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Breakout WRs Continue to Smash: Rest-of-Season WR Projections – The Wrong Read, No. 51

Fantasy football is a pretty simple game, on its face: get and start the players who will score the most points. The difficulty is in actually finding those guys. If it were as simple as looking at a fantasy leaderboard, there would be no need for projections. But today’s leaders are rarely tomorrow’s league winners.1

With that in mind, I used the RotoViz Screener to build a rest-of-season wide receiver model based on expected points. It has a few other predictors, which I’ll comment on. It’s a fairly simple model, yet still fairly accurate:

model

Expected points (EP) and fantasy points over expectation (FPOE) are both key ingredients. It also helps to know a player’s target market share, likely because it’s more stable in the face of changing game scripts. We also want to incorporate the average scoring margin of the situations in which a player is used in the receiving game. Again, this appears to be a way to avoid overprojecting players whose teams often have to play catch-up. Those teams generally throw more than they would have otherwise planned to, and they may not throw as much in the future if the game script doesn’t persist. But WRs on teams who throw even in positive game scripts tend to maintain their early-season pace. The number of games played is also a significant predictor.

The model incorporates some non-statistical measures too, including age, weight, and draft position. All things equal, younger WRs who were drafted higher tend to perform better as the season goes on. Bigger receivers also see a small boost.

Rest-of-Season WR Projections

The table below displays the model output. The column labeled “Predicted” is the model’s prediction for rest-of-season PPR points. I’ll include a few observations on the results below the table.

