I started my look into the impact a quarterback has on all skill positions last week. Now, this article breaks down the distribution of fantasy production for the top-3 wide receivers on each NFL team in terms of fantasy points per game over the last four seasons. Given the findings of the previous article, I started the research for this study expecting a significant difference between the No.1 receiver with a top quarterback versus that of a weaker signal-caller in the NFL. In addition, I was looking to solve the long-asked question in fantasy football: Is the No.2 receiver from a top passing offense a better fantasy option than the No.1 target for a weak passing attack? For this study, I have included all 32 teams from the past four seasons. The scoring for the quarterbacks is 6 points/TD, -2 points/INT, 0.05 points/passing yard, and PPR scoring for the receivers.
Here are the average figures since 2008:
|PPG||Avg RK||PPG||Avg RK||PPG||Avg RK|
The quarterback impact for No. 1 receivers is pretty staggering. There is a 32% drop in production between the top and bottom tier in terms of quarterback play. The average No. 1 receiver with a top quarterback is a back-end WR1 in fantasy terms, while the top target on a weak passing team would be fortunate to be a WR3. Another interesting value comparison is the question posed in the introduction: the No. 2 receiver for a top offense or the No. 1 receiver from a weak passing attack. The average No. 2 with a top-8 quarterback is a solid WR3 in fantasy terms, while the No. 1 with a bottom-tier quarterback is 1.4 PPG lower and ranks 10 spots lower at the position. What this shows as well is the average value of No. 2 receivers. Outside of the top-8 quarterbacks, the No. 2 receivers are under 10 PPG and likely to be a bye week type play on average, even in start-3 receiver formats.
Another way to look at the general metrics is by the probability to finish as a top-10 or top-20 receiver. I lowered the bar for No. 3 receiver to top-36 fantasy status as no No. 3 target has ever finished in the top-20. Here is the breakdown:
This analysis exacerbates the difference between the quarterback tiers. No. 1 Receivers from the top group were far more likely to finish as a top-10 and top-20 option. If a No. 1 option has a top-8 quarterback, they are top-20 fantasy PPG options 5-out-of-6 times on average. Outside of the top-8 quarterbacks, the chances of landing a top-10 or top-20 receiver as the No. 2 option on their NFL team are pretty slim. No. 3 receivers have a tough time cracking the top-36 at the position regardless of their quarterback. Even No. 3 targets with elite quarterbacks are a 1-in-8 proposition from the last four seasons.
The general concern when looking solely at the above data is: the top quarterbacks probably throw the ball a lot more, so their receivers will naturally score more points. With that said, I looked that the target/game data for the same receivers and their respective FP/target to gauge their volume and efficiency.
The difference in usage is not a steep drop-off. No. 1 receivers with a top-24 quarterbacks are between 7.6 and 8.1 TGT/G on average – a difference of just 8 targets over a full season. The efficiency falls off at a greater rate than the volume when looking at the different tiers. The TGT/G rates falls from the top-tier at a rate of 4% for No. 1 receivers, while their FP/TGT falls 8% on average. The difference for No. 1 receivers in FP/TGT from the top-tier to the bottom is a full 20%. The difference in TGT/G for No. 2 and No. 3 receivers with QB9-32 is very small compared to their efficiency.
Here are some of the team highlights from this study as well as a full team-by-team section of notes and trends:
The 2008 Raiders had the worst receiving group in fantasy over the past four seasons. Their top-3 receivers in terms of PPG ranked 88, 93, and 102 respectively. They combined for just 10 TGT/G and their combined 1.46 FP/TGT is among the worst of this study. Strangely, the their target figures are in reverse order of their usage, meaning the quarterback actually targeted the least efficient receivers the most.
Honorable mentions for the worst receiver group include: 2010 Raiders (WR70, 84, 111), 2010 Panthers (WR72, 83, 86), and the 2009 and 2010 Cleveland Browns (WR76, 96, 100 in ’09 and WR87, 102, 110 in ’10). Not surprisingly, all three of these teams have made big quarterback moves since the above seasons.
The best overall receiving group in the past four seasons is the 2011 Cowboys. While the No. 1 receiver finished as WR16, the NO. 2 (WR20), and No. 3 (WR22) were not far behind. Dez Bryant was the No. 3 receiver based on PPG, yet he was a solid WR2 in fantasy.
