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The Same WRs Continue to Finish Top 24 Nearly Every Year

Yearly positional ranking has become the backbone of my preseason analysis for several reasons. It has dynasty and redraft application. It gives a nice snap shot of how a player compares to the rest of the league. Looking at stats by year can be overwhelming whereas the positional ranking simplifies things by using a single number.

For example, Randy Moss had 23 TDs in 2007 finishing as the WR1 overall, but regressed to only 7 TDs the following year. Even with this regression Moss still put up a top 12 season finishing as the WR12 in 2008.

Simply put, WRs that post one or more Top 24 PPR finish are very likely to do it again. There are noticeable trends here that can be used to exploit ADP.

These are some the historical finishes by wide receivers going back to 2000. All PR finishes are in PPR scoring.

Top 24 2015

Here are the players that finished top 24 in 2015. The grid includes previous PPR finishes.

 Player 04′ 05′ 06′ 07′ 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′ 15′
Antonio Brown       123 24 32 3 1 1
Julio Jones     22 11 64 6 2
Brandon Marshall 89 9 5 7 20 11 2 6 34 3
Deandre Hopkins                   48 14 4
Odell Beckham Jr.       7 5
Allen Robinson       66 6
Larry Fitzgerald 31 2 24 5 2 5 12 6 33 17 51 7
AJ Green   17 3 4 24 8
Demaryius Thomas     95 64 5 1 2 9
Doug Baldwin     41 78 41 43 10
Jarvis Landry         30 11
Calvin Johnson 38 3 22 6 1 1 5 16 12
Eric Decker     137 42 9 9 26 13
Brandin Cooks         56 14
Jeremy Maclin 36 14 31 22 9 15
Jordan Matthews     25 16
Michael Crabtree   60 36 28 15 109 46 17
Emmanuel Sanders     87 98 66 32 5 18
Allen Hurns 49 19
Sammy Watkins     27 20
Amari Cooper     21
Mike Evans       13 22
TY Hilton       31 19 11 23
Golden Tate 79 41 30 12 24

There were seven new comers to the top 24 in 2015. The 2014 WR class is looking pretty spectacular. Nine had 2+ previous top 24 finishes. Several of those were huge values at their ADPs, especially Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Larry Fitzgerald.

Top 24 2014

Thirteen of 2014’s top 24 had 2+ similar finishes previously. Some of these missed 2015 because of injury and may get back in in 2015. We may have witnessed a shift in power with some of the recent draft classes in 2015.

 Player 01′ 02′ 03′ 04′ 05′ 06′ 07′ 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′
Antonio Brown       123 24 32 3 1
Demarius Thomas     95 64 5 1 2
Jordy Nelson     80 95 62 4 38 13 3
Dez Bryant     50 19 4 7 4
Emmanuel Sanders         87 98 66 32 5
Julio Jones     22 11 64 6
Odell Beckham Jr.       7
Randall Cobb         91 16 65 8
Jeremy Maclin     36 14 31 22 9
Alshon Jeffrey     82 8 10
TY Hilton       31 19 11
Golden Tate     79 41 30 12
Mike Evans       13
Deandre Hopkins     48 14
Kelvin Benjamin     15
Calvin Johnson     38 3 22 6 1 1 5 16
Julian Edelman       82 146 155 87 14 17
Steve Smith 113 43 10 141 1 7 16 8 20 65 7 19 37 18
Anquan Boldin     3 50 5 15 19 6 17 25 34 30 15 19
Mike Wallace     35 9 9 23 27 20
Roddy White     77 15 4 9 1 5 10 43 21
Desean Jackson     31 11 21 29 61 12 23
AJ Green       17 3 4 24

Perennial Studs

The list that follows are the WRs to post at least three top 12 (WR1) seasons since 2000. Seven of the top 12 spots during that span are located below. This further suggests a trend that these players can and often will dominate their position for the bulk of their careers following a season or two of Top 24 production.

