Why WRs are a Better Investment in Dynasty (Fantasy Football)
If you’re playing in a dynasty league, you likely wonder whether you should be prioritizing investments in WRs or RBs. It is incredibly important to know which players to target, whether it be in the rookie draft, the waiver wire, or through trades. For teams that are rebuilding, it is especially important to know which positions to invest in, as it can make or break your team for multiple years. In this article, I will break down why WRs are a better investment than RBs for dynasty teams.
There is no question that WRs have longer NFL lifespans than RBs–along with this, they are able to play at their highest level for longer spans of time. From Marvin Elequin’s article, The Lifecycle of a Dynasty RB, we find that RBs typically only perform at peak level for a max of three to four years. For WRs, this span is much longer. The graphic below shows how talented receivers are able to stay on top for longer–you’ll notice most top receivers are able to maintain a high target share for extended periods of time, sometimes as long as six years. In addition, most teams have at least two receivers averaging 10-20 fantasy points each season.
Even NFL teams are investing more in the WR position. Going into 2023, the average salary for RBs in the NFL was $1.79 million, while the average salary for WRs sat at $2.28 million. If NFL teams are valuing WRs more, so should fantasy managers. In a previous article, I took a look at player upside using SAM, an expected fantasy points metric. With SAM, we can calculate player upside, a value that falls between -1 and 1 (1 shows very high upside, while -1 shows no upside). On average, TEs and WRs have the highest upside, while RBs and QBs have very low upside. This is because it is easier for pass catchers to outperform their expected points since they receive the ball past the line of scrimmage, giving them a higher chance to generate break-out plays. With higher fantasy upside, pass catchers have much more long-term value than RBs.
WRs have much more room to work with regarding target share. A high-producing WR typically needs at least a 20% target share to work with. On NFL teams, there is typically room for two to three receivers to haul in this share size. From 2014-2023, the highest recorded target share (yearly) was 35% by Deandre Hopkins–for RBs, lead rushers have consistently recorded rush shares higher than 60%, sometimes as high as 90%. There is much less room for success in the backfield, meaning investments in young, developing RBs are incredibly risky.
WRs not only have longer shelf lives but have a higher chance to produce at the highest level and exceed expectations. If you are investing in young talent in your dynasty leagues, target those pass-catchers! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions on Twitter.