PLAYERSEASPPR.Q1AGE.Q1WT.Q1DRAFT.Q1GMS.Q1reEP.Q1reFPOE.Q1reTRGMS.Q1reAVGMGN.Q1Predicted
DeAndre Hopkins2018109.72621427597.712.70.3-5.1189.79
Adam Thielen2018123.9282003295105.518.40.29-6.9184.14
Michael Thomas2018115.9252124758827.90.26-3.6182.81
Odell Beckham Jr.201898.952619812591.7-0.50.32-4.5177.43
Antonio Brown2018102.3301861955110-7.70.31-1.1174.76
Julio Jones201891.5292206587.13.30.3-2.9173.59
Davante Adams2018103.52621253591.811.70.26-3171.99
Cooper Kupp2018105.12520469571.432.40.252.8169.96
Mike Evans201889.6252317460.529.10.26-5.9169.87
Juju Smith-Schuster2018922221562588.63.40.25-3.2162.43
Corey Davis201868.1232095572.3-4.20.31-1.6160.46
Golden Tate2018953020260581.1130.26-4158.85
Robert Woods201895.72620141566.921.60.253.5157.15
Jarvis Landry201873.12620563594.3-21.20.3-3156.96
A.J. Green201896.9302114577.419.50.23-1.1156.89
Stefon Diggs201898.625195146586.48.80.25-6155.65
Keenan Allen201875.72620676573.41.80.26-2146.83
Tyreek Hill201891.224185165564.622.90.234.4145.42
Kenny Golladay201887.82521896570.8170.21-2.1144.84
Tyler Boyd201881.82419755566.714.60.23-1.3143.7
Brandin Cooks201878.82518920454.123.10.25.8138.66
Quincy Enunwa201854.826225209567.3-12.50.29-3.2137.36
Allen Robinson201846.72522061451.3-4.60.253.2131.22
Emmanuel Sanders201887.831180825724.50.23-6.1129.23
Tyler Lockett201879.82618269543.535.20.2-2.9127.24
Devin Funchess201847.824232414443.80.220.1125.52
John Brown2018772817991574.12.50.2-1.8123.92
Sterling Shepard201870.42419440559.111.30.19-5.1121.34
Demaryius Thomas201864.33122922563.60.70.2-5.3121.29
Calvin Ridley201886.52418926542.2430.14-3.4118.92
Nelson Agholor201859.452519820568.7-11.80.21-5.1116.84
Michael Crabtree2018553121410573.4-18.40.2-1.1113.11
Will Fuller201864.82418621446.418.40.15-4.5109.78
Donte Moncrief201855.32522190561.1-5.80.18-3.1109.39
DeSean Jackson201877.43217549434.343.10.15-10.3109.34
Taylor Gabriel20185627167329452.40.90.224.7109.25
Sammy Watkins201856.5252114545.95.50.179.3108.73
Amari Cooper201856.9242114551.14.90.161107.15
Ty Hilton201862.42918392461.410.160.7106.85
Jordy Nelson201869.73321736546.123.60.14-1.7105.41
Dede Westbrook201865.325178110551.8130.162.6105.12
Mohamed Sanu201857.32921183549.48.30.17-4.1103.52
Christian Kirk201849.62220147535.812.60.18-3.2102.96
Kenny Stills201856.126194144540.915.20.18-2.4102.7
Chris Godwin201852.32220984443.78.60.15-7101.96
Marvin Jones201858.128200166559.3-1.20.17-599.8
Mike Williams201858.2242187535.522.40.13-598.51
Geronimo Allison201859.92419632944712.90.140.897.09
Phillip Dorsett2018502518529547.82.20.162.396.48
Keke Coutee20183921181103236.62.40.121.391.53
Taywan Taylor201839.92320372538.51.40.16190.71
Larry Fitzgerald201834.6352183542.4-7.80.2-9.190.7
Albert Wilson201857.726202329535.4140.17-2.289.88
Kelvin Benjamin201824.32724028542.4-18.10.19-5.989.2
Keelan Cole201856.5251753295542.50.16-1.889.18
Trey Burton201840.8272243294346.60.155.788.71
Willie Snead201854.326195329550.53.80.15-0.287.93
Randall Cobb201842.52819264342.20.30.13-886.62
Ryan Grant201854.6281991425495.60.13-6.485.09
Pierre Garcon201834.832210205553-18.20.19-5.283.99
Antonio Callaway201837.421200105550.1-13.40.15-383.61
Paul Richardson201837.12617545428.78.40.15-383.03
Courtland Sutton2018322321840543-110.14-6.379.28
Jamison Crowder201835.925185105432.8-0.40.15-5.878.73
Robby Anderson201851.225180329532.919.20.14-5.778.69
Rashard Higgins201846.424196172535.510.90.12-1.378.42
Brandon Marshall201828.534230119534.3-5.80.16-1.376.16
Laquon Treadwell201835.22322123540.7-5.50.11-5.674.51
Jarius Wright201829.729180118429.8-0.10.15-1.574.08
Alshon Jeffery201830.42821645227.430.08-3.474.08
Zay Jones201829.42320137531.9-2.50.15-16.672.81
Ted Ginn201840.1331809437.500.12-2.772.14
Cole Beasley201836.329177329536.7-0.40.17-3.372.08
Chester Rogers20184424180329549.6-5.60.13-7.369.46
Martavis Bryant201832.627211118431.90.30.1-4.267.54
Jakeem Grant201838.726165186526.2120.13-0.167.44
Chris Conley201830.92621376531.1-0.20.1667.27
Trent Taylor201834.524181177536.8-2.30.13-9.365.5
Chris Hogan201837.330215329530.46.90.111.563.39
Anthony Miller2018202420151317.92.10.09-1.263.37
Tyrell Williams201839.6262003295317.20.11-0.963.24
Torrey Smith201819.72920558424.9-5.20.12-1.963.22