 Player 00′ 01′ 02′ 03′ 04′ 05′ 06′ 07′ 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′ 15′
Julio Jones 22 11 64 6 2
AJ Green   17 3 4 24 8
Antonio Brown   123 24 32 3 1 1
Dez Bryant             50 19 4 7 4 81
Demaryius Thomas             95 64 5 1 2 9
Calvin Johnson 38 3 22 6 1 1 5 16 12
Marques Colston           17 8 37 16 15 10 12 26 36 56
Brandon Marshall 89 9 5 7 20 11 2 6 34 3
Wes Welker 82 43 10 10 4 18 2 7 21 71 145
Roddy White 70 77 15 4 9 1 5 10 43 21 73
Larry Fitzgerald       31 2 24 5 2 5 12 6 33 17 51 7
Andre Johnson 21 17 41 11 27 1 1 7 77 6 10 28 58
Anquan Boldin 3 50 5 15 19 6 17 25 34 30 15 19 40
Steve Smith 113 43 10 141 1 7 16 8 20 65 7 19 37 18 53
Reggie Wayne 81 51 20 9 16 4 2 13 3 3 25 8 71 50
Santana Moss 147 69 8 38 6 29 37 18 28 11 54 48 72
Donald Driver   92 15 45 10 11 6 23 22 19 51 60
Chad Johnson   75 20 4 7 3 5 7 47 15 33 114
Randy Moss 4 6 5 1 27 20 59 1 12 2 73 77
Hines Ward 43 19 2 6 23 12 22 28 17 12 39 73
Terrell Owens 3 2 3 11 6 36 2 3 11 27 17
Torry Holt 7 10 13 2 4 4 3 11 34 58
Marvin Harrison 1 1 1 5 5 9 1 101 36    
Joe Horn 9 8 8 13 2 49 51 94

I recently saw an expert’s draft that had Demaryius Thomas drafted in the third round as the WR21 off the board. Thomas is 29 years old, and has the same head coach that Andre Johnson did during his best years in Houston. Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Marvin Harrison all had three or more top 10 seasons starting in their age 29 year.

Hines Ward was the WR12 at age 33 in 2009. Reggie Wayne was the WR8 at age 34 in 2012. Both were coached by Bruce Arians. Larry Fitzgerald is 33 and also happens to be coached by Bruce Arians.

Antonio Brown, AJ Green, Dez Bryant and Julio Jones are all age 27 and 28. Less than nine months separates the group. There’s plenty of precedent to believe they can play at an elite level for the next several years like their predecessors on this list. Roddy White and Andre Johnson look to have stalled out at age 34 but some like Terrell Owens and Steve Smith were still getting it done in their mid 30’s.

Three or more Top 24 years

This next grid is composed of the WRs with three or more Top 24 seasons going back just 10 years. You’ll find 160, or 2/3 of the top 24 finishes here. Several of the players below will be undervalued this year.

 Player 06′ 07′ 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′ 15′
TY Hilton   31 19 11 23
Julio Jones 22 11 64 6 2
AJ Green   17 3 4 24 8
Antonio Brown   123 24 32 3 1 1
Demaryius Thomas 95 64 5 1 2 9
Eric Decker     137 42 9 9 26 13
Dez Bryant 50 19 4 7 4 81
Jeremy Maclin 36 14 31 22 9 15
Mike Wallace 35 9 9 23 27 20 74
Percy Harvin 24 22 8 39 164 58 109
Jordy Nelson 80 95 62 4 38 13 3
Desean Jackson 31 11 21 29 61 12 23 66
Steve Johnson 120 153 10 16 18 53 78 59
Miles Austin 146 89 6 13 49 24 113 65 121
Calvin Johnson 38 3 22 6 1 1 5 16 12
Dwayne Bowe 22 15 52 4 14 43 42 57 168
Lance Moore 160 78 14 107 24 35 21 78 106 85
Vincent Jackson 63 59 19 13 98 13 13 16 33 67
Brandon Marshall 89 9 5 7 20 11 2 6 34 3
Larry Fitzgerald 24 5 2 5 12 6 33 17 51 7
Steve Smith 7 16 8 20 65 7 19 37 18 53
Anquan Boldin 15 19 6 17 25 34 30 15 19 40
Marques Colston 17 8 37 16 15 10 12 26 36 56
Greg Jennings 53 18 7 21 5 18 76 34 42 112
Wes Welker 43 10 10 4 18 2 7 21 71 145
Roddy White 77 15 4 9 1 5 10 43 21 73
Andre Johnson 11 27 1 1 7 77 6 10 28 58
Reggie Wayne 4 2 13 3 3 25 8 71 50
Randy Moss 59 1 12 2 73 77
TJ Houshmanzadeh 10 6 21 25 78 124
Donald Driver 6 23 22 19 51 60
Chad Johnson 5 7 47 15 33 114
Derrick Mason 36 14 20 18 28 121
Hines Ward 22 28 17 12 39 73
Terrell Owens 2 3 11 27 17