Here is a quick snapshot of each team over the past four seasons in this study:
|ARI||08-’09 with Warner, both top-12. QB20, QB31 since. $7 million bonus to Kolb so he can compete with John Skelton for starting job. Top tier of cumulative WR1/2/3 TGTs (20+) each of the last four years.|
|ATL||On the rise: QB21, 13, 11, 8 in the last 4 seasons. Can Ryan get to the top-5? Julio jones’ 6.2 TGT/G in 2011 marks the highest usage for No. 2 in last four seasons.|
|BAL||QB16-QB23 each of the last 4 years, yet Flacco wants big money contract. WR3 getting 2.7 TGT/G in 2011 is one of the lowest marks since 2008.|
|BUF||Just one finish inside the top-20 (15th in 2011) since 2008. All 3 WRs over 5.5 TGT/G in the past two seasons – that is hard to find.|
|CAR||After QB26-32 finishes in ’08-’10, Newton vaults to QB5 as a rookie.|
|CHI||QB14-26 each of the last 4 seasons. Just 4.6 and 4.0 TGT/G from top-2 WRs in 2011. No wonder Marshall and Jeffery are coming to town.|
|CIN||QB18-20 each of the last 3 seasons. Dalton didn’t move the needle as a rookie from the late Carson Palmer years.|
|CLE||QB27+ each of the last 4 seasons. Believe it or not, their WR2 finishing as WR70 in PPG in 2011 marks a drastic improvement from previous 3 seasons.|
|DAL||Top-10 QB ranking all 4 seasons, high water mark of QB6 in 2011. 2011 WR1/2/3 marks only trio to all finish in top-22 in PPG.|
|DEN||Jekyll and Hyde production at QB: 5th, 17th, 4th, and 13th since 2008. Peyton Manning, if healthy, stabilizes position in the short-term.|
|DET||Top-10 QB ranking the last 2 seasons. WR1 TGT/G consistent from year-to-year, the biggest change has been involvement of WR2/3 of late.|
|GB||Top-2 QB each of the last 4 seasons in terms of PPG. Just 13.2 TGT/G between WR1/2 in 2011 because of NFL-best (since 2008) 2.68 FP/TGT as a WR corps.|
|HOU||2009 was the outlier with QB6 finish. QB13-18 production in 2010-11 is more in line with what I see moving forward with Schaub when healthy.|
|IND||QB-30 in 2011 makes Manning’s perennial top-8 finishes a distant memory. 5.8 TGT/G for WR3 in 2011 one of the highest in the NFL.|
|JAX||QB-32 in 2011 along with just 5.3 TGT/G for top PPG WR. No wonder Henne could gets some starts and Justin Blackmon/Laurent Robinson were added.|
|KC||Two finishes outside top-22 QBs in the last 3 seasons. Matt Cassel firmly on the hot seat.|
|MIA||Three straight QB22-26 finishes prompts courting Peyton then drafting Tannehill in the 1st round. Davone Bess could be sneaky PPR play if he gets 100+ TGTs.|
|MIN||Even with McNabb stinking it up for part of 2011, team finished as QB16 on the season. Harvin highly efficient (2.30 FP/TGT) on just 7.4 TGT/G.|
|NE||QB3 in PPG the last two seasons. Welker back to 10+ TGT/G in 2011. Gronk/Hernandez combo killed WR2/3 last two seasons, a loss of 2 TGT/G for ancillary WRs.|
|NO||Top-7 QB PPG each of the last 4 seasons, yet Saints front office wants to delay paying Brees? Interesting.|
|NYG||After three straight QB10-14 seasons, Manning jumps to QB7. 21+ TGT/G for WR1/2/3 trio each of the last three seasons are some of the best marks in the NFL.|
|NYJ||Some of the lowest TGT/G marks for any WR crew in 2011 (14.8). Sanchez broke string of three straight QB19-29 seasons in 2011 (QB11) largely due to 6 rushing TDs.|
|OAK||Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 7.1 TGT/G in 2011 marks the highest for any Raiders WR in the last four seasons (6.1 previous high). Palmer a good chance to break highest mark for team QB rank in 2012 (QB17).|
|PHI||Top-10 QB ranking each of the last four seasons. No WR over 7.4 TGT/G during that stretch.|
|PIT||Ouside of 2009, team QB14-17 on an annual basis. Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace both 7-7.5 TGT/G in 2011, one of the most even distributions in the NFL.|
|SD||Four straight years in the top-10 for QB PPG. Also four straight seasons with WR1 having 7.0 TGT/G or less. Temper that ceiling for Meachem or Floyd, this team spreads the ball around.|
|SEA||Four straight seasons outside the top-20 for QB PPG. 6.2 TGT/G for their WR1 in 2011 (Sidney Rice) was the 7th lowest in the NFL.|
|SF||In terms of PPG, the QB PPG rank has been in decline for 4 straight years, down to QB24 in 2011. Crabtree’s 1.69 FP/TGT as a WR1 in 2011 was in the bottom-12 for the NFL.|
|SL||QB26 or lower each of the last 4 seasons. The Rams drafted two WRs early and get Amendola back. Can that get Bradford out of the PPG basement tier?|
|TB||Middle of the road QB PPG over the last 4 seasons. WR2 with just 3-4 TGT/G since 2008 plus Schiano preaching ball control – not a good combo for Mike Williams sliding into that spot.|
|TEN||QB12 finish in 2011 breaks string of three straight seasons of QB22 or lower. Locker could push that ranking even higher with a majority of the starts.|
|WAS||QB15-25 each of the last four seasons in terms of PPG. RGIII gives a shot in the arm. WR1/2/3 combined for 1.54 FP/TGT in 2011, prompting the signing of Garcon/Morgan.|
Find more of our Dynasty Content here.