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Mike Evans Is Joined by Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay Atop the WR Fantasy Points Over Expectation Leaderboard

After a grim Week 7, Sunday offered a much better scoring climate. Several RotoViz priority targets put up big numbers. Shawn Siegele breaks down the monster fantasy performances from Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, Kenny Golladay and the rest of the wide receivers stars.

With help from the Screener and the NFL Stat Explorer, we take a closer look at the wide receivers who created the most fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) in Week 8.

Seven WRs scored 10 or more reFPOE, including two Lions. Golladay and Marvin Hall make the list a week after Marvin Jones scored four touchdowns.

In profiling Jones, I noted the big improvement from Matthew Stafford in his first year with Darrell Bevell.

Stafford ranked No. 17 in QB paFPOE from 2016 to 2018, despite playing in all 48 games. This year he ranks No. 6 and the 30.2 FPOE is more than half of the 48.7 he generated over the previous three years combined.

By eviscerating the Giants, Stafford jumps up to No. 4, holding his own with the stars and landing above many of the big names.

Kenny Golladay

It’s been a bumpy ride for Golladay, but his 2-TD game moved him back up to WR14.

Averaging almost 17 PPG, Golladay’s profile includes massive weekly upside. He’s tied for the league lead with six receiving TDs and ranks fourth with 813 air yards. We can see the results of these deep targets when looking at his location grid.

The Lions have moved Golladay around the field, targeting him 10 times deep to both the right and left. He’s now pulled down over 250 yards on deep passes alone, despite catching less than half of these targets. As you would anticipate, his catch percentage is better in the intermediate areas where he’s added another 18 receptions for 179 yards.

Mike Evans

Evans’ 40-point games in Week 3 and Week 8 were the first two of his career – he had a 39.9 game as a rookie – but he’s posted at least one game with 30 or more points in every season except 2017.

Using the NFL Stat Explorer, we find that his peripherals are impressive yet largely sustainable.

  • His target depth of 15.1 yards is slightly above his career average (14.5) but in line with last year’s numbers (15.1).
  • His 26% target share is right in line with his career numbers but represents a good bump from his 2017-2018 share (23%).
  • His reFPOE of 3.6 per game is well above his career average of 1.0 and has been accomplished despite four of seven games landing in the negative.

While Evans’ FPOE numbers won’t be this gaudy every week, the volume elements could be here to stay. His combination of deep targets and overall target share gives him a receiving profile with ridiculous weekly upside.

It’s crazy to think that Evans could do all of this next to a teammate in Chris Godwin who ranks as the WR3. Bruce Arians’ tactics are fantasy gold. The two star receivers help each other defeat defensive attention, but limited targets are siphoned off by the WR3, TE, or RBs.

Cooper Kupp

In 2018, Kupp ranked No. 2 in the NFL with 7.6 yards after catch per reception. He ranks in the top 10 again this year. It’s no surprise that Kupp is among the NFL’s best in turning targets into yards. But given the surrounding talent in Los Angeles, the sheer number of targets might be.

Kupp averaged 20% of the Rams targets through his first two seasons but is up to 28% in 2019, a share of the pie that trails only Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins. That share turns into an awfully large slice when you consider that the Rams rank second in expected points (EP) per game to the WR position.

Detroit ranks No. 1 in points to the WRs and Tampa No. 2, results that mesh with our conclusions from the Golladay and Evans sections.

Stefon Diggs

Over the last three weeks, Diggs leads the WR position by a hair under 20 points. If he could play this way all the time, he’d be a mix of Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.

Unfortunately, the schedule gets a lot more difficult going forward. Last week, I explained why you should use Adam Thielen’s absence and the soft date with Washington to facilitate a trade.

Only the Rams and Ravens have a more difficult remaining schedule, and they at least have a favorable matchup or two thrown in.

If any WR in the NFL is talented enough to overcome a rough stretch, it’s Diggs, especially if some defenses choose to focus on Thielen. But the brutal schedule adds another blemish to go with the ongoing concerns about volume.

The Strength of Schedule Streaming tool allows frequent traders to move in and out of bad schedule patches. After the first month, Kirk Cousins was a candidate for benching.1 Instead, I recommended trading for him due to the upcoming schedule.

In the Stafford section, some readers will have noticed that Cousins is the QB-who-doesn’t-belong on the paFPOE leaderboard. He ranks second in 2019 after taking advantage of that soft schedule in a very big way.

For one four-game stretch, Cousins looked like peak Drew Brees.

I own Diggs in plenty of leagues where the rules do not allow trades, and I expect him to score like a borderline WR1. But if you have an opportunity to move him in redraft or dynasty, there are plenty of scenarios in which you’ll be able to reacquire him later for less.

Michael Thomas and Mecole Hardman

Thomas was the cover boy for last week’s Win Rates article, and he picked up where he left off by eviscerating a Cardinals defense that occasionally gave extra help but consistently refused to tackle. Of course, tackling Thomas is just one of the many difficult elements of holding him in check.

You may want to wait to put in your Hardman trade offers until after a game where he has two targets and seven yards instead of a game where he turns those two targets into 55 yards and a score. But it won’t be long until he starts earning more than two targets, and then he’s going to be very, very expensive.

I’m always surprised at the depth and breadth of the information in tools built by Mike Beers, Dave Caban, and Anthony Shook. If you enjoyed some of the visualizations used in this piece, make sure to check out the NFL Stat Explorer, the Strength of Schedule Streaming tool, the Game Splits app, the RotoViz Screener, and the Weekly Stats tool.

Good luck tonight, especially to anyone who needs that big game from JuJu Smith-Schuster!

Image Credit: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Cooper Kupp.

  1. Or would have been if the Vikings had a legitimate backup.  (back)

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