Shawn Siegele uses the Best Ball Win Rates tool to examine the wide receiver position. He explains why early-round WR dominance is still holding in 2019 and looks at recent risers like Allen Robinson, Robby Anderson, and Robert Woods.
Best Ball Workshop – The Key Lesson
Using the insights from Mike Beers’ Roster Construction Explorer, the key lessons from the 2019 Best Ball Workshop were clear: Select a running back in the first round but do not load up on RB early. This was also the main takeaway from Blair Andrews’ Win the Flex tool, an application that allows you to see how individual positions score relative to ADP.
Running backs significantly underperform ADP from a points perspective. This is compounded in BestBall10s, a format that requires a 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-Flex lineup. You must start more receivers every week, and the position becomes even more important since WRs are cheaper flex options. As a result, win rates for early-round RBs have been disastrous.
But every season is different, and 2019 has been very good to a handful of second-tier backs. Derrick Henry (12.6%) and Mark Ingram (10.5%) have flourished with run-heavy profiles, and Aaron Jones (15%) has added pass-catching duties to his explosive makeup.
With good health and high scores, has the 2019 running back group turned the tide?
The answer may surprise you.
Wide Receivers vs Running Backs – Rounds 2-6
|Avg Win Rate||8.6||7.6|
Even in a very good season for RB health and scoring, it’s difficult for the position to overcome all of its structural disadvantages.
- Six of 25 RBs have win rates above 10%. Twelve of 27 WRs have win rates above 10%.
- Nine of 25 RBs have above-average win rates. Fifteen of 27 WRs have above-average win rates.
- Eight of 25 RBs have win rates of 5.0% or below. Five of 27 WRs have win rates of 5.0 or below.
A trio of recent risers have contributed to the strong overall numbers at WR.
Robinson’s win rate has been above average since his 28.7-point outburst in Week 5, but the recent three-game stretch above 20 points has pulled him back into the elite range.
The veteran’s profile doesn’t stand out from a target depth or yards after catch perspective, but I love his flexibility as a receiver who’s been targeted all over the field.
You won’t see a more reliable, workmanlike target profile for any receiver in the league. Robinson ranks No. 8 in targets, receptions, and touchdowns. He kept this passing offense together while Mitchell Trubisky floundered, and is benefiting as the young QB turns it around.
With eight single-digit scores in his first 10 appearances, it’s hard to believe Robinson can be at 10.1% for the year, but that’s where he sits after a three-game stretch with a 20.2-point average.
Anderson was a popular fade in 2019 due to a daunting slate of opposing corners, and that’s exactly how it played out over the first 11 weeks.
By contrast, the Jets had the sixth-best schedule over the last three weeks. During the initial 11 weeks, Anderson averaged -1.1 fantasy points over expectation (FPOE). He’s jumped to 6.1 FPOE on his hot stretch.
It’s been a roller coaster ride for Woods. After a solid Week 1, his target share dropped to 17% from Week 2 to Week 8 as Cooper Kupp (28%) dominated. The tables have turned over the last five. Defenses have cracked down on Kupp (16%), allowing Woods to run free (32%).
Woods’ win rate dropped to 6.5% after he missed Week 11, but 71.6 points in a three-week span will move the needle in a hurry. The eruption was fueled by a 19-target game in Week 13 and an end to the TD drought when he finally found pay dirt against the Seahawks.
Make sure to check out the Best Ball Win Rates tool to analyze what worked and what didn’t for your roster, and try some of these great apps if you’re interested in more visualizations for the stats mentioned in this piece.
- NFL Stat Explorer
- NFL Pace
- Game Splits
- RotoViz Screener
- Strength of Schedule Streamer,
- Weekly Stats tool