Analyzing Wide Receiver Performances for Week 2 (Fantasy Football)

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Welcome to the first edition of my deep dive look into wide receiver performances for the 2023 season! As we kick off the NFL season, I’ll take a closer look at wide receivers who either overperformed or underperformed in Week 1.

To do this, I’ll dive into three key metrics: Average Depth of Target (aDOT), Targets Per Route Run (TPRR), and Yards per Route Run (YPRR). Additionally, I’ll introduce a unique Predictive Receiver Score (PRS) metric to help predict fantasy success and demonstrate how it can be applied using a linear regression equation to gauge a receiver’s expected fantasy points from receiving (Deebo Samuel comes to mind as a player who will always be an outlier with this metric due to his rushing prowess) versus how they actually performed.

Average Depth of Target (aDOT)

aDOT is a crucial metric when assessing wide receiver performance. It is as simple as it sounds, as it measures the average yards per target that a WR receives. In Week 1, some receivers stood out with high aDOT, indicating their role in stretching the field and providing big-play potential. Others may have underperformed due to a low aDOT, indicating a limited impact downfield.

Overperformer: Michael Pittman (Indianapolis Colts)

aDOT: 5.8 yards
Result: 8 receptions, 97 receiving yards, 1 TD
Receiving Fantasy Points: 19.7 (half-PPR)

Anthony Richardson was a pleasant surprise in Week 1, and if you are a Pitty City manager then you too were most likely ecstatic with what you saw Sunday (hopefully he was in your lineup). That said, we may have some tough days ahead if Pittman’s aDOT is going to hover around that six-yard mark. The opportunity should continue to be there with the predicted game scripts for the Colts, but bust games could certainly be in Pitty City’s future with such a low aDOT. Hopefully, the young rookie ascends throughout the season and starts to push the ball downfield to Pittman more, but I sit here typing with cautious optimism.

Underperformer: AJ Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)

aDOT: 18.6 yards
Result: 7 receptions, 79 receiving yards, 0 TDs
Receiving Fantasy Points: 11.4

Brown was targeted nine times deep down the field against the Patriots and proved once again that he will be a focal part of the Eagles’ offense. With crummy weather, one would expect a lower output in fantasy points, but Brown was still able to pull off a WR24 finish. Better days are ahead for Brown owners and if this type of aDOT persists he will have many explosive weeks for your fantasy teams.

Targets Per Route Run (TPRR)

Targets per Route Run is the number of targets a player receives when on the field and running a route. This metric helps identify players who are heavily involved in their team’s passing game and have a higher fantasy floor due to consistent opportunities. This number can be skewed when a player does not run many routes and receives targets on those routes, but in those cases, it is interesting to monitor as one could perhaps predict a breakout if a player consistently is high in this metric.

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For a deeper dive on TPRR, check out AJ Passman’s Targets Per Route Run Report for Week 2.

Overperformer: Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos)

TPRR: 0.156
Result: 4 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 1 TD
Receiving Fantasy Points: 11.2

Sutton started his 2023 campaign with an 86% snap rate. He ran 32 routes but only saw five targets on all those routes. This is significant because this was without Jerry Jeudy on the field. Russell Wilson was spreading the ball out to his teammates (targeting 11 Broncos) but only threw for 177 yards against a defense we predict to be pretty poor against the pass. If Sutton can only accrue a 0.156 T/RR with no Jeudy then I suspect that this number does not get much better and managers will be left praying for a touchdown each week from Sutton. Not a place I want to be at on a Sunday afternoon, to say the least. I would try and get off of Sutton if at all possible after a decent fantasy output in Week 1.

Underperformer: Kadarius Toney (Kansas City Chiefs)

TPRR: 0.455
Result: 1 reception, 1 receiving yard, 0 TDs
Receiving Fantasy Points: 0.6

Honestly, I feel kind of bad for the man at this point. Twitter (X?) was quick with the memes and did not hold back when roasting Toney, and I read he actually deleted his account (yikes). I am not even sure if I really need to write anything about this performance. We all saw it. But with that said, holy smokes is 0.455 a great number here. When Toney was on the field Mahomes was going to him. He may never do it again, but if Toney can earn back the trust of Mahomes he could see a huge spike in production (as long as he gets on the jug machine and fixes this catching issue). I for one will not be partaking in a buy-low here, but he is worth noting with the highest T/RR on the week for players with a minimum of 10 routes run.

Yards per Route Run (YPRR)

If statisticians are anything, they are succinct. YPRR measures the efficiency of a wide receiver by calculating the yards gained per route run. Yup, isn’t simplicity lovely? A higher YPRR suggests a receiver is productive when they are on the field running routes.

