Here are the results from the 25th through 36th ranked WR over the last four seasons:
WR 25 to 36 point totals (2016 – 2019)
WR3: Last year, the 25th thru 36th wide receivers averaged 189.86 fantasy points in full-point PPR leagues or 11.87 fantasy points per week, which works out to be 64 catches for 839 yards and 5.9 TDs. The top four wide receivers in this group averaged 198.0 fantasy points.
FFWC Point Totals WR3 Observations
The quality of the WR3 rebounded last year after a sharp decline in 2017 (169.45) and a slight improvement in 2018 (178.53).
Wide receivers can be inconsistent from week-to-week. Many times touchdowns will determine their success. If a fantasy owner builds his team with too many weak wide receivers, he will have a challenging time getting his lineup right on Sunday. As you can see, as we maneuver our way through the wide receiver pool, they consistently outscore the RB position at the backend.
As I mentioned earlier, if a fantasy owner could draft three top WRs inside the first four rounds, you can see that it is possible to gain a five or six-point edge at the WR3 position if you can hit on the right group of wide receivers. By having three reliable wide receivers, your team may be slightly stronger during bye weeks while also have a chance to battle some short-term injuries. A team selecting a quarterback and tight end over the top five rounds will be under pressure to get their 2nd running backs and backend wide receivers right on draft day.
WR 37 to 48 point totals (2016 – 2019)
WR4 or Flex Player: The 37th thru 48th wide receivers averaged 156.77 fantasy points in full-point PPR leagues or 54 catches, 730 yards, and 4.5 TDs. The 4th wide receivers on the average outscored the 3rd group of running backs. Last year 41 wide receivers averaged more than 10.0 fantasy points per week compared to 36 in 2018.
Our goal at the flex position has to be a lot higher than 10.5 fantasy points if we expect to win our league or compete for an overall title. Some of the failures at the backend of the wide receiver pool was due to injuries.
FFWC Point Totals WR4 Observations
If we add up the average score from each starting roster position, we come up with a total of 144.82 fantasy points per week based on 2019 results. Each Fantasy owner’s goal should be to beat the average score at each position, which means they need to have a player in the mid to upper tier at each spot in their starting lineup.
The wide receiver position runs deeper than the RB position, but wide receivers are so much tougher to manage at the lower tiers. Many fantasy owners use two different philosophies. First is draft one solid RB and then build your team with strength in their wide receiver core plus a solid tight end. They then load up on running back depth. If one or more of their backup running backs gain a full-time job, their team will contend for a title with a healthy season.
The second is to be running back strong in your team building and hopefully hit on the backend wide receivers.
I'll use a baseball comparison as I think it is easier to understand for fantasy owners that play multiple sports. A backup running back is like a closer in waiting. If they get full-time carries, running backs can turn into a top player and sometimes an elite player. They need the opportunity, but backup running backs tend to have minimal value without a job if needed to cover an injury or bye week.
Wide receivers are more like starting pitchers. It's either they have talent, or they don't. Each year a couple of wide receivers will break through, but what are the chances the draft breaks right for you to secure the right ones? If you went running back strong, do you need to hit one or two wide receivers? Maybe you even need three wide receivers to develop a competitive roster.
In the high-end leagues, your opponents will also know the player pool, which will make it tough to get out if you wait too long at the wide receiver position.
The second part is a backup wide receiver can't match an elite wide receiver just because he has an opportunity. If Michael Thomas gets hurt, his replacement won't deliver his production. His targets will be spread out between the other good players within the offense.
A mediocre running back can get a job in a high-powered offense and produce by the sheer volume of touches, which is the main reason why many top fantasy owners will cheat the RB2 position. They avoid the injury risk by selecting one running back early, and they try to gain an edge at four or five other roster positions.
The best team structure for a fantasy owner that pushes the quarterback position back would be balanced after five rounds (two RBs, two WRs, and one TE). This structure will allow a fantasy owner to take advantage of the positions that slide in the draft. Each league will be different, so there isn't a perfect way to draft. You need to understand the player pool, the player flow, and how you want to build your team. The kicker to all of this is that players will get hurt, and many will underperform your expectations.
Another point on another tangent, I know fantasy owners consider some players to have injury risks. Football is so much different than baseball. You can't ignore talent even if you think a player may break down. Brian Westbrook comes to mind when I think of this. I passed on him many times as I thought he was an injury risk, but I also knew he had talent. If he was on the field, he was going to play at a high level. I'm all about avoiding injuries, but I know my crystal ball that works inside my head doesn't translate into real football. If a player has difference-maker talent and he is still in the prime of his career, you have to take the edge when you can, but you must protect your investment.
I would approach the draft this way. It is vital to evaluate your opponents when you're sitting at the draft table. If you are in a league with less talented owners who you feel don't know the inventory as well, drafting an early quarterback can make sense at times.
In these leagues, it is essential to grab edge players when you know a possible stud player at another position will be discounted if the other owners don't understand the player pool.
In the high-stakes market, every fantasy owner will most likely know the player pool. They will also respect the wide receiver position. By knowing your opponents, you may be able to understand your opportunities later in the draft.
In other words, in a live draft on the opening-day weekend of the NFL season, you may want to push up the wide receiver position. In an online draft in late July, when fantasy owners don't understand the player flow, you can gain an edge by selecting the quarterback earlier. As each week passes, drafting information will circulate, and the player pool will tighten up.
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