The Fantasy Footballers’ Early WR Rankings Part 2 Recap

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Welcome to part two of the Footballers’ early WR rankings, which covers Andy, Mike, and Jason’s consensus rankings for WRs #11 through 20. In case you missed it, check out the first part here or read the recap by Lauren Carpenter to see who made their top-10. Please note that all points and rankings are based on 0.5 PPR, which is the “Ballers’ Preferred” scoring format.

Let’s discuss who the guys have chosen as their #11 to 20 WRs for the 2021 season:

11. Keenan Allen | Chargers

Andy 12 | Jason 14 | Mike 9
2020 stat line: 14 games — 147 targets for 100/992/8 (WR14 Fantasy Finish)

After struggling in his first four years in the league due to a cavalcade of injuries, route-running virtuoso Keenan Allen has now logged his fourth straight season of top-14 fantasy production. He’s been a PPR goldmine during this time span, ranking 2nd in total targets (591) and 3rd in total receptions (403). Last year, surprise breakout QB Justin Herbert had no trouble making an immediate connection with Allen and undoubtedly leaned on him when it mattered most, leading Allen to notch the 5th highest target share (26.8%), 5th most Red Zone receptions (13), and the MOST 3rd down receptions (28) among receivers.

But there are valid concerns pushing Allen out of the prestigious top-10 echelon. Most notably, he was a beneficiary of the awesome Austin Ekeler‘s unawesome injury early in Week 4. Take a look at Allen’s numbers when Ekeler was inactive compared to when he returned in Week 12:

Weeks 4-11 (w/o Ekeler) Weeks 12-15 (with Ekeler)
Targets Per Game 10.6 8.8
Receptions Per Game 8.1 4.8
Yards Per Game 81.4 39.3
Fantasy Points Per Game 16.2 9.8
Fantasy Ranking WR4 WR25

*sad trombone*. He’s also typically not a huge TD guy, although Herbert has already helped him improve on that aspect. While Allen lacks week-winning upside, he’s proven to be a hyper-targeted, stable performer who would be a dependable anchor for any team, especially in PPR leagues. And though Jason has him ranked the lowest, he’d be completely fine with Allen as his first WR.

12. Allen Robinson II | Bears

Andy 11 | Jason 13 | Mike 13
2020 stat line: 16 games — 151 targets for 102/1250/6 (WR12 Fantasy Finish)

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Matt McGloin. Christian Hackenberg. Chad Henne. Blake Bortles. Mitchell Trubisky. Nick Foles. With each passing year, it seems obvious that a young Allen Robinson must have encountered a monkey’s paw and wished to be a premier wide receiver, only to be cursed with mediocre QBs for the rest of his career. As of now, things won’t get much better with Andy Dalton presumably at the helm. But despite poor QB play, Robinson was once again a fantasy stud, boasting back-to-back years as a top-12 WR without missing a game. He was the 3rd most targeted WR in both 2020 (151 targets) & 2019 (154 targets), 4th in routes run, and 3rd in air yards. Robinson also tied with DeVante Parker for the MOST contested catches.

But similar to Keenan Allen, Robinson won’t win you a week all by himself. Last season, he only managed three games where he scored over 20 fantasy points. Also, fun fact from Kyle Borgognoni: Robinson has NEVER been the fantasy WR1 on any given week since the Obama administration. Despite receiving superior target volume, his average depth of target (aDOT) has been seriously declining since his breakout 2015 campaign:

Year aDOT Receptions Yards TDs Fantasy Finish
2014 11.3 48 548 2 WR66
2015 14.9 80 1400 14 WR6
2016 13.2 73 883 6 WR26
2017 INJ
2018 12 55 754 4 WR41
2019 11.1 98 1147 7 WR11
2020 9.6 102 1250 6 WR12

Let’s see if things can improve for the eighth-year vet with yet another new QB on the horizon.

