We are in a golden era for NFL wide receivers.
The 2014 draft class of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, John Brown etc. will go down as the greatest group of wideouts ever. Part of that is due to outlier-level talent and part of it is due to the rule changes.
Note that in 2010, just 17 players reached 1,000 receiving yards. Last year that number ballooned to 26. The play-calling has also changed as 14 teams passed on at least 60 percent of their plays last year vs. seven in 2010.
So given DraftKings’ full-PPR format plus the three-point bonus for going over 100 yards, I’m typically leaning toward wideouts in my decisions. That means using them in FLEX and using a a larger portion of my salary cap on them. Some things I look for when picking my wide receivers:
Touches is the stat that correlates strongest with running back fantasy points. Meanwhile, targets are the golden ticket for wide receivers. This obviously isn’t rocket science as you can’t catch passes if the quarterback isn’t throwing you the ball. We don’t need to take unnecessary risks with low-volume receivers in 50/50s and head-to-heads. DeSean Jackson only averaged 4.9 targets per game last year and Tyler Lockett only got 4.2. The more targets a wide receiver gets, the more consistent his fantasy production will be – therefore raising his floor.
2) Average Depth of Target
It’s important to understand what kind of contest we are playing in when picking a wide receiver. For cash games (50/50s, Double Up, Head-to-Head), we want guys with a low Average Depth of Target (aDOT, via PFF). That’s because completion percentage correlates directly with catch rate, which is so important when we’re talking about PPR scoring. Possession receivers who are targeted near the line of scrimmage such as Jarvis Landry, Golden Tate, Julian Edelman and Larry Fitzgerald have enhanced value in these cash games because their style lends itself well to a high volume of catches each week.
On the other hand, players with a big aDOT are better suited for large-field tournaments. Their week-to-week consistency won’t be strong because long targets equal a low catch rate. But when they do come up with those catches, their box score is going to be huge. Some examples of this include Ted Ginn, Michael Floyd and Torrey Smith. We want to roster these kind of wideouts when we think their ownership will be low in order to capitalize on their wide range of outcomes.
3) Size Matters
There is a direct correlation between size and red-zone efficiency. Not only are bigger players more likely to turn their red-zone targets into touchdowns, but they’re also more likely to be targeted in the red-zone. And although touchdowns are a bit devalued on DraftKings due to the PPR plus yardage bonus format, TDs are still what win fantasy games.
The 5’10/185 Brandin Cooks got just two of his 129 targets inside the 10-yard line last year. Meanwhile, 6’3/214 Eric Decker saw a whopping 16 targets inside the 10-yard-line out of his 131 total. So by examining red-zone usage and market share in conjunction with size, we can have a better idea of who will be scoring TDs each week.
4) Overall market share
There’s a ton of fantasy value in a narrow concentration of a team’s targets. For example, Julio Jones/DeVonta Freeman accounted for 48.4 percent of the Falcons’ targets and 64.7 percent of their offensive touchdowns. On the other hand, A.J. Green/Jeremy Hill accounted for 29.9 percent of the Bengals’ targets and 44.8 percent of their offensive touchdowns. When we roster the Falcons players, we know that if they score points our guys are going to rack up stats. In the Bengals’ situation, we could lose a lot of points to their teammates.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is AdamLevitan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.