Scoring Settings Analysis – WR January 19, 2012  |  gregsauce

By now, dear readers, you have certainly acquainted yourselves with my QB Scoring Settings Analysis piece from last week. This article focuses on wide receivers and the differences in their 2011 rankings depending on how much a reception is worth. Because we are dealing with a new position, we have a new set of constant scoring settings:

• 25 passing yards = 1 point
• Passing TD = 5 points
• Interception = -2 points
• 10 rushing yards = 1 point
• Rushing TD = 6 points
• 10 receiving yards = 1 point
• Receiving TD = 6 points
• Return TD = 6 points
• 2-pt conversion = 2 points
• Fumble lost = -2 points

We’re going to look at what happens to WR scoring when receptions are worth 0 points, 0.5 points, and 1 point. As a bonus, I will take a brief look at how using return yards as a scoring category changes the wide receiver rankings.

The following spreadsheet shows the total and per-game points scored by WRs for each reception point value in 2011.

2011 Fantasy Football Scoring Settings – WR

Some quick notes on navigating the spreadsheet:
1. The first tab amasses all the statistics and then calculates total fantasy points and fantasy points per game, but does not order or rank the players based on these numbers.
2. The second tab ranks the players by fantasy points per game under each possible scoring setup.
3. The third tab ranks the players by total fantasy points under each possible scoring setup.
4. The fourth tab is the same as the second tab, except the players are color-coded for easier identification of trends between scoring setups.

Fantasy Points per Game Trends:
• Calvin Johnson held the top tier all to himself in 2011, ranking first across all formats. Welker finished within 1.5 fantasy points per game of him in PPR leagues, but in No-PPR and 0.5-PPR, Megatron was more that 2 points per game better than the #2 wideout.

• The second tier is well defined, with Welker, Jordy Nelson, and Victor Cruz finishing the season ranked #2 through #4 in some order, regardless of format. The major takeaway here is that Wes Welker is a PPR monster. If your league awards any amount of points for receptions, Tom Brady’s little homeboy becomes a much higher pick. In PPR, the disparity in points per game between #2 Welker and #3 Cruz is more than twice as large as the disparity between #1 Megatron and #2 Welker.

• Big play receivers stand out because they slide down the rankings as the value of receptions increases. These players are more valuable in non-PPR formats because they don’t need a bulk of catches to pile up their yardage and because big plays turn into TDs more often than high-percentage passes. Jordy Nelson is a good example of this at the top of the rankings, coming in at #2 in No-PPR, #3 in 0.5-PPR, and #4 in PPR. Other good examples are Malcolm Floyd (#20 in No-PPR, #26 in PPR), Torrey Smith (#22 in No-PPR, #28 in PPR), and Denarius Moore (#34 in No-PPR, #42 in PPR).

• On the other hand, possession-type receivers slide up the rankings as the value of receptions increases. These players make up for their lack of big-yardage plays by catching everything in sight. The best example of this at the top of the rankings is Roddy White, who comes in at #11 in No-PPR, #7 in 0.5-PPR, and #5 in PPR. Most of the players you’d expect follow this trend – Nicks, Marshall, Bowe, AJ, Wayne – but there are surprising names that fit the bill as well. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jeremy Maclin, and Mike Williams (TB) all profile as possession guys; although, DHB’s reception numbers may be inflated because the other Raider receivers couldn’t stay on the field in 2011.

• Nate Burleson and Titus Young both finished with the same number of fantasy points in non-PPR leagues, tying for #49 in the rankings. Burleson rises in the rankings as receptions gain value, climbing all the way to #39 in PPR. On the other hand, Young drops to #55 in PPR. Considering the variety of receiving weapons Matthew Stafford had at his disposal with these two wideouts plus Calvin Johnson, it’s no surprise that the Lions had one of the best passing attacks this season. If Titus Young can build on his rookie campaign in the offseason, he and Stafford are likely to improve their fantasy production in 2012.

• In my QBs piece, we saw that Matt Ryan was the only passer to finish with the same rank across all formats. Aside from Megatron at #1, this sort occurrence is reproduced here by three wide receivers. Anquan Boldin and Deion Branch finished at #37 and #40, respectively, regardless of the scoring settings on receptions. Meanwhile, A.J. Green was the #16 WR in all formats. That sort of consistency in his first season as a pro has me extremely excited to draft Green next season.

