Looking Back at WR Value in Fantasy Football

Looking Back at WR Value in Fantasy Football

Success in Fantasy Football is based on several factors. First, you need to understand the rules of your particular league. Second, you need to understand how deep or scarce talent is at the position in question. Despite the passing game becoming more important in the NFL over the last decade, the important stat to follow in Fantasy Football for the WR position is target distribution. Some teams passing games support 2-3 WR and others with a feature WR and strong TE might only support one WR to have Fantasy significance. Understanding coaching tendencies is more important than ever before to determine the value of the WR position in the Fantasy game since some WR that are great real NFL players have limited Fantasy appeal. Let’s take a look at weekly value in Fantasy Football at the WR position.

Methodology is Important

DK Metcalf finished 6th in WR PPR points last season. There is no doubt DK is one of the elite WR in the league, but among the top players at his position, his Consistency score of 71.4 is 24th best. That means that in almost 3 out of every 10 games, he failed to score 10 or more points over the last 2 seasons combined. Even in his best season, last year he failed to reach 10 or more points in 4 games out of 16 played. Was last year an anomaly or a breakout season? His Best Ten score over the last 2 seasons combined was 23rd best and if we treated 2020 as his rookie year, his Best Ten would only be good for 16th best. With the exception of his Consistency Score, these are all excellent numbers but show he is a risk at current ADP of 5th at 2.05 in 12-team redraft 1 QB leagues. Metcalf would be one of my prime, early WR targets in Best Ball leagues, but in other formats I will let someone else accept that much risk even with the high reward on good weeks.

Two statistical tools have been developed that give us a look at how a player did on a weekly basis for Fantasy Football. A complete game for a RB is defined as taking 20 snaps. A “Consistent Game” is considered to be 10 points in standard PPR leagues. The weekly value of a player is determined by the Best Ten Rating which is a statistical tool that combines consistency with big game ability. We want players that can win weeks for us often in Fantasy Football since Fantasy Football is a weekly game!

An additional statistical tool has been added for the 2021 after five years of research. This is the Position Scarcity Value and it incorporates the strength of the Best Ten tool with the rules in your league. Let’s look at one example to see how important your league rules are to the value of a player at any particular position. Davante Adams is the clear number one WR over the past 2 seasons combined, according to his Best Ten Rating of 310 with second place Michael Thomas at 274.

One concern with Adams is wondering whether his 18 TD season was just an aberration, or was his Fantasy performance indicative of what we can expect going forward? If we completely remove 2020 data from his data set, his Best Ten based on 2019 alone would score WR19 level. If we look at JUST 2018, he finishes WR11 in Best Ten. Combine 2018 and 2019 together and his Best Ten would be WR10 level. Heading into the 2021 season, it would be logical to expect a drop of up to 10% in his Best Ten to establish his still WR leading Best Ten at 279.

Using the concept of Position Scarcity, a Best Ten of 279 for WR assuming 2 starting at the WR position would be equivalent of QB1 in 1QB leagues and QB11 in Superflex or 2QB leagues. It would be equivalent to RB6 or TE3. In leagues that start 3 at the WR position, a Best Ten of 279 would be equivalent to QB6 in Superflex or 2QB leagues and better than all starting QB in 1QB leagues. It would also be equivalent to RB4 or TE2. I will explain Position Scarcity in greater detail in another article, but it uses the same theory of Value Based Drafting first suggested by David Dodds at Footballguys and shows the importance of adapting your drafting strategy to your own league rules.

Why Best 10?

The absolute WORST statistical tool used by analysts today is year-end statistics. All this does is show who stayed healthy during the previous season. Even when comparing players of equal health it doesn’t tell us much about what that player did to our Fantasy Football team’s success on any given week. Let’s consider the following example to show you what I mean.

Player X- Scored 300 Points in 2020

Player Z- Scored 280 Points in 2020

Which player was more valuable to your Fantasy team in 2020?

If your answer was, “You didn’t give me enough data,” then you are on your way to having an understanding that it is HOW a player scored the points each week that matters! Now let me add some data and then you can decide which guy you want.

Player X Scored from game 1-16: 50, 50, 50, 50, 40, 35, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1

Player Z Scored from game 1-6: DNP, DNP, DNP, DNP, 20, 20, 20, 20, 25, 25, 25, 25, 25, 25, 25, 25

Yes, this is an extreme comparison but similar comparisons can be made that occur every season. Comparing the Top 12 WRs in year end points last season the Consistency Ratings varied from 59.43% to 96% of the time, scoring at least 10 points in PPR to 100% of the time. This is too much variance to put ANY faith in year end finishing positions when it comes to determining weekly value.

