My new Pro Football Focus premium stats subscription has allowed me to delve further into several position players whose talent I like and find numbers to back me up. Part of the skill in fantasy football is both identifying talent and also in matching that talent with actual production. The following are three fantasy football wide receivers whose skill sets I like, in addition to some solid underlying statistics. When the eye test and advanced metrics meet, there is the potential for a statistical explosion.
Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins: In the preseason, Hankerson was one of my favorite fantasy football sleepers. Now, I totally did not take Pierre Garcon seriously and believed that he would fail in the X position of Shanahan’s offense. While Hankerson was not overly impressive to the naked eye, he actually ranked 13th in PFF’s WR Rating, coming in one spot ahead of teammate Garcon at 119, beating out not only his teammate but guys like Percy Harvin and Marques Colston. As Santana Moss gets even older, and the Shanahans continue to open up the offense, Hankerson could have a decent 2013.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts: Hilton did begin to get attention at the end of the year as a top 20 wide receiver, but the Colts offense hype train has already died down. With Bruce Arians leaving, there will be serious questions about the direction of the offense in 2013; however, it is very clear that Andrew Luck is an elite quarterback, and the numbers show that Hilton is a seriously talented wide out. His 50% catch rate on targets 20 yards down the field ranks tied for 9th among all wide receivers. That becomes even more impressive when we realize that only 11 of those were judged “catchable” by Pro Football Focus. Hilton’s catch rate of 64% in the slot is similarly impressive for those targeting Hilton as a WR2 next year.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars: Shorts was impressive by any metric as well as the eye test. Many won’t need persuading to draft Shorts as a value in the middle rounds to fill their WR2 slot. However, the great PFF statistics “yards per route ran” puts Shorts in a truly elite tier. His YPRR was sandwiched in between Randall Cobb, A.J Green and Vincent Jackson. All of the receivers ahead of Shorts in this metric will be drafted as a WR1 in 12 team fantasy football leagues, with the exception of Pierre Garcon. Before looking up Shorts’ advanced metrics, I actually wasn’t planning on having Shorts’ on any of my 2013 redraft squads; however, after further analyzing this statistic, he skyrocketed himself into my consideration.