By Adam Reid (@TheReidOption)
Welcome to Week 10! This past week has certainly had it’s share of unpredictability. Player injuries, record performances and huge surprises all around… it’s never a dull moment in the NFL. With only 5 games left in the standard 14-game fantasy regular season, and likely only a week or two until your league’s trade deadline, now is the time to make moves to improve your team down the stretch. My advice to savvy owners is to try and consolidate depth for studs, such as 2-for-1 trades where you get the single elite player. Knowing who to target and who to avoid can be crucial in this process.
Wide receiver targets can be a leading indicator of a players’ involvement in the passing game. That said, it is a little too easy to simply assume that more targets will automatically result in increased fantasy production. By using ProFootballFocus.com’s Points-Per-Opportunity (PPO) metric and my own Points-Per-Target (PPT) metric, I intend to highlight the best and the worst of five wide receiver tier groupings, and give you a leg-up on the competition. If you are not familiar with PPO, it is calculated by taking a player’s total fantasy points scored, and dividing it by his carries plus his pass routes run, while PPT divides the total fantasy points by the number of times that player has been targeted in the passing game. As an example, last season top-tier wideout Dez Bryant posted 0.32 PPO and 1.57 PPT. By comparison, Wes Welker, who ended up as a solid WR2, had 0.27 PPO and 1.01 PPT. The goal of this analysis is to point out those players who may be over or under performing in their current standing. I’ll be using Boris Chen’s Week 10 Wide Receiver ECR Tier Analysis to create five wide receiver analysis groupings.
Week 10 Tier 1:
If you’ve got anyone listed in the elite tier, you’re starting them with confidence in Week 10, as these six have been on fire and show no signs of slowing. What more can I say about Calvin Johnson (0.43 PPO 1.61 PPT) that hasn’t already been said about a transformer? He’s unstoppable. Wes Welker (0.37 PPO 1.52 PPT) continues to shine as the best draft value to date as part of the potent Broncos offence. The player struggling the most out of this elite grouping is A.J. Green. At 0.32 PPO and 1.17 PPT, he has clearly been preforming admirably as a WR1, but his drops (8) and catch percentage (58%) are the worst of the bunch.
Week 10 Tier 2:
While the target and reception averages remain quite similar to the elite tier, touchdown production is the key difference here, as these players have scored on average 3 TDs less than the Tier-1 crew. Big name players Jordy Nelson (0.37 PPO 1.93 PPT) and DeSean Jackson (0.36 PPO 1.53 PPT) find themselves with a slight downgrade in rank after recent injuries to QBs Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick. This being said, Nelson, Jackson and T.Y. Hilton (0.35 PPO, 1.33 PPT) remain the stand-outs in this grouping in terms of players making the most of their opportunities. Despite having one of the best catch percentages in the league at 78%, Antonio Brown (0.27 PPO, 1.15 PPT) continues to rate among the lowest in this tier in terms of PPO and PPT. That said, consider it a good sign that he and QB Ben Roethlisberger finally hooked up for a TD last week for the first time since Week 3. Pierre Garcon (0.27 PPO, 0.98 PPT) has been turning his mid-season slump around of late, bolstered by a solid 172-yard Week 9 performance and his 3rd TD on the year Thursday night. He will need to continue this production in order to get back in the good graces of this analysis.
Week 10 Tiers 3 & 4:
Alshon Jeffery (0.29 PPO, 1.40 PPT) continues to make strides as the second threat opposite Brandon Marshall in the Trestman Chicago Bears offense that keeps humming along despite bumps in the road. It appears QB Jay Cutler will be back on the field this Sunday, so look for Jeffery to step up against a divisional rival Detroit Lions team that has been generous to wideouts. Denarius Moore (0.30 PPO, 1.37) is another player making the most of his opportunities in this grouping, despite still being unowned in one fifth of NFL.com leagues. Moore has been kept out of the end-zone since Week 6, so he makes a prime buy-low candidate with QB Terrelle Pryor back under center and a juicy match-up against the Giants in store. Anquan Boldin (0.31 PPO, 1.14 PPT), Larry Fitzgerald (0.26 PPO, 1.24 PPT), Terrance Williams (0.25 PPO, 1.59 PPT) and Golden Tate (0.26 PPO, 1.30 PPT) round out the list of players featured in this grouping making the most of their opportunities.
With still only 1 TD on the year, Mike Wallace (0.17 PPO, 0.80 PPT) continues to under-preform within his rank tier. Similarly, Hakeem Nicks (0.17 PPO, 0.81 PPT) and Cecil Shorts (0.21 PPO, 0.74 PPT) have been unable to capitalize on opportunities, though of the two I anticipate Shorts to have the greatest chance to rebound going forward on the news that Justin Blackmon has been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Week 10 Tier 5:
As touched on by Boris Chen, there is a steep ranking drop-off to this tier, and it’s difficult to recommend any of these players as anything more than a WR3/Flex play at best this week. That being said, there are still a few players who stand above the rest as making the most of their chances. Waiver wire darlings of the past two weeks Riley Cooper (0.25 PPO, 1.84 PPT) and Marvin Jones (0.46 PPO, 2.22 PPT) have seen a huge boost to their numbers on the back of monster mid-season performances; owners could do far worse when considering high-upside plays this week. Conversely, injuries sidelined Marques Colston (0.16 PPO, 1.01 PPT) in Week 9, effectively grounding the hopes of owners that he might salvage his terrible fantasy season to date. Michael Floyd (0.18 PPO, 1.02 PPT) and Brian Hartline (0.19 PPO, 1.01 PPT) have been similarly unable to make the most of their targets in standard leagues.
Week 10 Tier 6:
Going deep! There are still a few gems down here in WR4 territory. Fantasy football zombie Eddie Royal (0.31 PPO, 2.11 PPT) has come back from the statistical dead after scoring a touchdown in each of his last two outings. Provided he can overcome his ailing toe, Royal becomes a viable deeper option this week. With defenses focused on stopping Golden Tate, it’s Doug Baldwin (0.25 PPO, 1.43 PPT) who has stepped up and made big plays for the Seahawks. While Baldwin’s numbers are promising, his upside is capped by the imminent return of Percy Harvin. Mike Brown (0.22 PPO, 1.51 PPT) has really been making the most of his targets of late, averaging over 11 fantasy points in standard in his last two outings. On the aforementioned news of Blackmon’s departure, Brown becomes a very intriguing deep option and is well worth a “stash and see”; he could very well ascend to be the new king of garbage time for the Jaguars.
On the other side of things, with news that Nate Burleson should be back soon, owners can safely drop Kris Durham (0.14 PPO, 0.82 PPT) who was unable to step up opposite Megatron. As with Colston, Lance Moore (0.15 PPO 0.87 PPT) has also been too inconsistent to be trusted as a fantasy starter going forward, despite playing in a potent Saints offense.
Keep on the look-out for Friday updates to this article as I continue to track the progress of these players through the season. As always, stay frosty and best of luck in Week 10!
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