13. Terry McLaurin | Washington

Andy 13 | Jason 15 | Mike 11
2020 stat line: 15 games — 134 targets for 87/1118/4 — 2/30/0 rushing (WR21 Fantasy Finish)

If you’re not excited at the prospect of watching “Scary” Terry McLaurin ball out with gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick in town, then by all means please fade him so someone like myself can draft him instead. Yes, they also signed the ever-versatile Curtis Samuel, but make no mistake, McLaurin is THE head honcho on this resurging team. And like my mother does whenever I visit, Fitzpatrick will force-feed his number one guy past the point of sanity. To be fair, McLaurin was noticeably hampered in the second half of 2020, going from the WR11 in Weeks 1-9 before plummeting to the WR42 in Weeks 10-17. But that inconsistency was likely due to nagging thigh/ankle injuries and an abysmal revolving door of QBs, something Fitzpatrick should alleviate while Washington continues searching for their flagship QB.

14. Amari Cooper | Cowboys

Andy 14 | Jason 11 | Mike 14
2020 stat line: 16 games — 130 targets for 92/1114/5 — 6/14/0 rushing (WR16 Fantasy Finish)

Believe it or not, Amari Cooper is entering his seventh season yet is only 26 years old. The elite wideout has been simply phenomenal with QB Dak Prescott, averaging 8.5 targets and 80 yards per game in their 29 full games together. His production nosedived once Prescott made an early exit due to injury, ranking as the WR7 from Weeks 1-6 to the WR30 in the rest of the season. But with Prescott scheduled to make a full recovery (and getting paid handsomely), Cooper should resume providing top-10 value for fantasy managers. Just keep expectations in check as the field may be crowded with Michael Gallup‘s presence and CeeDee Lamb‘s ascension, not to mention the return of The Hitman’s guy, TE Blake Jarwin.

15. Mike Evans | Buccaneers

Andy 16 | Jason 16 | Mike 15
2020 stat line: 16 games — 109 targets for 70/1006/13 (WR10 Fantasy Finish)

Mr. 1000. That’s right, TD king Mike Evans has amazingly recorded his seventh season with over 1,000 receiving yards, a feat he’s accomplished EVERY season of his illustrious career. He’s been a top-12 WR in five of those years, yet is only 27 years old. In 2020, he saw the LEAST amount of targets in his entire career (109), yet tallied his 3rd most career total fantasy points (213.6). His low target share may be attributed to a crowded receiving room, as he competed for touches with the likes of Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, Rob Gronkowski, and Cameron Brate. His high fantasy numbers were due to an absurdly high TD rate (11.9% TDs per target) as he connected in the end zone often with Tom Brady. While he definitely had a few stinkers, Evans has consistently been a top producer and is always a worthy bet to finish in the top-12, especially after another year with the Plant Man.

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16. Adam Thielen | Vikings

Andy 18 | Jason 12 | Mike 17
2020 stat line: 15 games — 108 targets for 74/925/14 (WR8 Fantasy Finish)

Despite being the oldest man on the list and coming off a lackluster 2019 season hobbled with hamstring injuries, Minnesota’s Adam Thielen was an absolute monster in 2020. He’s previously made his bread and butter through high reception and yardage totals, averaging just 4.2 TDs per season and never quite hitting the double-digits. However, his 14 receiving TDs last year were the 3rd most among WRs, which is an amazing accomplishment for the 30-year-old… but an unfortunate sign of TD regression waiting to happen. Perhaps the emergence of the sensational Justin Jefferson played a huge role, as the normally heavily peppered Thielen became TD dependent for the first time, giving him a weaker consistency ranking (WR18) compared to his supreme fantasy finish (WR8).

