Fantasy Football: The TRUTH About WRs in 2018, Part 1

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It’s always good to take a minute after a season and write down some of the players you like/dislike going into the next year before memories fade. Part of that is looking at each of the position groups and assessing their performance from the previous year. The Fantasy Footballers take a deep dive into the TRUTH behind fantasy football finishes from the previous season. Which players won people leagues, who were consistent on a week to week basis, who were Boom-or-Bust, and more. This is a summary of The Truth About WRs in 2018 Part 1.

Get the full WR breakdown from Andy, Mike, and Jason on the podcast: Part 1
Watch on YouTube: Part 1

The TRUTH Scoring

Player finish, fantasy points, and consistency percentages are based on Half PPR scoring.

Great Games are more than 22 points (top 5 on average)
Good Games are more than 10 points (top 24 on average)
Bust Games are fewer than 7 points (outside top 50 on average)

Below are the Top 10 WRs for 2018. For the rest of the pack, see Part 2.

1. Tyreek Hill (284.5 points) – Consistency Rank: Tied-15th

16 games — 87/1479/12 on 137 targets, 22/151/1 rushing, 1 return TD
Great 31% | Good 50% | Bust 19%
Defenses: +7.54 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -4.86 pts at Home

What happens when you combine Hill’s speed and ascension as a route runner with Patrick Mahomes? Fantasy’s #1 WR is what. Hill is one of the most dangerous players in the NFL if not the most dangerous. The only knock is the lack of consistency on a week to week basis. A 19% bust rate is exceptionally high for a player that finished as the top WR, but not entirely unexpected with the number of offensive weapons on KC. The flip side of the bust rate is what we’ll call his ‘Super Great’ games. Hill surpassed 30 fantasy points three times and narrowly missed another Super Great performance with 29.2 points Week 10. You can count on Mahomes taking 2-3 deep shots his way, but his week to week bust potential may require pairing him with a steady-Eddie WR. Projecting his draft spot is going to be tricky next year, but he’ll probably land somewhere between the fourth and sixth WR taken.

2. DeAndre Hopkins (276.0 points) – Consistency Rank: 2nd

16 games — 115/1572/11 on 163 targets
Great 38% | Good 75% | Bust 0.00%
Defenses: +7.28 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -4.0 pts at Home

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“With the potential of a full season of Deshaun Watson in 2018, Hopkins will be the first to truly challenge Antonio Brown for the top WR selection in next year’s drafts.” This was from last year’s WR Truth article. Nuk couldn’t overtake AB in drafts this year, but he’s certainly going to be the first or second WR drafted in 2019 challenged only by Davante Adams. This is the second straight year without a Bust game and the second straight year leading the league in target share. He finished as the overall WR1 last year but actually scored more points this year. He’s virtually unguardable finishing with 0 drops on 115 receptions. Deshaun Watson and he are once again an elite pairing heading into 2019.

3. Davante Adams (274.1 points) – Consistency Rank: 1st

15 games — 111/1386/13 on 169 targets
Great 20% | Good 100% | Bust 0%
Defenses: -2.18 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: +1.5 more pts at Home

We’ve had the #1 overall WR, the WR with the highest target share and now the most consistent WR in 2018. 100% of his games scored out at a Good or better, which means he scored 12 or more fantasy points every week. This season was the result of Adams’ ability to score TDs (third straight year with double-digit TDs) and newfound volume in an offense without many other reliable receivers. Lookout if Aaron Rodgers bounces back from a ‘down’ year.

4. Antonio Brown (271.1 points) – Consistency Rank: 3rd

15 games — 104/1297/15 on 168 targets
Great 33% | Good 80% | Bust 7%
Defenses: +.62 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: 1.21 more pts at Home

It’s not that AB was having a bad year in 2018, but he shot up the WR rankings with a 37.5 performance in Week 16. This is now the sixth season in a row with greater than 1,200 yards and he’s topped double-digit TDs in four of his last five seasons. AB’s value takes a huge hit if he’s not in Pittsburgh next year, but he’s still an elite option as long as he’s a Steeler.

