Fantasy Equity Scores: WR2s For (Almost) Free
July 3, 2015 | Chet
This is where equity score analysis gets interesting and potentially hazardous. It’s hardly a lightning rod for controversy to show that Mike Evans could be a top-6 receiver in 2015, or that Golden Tate could be an immense value at his current re-draft asking price.
It’s quite another thing to point to receivers taken in the 11th and 12th rounds and say that they have the upside of pass catchers taken seven or eight rounds earlier. No matter how you feel about the median and high projections of the receivers listed below, remember that these are relatively low-risk fantasy ventures. Only their downside, in many cases, is built into their average draft position.
That’s an important distinction and one that should stop anyone from uttering those sinful words: I’ll never draft that guy.
There’s no compelling reason to take a conservative approach when considering the 2015 prospects of these late-round wideouts. Why go for the guy with a safe floor when we can nab the guy with some sort of pathway to major fantasy upside? No one should approach their entire fantasy draft this way, of course, but fantasy equity scores can help shape our approach to the latter rounds.
Once again, I’ve used Rotoviz’s similarity score app as a baseline for each projection. That splendid little tool, if you’re unfamiliar, “contains the results of what the similar players did after they had a season that was comparable to the subject player.”
While I make adjustments for each player, I’ve found the similarity score app to be more than a little useful in spotting players who are almost universally overrated and underrated in the weeks and months before Opening Day kickoff.
The app’s median and high projections have helped me identify guys whose prospects are on the safe side — whose median and high scores are not so different — and players who have boom-or-bust tattooed on their foreheads.
|Player||Current ADP||Median equity score||High equity score|
|Eric Decker||WR49||22 (WR27)||30 (WR19)|
|Anquan Boldin||WR50||25 (WR25)||32 (WR18)|
|Dorial Green-Beckham||WR51||-7 (WR58)||7 (WR44)|
|Brian Quick||WR52||12 (WR40)||32 (WR20)|
|Cody Latimer||WR53||-8 (WR61)||2 (WR51)|
|Rueben Randle||WR54||18 (WR36)||36 (WR18)|
|Kenny Stills||WR55||10 (WR45)||13 (WR42)|
|Marvin Jones||WR56||1 (WR55)||6 (WR50)|
|Kendall Wright||WR57||18 (WR39)||29 (WR28)|
|Devin Funchess||WR58||12 (WR46)||21 (WR37)|
|Donte Moncrief||WR59||11 (WR48)||34 (WR25)|
|Cordarrelle Patterson||WR60||-10 (WR70)||3 (WR57)|
* The top two names — Eric Decker and Anquan Boldin — jump off the screen. Both wily veterans have a tasty median projection and top-end prospects that could impact the way you approach your draft. If you can snag a WR2 in the late rounds, it could affect your thoughts about how to attack the early and middle rounds of your draft. Boldin is set to be something of a target hog in 2015 after seeing 121 looks in 2014 and 123 targets in 2013. He’s the primary in San Francisco (and could be a real-life target hog). With Colin Kaepernick’s supposedly improved throwing mechanics (I think this is an under-emphasized thing in fantasy circles), why couldn’t he see 140-150 quality looks in 2015? I think it’s interesting that Boldin’s most positive sim score comp is, well, himself in 2013. It was that season that saw Boldin emerge as a top-15 receiver after being drafted as the 33rd wideout off the draft board. That’s solid equity, but nothing like Boldin’s potential value as the 50th receiver taken. He’s 34 years old, he’ll be on a terrible team catching passes from a quarterback with accuracy woes, but I see Boldin as a must-draft at his current price. I wouldn’t hedge unless his ADP moved into the WR30 range. It won’t.
* The argument against Decker, similar to the one against Allen Robinson, goes like this: His quarterback though!!1! Yes, the Jets’ quarterback situation is mostly terrible (though it’s well worth noting that Geno Smith notches 23.6 fantasy points per game in New York wins, tossing 1.4 touchdowns in those contests) but that didn’t stop Decker from posting solid fantasy numbers when he was healthy in 2014. PFF’s Pat Thorman notes that Decker was the game’s 10th highest scoring receiver in games that saw him run a minimum of 25 pass routes. Decker, when his hamstrings were right, was a legit fantasy threat even with Geno at the helm. Now he’s a fantasy afterthought in an offense that could throw quite a bit in Chan Gailey’s spread attack. Decker’s 2015 comps are really encouraging, with a slew of elite seasons among his 10 positive comparables (Michael Crabtree’s 2012 campaign among them). Remove games in which Decker was hobbled by leg injuries and his best-case scenario skyrockets into WR1 range, with sim score comps that include Jordy Nelson in 2014. I can’t pass on Decker at his laughably low re-draft price point.
* Cody Latimer still has no discernible role in Denver’s offense. He’s being drafted as a hope and a prayer that pass catcher injuries force him into a starting role in Peyton’s Perfect Machine.
* Team Big Wide Receiver, of which I am a card carrying member, says Kendall Wright‘s name like a curse word. He’s short, he’s light, he’s sort of slow, but he’s vastly under-priced so far this off-season. Wright will see more than 100 targets if he falls out of bed on Sunday morning. He could see a lot more if the Titans are as bad as they appear to be and are forced to the air. Then again, Tennessee is headed by the worst head coach in modern history, so maybe they’ll just keep it on the ground when they’re down 24 at the half. Wright isn’t a league winning pick, but his median equity score is nice and high and his top-end projection would put him just outside WR2 range. A bunch of successful small wideouts — including Santonio Holmes, Austin Collie, and Reggie Wayne — show up in Wright’s 2015 sim score comps. Remember that the composite traits of an elite small receiver almost always include a top-end quarterback. Probably Wright won’t have that in 2015.
* A healthy Brian Quick could be tremendous for anyone and everyone who burns a 12th or 13th round pick on the big, speedy Rams receiver. Remove the Week 8 game that saw Quick go down in a heap and his high equity score goes from pleasant to eye popping. It’s easy to forget that Quick, after emerging as the Ram’s clear No. 1 receiver, averaged 80.5 yards and 0.75 touchdowns in the first quarter of the 2014 season. Is Nick Foles an upgrade for Quick, a legit deep threat who is reportedly on schedule in his recovery from a serious shoulder injury? Maybe not, but I don’t see him as a downgrade. Foles in 2013 was one of the NFL’s most accurate, efficient downfield passers, tossing 14 touchdowns on 55 throws of 20 yards or more. Quick’s ADP isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. A healthy Quick is the sort of late-round home run we dream about in August.