Fantasy Football: The TRUTH About WRs in 2017, Part 1

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Every year The Fantasy Footballers take a deep dive into the TRUTH behind fantasy football finishes from the previous year. Which players were actually consistent? Who provided week-winning performances, and who killed fantasy football teams everywhere? All this and more revealed!

Get the full WR breakdown from Andy, Mike, and Jason on the podcast: Part 1 / Part 2

The TRUTH Scoring

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

Great Games are more than 20 points (top 5 on average)
Good Games are more than 12 points (top 24 on average)
Bust Games are fewer than 7 points (outside top 50 on average)

Below are the Top 10 WRs for 2017. For the rest of the pack, see Part 2.

1. DeAndre Hopkins (261.80 points) – Consistency Rank #1

15 games — 96/1378/13 on 175 targets
Great 27% | Good 80% | Bust 0.00%
Defenses: -1.30 against Top 16
Home/Road Split: 2.5 more pts at Home

How DeAndre Hopkins managed to be the most consistent receiver in fantasy with the carousel of subpar quarterbacks in Houston is beyond me. His four “great” weeks were second only to Antonio Brown, certainly a feat on its own. But his incredible combination of 12 “good” games and zero busts truly set Hopkins apart in 2017. The fact that he finished as the top WR in fantasy playing the majority of his games with Tom Savage or T.J. Yates elevates him to superhuman status. 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.

2. Antonio Brown (259.80 points) – Consistency Rank #2

14 games — 101/1533/9 on 162 targets
Great 57% | Good 64% | Bust 21%
Defenses: -3.30 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: 5.0 more pts at Home

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No surprise here, AB is still AB. His incredible 57% “great” game rate was more than double the nearest competitor and accounted for an astonishing eight weeks of over 20 fantasy points. Only a partially torn calf in Pittsburgh’s Week 15 loss to the Patriots kept Brown from finishing the year as the number one fantasy receiver yet again. And as if as a quick reminder, AB torched the Jaguars defense for 132 yards and two TDs on seven catches in the divisional round of the playoffs. Brown’s few dips in consistency can also be tied to his quarterback’s drastic home/road discrepancies, as Brown’s +5.0 point differential at home comes in second on this list. Regardless, he will be an early first round pick again in 2018.

3. Keenan Allen (233.20 points) – Consistency Rank #4

16 games — 102/1393/6 on 159 targets — 2/9/0 rushing
Great 25% | Good 50% | Bust 6%
Defenses: +0.30 pts vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.6 at Home

One of the biggest fantasy surprises of 2017, Keenan Allen finally put together his first 16-game season and boy was it a beauty. Allen’s bust rate was tied for second-lowest on this list, while his rate of “great” weeks was tied for third behind only Hopkins and AB. He posted two of the 12-highest scores at the position in Weeks 11 and 17 and was an absolute monster in fantasy crunch time, averaging 8.3 catches for 114 yards and nabbing five touchdowns over the last seven games of the season. A long-awaited healthy year from Allen cemented him as an elite PPR talent (102 catches was fourth-most in the NFL) and an easy top 10 pick next year.

4. Julio Jones (207.90 points) – Consistency Rank #8

16 games — 88/1444/3 on 149 targets — 1/15/0 rushing
Great 13% | Good 44% | Bust 19%
Defenses: -5.50 pts vs Top16
Home/Road Split: +0.9 at Home

Unfortunately for Julio Jones owners, 2017 was largely a disappointment. His finish as the number four wideout is heavily weighted by a single gargantuan performance in Week 12, when Jones caught 12-for-253 and two TDs en route to 44.8 fantasy points. His Consistency Rank of eighth is more telling, as it captures Jones’ middling total of two “great” games and surprising trio of bust performances. The regression of Matt Ryan and the Falcon’s offense certainly contributed, as did his baffling lack of success in the red zone — a single TD and an awful 27.3% catch rate on 22 targets. Julio remains a premier fantasy receiver and the biggest threat for a “supergame” at the position, but we’ll be hoping for more in 2018.

