If you’re reading this article, I’m (almost) sure that you went through the painful reading experience (might be a slight exaggeration of my part!) that was ‘The Volume Chronicles – Running Backs’. If so, kudos! Thank you so much for keeping up with me and to keep following our content.
Moving on from the editorial jibber jabber, this article will talk about Volume and why that’s relevant for Receivers in Fantasy Football.
I might sound repetitive here, but I’ll quote a wise man, known as Matthew Berry – who once said:
“At a fundamental level, fantasy football is entirely about minimizing risk and giving yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis.” – The Draft Day Manifesto: Why a weekly focus is key to fantasy football success – August 1st, 2018.
Well, if the man said it, who I am to disagree? You need to minimize risk in order to give yourself the best odds to win weekly – and what’s a better indicator to predict production than volume?
We know by now that volume is key for Fantasy Football players (athletes, for instance) to perform. Heck, even kickers need some sort of volume to split the uprights consistently!
Enough said, let’s start crunching numbers!
For Receiving purposes, we will only consider targets and receptions as relevant stats in order to prove (or not) a base of player’s playing volume. Of course, other derivative indexes may come by, but they will surely be related to targets and receptions.
As we’ve said in the ‘Running Back’ volume chronicles; football is a pass-heavy game today, and obviously, that provides higher ceilings and projections for everybody involved in the passing game. We’ll start with the WRs – more specifically, the targets per game (tgt/gm for short) leaders:
Since most of the Fantasy Football leagues start two WRs, I went through the Top 24 tgt/gm Leaders.
Among the Top 12 PPR Points Leaders, nine of them are part of the tgt/gm elite – the exceptions are 9th placed Tyreek Hill (a big-play monster) and 11th placed Marvin Jones (the TD wizard in Detroit).
For other twelve players, it’s an even split – six of them were tgt/gm leaders, and the other ones were not (though not too far off: all of them had at least 5.5 tgt/gm): Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Stefon Diggs are among the intruders. Devin Funchess and Nelson Agholor also broke the list.
Any noticeable trends in the so-called “intruders”? Aside from Funchess and Agholor, all of them are big playmakers and subject to big leaps of sudden production.
Time to go for the Tight Ends now, shall we?
Since it’s usual to start one TE per squad, we will take the Top 12 tgt/gm players for the sake of comparison.
The 7 best TEs in PPR were among the tgt/gm leaders. For the last 5, only Jason Witten was at the best in tgt/gm data – Kyle Rudolph, Cameron Brate, Ben Watson and Jared Cook were the “intruders”.
Of the four intruders, only Cook scored fewer than 4 TDs in the 2017 season – Rudolph scored 8, Brate 6 and Watson 4 times. Cook had a good amount of yards though (from a TE perspective), amassing 688 yards in 2017.
Still not convinced? Let’s go for Wide Receivers and Tight Ends together – but let’s add a little twist to it: instead of comparing tgt/gm to total PPR points – we will compare the results with the PPR points per game leaders!
Here we have the Top 24 Receivers in the tgt/gm category. Now, as far as the first 18 best PPR pts/gm players, only three of them are not among the tgt/gm leaders – once again, Hill, Jones, and Diggs broke in!
Fun Fact: Tyreek Hill breaks the Top 10 PPR pts/gm by a mere 0.18 Point/Game over Julio Jones. Tyreek Hill is the 10th best.
Disclaimer: these are not the same Charts shown in the Running Backs article! Even though they look very similar, they bring completely different stats – although all of them are closely related with volume.
Well, just a quick mea culpa here – when the following charts were made, the running backs were still included. Therefore, you’ll be able to see some scattered points that run away from normality (such as Le’Veon Bell, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, and others), but that won’t bother us that much!
The Chart below correlates Receptions Per Game (rec/gm for short) and PPR Points per Game (PPRPts/Gm for short).
