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Connecting the Dots – Wide Receivers and Expected Fantasy Points

Connecting the Dots will focus on one key position and statistical area each week. After a breathtaking Week 4, we use the RotoViz Screener to dive deeper into expected points and fantasy points over expectation for the top-20 PPR wide receivers.

The RotoViz Screener is one of the most versatile apps you have access to as a subscriber. I spend hours every week analyzing it’s results in preparation for the upcoming slate of NFL games.

Expected points (EP) and fantasy points over expectation (FPOE) are two of the first statistics I like to review. EP is based on the average fantasy point value of plays in similar down, distance, and field position instances. FPOE, on the other hand, takes a player’s actual fantasy points and subtracts out the expected points. EP measures volume while FPOE measures efficiency.

Tier 1

The Vikings (47.2) and the Steelers (46.5) currently rank first and third in passing attempts per game. It should not come as a surprise that Adam Thielen, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster have the most expected points per game at the WR position. Thielen’s seasonal receiving fantasy points over expectation suggest he is outperforming his target volume. Through four games it is the opposite for Brown and Smith-Schuster.1 The Buy Low Machine suggests better games are ahead for the Steelers WRs.

5-8

The No. 4 receiver in EP, Michael Thomas currently leads the WR position in scoring due to his combination of volume and efficiency. He’s averaged 6.6 points per game more than expected, having caught an almost impossible 42 out of 44 targets.

tier 2

Julio Jones (32 percent) and DeAndre Hopkins (30) continue to see an enormous target share. Both WRs have positive receiving fantasy points over expectation. Jones is averaging 17.3 yards per reception to keep him in the black despite a TD-less streak that borders on the absurd.tier 3The Lions are currently averaging 42.8 pass attempts per game. Golden Tate is maximizing this opportunity with his efficiency despite playing fewer snaps than teammates Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. He currently leads all WRs in yards after the catch with 206. Tate now has 400 receptions with the team in only 68 career games. He is the fastest player to reach that milestone in franchise history. The next closest is future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson who took 81 games to reach that milestone. Tate is currently the WR4 in PPR formats.

tier 4Tyler Boyd barely trails A.J. Green in both volume and efficiency. He’s posted back-to-back games with 100 or more receiving yards, and is in excellent position to see additional targets due to the season-ending injury to tight end Tyler EifertJohn Ross is also questionable heading into the Bengals’ tilt with Miami.

tier 5

Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods are only separated by three targets through four games. Cooks has been the most explosive at 17.3 yards per reception, while Kupp leads in the TD department with four. These offensive trends should continue considering the Rams schedule from now until their bye week.

5-11

Emmanuel Sanders actually trails teammate Demaryius Thomas in both targets and expected points, but he’s outscoring his receiving volume (+15 fpoe), while Thomas is under water on his (-7).

Demaryius Thomas efficiency

If you expect their efficiency numbers to balance out, then Thomas is the obvious buy, but if Thomas continues to struggle, opportunity may come knocking for rookie Courtland Sutton.

tier 6Tyreek Hill has the athletic ability to score a touchdown any time he has the football in his hands. He is averaging 10.4 points per game more than expected. The Chiefs offense is averaging 36.2 points and 297.2 passing yards per game. The opportunities will continue to be there for Hill as the Chiefs No. 1 receiver.

The statistics for Calvin Ridley and DeSean Jackson are eerily similar across multiple categories, but we shouldn’t expect this level of extreme efficiency to continue. The only way Ridley and Jackson could sustain this level of fantasy scoring is if they see a higher number of targets per game, a difficult task with Jones and Evans locking down the top target share in their respective offenses.

Do you agree or disagree? What was most useful to you? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody

  1. All three of these WRs should continue to see a high number of targets per game for the rest of the season. Thielen (97.5), Brown (95.6), and Smith-Schuster (86.1) have all played 85 percent or more of the offensive snaps through four games.  (back)
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