would shake up fantasy rookie drafts. Whether the 49ers take Carroo or another receiver, whoever it is will join a decimated receiving corps, whose top remaining receiver, Torrey Smith, had only 663 receiving yards last year.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll update the opportunity scores and use them to also find potentially undervalued veteran receivers and quarterbacks.

  1. A logical conclusion since there is only one projection and quarterback performance is more consistent.  (back)
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