17. Chris Godwin | Buccaneers

Andy 15 | Jason 20 | Mike 18
2020 stat line: 12 games — 84 targets for 65/840/7 (WR32 Fantasy Finish)

While most of the Buccaneers’ offense saw improvements with Tom Brady captaining the ship, 2019’s breakout player Chris Godwin certainly did not. Just look at how his stats compared with Jameis Winton versus Brady:

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2019 (w/Winston) 2020 (w/Brady)
Targets Per Game 8.6 7.0
Receptions Per Game 6.1 5.4
Yards Per Game 95.2 70
TDs Per Game 0.6 0.6
Fantasy Points Per Game 16.7 13.2
Fantasy Finish WR2 WR32

Like fellow wideout Mike Evans, Godwin fell victim to a lower target share thanks to a beefed-up offense. He was also bit by the injury bug, sustaining hamstring and finger injuries throughout the season. But unlike Evans, Godwin did not see a boost in his TD rate to compensate for his declining usage. Nevertheless, Godwin was still on a 16-game pace of 87 receptions, 1,120 yards, and 9 TDs, which would’ve improved his 2020 fantasy finish from WR32 to WR12. Andy believes the star receiver might be one of the bigger steals of the draft, although Antonio Brown still looms in the distance. What say you, #Footclan? Comment your thoughts on “Chris Goblin” below!

18. Kenny Golladay | Giants

Andy 19 | Jason 18 | Mike 16
2020 stat line: 5 games — 32 targets for 20/338/2 (WR103 Fantasy Finish)

If you drafted Kenny Golladay last year, you were probably not too happy watching him waste away on your bench for most of the season and may have unfairly placed him in your personal “DO NOT DRAFT” list. But don’t close the book on Kenny G and his smooth routes just yet. Mike is the most bullish on Golladay, comparing him with Allen Robinson‘s last two seasons: both have to deal with subpar QB play, but both are their team’s de facto WR1, and both should see enough volume to produce reliably week-to-week as a WR2. Will Golladay’s presence elevate struggling QB Daniel Jones–à la Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen?

19. D.J. Moore | Panthers

Andy 17 | Jason 19 | Mike 20
2020 stat line: 15 games — 118 targets for 66/1193/4 — 2/22/0 rushing (WR22 Fantasy Finish)

Will Denniston Oliver Moore Jr. finally breakout? The perenially underrated WR surpassed 1,200 all-purpose (AP) yards in the last two seasons, recording the 6th most deep targets and 5th most air yards while doing so. This season, his workload should further increase with Curtis Samuel gone and his 9.2 opportunities and 7.7 targets per game up for grabs. But what’s holding him back is his deficiency at the goal line, as he’s only scored four times in each of the past two seasons. In fact, Moore has just 10 total TD in his entire three-year career but should have closer to 18 based on his yardage. With a larger role ahead of him, can Moore finally figure out a solution to his TD problem? And can he do so with Sam Darnold now leading the charge in Carolina?

20. Robert Woods | Rams

Andy 21 | Jason 21 | Mike 21
2020 stat line: 16 games — 129 targets for 90/936/6 — 24/155/2 — 2 fumbles (WR13 Fantasy Finish)

Somehow, Rams receiver Robert Woods is the crew’s only unanimous ranking, and he’s also the only WR who they’ve ranked outside the top-20. But that’s a befitting way to describe Woods, who has been repeatedly underrated yet managed to squeeze his way into fantasy relevance for the past three years thanks to a reliable 129+ targets each season. Replacing Jared Goff with Matthew Stafford can only help matters for the eighth-year veteran.

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Woods isn’t considered a sexy fantasy option and his low TD numbers don’t help, but he’s developed into a decent WR2 with a safe floor made even sturdier by the occasional usage in the run game, averaging roughly 10 yards per game since 2018. Surprisingly, he stacks up favorably against sexier names like Amari Cooper and Allen Robinson. Comparing their stats over the last three seasons:

Robert Woods Amari Cooper Allen Robinson II
Games Played 47 47 45
Receptions Per Game 5.7 5.2 5.5
Carries Per Game 1.3 0.2 0.1
AP Yards Per Game 79.1 71.2 70.2
TDs 14 20 16
Top-12 Weeks 12 10 11
Top-24 Weeks 24 19 17
Fantasy Points Per Game 13.0 12.2 12.1

As Mike said, “Clear the path, here comes Bobby Bigtime.” Time will tell what time it actually is.

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