There are 16 active players from this grid. T.Y Hilton looks to have the trajectory of a perennial stud. We may have not seen his best yet. I’m still kicking the tires on DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace. Eric Moody explains why DJax is undervalued. Ty Miller claims VJax is a player to target. The track record on WRs with as many repeat top seasons as these, combined with draft cost, could make them a value.

Rookies

Rookie WRs really don’t have the best track record of success. What follows are the only 15 rookies to finish top 24 since 2000. Included are the rookie year targets which may be key to projecting rookie success.

 Player 03′ 04′ 05′ 06′ 07′ 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′ 15′ TAR
Amari Cooper                         21 130
Odell Beckham Jr.       7 5 131
Mike Evans       13 22 122
Kelvin Benjamin       15   145
Keenan Allen       18 35 41 105
Julio Jones 22 11 64 6 2 95
AJ Green   17 3 4 24 8 115
Mike Williams 16 36 20 107 124 128
Percy Harvin 24 22 8 39 164 58 109 91
Eddie Royal           16 91 45 118 102 39 31 93 129
Dwayne Bowe 22 15 52 4 14 43 42 57 168 116
Marques Colston       17 8 37 16 15 10 12 26 36 56 115
Michael Clayton 14 88 82 97 71 104 168 191 122
Andre Johnson 21 17 41 11 27 1 1 7 77 6 10 28 58 119
Anquan Boldin 3 50 5 15 19 6 17 25 34 30 15 19 40 165

Kevin Cole finds the 2016 Rookie WRs Overvalued and RotoDoc explains he’s nearly avoiding them all together.

Top 24 2016?

In April, I wrote a piece suggesting the WR position was at maximum capacity. I listed these 30 WRs as likely Top 24 candidates based on roles in their offenses and recent success.

 Player 08′ 09′ 10′ 11′ 12′ 13′ 14′ 15′
Amari Cooper 21
Odell Beckham Jr.   7 5
Allen Robinson   66 6
Jarvis Landry   30 11
Brandin Cooks   56 14
Jordan Matthews 25 16
Sammy Watkins 27 20
Mike Evans   13 22
Kelvin Benjamin 15  
Allen Hurns     49 19
Keenan Allen 18 35 41
Deandre Hopkins           48 14 4
Alshon Jeffrey 82 8 10 42
TY Hilton   31 19 11 23
Doug Baldwin     41 78 41 43 10
Golden Tate 79 41 30 12 24
Randall Cobb 91 16 65 8 26
Julio Jones 22 11 64 6 2
AJ Green   17 3 4 24 8
Antonio Brown   123 24 32 3 1 1
Demarius Thomas 95 64 5 1 2 9
Dez Bryant   50 19 4 7 4 81
Emmanuel Sanders     87 98 66 32 5 18
Eric Decker     137 42 9 9 26 13
Jeremy Maclin 36 14 31 22 9 15
Michael Crabtree   60 36 28 15 109 46 17
Julian Edelman   82 146 155 87 14 17 35
Jordy Nelson 80 95 62 4 38 13 3
Brandon Marshall 5 7 20 11 2 6 34 3
Larry Fitzgerald 2 5 12 6 33 17 51 7

In honorable mention are John Brown, Michael Floyd and Torrey SmithAll have one top 25 finish and are still seemingly a large part of their offense. The Cardinal WRs may all be fairly priced.

When projecting Top 24 players history has shown an average of 12 NFL teams will not have one. The Nos. 13-24 WRs since 2011 have averaged 125 targets on the season.

There’s bound to be some breakout WRs that finish top 24 for the first time. Shawn Siegele has seven you must own.

Consider loading up on as many as possible from the grids above. History has a way of repeating itself. 

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