It’s pretty remarkable that most of the players (the dots) are allocated in the projected line neighborhood – aside from the aforementioned deviants and some other curious appearances, for exemple:
- Chris Hogan – 12.22 PPRpts/gm – 34 receptions and 5 TDs, good for more than a touchdown every seven receptions:
- Will Fuller – 11.5 PPRpts/gm – 28 receptions and 7 TDs, with an absurd 25% TD rate
- Kenny Stills – 10.94 PPRpts/gm – 58 receptions for 847 yards and 6 TDs
- Jimmy Graham – 10.81 PPRpts/gm – 57 receptions and 10 TDs, good for a TD every 5.7 times he received a pass.
As we have seen from the Running Backs article, there will always be some sort of “intruders” in the mix – but of course, we will not treat the exceptions as rules, as it would not make much sense.
Specifically for this graph, the correlation is pretty much obvious: the more receptions a player has, the more he will have points in PPR (for a point each reception). Obviously, other factors are present as far as points are concerned, such as yards and touchdowns – but I think you got the idea.
Seven of the Top 10 ranked players in the rec/gm category are among the Top 10 PPRpts/gm rank. The outsiders are:
- Rob Gronkowski – 16.21 PPRpts/gm – 14 games, 69 Receptions (7.5/gm), 1084 Yards and 8 Touchdowns – 227 PPR Points
- Davante Adams – 16.07 PPRpts/gm – 14 games, 74 receptions (8.4/gm), 885 Yards and 10 Touchdowns – 225 PPR Points;
- Tyreek Hill – 16.07 PPRpts/gm – 15 games, 75 receptions (7/gm), 1184 Yards and 7 Touchdowns – 239 PPR Points.
In this case, there is not a clear trend among these three, except that they had good amounts of points either from yard totals (Gronk and Hill) or Touchdown totals (Adams). Either way, they got good rates for rec/gm too, so there is not such a big surprise.
This is a little more interesting, considering we correlated not targets/game, but the Adjusted Target Share (ATS) with PPRpts/gm. ATS = the rate of targets a player had within the total of passes thrown when he played.
From the Graph, you will only be able to see two points above the 30% rate – Odell Beckham Jr. and DeAndre Hopkins respectively. Both of them are among the Top 3 best PPRpts/gm Receivers, losing only to the incredible Antonio Brown.
Of all of the players (29) who had an ATS above 20% of the entirety of Team’s Targets when they played, only 12 were not among the Top 24 Leaders in PPRpts/gm.
For the Top 12 players in PPRPts/Gm, only Rob Gronkowski did not have at least 20% – he had 19.3%…
Conclusions and Guys to Watch
I feel like a clear statement can be made, not only for this article – but for this series in general. The more volume a player is exposed to, the more he will have chances to produce.
This is particularly evident when it comes to receiving aspects!
When it comes to selecting WRs and TEs in your Drafts and even on the Waivers, ALWAYS look for guys that are or might be exposed to significant playing volume in his team.
I.E.: though it might look sexier to pick a high upside player who only gets around 3 tgts/gm – it is way safer to pick a guy who is exposed to significant target shares.
I know it is great to be a positive thinker, but let’s face it: Ted Ginn Jr. will not always catch a dime from Drew Brees to go home for a 75-yard touchdown. Instead, go for the Matthew Berry tip: “minimize risk and give yourself the best odds to win on a weekly basis”.
To close this thing out, I’ll give you some suggestions of guys who I expect to have at least a good shot for significant volume exposure on their teams – some of them are pretty obvious, while others not so much. Hopefully, these suggestions might produce in your squads!
- Amari Cooper;
- Chris Hogan;
- Allen Robinson;
- Corey Davis;
- Jamison Crowder;
- Nelson Agholor;
- Allen Hurns;
- Keelan Cole;
- Trey Burton;
- David Njoku;
- George Kittle;
- Austin Hooper;
- Ricky Seals-Jones;
- Charles Clay.
I want to thank you so much for having the patience to put up with my ideas and writing. I sincerely hope that this article (along with the Running Backs edition and also all of the other Across the Fantasy Pond content) help you win your Fantasy Football titles and, even more importantly, bring you even more fun and knowledge about this game we love!
by Gabriel Cabistani – @GTCabistani