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The Fantasy Footballers writing staff has started a series better than any series on Netflix and totally worth binge watching. The series is “Path to a WR1”, which highlights WRs currently ranked outside of the Ballers’ consensus Top 15 Wide Receiver PPR rankings, who could possibly finish as a WR1. I also encourage you to read the pilot article, The Path to a WR1 Fantasy Season: Stefon Diggs to get a better understanding exactly the goal we are trying to accomplish.

Let me emphasize this: we are not saying these players will finish as a WR1 but simply laying the foundation (path) by giving you the statistics to back up our arguments that the listed players could finish as a WR1. The path is manufactured with looking at the history of the players on top of projecting the target share, catch rate, receptions, yards, and touchdowns for the 2017 season.

2015-2016 Recap

Most players will only get a 2016 recap but most players played more games than Keenan Allen last year. In fact, Allen’s 27 snaps played last year had him tied for 763rd in the NFL for total snaps played. With his season-ending quickly due to an ACL tear, we’ll have to include 2015 in his recap.

He was on an absolute tear in 2015 until he suffered a lacerated spleen which ended his season in Week 8. Allen had 67 receptions on 89 targets for 725 yards and four touchdowns before getting injured.  He was averaging 8.9 catches for 98.6 yards a game before the injury. That’s a pace for 142 catches and 1,577 yards.  The NFL record for most receptions in a season is 143 done by Marvin Harrison.

With the question marks surrounding Allen and his ability to stay healthy, he’s been pushed down draft boards.  Currently, he is WR14 according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s PPR ADP and even lower in Andy, Mike and Jason’s PPR consensus rankings

Projecting 2017

If Allen has any chance of finishing as a top 12 WR in 2017, he will need to pass the benchmarks below. Since Allen’s last two seasons were not a large enough sample size, many of the numbers I use are based on career averages.

Target Share

Last season, the WR1s in PPR scoring averaged 148 targets.  To be honest, I don’t think Allen will finish in the top six so I didn’t want to include the target numbers from the receivers who finished in the top six. The wide receivers who finished between WR7 – WR12 averaged 138 targets in the 2016 season or 8.6 a game.

Getty Images Sport / Justin Edmonds

Allen in 2015, in games he played, had 25.6 percent of the target share for the Chargers and was on pace for 169 targets.  But I don’t think Philip Rivers will pass as much as he did in 2015, which is why I took the average of Rivers’ pass attempts the last three seasons which came out to 38 pass attempts per game in 2017. If Allen gets his career average of 8.5 targets a game that is 22 percent of the target share for the Chargers which is doable for Allen.

Catch Rate

Allen’s catch rate for his career is 69 percent and projecting that number is very reasonable considering his catch rate in 2015 and 2016 combined was 76 percent. Allen is a great route runner with solid hands and is a very reliable weapon for Rivers. But as I stated before, I think projecting him for his career average in 2017 is more than fair.

Receptions

He has been a solid PPR receiver his entire career due to his catch rate and the total amount of receptions. If Allen gets 8.5 targets a game or 136 on the season with a catch rate of 69 percent, he would finish with 94 catches which would have ranked him tied for seventh in 2016. This would be a career high for Allen but considering he was on pace for 142 in 2015, I don’t think to project him for 94 catches is unreasonable.

Yards

Time to do some simple math. If Allen gets 94 receptions and maintains his 11.8 yards per reception career average in 2017 he would finish with 1,109 yards.  That comes out to about 69 yards per game which would have been tied for 15th best in the NFL in 2016. It would be the second time in his NFL career he has over 1,000 receiving yards but for a guy who was on pace for over 1,500 in 2015, I think this is more than fair.

Touchdowns

The hardest statistic to predict every season is touchdowns. They have the ability to fluctuate the most compared to all the other benchmarks. But the theme has been career average so sticking with Allen’s career touchdown catch rate is exactly what I will do.  Allen’s career touchdown catch rate is 0.07 percent which is below average for a WR1 but when you get as many receptions as he does it balances out. With 94 receptions and a touchdown catch rate of 0.07 percent, he finishes the season with 6.6 touchdowns.  Since scoring half a touchdown is difficult, I rounded up to seven touchdowns for Allen in 2017.

WR1 Possibility: 50% (Coin Flip)

If Allen plays all 16 games and finishes with the 2017 projections above (136 targets, 94 receptions, 1,109 yards, and seven touchdowns), he’ll finish with 247 points in PPR.  That would have been good for WR9 in 2016. The question is and always will be can he play all 16 games which he has never done in his NFL career?

Conclusion

Heads he plays all 16 games and is a WR1, tails he fails to play 16 games and isn’t a WR1. His chances of being a WR1 are definitely there, it’s just a matter of if he is able to stay healthy. For me, on draft day, if I see Allen’s name on my board in the middle of Round 3, I will simply call it in the air. Heads I draft him, tails I don’t.

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