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5. Julio Jones (269.4 points) – Consistency Rank: Tied-4th

16 games — 113/1677/8 on 170 targets
Great 44% | Good 75% | Bust 6%
Defenses: -3.04 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -4.72 pts at Home

So long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are on the field, Jones is nearly a lock for 1,500 yards. This was his fifth straight season with 1,400 or more yards receiving and the third season of the last five where he led the league in Air Yards. Jones and Tyreek Hill will be drafted very close to each other next year.

6. Michael Thomas (253.0 points) – Consistency Rank: Tied-15th

16 games — 125/1405/9 on 147 targets
Great 31% | Good 56% | Bust 25%
Defenses: +2.82 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: 5.92 more pts at Home

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Thomas’ bust rate is partially inflated by a Week 17 Bust, but the consistency is troubling. He started the year hot as the #1 overall WR through the first three weeks, but finished the year with four busts in the last 6 weeks. Thomas’ 125 receptions led all receivers aided by an 85% catch rate which topped all other WRs.

7. Adam Thielen (250.8 points) – Consistency Rank: 8th

16 games — 113/1373/9 on 153 targets
Great 38% | Good 63% | Bust 13%
Defenses: +.07 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.07 pts at Home

Thielen’s season was the tale of two halves. Thielen started out with eight straight games off 100 or more yards receiving. He accumulated 925 yards and 6 TDs through the first half of the season. His production got cut by more than 50% in the second half of the season with 448 yards and 3 TDs. He finished the second half of the season as only the WR28, which was actually worse than Larry Fitzgerald, Mohamed Sanu, and Zay Jones.  With the way Thielen finished, there’s a chance that Stefon Diggs gets drafted ahead of him in 2019.

8. Mike Evans (247.4 points) – Consistency Rank: 11th

16 games — 88/1524/8 on 138 targets
Great 31% | Good 63% | Bust 19%
Defenses: +2.78 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -.33 pts at Home

Strange to see a player that had over 1,500 yards receiving in the back half of the top-10 WRs, but here’s Evans. Evans finished the year with a career high in yards per catch at 17.7 and led all WRs with 100+ targets in average depth of target(aDOT) with 15.7. He has topped 1,000 yards receiving in every season of his career. The situation in Tampa Bay will be one of the more interesting ones to monitor through the offseason with Bruce Arians now the HC, Adam Humphrie and DeSean Jackson’s contracts expiring, and O.J. Howard returning from injury. He has a ceiling well over 10 TDs and he plays in a very competitive division that leads to shootouts making him a top option for next year once again.

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9. JuJu Smith-Schuster (241.4 points) – Consistency Rank: 9th

16 games — 111/1426/7 on 166 targets
Great 19% | Good 63% | Bust 13%
Defenses: -9.26 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: -6.34 pts at Home

YAC-Master Smith-Schuster (led the league with 672 yards after catch) managed to post the longest reception of the year for the second straight season with another 97 yard reception. Whether or not AB returns to Pittsburgh, JuJu is a trusted target for Ben Roethlisberger. He finished with 26 red zone targets and 10 targets inside the 10-yard line. JuJu becomes an elite fantasy WR and could skip over Michael Thomas in drafts if Pittsburgh moves on from AB. Even with AB, JuJu is a top-10 option despite his extreme splits against top-16 defenses and home/road splits.

10. Robert Woods (222.6 points) – Consistency Rank: Tied-12th

16 games — 86/1219/6 on 130 targets, 19/157/1 Rushing
Great 13% | Good 56% | Bust 13%
Defenses:+2.33 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: .18 more pts at Home

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Woods blew away his previous career best year of 65/781/5 on 104 targets this year. This may have been the best fantasy year Woods ever posts for the rest of his career, but he’s going to be the type of WR that will regularly post 76ish receptions for 1,000 yards and 5-6 TDs. Woods will be an awesome value as the second and maybe third WR on fantasy teams next year. He’s not the type of WR that can challenge for the overall WR1, which should drive his price down but we saw that he can be a top-10 option at WR.

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