Overperformer: Kendrick Bourne (New England Patriots)

YPRR: 1.19
Result: 6 receptions, 64 receiving yards, 2 TDs
Receiving Fantasy Points: 21.4

The Patriots have a real offensive coordinator on the payroll and there isn’t anyone happier than Mac Jones. Mac looked good against a stout Philly defense and Kendrick Bourne had himself quite the fantasy output. Kendrick had two touchdowns that vaulted him up into being a top-12 WR on the week, but the underlying statistics of how he got to that number are a bit alarming. A 1.19-yard-per-route run would rank him 255th (out of 325 eligible receivers) over the past three seasons. Bourne is going to be extremely boom or bust again this year like he has been in the past. He will be on the field running routes, but he may not accumulate many yards while doing so. I would pick him up on the waiver wire and hold for a week or two to see if you could pawn him off to an unsuspecting owner if he can overperform his Y/RR for another week or so.

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Underperformer: Jaylen Waddle (Miami Dolphins)

YPRR: 2.36
Result: 4 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 0 TDs
Receiving Fantasy Points: 9.8

I am not sure that Jerry Rice could have had a decent fantasy day on Sunday with the way Tyreek Hill played. That said, Jaylen Waddle did not have a great day either for fantasy purposes considering the underlying metrics he showed. Jaylen’s yards per route run numbers would have ranked 28th in the past three years, so seeing him finish as the WR31 was a bit disheartening. Better days are ahead for Mr. Waddle as opponents will have to throw everything they possibly can at Tyreek Hill to try and stop him. If anyone feels down on Waddle after this week, don’t be, he shows elite traits and will be just fine in the long run as long as the Cheetah doesn’t steal all the points.

Introducing the Predictive Receiver Score (PRS)

To predict wide receiver success, I am introducing the Predictive Receiver Score (PRS), a comprehensive metric that combines aDOT, Target Share, YPRR, and Targeted QB Rating into a single value. The PRS offers a holistic view of a receiver’s performance potential. Using this metric we can take a look at who over/underperformed their expected fantasy output, and see if we can’t find a few buy or sell opportunities. I will be updating this section of the report each week with new targets for folks to acquire/look to move, so stay tuned. With only one week in the books though, I want to explain PRS instead, as one week of data is a bit deceiving.

To design this calculation I used a series of linear regressions for each of the four statistics I mentioned above. I looked at the last three seasons in the NFL and came up with simple y=mx+b formulas for each statistic. Once I had these straight-line equations for each statistic, I combined them to make PRS. I am weighing each metric as such: aDOT – 10%, YPRR – 45%, Targeted QB Rating – 15%, TPRR – 30%. I will most likely adjust this as I hone in on the calculation. By assigning different weights to each metric, we account for the varying importance of deep threats, target volume, and efficiency. A higher PRS indicates a receiver with more fantasy potential.

The final step was to take this PRS calculation and compare it to fantasy points per game over the past three years for each receiver. The results yielded an R-squared of 0.7152, which is far from perfect but does show a high correlation between the two.

Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams love skewing correlations.

Applying PRS to Predict Fantasy Points

Now, let’s put the PRS to the test by predicting a player’s fantasy points using a linear regression equation:

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Predicted Fantasy Points (PFP) = (PRS * Coefficient) + Intercept

Intercept and coefficient are calculated based on historical data for each position and combining them together. By plugging the PRS into this equation, you can estimate a receiver’s expected fantasy points for a given week. This allows fantasy managers to make more informed trades and waiver wire decisions along with identifying potential sleepers or busts.

aDOT, Target Share, and YPRR are essential metrics for evaluating wide receiver performance in fantasy football. The introduction of the Predictive Receiver Score (PRS) provides a novel way to predict a receiver’s fantasy success and can be utilized to find under and over-performers. Keep an eye on these metrics as the season progresses to gain a competitive edge in your fantasy football league. Good luck in Week 2!

I leave you with a preview of what is to come and a table of the top 12 scorers in PRS this week along with how they faired in actual fantasy points.

Player PRS Predicted FP Actual FP Over/Under Predicted
Tyreek Hill 164.7 33.56 39 5.44
Brandon Aiyuk 112.6 22.5 28.9 6.4
Jakobi Meyers 109.6 21.87 24.6 2.73
Puka Nacua 102.9 20.44 16.9 -3.54
Rashid Shaheed 97.7 19.33 17.4 -1.93
Chris Olave 97.6 19.32 15.2 -4.12
Rashee Rice 90.8 17.88 10.4 -7.48
Calvin Ridley 90.3 17.78 20.1 2.32
River Cracraft 86.6 16.99 11.5 -5.49
Tutu Atwell 86.6 16.99 14.9 -2.09
Justin Jefferson 81.1 15.82 19.5 3.68
Zay Flowers 77.5 15.05 12.3 -2.75

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