• Each of the Cowboy wide receivers ranks at least slightly worse in PPR than non-PPR. Consider that they are all fighting for the same targets and this makes sense. Miles Austin comes closest to “possession receiver” status, only dropping one spot in the rankings between No-PPR and PPR. Despite finishing as the highest-scoring fantasy receiver on the team, be careful when drafting Laurent Robinson next season. Most of his production came with Miles Austin hurt or coming back from injury and I can’t help but be reminded of Mario Manningham’s over-hyped 2010 season.

• Getting back to the concept of tiers, there isn’t a whole lot of consistency in the rankings between scoring formats after the top 4 receivers. Each type of league really produces a unique valuation of players. Possession guys really shine in PPR and big-play guys rule in No-PPR. With that said, here are ten players to target for non-PPR and PPR leagues next season:

1. Jordy Nelson
2. Julio Jones
3. Malcolm Floyd
4. Torrey Smith
5. Antonio Brown
6. Lance Moore
7. Denarius Moore
8. Titus Young
9. Damian Williams
10. Jacoby Ford

1. Roddy White
2. A.J. Green
3. Brandon Marshall
4. Michael Crabtree
5. Nate Burleson
6. Mike Williams (TB)
7. David Nelson
8. Greg Little
9. Andre Roberts
10. Austin Collie

As a bonus, if you’re in a league that uses kick and punt return yardage as a stat category, you can mine a small amount of extra knowledge from the spreadsheet. On the “Data” tab, the players are ranked for a 0.5-PPR league that also awards 1 point for every 30 return yards. I’ve pasted the generic 0.5-PPR total-points rankings to the right of the data grid and highlighted the players that gain value when using return yardage. Here’s a brief breakdown:

• Percy Harvin only moves up two spots in the rankings, but he moves ahead of a couple guys you may have heard of: Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White. Harvin’s 2011 production was certainly affected by Adrian Peterson’s absence in weeks 11-15, when Percy scored 5 of his 6 receiving TDs. Taking AP’s shredded knee ligaments into account, one could make a good case for ranking Percy ahead of Fitz and Roddy in a league with return yardage next season.

• Antonio Brown makes the most meaningful jump in return yardage leagues, ascending from #22 to #10 in the WR rankings. Receivers are often expected to reach their prime in their third season, so if Brown retains his role returning kicks and punts for the Steelers next season, he could in line for another mini-breakout.

• The remaining receivers worth more in return yardage leagues are the expected host of kick-returners: Dexter McCluster, Josh Cribbs, Devin Hester, Randal Cobb, and Ted Ginn Jr. Cribbs and McCluster both crack the top-40 WRs for a league with 1 point per 30 return yards, but McCluster is no lock to repeat because his 2011 value was inflated by Jamaal Charles hitting the IR in week 2.

• Davone Bess, Preston Parker, and Jacoby Jones all gain some amount of value in return yardage leagues, but your league needs to be pretty deep before you start considering them legitimate fantasy options.

Finally, here is my generic top-40 for WRs in 2012:

1. Calvin Johnson
2. Wes Welker
3. Roddy White
4. Victor Cruz
5. Jordy Nelson
6. Larry Fitzgerald
7. Steve Smith
8. Andre Johnson
9. Greg Jennings
10. Hakeem Nicks
11. Miles Austin
12. Mike Wallace
13. A.J. Green
14. Marques Colston
15. Percy Harvin
16. Julio Jones
17. Vincent Jackson
18. Brandon Marshall
19. Dez Bryant
20. Antonio Brown
21. Dwayne Bowe
22. Stevie Johnson
23. Jeremy Maclin
24. Pierre Garcon
25. DeSean Jackson
26. Kenny Britt
27. Brandon Lloyd
28. Malcolm Floyd
29. Reggie Wayne
30. Demaryius Thomas
31. Titus Young
32. Torrey Smith
33. Denarius Moore
34. Santonio Holmes
35. Lance Moore
36. Sidney Rice
37. Michael Crabtree
38. Anquan Boldin
39. Darrius Heyward-Bey
40. Nate Washington

Stay tuned for the scoring settings analysis piece on running backs. As always, thanks for reading and point all of your food for thought, feedback, and back-talk to me in the comments or on Twitter @gregsauce.

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