Danny Amendola201831.133186329530.110.15-261.23
Terrelle Pryor201832.829232329524.880.11-3.961.19
Chad Williams201815.32420498529.3-140.14-4.261.02
Cordarrelle Patterson2018352721629525.46.70.08-3.160.08
John Ross201826.6241889426.20.70.08-0.959.85
Josh Doctson20189.82620222320.6-10.80.11.558.67
Adam Humphries201823.525190329431.6-8.50.13-12.256.58
David Moore201824.723225226312.212.50.05055.53
D.J. Moore201825.12121024412.59.80.06-1.455.33
Michael Gallup201814.22220581525.2-110.11-1.954.29
Josh Gordon201826.927225329314.312.60.056.253.86
Tre'Quan Smith201828.92220391412.616.30.043.752.93
Deonte Thompson201821.229203329424-2.80.11-1.952.7
Curtis Samuel201811.7221964016.750.032.852.35
Marquez Valdes-Scantling201825.924206174425.30.60.07-951
Allen Hurns201822.427198329528.1-5.70.12-3.850.84
Cameron Meredith201826.426200329316.210.20.057.950.33
Jermaine Kearse201814.128209329425.3-11.20.12-6.249.84
Dante Pettis201818.62318644212.16.50.04-5.749.55
Julian Edelman201812.732198232114-1.30.059.349.18
Bruce Ellington201823.227197106320.32.90.06-10.749.1
Tajae Sharpe201823.424194140520.71.10.09-3.248.96
James Washington201815.92221360420.6-4.70.06-2.848.37
Zach Pascal201823.924207329433.5-9.60.08-7.548.34
Kendrick Bourne201830.8231903295264.80.08-6.946.2
Seth Roberts201826.727196329420.66.10.08-8.645.93
Tavon Austin201834.6271748515.614.90.06-3.745.6
Jaron Brown201818.828205329315.43.40.07-1.745.6
Jordan Matthews201818.1262124239.78.40.03-1.844.85
Andre Holmes20181430223329524.5-10.50.11-4.643.05
Ryan Switzer201825.424181133523.50.50.07-2.843.05
Derrick Willies20189.12421532917.41.70.030.642.36
DeVante Parker20186252091414.41.60.02-6.742.04
D.J. Chark201812.72219961416.3-3.60.051.141.71
Cody Latimer20188.6262155627.51.10.03-541.35
Equanimeous St. Brown201811.92221420718.23.70.02-13.841.13
Marquise Goodwin201816.628183783142.40.05-639.96
DaeSean Hamilton20187.423203113152.40.02-839.9
Maurice Harris20187.726195329113.7-60.06-17.138.11
Marcus Kemp20181.72320032911.60.10.012537.89
Justin Hunter20181.6271963417.3-5.70.022.837.86
Demarcus Robinson201812.424203126413.8-1.40.045.237.44
Rishard Matthews20184.12921022728.4-4.30.043.735.67
Logan Paulsen201812.83126432935.57.30.02-0.734.88
Javon Wims201802421522411.2-1.20.01734.7
Doug Baldwin201810.230189329314.5-4.30.07-0.634.65
De'Anthony Thomas201812.52517412438.73.20.03634.04
Josh Reynolds20186.92319411726.7-0.80.02-1.833.82
Josh Malone20182.22220812826.1-3.90.02-2.533.34
Terrance Williams20183.8292087424.5-0.70.02032.5
Kamar Aiken201811.329212329210.40.90.03-831.33
Justin Hardy20181.42719210712-0.60.01030.58
Chris Moore201810.825206107410.10.20.03-1.730.46
Sammie Coates20182.2252128723.5-1.30.01-529.35
Andre Roberts20181.6301958822.7-1.30.0112.529.02
Jawill Davis20184.72319132916.9-2.20.02-8.528.59
Khadarel Hodge20182.42320132911.410.01-128.42
Aldrick Robinson201819.23018417836.712.50.02-7.828.39
Josh Bellamy201811.82920632935.46.40.02828.39
Alex Erickson201882619832928.5-1.30.03-6.827.91
Jehu Chesson201802520413911.4-1.40.01-1127.62
Mike Wallace20180321998415.2-5.20.01-326.85
T.J. Jones201832618818928.4-5.40.03-8.426.38
Freddie Martino201802719832913.3-3.30.01726.33
Austin Carr201811.225201329410.30.90.04-1.726.27
Brian Quick20181.6292203311.50.10.01-2726.11
Russell Shepard201810.128195329312.7-2.60.04-6.226.06
Jeremy Kerley20182.73018815316-3.30.03-18.825.93
Shelton Gibson20185.82419116624.41.40.01-7.725.71
Tim Patrick20185.22521032938.4-3.20.03-1.425.66
Riley McCarron201802518332911.6-1.60.01825.36
Richie James20181.72318324011.40.30.01-824.63
Travis Benjamin20184.22917510029.2-6.90.03-7.524.55
Dwayne Harris201833120017623.100.011.523.57
Vyncint Smith20183.82219532927.5-3.70.02-9.823.19
Victor Bolden201822317532915.5-3.50.02-10.522.65
Stacy Coley201802419521911.7-1.70-822.45
DeAndre Carter201822519132911.40.60-321.22
Marcus Johnson20188.82419232937.31.70.02-8.420.57
Robert Foster20182.124196329412.7-10.60.06-12.420.19
Tim White20182.42417232911.410019.99
Rod Streater2018-1.1302003291000018.91
Nick Williams201802818332912.1-2.10.01-418.6
Marvin Hall201811.42518832949.51.90.03-918.3
Darius Jennings20184.92617532936.2-1.30.03-5.216.88
J.J. Jones20180261733291000016.79
J.J. Nelson20181.42615615934.1-2.70.02-7.711.95