Best Ten All Stars

The beauty of Best Ten is that it eliminates the need to figure out how partial seasons compare to other players that had full seasons. Because it used a statistical factor to account for rookies and injured players who have fewer games to compare in the two year sample it does a good job of forecasting a player’s weekly value to your team. Two years is used as a data sample to remove that “Everything Went Right” or “Everything Went Wrong” year. Any longer than two seasons and it is hard to compare because in football, three years is a lifetime! This combines a WR consistency rating with his big game ability giving us a unique look at weekly value in Fantasy Football. Let’s take a look at the Best Ten All Stars from the last two seasons combined.

Davante Adams 310

Michael Thomas 274

Mike Evans 266

Tyreek Hill 265

Tyler Lockett 259

DeAndre Hopkins 256

Stephon Diggs 252

Justin Jefferson 252

Chris Godwin 252

Adam Thielan 251

Julio Jones 250

Calvin Ridley 244

AJ Brown 243

Keenan Allen 240

Since the Best Ten indicates a point difference per game for a player’s weekly value, it shows how deep the top of the WR position is in Fantasy Football. If we assume that 2020 was an anomaly for Davante Adams, his adjusted Best Ten of 279 bunches up the top even more. If we look at the 30, 50 and 75 point gaps between the Top WR and the Top RB, we can see how much deeper the talent pool in Fantasy Football is at the WR position.

Point Difference RB1 to WR to

30 2 11

50 3 18

75 5 29

If we look at the 30, 50 and 75 point gaps between the 5th best WR and RB we see a similar pattern.

Point Difference RB5 to WR5 to

30 6 18

50 10 27

75 18 43

These data sets show us without a doubt that there are more viable top WR starters for your Fantasy Team than RB starters. Let’s take a look at the WR position drop off in another way.

Note: For those who have already read my weekly value articles on the QB and RB positions a similar statistical look at the data for the Top QB and RB were done as I showed for Adams’ data and both Mahomes and CMC adjustments were within a few points.

WR1 Davante Adams 279 (Adjusted)

WR5 Tyler Lockett 275

WR10 Adam Thielan 251

WR15 Allen Robinson 237

WR20 Marvin Jones Jr 224

WR25 Diontae Johnson 211

WR30 Michael Gallup 204

WR35 Ju Ju Smith-Schuster 193

WR40 Robby Anderson 188

WR45 CeeDee Lamb 182

WR50 Marquez Valdes-Scantling 173

Just a Snap Shot of What Happened

Even the best look at past performances, whether it’s in Fantasy Football or Horse Racing, just tells us what happened and we need to forecast what will happen in the future. In horse racing strategy decisions, expected pace of the race, racing style and race track conditions have to be taken into account. When it comes to Fantasy Football, we need to look at what changes happened, positive or negative on the offense and the defense. Why the defense when we are concerned with points scored by the offense? A WR who has been getting 10-15 targets a game when his own team’s defense was lousy might see a big reduction in passing attempts if the defense gets better. Thankfully, when it comes to the Best Ten Rating, the numbers have shown that well over 90% of the players who are of Fantasy Football importance have their Best Ten score for any given year finish within 10% of their Best Ten Rating from the year before. If we don’t have a strong opinion about how a player might improve or regress in the year ahead, we still have a solid base number to make decisions based on already. But the more accurate assumptions we can make for the future the better Best Ten will perform as a tool.

Conclusion

Fantasy Football is a weekly game that needs weekly tools to make accurate predictions for future outcomes. Simply looking at who scored the most points at the end of the season or who had the most points per game is only the first step towards deciding how valuable a player will be to your team. Consistency and Big Play ability are the two most important factors when deciding which players to start on any given week. Best Ten is the best tool I have found that combines those two abilities into one, easy to compute number. Applying statistical tools to equate partial seasons to a Best Ten number helps us rate rookies, injured players or other players who only started a handful of games over the past 2 seasons. In future articles we will look at the other positions and the brand new Position Scarcity Rating which will allow us to compare the value of one position against another using your unique league rules to develop the best guide.

Repeat after me, “Fantasy Football is a Weekly game and I need weekly statistical tools!”

Class dismissed  

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: