Fantasy Football: The TRUTH About WRs in 2017, Part 2

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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 WRs 11 and on. Read about the top 10 WRs in Part 1.

11. A.J. Green (189.30 points) – Consistency Rank #20

16 games — 75/1078/8 on 145 targets
Great 25% | Good 38% | Bust 31%
Defenses: -6.30 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +1.7 at Home

While A.J. Green finished as a top 12 receiver — a WR1 by most accounts — it was a down year for the Bengals’ top cat. Green’s 67.4 yards per game and abysmal 52.4% catch rate were both career lows. His Consistency Rank of 20th highlights the disappearing act Green and the entire Bengals offense frequently performed in 2017 (including five games of less than seven fantasy points). Heck, 18% of Green’s total yards came in a single game against Buffalo in Week 5. Still, his eight TD receptions and four “great” games were enough to keep Green on the short list of 2018 fantasy stars, especially if Cincinnati figures out their offense by next season.

12. Brandin Cooks (188.70 points) – Consistency Rank #23

16 games — 65/1082/7 on 114 targets
Great 13% | Good 44% | Bust 38%
Defenses: -2.20 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +1.9 at Home

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Brandin Cooks has been a bit of a big play or bust receiver since entering the league and his first season with the New England Patriots was no different. Only one receiver in the top 24 had a higher bust rate than Cooks, who fell short of seven fantasy points a whopping six times in 2017. His reception, yardage, and touchdown totals both took a slight downturn in the move to New England. But Cooks still topped 1,000 yards for the third straight year. For 2018, doubting Tom Brady‘s arm is a futile exercise, but doubting the consistency of the Patriots’ gameplan is not. Cooks will likely be exactly this for as long as he remains in Foxborough and possibly beyond.

13. Davante Adams (185.50 points) – Consistency Rank #7

14 games — 74/885/10 on 118 targets
Great 14% | Good 57% | Bust 21%
Defenses: -0.60 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -10.6 at Home

All things considered, Davante Adams is one of the most interesting names on this list. Playing the majority of the season without Aaron Rodgers, Adams clearly leapfrogged Jordy Nelson as the Packers’ No. 1 wideout. His 10 receiving touchdowns trailed only DeAndre Hopkins and he finished 13th overall despite missing two games. More importantly, his Consistency Rank of seventh highlights an extremely strong “good” game rate of 57% (eight of his 14 games played). All of this largely with Brett Hundley chucking the rock. Adams signed a huge $58M extension at the end of the year and will have Rodgers back next season. He has a great chance to match his 2016 finish of WR8 overall — or possibly surpass it — in 2018.

14. Doug Baldwin (183.80 points) – Consistency Rank #10

16 games — 75/991/8 on 117 targets
Great 19% | Good 38% | Bust 19%
Defenses: +0.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.9 at Home

Sometimes maligned as an inconsistent fantasy option, Doug Baldwin seemed to largely quell those complaints in 2017. His Consistency Rank of No. 10 actually outdid his fantasy finish of 14th overall, thanks to a healthy dose of “great” games (three) and a relatively low “bust” rate (also three games). Baldwin was the most reliable and productive receiver for No. 1 fantasy QB Russell Wilson, and fell inches short of a third straight +1,000-yard season. If Seattle can improve its offense as a whole heading into 2018, Baldwin can easily jump back into WR1 territory.

15. Golden Tate – (178.50 points) – Consistency Rank #24

16 games — 92/1003/5 on 122 targets — 5/22/0 rushing
Great 6% | Good 44% | Bust 38%
Defenses: -3.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +0.90 at Home

Not surprisingly, Golden Tate‘s position on this list is largely the product of his 92 receptions, seventh-most in the league. He only had a single “great” game and that performance (7-for-104 and a TD in Week 17), was barely even worth the title. And like Cooks, Tate’s bust rate was surpassed by only one WR in the top 24. Nevertheless, 92 receptions in any sort of PPR-weighted scoring format is going to elevate your fantasy value, and Tate is no exception. He does not have the upside of an Adams or Cooks, but he’ll continue to be a steady source of WR2 numbers in 2018.

16. Robby Anderson (168.50 points) – Consistency Rank #29

16 games — 63/941/7 on 114 targets
Great 6% | Good 38% | Bust 38%
Defenses: -1.40 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +7.9 at Home

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It’s a bit hard to nitpick Robby Anderson‘s No. 29 Consistency Rank, considering his draft day price and the fact he’s sitting here at 16th overall at season’s end. Anderson burst out of a receiving corps we expected to be all-time bad and helped turned Josh McCown into a legitimate QB streamer. He was certainly more reliable at home — posting 7.9 points more per game in MetLife Stadium — and did suffer from a poor “bust” rate of 38%. But he also had more receiving yards than Alshon Jeffery and more touchdowns than Mike Evans. It’s tough to say what we should expect from Anderson in 2018, but his inconsistency does suggest a bit of regression may be in store.

17. Mike Evans (167.60 points) – Consistency Rank #14

15 games — 71/1001/5 on 135 targets
Great 0% | Good 40% | Bust 20%
Defenses: +2.30 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +0.70 at Home

One of the biggest disappointments on this list, Evans plummeted from a top 5 WR option and one of the absolute premier dynasty assets to a middling WR2 in 2017. He posted a career-low in receiving yards and, perhaps worst of all, did not log a single game over 20 fantasy points. Evans also continued his career-long roller coaster of touchdown production, with sequential tallies of 12, 3, 12, and now 5 touchdowns per season. Evans did suffer from the absence of Jameis Winston for several games, but Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot carry all the blame for Evans’ lackluster year. Fortunately, the former seventh-overall pick is a near lock for positive regression in 2018 (we’re guaranteed 12 TDs, right?) and could be a draft-day value.

18. Alshon Jeffery (167.40 points) – Consistency Rank #12

16 games — 57/789/9 on 120 targets
Great 6% | Good 44% | Bust 25%
Defenses: +0.80 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.2 at Home

In his first year as an Eagle, Alshon Jeffery will be playing in the Super Bowl with a backup quarterback who’s still better than anything he had in Chicago. That said, Jeffery was not as necessary in Philly as he often was as a Bear, and his 3.6 receptions per game — lowest by far since his rookie season — was evidence of that. Fortunately, the superiority of the Eagles offense helped funnel nine touchdowns into Jeffery’s hands, good enough to produce seven “good” games and a WR2 finish despite the lowest reception total in the top 24. Jeffery’s Consistency Rank of 12th bodes well for his chance at another strong season in 2018.

19. Stefon Diggs (166.20 points) – Consistency Rank #16

14 games — 64/849/8 on 95 targets
Great 14% | Good 50% | Bust 36%
Defenses: -4.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +9.4 at Home

Yet again, Stefon Diggs was thwarted by injury in 2017. He came out of the gate on fire — posting 24.2 and 33.3 fantasy points in Weeks 1 and 3 respectively — then suffered a groin injury in Week 5 that largely hampered his production for the rest of the season. Still, Diggs posted a strong 50% “good” game rate and, of course, will forever be remembered for the Minneapolis Miracle in the Vikings’ Divisional round win over the Saints. If he can put together a fully healthy, 16-game campaign, Diggs has easy WR1 potential. But his current track record makes that proposition look a bit wishful.

20. Demaryius Thomas (164.40 points) – Consistency Rank #17

16 games — 83/949/5 on 141 targets
Great 0% | Good 44% | Bust 25%
Defenses: -3.60 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +3.9 at Home

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Once upon a time, Demaryius Thomas was Peyton Manning‘s go-to receiver and an elite commodity in fantasy. Now, he has suffered through his second season of the Osweiler-Siemian-Lynch merry-go-round and fallen short of WR1 status yet again. Thomas’ “good” game and “bust” rates were both respectable, but the lack of “great” games shines a spotlight on the absence of upside in Denver these days. His 141 targets were good for 10th in the league, so if the Broncos can find themselves an answer under center, Thomas certainly has the opportunity to rebound. Until then, he’s sadly been reduced to a low-end WR2.

21. Devin Funchess (163.50 points) – Consistency Rank #27

16 games — 63/840/8 on 113 targets
Great 13% | Good 38% | Bust 38%
Defenses: +4.30 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -1.6 at Home

Like Robby Anderson, Devin Funchess was another surprise star to crack the top 24 WR list. He leeched off the absence of Greg Olsen and ineffectiveness of Curtis Samuel to lead the Panthers in receiving yards and TDs, finishing second in receptions to Christian McCaffrey. Funchess even performed well enough to get Kelvin Benjamin traded to the Bills mid-season. Unfortunately, Funchess’ 38% “bust” rate severely damaged his Consistency Rank and the design of the Carolina offense is not likely to fix that problem anytime soon. Funchess, like Benjamin before him, will be a largely TD-dependent WR2 at best and could be less given a healthier receiving corps in 2018.

22. JuJu Smith-Schuster (162.70 points) – Consistency Rank #22

14 games — 58/917/7 on 80 targets
Great 14% | Good 43% | Bust 36%
Defenses: -4.70 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -1.3 at Home

A true rookie phenom, JuJu Smith-Schuster was a joy to watch in 2017, bringing all kinds of personality on and off the field. More importantly, he was highly productive, posting 65.5 yards per game and seven touchdowns on an offense dominated by Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. He managed a respectable 43% “good” game rate and, believe it or not, posted the highest DVOA (a measure of a player’s value per play compared to his peers) of any WR in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders. Depending on what happens with the Pittsburgh offense in the offseason, Smith-Schuster could be a strong fantasy force for many years.

23. Nelson Agholor (162.50 points) – Consistency Rank #24

16 games — 62/768/8 on 95 targets
Great 6% | Good 44% | Bust 38%
Defenses: +4.10 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.8 at Home

Nelson Agholor received all kinds of flak over his first two seasons, which were marked by a poor catch rate (52.2%) and overall underperformance through the lens of his first-round draft pedigree. In 2017, he broke out in a big way, catching eight touchdowns, rocketing his catch rate up to 65.3%, and finishing as a WR2 in fantasy. Granted, Agholor’s “bust” rate was higher than all but one wideout on this list (hint, he’s coming up soon). But he showed high-end big-play ability and a knack for finding the end zone and squeezed into the top 24 despite being the second-best WR on his own team.

24. Dez Bryant – (151.90 points) – Consistency Rank #32

16 games — 69/838/6 on 133 targets
Great 0% | Good 38% | Bust 44%
Defenses: -2.0 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -0.90 at Home

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If Evans was only “one of” the biggest disappointments on this list, it’s because Dez Bryant was the biggest. Formerly a touchdown-machine and WR1 lock, Bryant’s 2017 was rocky at best. He caught only six touchdowns, posted a depressing 51.9% catch rate, and busted in a list-leading seven games. Bryant did not have a single “great” game, and his Consistency Rank of 32nd belies the true frustration of his season. Rumors are swirling that Bryant may not be a Cowboy next season, so we’ll have to wait and see whether a return to fantasy stardom is in the cards for the 29-year-old.


26. Cooper Kupp (145.90 points) – Consistency Rank #28

15 games — 62/869/5 on 95 targets
Great 7% | Good 40% | Bust 40%
Defenses: -2.60 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +0.30 at Home

Challenging Juju Smith-Schuster for top rookie receiver was Cooper Kupp of the LA Rams. Kupp posted a 40% good game rate in his first season in the NFL and played a large part in Jared Goff‘s massive bounce-back year. Perhaps most impressive of all, Kupp was a huge red zone weapon, tying for second in red zone targets among WRs, third in receptions, and fifth in TDs — as a rookie. We can almost guarantee continued improvement for Kupp, Goff, and the Rams under Sean McVay, so the young receiver’s 2018 and beyond hold great potential.

32. Robert Woods (135.30 points) – Consistency Rank #21

12 games — 56/781/5 on 85 targets
Great 17% | Good 42% | Bust 33%
Defenses: -7.90 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -2.7 at Home

Speaking of Rams wideouts, how about Robert Woods? The veteran receiver suffered a shoulder injury well into the season and missed four games total, but his first year in Los Angeles was an absolute revelation. Woods’ 16-game projections would have been 75/1,041/7 — good enough for top 15 status. His Week 10 total of 33.1 fantasy points was the eighth-highest on the year from the position and his 42% “good” game rate was plenty respectable as well, earning him the No. 21 Consistency Rank.

83. Odell Beckham Jr (61.50 points) – Consistency Rank #3

4 games — 25/302/3 on 41 targets
Great 25% | Good 75% | Bust 25%
Defenses: +4.80 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -6.2 at Home

Among the biggest fantasy losses of the year was Odell Beckham Jr., whose fractured ankle in Week 5 derailed another elite season before it could even take off. A Consistency Rank of No. 3, while based on a extremely small sample size, is indicative of exactly what OBJ has been and will be again — one of the most consistently excellent receivers in the game. Beckham should return healthy in 2018, and while the Giants are likely to draft Eli Manning‘s successor in the upcoming draft, most expect at least one more year of Manning under center. Without question, OBJ will slot right back into the top 5 at the position in next year’s fantasy drafts.

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43. Sterling Shepard (115 points) – Consistency Rank #26

11 games — 59/731/2 on 84 targets
Great 18% | Good 27% | Bust 27%
Defenses: -8.90 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: -3.8 at Home

In OBJ’s stead, second-year wideout Sterling Shepard stepped up fairly well. Shepard also dealt with injuries — only playing in 11 games — but racked up 59 catches for 731 yards in that reduced sample. Projected over a full season, that line would have been 86 for 1,063, strong numbers in any version of PPR scoring. The touchdowns weren’t there for Shepard, but he was a consistent producer on a high target volume and showed enough in 2017 to warrant a long look in fantasy, even with OBJ back next season.

60. Chris Hogan – Consistency Rank #19

9 games — 34/439/5 on 59 targets
Great 11% | Good 44% | Bust 33%
Defenses: -3.0 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +2.0 at Home

Following a breakout season in the Patriots’ 2016 Super Bowl campaign, Chris Hogan was on a tear in 2017 before suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for seven games. Through the first eight weeks, Hogan had racked up 33 catches for 438 yards and, most notably, five touchdowns. He was a clear favorite of Tom Brady’s near the goal-line and would’ve have finished with the second-most receiving scores in the league at that pace. A 44% “good” game rate and a two-TD game in Week 3 were good enough to earn Hogan the No. 19 Consistency Rank at the position. That said, Hogan will be hard to draft early in 2018 considering the limited sample size and wealth of weapons in New England.

99. Josh Gordon – Consistency Rank #14

5 games — 18/335/1 on 43 targets
Great 0% | Good 40% | Bust 20%
Defenses: -7.50 vs Top 16
Home/Road Split: +4.1 at Home

The prodigal wide receiver returned in 2017, amid much fanfare, and did not disappoint. Josh Gordon climbed to the No. 14 Consistency Rank in his five games this season, setting a pace for more than 135 targets and 1,000 receiving yards — with DeShone Kizer at quarterback. Odds are, the Browns are going to draft and/or sign QB help before the 2018 season. If either are a minor upgrade over Kizer, Gordon’s elite talent combined with a proper offseason of NFL preparation and practice could return the embattled star to WR1 status very soon.

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