In The Trenches: State of the WR
Sometimes we miss the value of players. I'll use the wide receiver position to illustrate.
In fantasy football we sometimes misunderstand the value of players. We think that if they aren't producing elite level production each week that they are useless, someone to be benched, or at least marginalized. Sometimes we overlook changes at quarterback due to injury, difficult matchups, or the fact that weather can influence how a game is played leading directly to the performance, or lack of it to be more precise, of players. Trying to make sense of all of this is sometimes challenging, so that's why I'm here – to help clarify things for you so that you can forge ahead into the fantasy playoffs with confidence.
I answer start/sit questions each Sunday morning on Twitter @SiriusXMFantasy from 10a-1p EDT, and I literally received 50 questions regarding whether or not to play Keenan Allen in Week 12. Why was there an overabundance of questions about a guy who will end Week 12 of the NFL season inside the top-15 at the WR position in a PPR setup? Some where concerned about his knee, despite the fact that report and report suggested he was fine physically. The real issue was the fact that he had two down efforts in Week 10 and 11 as he caught a total of seven balls for 86 yards. Even if we add those two games into the mix, he's still been darn good. From Week 4-11 here is an average Allen effort: 5.4 receptions, 83.2 yards with three scores. Doesn't sound like much you say? If we pro-rate that effort over 16 games we end up with a receiver hauling in 86 balls for 1,339 yards and seven scores. Everyone loves DeSean Jackson right? Here are the best numbers he has ever posted: 63 receptions, 1,167 yards and nine scores. Perspection folks. Back to Twitter... I told everyone to play Allen Sunday. What happened? He went out and caught nine balls for 124 yards.
Before I go on, some perspective.
The NFL is a 16 game season. Let's say a guy goes for 70 receptions, 1,000 yards and eight scores. That's a really good season, right? That's a WR2 worthy season in most leagues. You'd want that guy on your team, wouldn't you? What does a 70-1,000-8 guy do on a weekly basis?
4.4 receptions, 62.5 yards, 0.5 TDs.
That's a “poor” performance according to most in fantasy football, right? Just think to yourself. What would you do if your guy went out and caught four balls for 61 yards and no scores. Oh, hello Dwayne Bowe. You excited about starting that guy? Of course you aren't. But that's the point. Far too often people jimmy-jack around with their lineup too frequently in fantasy football. Sometimes making moves work. Sometimes not making moves would be the best call. It all depends, but no matter, we all know that there's no way you're going to remain patient and leave a guy in there that's struggled a bit of late (I just described the situation with Allen).
Danny Amendola was supposed to catch 100 passes for well over 1,000 yards this season. At least that's what the expectation was by those who drafted him this year. Those folks were fooling themselves. As I warned all offseason, Danny was not someone you could trust. It's like people saw Tom Brady, the loss of Wes Welker, the strong skills of Amendola, and just forgot about history. What does that history tell us? It points out, unequivocally, that Amendola shouldn't have been trusted – he is always hurt. In 2009 he missed two games. In 2010 he played a full slate of 16 games. In 2011 he appeared in – zero games. In 2012 he missed five games. He's only played in seven of 11 games this season. Why on earth people were making him their WR1 or WR2 this season with such confidence still befuddles me. There's also this. You know how many 1,000 yard receiving seasons that Danny has? Zero. How about 900 yard efforts? Zero. Eight hundred? Zero. Seven hundred? Zero. I'm just saying. It's getting harder and harder to even start him, especially after the bust out SNF effort of Julian Edelman. The Pats wideout caught nine balls for 110 yards and two scores in a massive, out of nowhere effort given his recent production. After all, Edelman caught a total of six balls for 45 yards over his previous three games. So this was totally unexpected, right? On the one hand, yes it was. After being marginalized in the Patriots offense since Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen returned, he probably was only started as a last ditch, throw a dart at the board effort on Sunday night. At the same time, going back to the original point, Edelman has put forth a pretty solid effort this season. Some key points.
Edelman has had seven games of five receptions.
Edelman has five games with at least seven receptions.
Vincent Jackson has had six games of five receptions.
Jackson has four games with at least seven receptions.
Moreover, Edelman has four scores to five for Jackson.
Of course, Jackson is the better player, the better own, there is no debate there (don't think I've lost my mind completely over here), but I'm just trying to point out that a guy like Edelman certainly has some value in PPR leagues. Not only does Edelman have stand alone value, but he's also driving down the weekly outlook of Danny Amendola, and that hurts fantasy owners more than his success is helping them.
Eric Decker is still inside the top-20 in a PPR setup even though his season has been extremely front loaded. So, you should keep playing him every week because of his overall numbers. Maybe, maybe not. Unlike Allen, Decker is not the #1 option in his offense. Moreover, you can make an argument that Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker are ahead of Decker, and you might even be able to slot Julius Thomas ahead of him as well. Even with Thomas out on SNF Decker did nothing in Week 11. Decker hasn't scored in four games. He's only hit the magical 62.5 yard per game mark once in those four outings. He's also averaging just barely three receptions a game in that time. Do you have to play Decker? If you're in a three WR league, as you should be, it's pretty hard to sit him, but his production over the last month, and his spot in the pecking order with the Broncos, dictates that you would be wise to surveil your other options.
Tavon Austin has gone for an average of about 23 points a game the past two weeks in a PPR setup. At the same time, and I know it's hard to hear when you are reaching for points, Austin has had a total of 13 targets the past four games. You just can't be productive, consistently, if you're not seeing the football (his 65 score in Week 12 was on a run). The Rams simply don't pass the ball much, and don't do it very well with Kellen Clemens under center, an a guy like Austin pays the price for that. We're entering Week 13 of the NFL season and do you know how many 50-yard games that Austin has had this season? The answer is one. Shocking isn't it?
Jarrett Boykin has now had success with Aaron Rodgers, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn under center. Gotta give the guy some props. The last three weeks he's caught 19 balls for an average of 88 yards a week. He even scored in Week 12 for the first time since Week 7. Impressed am I.
Nate Burleson has appeared in four games his season. In each of those games he's hauled in at least six passes. In three of the four games he's also gone for at least 77 yards. Certainly helps to line up across the field from Calvin Johnson.
Michael Floyd has scored three times in six games. That's solid production for the Cardinals' second wide receiver. Unfortunately he's also failed to reach 45 yards receiving in three of those six games. However, he's really asserted himself the past two weeks with some dominating efforts. He's caught six and seven passes on 18 targets in those two games. He's scored once. He's also racked up 193 and 104 yards the past two weeks. At this point he's looking like a solid WR3 option in a PPR setup.
Kendall Wright is averaging seven receptions and 87 yards the past three weeks since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over the reigns in Tennessee (he's scored once). Since Week 2 Wright has averaged 6.3 receptions a week. That's a 16 game pace of 101 receptions.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Thursday at 7 PM EDT & Friday's at 9 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answers everyone's questions.