Observations

  • Adam Thielen is the current leader in WR PPR points, but the model doesn’t expect him to be the top WR going forward. Minnesota has faced more negative game scripts than anyone expected. Only the Colts have thrown on a higher percentage of plays. The model seems to expect this passing volume to regress toward the mean. A drop in passing rate means less opportunity for Thielen.
  • Instead, the model likes DeAndre Hopkins to lead the way for the rest of the season. Hopkins’ age and draft position give him the edge over Thielen. He is also aided by a higher target market share in more positive game scripts.
  • Thielen is the leader in PPR points, but not in expected points. That distinction goes to Antonio Brown. However, his lack of efficiency makes the model think his role might shrink in the future. But the model doesn’t know about Brown’s career thus far, so this might be a case where a little skepticism is in order.
  • On the other hand, the model also projects JuJu Smith-Schuster to be a top-10 receiver over the next 12 weeks. Pittsburgh’s offense might not attempt the 46.5 passes per game they averaged through the first four weeks. But they will attempt more than the 29 passes they did in Week 5. This is an offense that is more than capable of supporting two top-10 WRs.
  • Jarvis Landry is having one of the worst seasons for a top WR, coming in more than 21 points below expectation. The model dings him for his inefficiency, but his top-four EP mark and 30 percent target share keep him in the top-15 rest of season.
  • Cooper Kupp’s 105.1 PPR points rank fourth in the league. But his 71.5 expected points rank only 18th. The model expects his top-four efficiency mark (32.4 FPOE) to regress. Yet in the Rams’ high-powered offense he remains a top-eight WR by to the model’s projection. The model doesn’t know Kupp is currently in the concussion protocol.
  • On the most recent episode of the Fantasy Football Report, Devin McIntyre said that Kenny Golladay was Detroit’s WR1, and I agree. The model doesn’t. But it’s close. Golladay ranks inside the top-20, while Detroit’s “true” WR1 Golden Tate ranks 12th. While Tate has an 11-point lead in EP, his lead in PPR is slimmer — only about seven points. Their pass location profiles suggest Golladay is the more versatile receiver who wins in more areas of the field.tate_locgolladay_loc The AYA App suggests he should be Matthew Stafford’s preferred target.stafford_aya
  • Corey Davis is the exemplar of a high target share leading to eventual success in a low-volume offense. Or at least the model is expecting him to become that exemplar. His 68.1 PPR points rank 28th among WRs, and he’s underperforming expectations. But his 31 percent target share is tied with Antonio Brown for second, and his age and draft pedigree give him a sizable boost in the model’s projection. It ranks him as the WR11 from now until the end of the season.
  • As mentioned above, the Lions (Tate and Golladay) and Steelers (Brown and Smith-Schuster) both look to have two top-24 WRs going forward. The same can be said for the Vikings (Thielen and Stefon Diggs) and Bengals (A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd). But only one team can boast three WRs within the top-24. Rams WRs Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks join Kupp as rest-of-season WR2s or better. Unfortunately, Cooks also joins Kupp in the concussion protocol. We may see Josh Reynolds ascend to WR2 status for a short time.
  • Ravens WRs John Brown and Michael Crabtree both rank in the top 15 in EP. But both are outside the top 25 in the model’s projections. The model does not think the Ravens’ 46.4 pass attempts per game is sustainable, and dings Brown and Crabtree for low target shares. That said, despite ranking second in the league in pass attempts, the Ravens rank only 10th in passing rate (61 percent).2 In other words, their volume is due to their pace of play, not their run-pass ratio or game script. It might be more sustainable than we’d expect.

  1. Which is a good thing, because it gives us a significant edge.  (back)
  2. They also rank 11th in rushing attempts per game.  (back)
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