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2018 Fantasy Review: What Makes a Top 10 WR?

Although #RedraftSZN is still a few months away, #HotTakeSZN is on the horizon. Soon enough, we’re going to be flooded with “Player X will finish in the top __! Book it!”. But what does that really mean? In the series of articles to come, I’m going to breakdown from a statistical standpoint how these players get to the top of fantasy ranks. Let’s start off with looking at last years top-ten wide receivers.

The Who

top-ten wide receivers Julio Jones

Here are the top-ten wide receivers along with their fantasy points, based on full PPR scoring (via FFToday).

  1. DeAndre Hopkins – 337.5
  2. Julio Jones – 329.8
  3. Tyreek Hill – 328
  4. Davante Adams – 327.6
  5. Antonio Brown – 323.7
  6. Michael Thomas – 319.5
  7. Adam Thielen – 307.3
  8. JuJu Smith-Schuster – 296.9
  9. Mike Evans – 286.4
  10. Robert Woods – 265.6

Let’s break this down further. For each player, I’m going to look at their targets, catches, yards, touchdowns, and average draft position. Next to their production numbers, I’ll also give the percentage that accounted for within their respective offenses.

*Note: Statistical numbers gathered from Pro Football Reference, and ADP from Fantasy Pros Consensus ADP Data.

DeAndre Hopkins

163 targets (32.9%)

115 catches (33.3%)

1,572 yards (37.7%)

11 TD (42.3%)

ADP – 8 (WR2)

Julio Jones

170 targets (28.1%)

113 catches (26.4%)

1,677 yards (33.9%)

8 TD (22.2%)

ADP – 13 (WR4)

Tyreek Hill

137 targets (24.3%)

87 catches (22.6%)

1,479 yards (28.9%)

12 TD (24%)

ADP – 27 (WR10)

Davante Adams

169 targets (27.5%)

111 catches (28.3%)

1,386 yards (29.9%)

13 TD (52%)

ADP – 18 (WR7)

Antonio Brown

168 targets (24.9%)

104 catches (22.7%)

1,297 yards (25.1%)

15 TD (42.9%)

ADP – 5 (WR1)

Michael Thomas

147 targets (28.8%)

125 catches (32.8%)

1,405 yards (33.7%)

9 TD (27.3%)

ADP – 16 (WR5)

Adam Thielen

153 targets (25.8%)

113 catches (26.6%)

1,373 yards (31.9%)

9 TD (30%)

ADP – 31 (WR13)

JuJu Smith-Schuster

166 targets (24.6%)

111 catches (24.2%)

1,426 yards (27.6%)

7 TD (20%)

ADP – 43 (WR19)

Mike Evans

138 targets (22.3%)

86 catches (21.1%)

1,524 yards (28.4%)

8 TD (22.2%)

ADP – 22 (WR9)

Robert Woods

130 targets (23.9%)

86 catches (23.4%)

1,219 yards (25.8%)

6 TD (18.8%)

ADP – 78 (WR35)

 

Takeaways

First, let’s look at individual players. DeAndre Hopkins is the only player to have over 30% of his team’s targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns. He’ll be the first receiver off the board in your 2019 drafts, and for good reason. Robert Woods had the lowest touchdown share amongst the group, but that has more to do with the spread-it-around offense he’s in that anything. Woods benefited from Cooper Kupp’s injury, and it’ll be interesting to see where the Rams trio gets drafted this year.

Mike Evans seems to be in the middle of a debate every year as to whether or not he’s actually good at football. Despite his low catch percentage and lack of YAC (yards after catch), he’s always in a position to finish as a fantasy WR1, and I’m buying into the Bruce Arians narrative. JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be drafted much higher than 43rd overall and as WR19 this year, but be careful of how high you take him. Sure, Antonio Brown is leaving over 160 targets behind, but JuJu already garnered 166 of his own. I don’t think his ceiling is much higher than what he did last year unless he basically doubles his touchdown catches.

As far as the numbers go, here are some things to consider as you’re trying to find 2019’s top-ten wide receivers. All but two of the receivers had nearly 25% of their teams targets. Those two were Mike Evans and Robert Woods. In Evans’ case, there are nearly 200 vacated targets to be had in Tampa Bay, so I’d expect him to reach that mark in 2019. For Woods, he’s in an offense with two other legit receivers and that Todd Gurley guy – I doubt anyone in the Rams offense exceeds 25% target share.

The share of catches in an offense is more spread out, ranging from 21-33%. Each of these ten receivers had 100+ catches with the exception of Evans, Woods, and Tyreek Hill. Yards, on the other hand, seem to be more important for where these players finish at season’s end. Every receiver had at least 25% of their team’s receiving yards, and each had 1,200+ yards. Robert Woods, the final receiver on this list, also had the fewest yards.

Touchdowns aren’t “sticky” on a year-to-year basis and therefore we shouldn’t be using previous years TD stats to rely on future outcomes. It may be worth noting, however, that only four of the ten receivers had double-digit TDs – Hopkins, Hill, Adams, and Brown.

If I had to distill all of this down to one sentence, however, it would be this: We want good receivers getting high target volume on teams with respectable quarterback play and bad defenses. The catches, yards, and to some extent, touchdowns, will most likely follow the volume.

 

That’ll do it for the first installment of this series! Keep your eyes peeled for the next article, as I’ll do the same for the receivers that finished 11-20. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to add or change with these articles. My goal is to give you all the useful information as we draw closer to our drafts! Also, make sure you’re subscribed to the podcast as we’ll keep you up-to-date throughout the off-season!

 

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