Fantasy  

 

The not-so-obvious world of NFL fantasy football WRs

The sky is blue. The earth is round. You need oxygen to live. Peyton Manning is likely to struggle in a postseason game when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees. Some things are obvious. Unfortunately, the obvious is not always so obvious in the National Football League and fantasy football. In fact, things tend to change often from one season to the next. Sure, your fantasy superstars are almost always going to put up gangbusters totals in the stat sheets (well, unless you're Chris Johnson). However, drafting a fantasy team isn't as simple as looking back at the previous season's stats and making your selections.

Is Dez Bryant a lock to be a superstar again in 2013? Are you sold on Eric Decker as an elite wide receiver? Well, maybe past stats can help us find out what the future holds. Below is a look at the top 10 wide receivers (based on points) in the last six years, and how those players fared the following season. The results and turnover percentage are well, not so obvious.

All of the numbers compiled are based on NFL.com's standard scoring system.


Positional overview: Until 2011-2012, no wide receiver had finished No. 1 based on fantasy points in consecutive seasons in the last seven years. That wideout was Megatron. ... Aside from Calvin Johnson, there hasn't been one receiver to finish in the top five in back-to-back seasons since 2006. No more than four players have finished in the top 10 in consecutive campaigns in that time, either. ... Fitzgerald had been one of the more reliable options, ranking no worse than fifth in three of the four years heading into 2012. He finished 42nd last season. ... White has also been a regular member of the top 10, ranking no worse than 10th in each of the last five years. However, he has slid from No. 3 in 2010 to No. 7 in 2011 and down to No. 10 in 2012. ... Andre Johnson has finished no worse than eighth among wideouts in four of the last five seasons. The one year he failed to hit that mark was 2011, when he missed nine games. ... Three of the top five wideouts (Bryant, Green, Thomas) and five of the top 10 overall wide receivers from last season were in either their second or third NFL campaign.

Breakdown: Of the four major fantasy positions, wide receiver has clearly been the most unpredictable over the last seven seasons. That is glaringly obvious when you look at the percentages - we haven't even seen 50 percent of the top 10 wideouts per season finish at that level the following year during our time frame. With that said, the position is getting younger at the top - like the running back spot. In fact, just two players (Andre Johnson, Roddy White) who finished among the top 10 wideouts based on fantasy points entered last season in their 30s. Furthermore, seven of those 10 players were under 29 (five were 25 or younger). Does this mean that this rampant turnaround could come to an end, or at least slow down, in 2013? It's possible, but it's going to be tough to pass on most of these young studs in an effort to follow the trend.

New faces for 2012: As I mentioned above, the increase in productive young players with monster statistical potential will be tough to ignore at the top of 2013 drafts. As a result, most of the names you're now getting familiar with will be the first names called in your leagues. However, players like Fitzgerald, Jennings, Nicks and Michael Crabtree all have a chance to either emerge or re-emerge into the top 10 for next season. The same holds true of Randall Cobb, who showed flashes of brilliance in 2012 and could be Green Bay's No. 1 wideout if the franchise decides not to keep Jennings.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15