Shawn Siegele looks at all the top wide receiver performances from Week 14, including big games from A.J. Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Calvin Ridley.
Overall, it was a humorous, low-volume week for the fantasy points over expectation (FPOE) leaderboard. Four of the top-seven finishes came from players with a single catch on two or fewer targets. Olamide Zaccheaus and Rico Gafford were catching their first passes of the season when they broke free for 93- and 49-yard touchdowns respectively.
But our only 20-plus FPOE scorer in Week 14 is an emerging megastar. We’ll begin with a look at why A.J. Brown is almost certainly too low in your dynasty rankings.
WR Fantasy Points Over Expectation Leaderboard – Week 14
Despite his status as a second-round pick in a low-volume passing offense, Brown has been a fixture on the FPOE Leaderboard.
Brown has eclipsed 15.0 FPOE on three occasions, including twice in the last three weeks. I was already very bullish on Brown due to comps that included JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Evans. He ranked No. 55 overall on my November update, but his recent explosions saw him rise to No. 25 overall in my adjustments today.
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Brown now sits at WR29 on the season, but you could be forgiven for sitting him at key moments. He’s crested five targets on only three occasions and doesn’t have a high target ceiling in an offense that ranks No. 29 in Expected Points (EP) per game. (This has also been an issue for RotoViz favorites Courtland Sutton and Stefon Diggs, as both receivers also find their teams among the bottom five.)
Fortunately for Brown, Ryan Tannehill has elevated the entire offense. In last week’s look at BestBall RB Win Rates, we looked at how Tannehill has turned Derrick Henry into a star. He’s done the same thing for the passing game.
The Titans have boosted their scoring by more than 1.0 points per drive since Tannehill took over and the passing game has increased more than 2.0 yards per attempt.
Even though Sanders was only able to play 44% of the snaps from Week 10 to 12, he’s made a huge impact on the passing performance of Jimmy Garoppolo.1
The trade was a win for both receiver and team, as Sanders has found a much stronger connection with his new quarterback than he had with Joe Flacco.
After a frustrating start to the season where Ridley averaged only 12.3 PPG through the first 10 weeks, he’s exploded over the last month with 21.5 PPG.
He’s now up to WR14 on the season. Moreover, it’s been a ridiculous start to his career from an efficiency perspective. Since the beginning of his 2018, he ranks No. 7 among WRs in FPOE, trailing big names like Tyler Lockett, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, and Chris Godwin.
How does he match up against the first two seasons of all WRs over the last 20 years?
Ridley has already climbed over Hill, Smith-Schuster, and Julio Jones, and it’s likely that he’ll trail only Odell Beckham and Mike Wallace by the time the season ends.
You hear a lot in the fantasy community about fading efficiency, and that may contribute to the idea that Ridley has been more lucky than good. This couldn’t be further from the case. In fact, rookie year efficiency is one of the reasons we urged you to select D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk this season. It’s a big factor in second-year breakouts, but it’s also a factor for strong subsequent year production among all WRs, as Blair Andrews details in the Wrong Read No. 59.
Hardman’s rookie numbers have been absolutely crazy. He now has seven games with double-digit fantasy points and four games with double-digit FPOE …
… despite averaging 2.9 targets per game.
After his last explosion in Week 10, I pointed out that he had 27 points over the previous three weeks even though he’d been targeted only three times in that stretch. Unfortunately, he’s only earned five targets since.
It’s also a little surprising to see Hardman’s role decline despite his efficiency. To put it another way, Patrick Mahomes averages over 15 adjusted yards per attempt when targeting the rookie.
Brown and Hardman have been battling all season for FPOE supremacy among rookies, but in light of the evidence from the Ridley section, you might wonder who else is on the list.
With the exception of Andy Isabella, all of these receivers would likely go earlier if 2019 rookie drafts were re-selected today.
I’m constantly impressed 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 NFL Pace app, the Best Ball Win Rates tool, the Game Splits app, the RotoViz Screener, the Strength of Schedule Streamer, and the Weekly Stats tool.
Image Credit: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: A.J. Brown.
- We see similar splits in games where Deebo Samuels has more than three targets, so much of this is simply about the development of the passing game over the second half of the season. (back)