5. Larry Fitzgerald (206.94 points) – Consistency Rank #13

16 games — 109/1156/6 on 162 targets
Great 25% | Good 38% | Bust 25%
Defenses: +0.90 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +7.5 at Home

Not to be outdone by Tom Brady’s well-aged excellence, Larry Fitzgerald was a fantasy force in 2017 amidst consistent questions of an upcoming retirement. At 34 years old, Fitz finished second in the NFL in receptions despite the loss of Carson Palmer and heavy helpings of Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. Still, Fitz was surprisingly spotty for a PPR-kingpin, as his four “bust” games have him tied for second-most on this list. He was also incredibly volatile on the road, where he scored 7.5 fewer fantasy points per game, the worst differential for away games on this list. If Fitz returns in 2018, his age and the question marks at QB in Arizona will make the veteran a very risky early-round pick.

6. Michael Thomas (206.50 points) – Consistency Rank #6

16 games — 104/1245/5 on 149 targets
Great 6% | Good 50% | Bust 6%
Defenses: -0.60 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -3.2 at Home

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Michael Thomas was the model of a high-floor fantasy asset in 2017. He finished with a strong tally of eight “good” finishes and ended up third in receptions and sixth in yards at the position. Thomas was the only player outside Hopkins and Allen to finish with one or fewer “bust” games, posting only two games with less than five catches and only one of less than 45 receiving yards. He also did all this on a team that ran the ball 444 times, which trailed only two other teams represented on this list — Minnesota and Houston. With New Orleans reining in Drew Brees and transitioning to a running machine, Thomas’ ceiling may be somewhat capped, but he’s still a lock for top 10 status next year.

7. Jarvis Landry (204 points) – Consistency Rank #4

16 games — 112/987/9 on 160 targets
Great 6% | Good 63% | Bust 13%
Defenses: -3.0 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +2.9 at Home

We expected Jarvis Landry’s 112 receptions, highest in the NFL and crucial to his 63% good game rate and fourth-best Consistency Rank. What we didn’t expect was his nine touchdowns, tied for third-most in the league behind only Hopkins and Davante Adams. Landry’s comically low targeted air yards (6.4 in 2017, third-lowest in the league) has always made him a possession receiver with little red zone prowess, but something clicked this year with Jay Cutler at the helm (mostly). While it’s probably wishful thinking to expect a repeat in the touchdown department next season, Landry will be high-end PPR receiver again, regardless of team or quarterback.

8. Tyreek Hill (201.70 points) – Consistency Rank #9

15 games — 75/1183/7 on 105 targets — 17/59/0 rushing
Great 20% | Good 47% | Bust 27%
Defenses: -4.70 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -10.0 at Home

As expected, Tyreek Hill was extremely boom/bust in 2017. His three “great” weeks included the sixth-highest WR score of the year in Week 13 (6/185/2) but were largely offset by a 27% bust rate, second-worst on this list. Surprisingly, Hill’s inconsistency was largely founded in his -10.0 fantasy points per game differential at home, by far the biggest gap in home/road splits on this list. He also had the second largest differential in points versus top 16 defenses, scoring 4.7 fewer points per game against those units. Theoretically, all this made Hill “predictably inconsistent,” but fantasy owners will want a bit more from the game-breaking speedster. He’ll look to take the next step in 2018, possibly with a new face at QB.

9. Marvin Jones (194.60 points) – Consistency Rank #18

16 games — 61/1101/9 on 108 targets
Great 13% | Good 38% | Bust 25%
Defenses: +1.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -1.60 at Home

Marvin Jones snuck his way onto the top 10 largely thanks to a pair of multi-TD games in Weeks 9 and 12. He’s tied for the lowest rate of “good” games on this list (only six) and suffered through four “bust” games as well. In fact, he finished with the worst Consistency Rank in the top 10 by five spots (18th overall). Still, Jones’ nine touchdowns over the course of the season offered plenty of upside for the fifth-year pro and returned pretty excellent value on his draft price. He should be a key weapon for Matthew Stafford next season, but may be the least likely to crack the top 10 again in 2018.

10. Adam Thielen (194.20 points) – Consistency Rank #10

16 games — 91/1276/4 on 143 targets
Great 19% | Good 50% | Bust 31%
Defenses: -0.20 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -0.20 at Home

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One of the best stories of the year, Adam Thielen broke out big in 2017, four years after the Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State University. His 1,276 yards was good for fifth in the league and his connection with Case Keenum helped propel the Vikings into the playoffs. An unfortunate slew of five “bust” games, worst on this list, did keep Thielen from a higher Consistency Rank or fantasy finish. But he was an incredible draft value nonetheless and will be a strong early-round pick in 2018 regardless of who’s under center in Minnesota.

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