By Adam Reid
Welcome to Week 7! This week we continue our series on the analysis of wide receiver targets and opportunities as they pertain to fantasy point production. In the NFL, the value of a wide receiver is often measured by his weekly targets; you’ll often hear people cite targets and receptions as one of the key wide-out metrics. However, it’s a little too easy to simply assume that more targets automatically results in more fantasy production. I’ll be using ProFootballFocus.com’s Points-Per-Opportunity (PPO) metric and my own Points-Per-Target (PPT) metric to highlight the best and the worst of four wide receiver tier groupings.
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 1.57 PPT and 0.32 PPO. By comparison, Wes Welker, who ended up as a solid WR2, had 1.01 PPT and 0.27 PPO. The goal of this analysis is to point out those players who may be over or under performing in their current standing. This week I’ll be using Boris Chen’s Wide Receiver ECR Tier Analysis to create four wide receiver analysis groupings.
Week 7 Tier 1:
It has taken 6 weeks, but the performance of DeSean Jackson in the Chip Kelly offence has propelled him from a low-end WR2 on draft day to one of the 5 elite options in Week 7. Nick Foles has kept the Philly offence humming along and has filled in admirably for the ailing Michael Vick. Look for Jackson to post solid numbers as he continues to tear through the porous secondaries of the NFC-least. A.J. Green currently leads the league with 66 targets, but has been the biggest underachiever in this elite tier. Look for Green to improve on his 1.06 PPT and 0.3 PPO against the Lions on Sunday.
Week 7 Tier 2:
As I highlighted in last week’s article, Justin Blackmon and Josh Gordon have been on absolute fire since coming back from suspension, and now both find themselves firmly in the WR1 discussion. Blackmon leads this tier with a whopping 0.49 PPO and Gordon has been generating 1.39 fantasy points per target, good for 3rd best in this tier. With Randall Cobb now out until week 15 and James Jones still questionable for Sunday look for Jordy Nelson to step up in a big way. Bolstered by what are already some of the best numbers in this tier, I fully expect Jordy to improve on his 1.86 PPT and 0.35 PPO as a featured pass catcher for Aaron Rodgers. Pierre Garcon now finds himself in elite company as the 12th overall ranked wide receiver for Week 7; however he’ll need to improve on his tier-worst 0.98 PPT and 0.26 PPO if he plans on staying at the WR1 level.
Week 7 Tier 3 & 4:
At 1.25 PPT and 0.27 PPO, Week 7 WR#27 Rueben Randle finds himself among the top of the pack in this grouping after finally finding the end-zone three times in the last 2 games. As Nicks continues to slip down the rankings board, look for Randle to continue to rebound from his slow start to the season; favourable upcoming match-ups against the Vikings and Eagles should help his cause. Alshon Jeffery had a disappointing outing in Week 6, posting only 4.2 fantasy points after consecutive 20-point outings in the previous 2 weeks. However, Alshon is still among the best in this tier at 1.34 PPT and 0.28 PPO and owners should look forward to what will likely be big games against Washington and Green Bay in the near future. The player in the grouping who is making the most of his targets continues to be James Jones at a very nice 1.72 PPT. Provided he is ready for action on Sunday, look for him to step up with Jordy to fill the void left by Cobb. Lastly, I’ve been singing the praises of Keenan Allen (1.53 PPT, 0.26 PPO) for some time. With another 100+ yard 1 TD performance on Monday Night Football, Allen is quietly emerging as the potential break-out rookie of the year. Remarkably he is still only owned in 42% of NFL.com leagues, so if you’re reading this, stop what you’re doing and check to see if Allen is on your waiver wire! (Then please come back… I’m not done just yet). Conversely, at a dismal 0.59 PPT and 0.07 PPO few wide receivers have been as big a disappointment to owners as Roddy White. Given that Julio Jones is out for the season, White is in the position to be the #1 receiver in Atlanta. Alas, he has simply not been able to stay healthy and is once again in jeopardy of missing Week 7. Mike Wallace (0.79 PPT, 0.17 PPO), Steve L. Smith (0.88 PPT, 0.22 PPO) and Hakeem Nicks (1.03 PPT, 0.19 PPO) round out this tier with below average numbers. Look for their values to continue to fall unless they can turn things around.
Week 7 Tier 5 & 6:
The stand-out player on this list for me continues to be the rookie Terrance Williams in Dallas. With a 2.01 PPT and 0.28 PPO, he has done a fine job of stepping in to the second receiver role opposite Dez Bryant. With the oft-injured Miles Austin returning to play the future is a little cloudy for Williams, but given his performance these past few weeks it is no small stretch to see him becoming a feature player in the Cowboy’s offense if Austin regresses. All eyes will be on Josh Freeman on Monday night as he makes his starting debut for the Vikings. The biggest beneficiary here is likely Greg Jennings, who should see an increase to his already tier-leading 1.35 PPT and 0.23 PPO numbers against the lowly New York Football Giants. Harry Douglas will likely be the starting receiver for the Falcons on Sunday, but owners need to temper expectations a little – he’s no Julio. With White limited all season, Douglas has still only managed to post a dismal 0.12 PPO and 219 yards on 25 targets. Vincent Brown (0.88 PPT, 0.13 PPO), Aaron Dobson (0.75 PPT, 0.18PPO) and Emmanuel Sanders (0.83 PPT, 0.17 PPO) headline the list of players in this tier who have simply been unable to make the most of their opportunities. Of these three, I like Dobson’s rebound chances the best with Danny Amendola seemingly destined to spend most of his time as a new Patriot on the side line.
Keep on the look-out for weekly 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 7!