Fantasy: Wide Receiver Efficiency and ADP

| July 30, 2012

In my last article at PFF, I created a measure called Efficiency Rating. Applying it to running backs, I generated the rating by taking a player’s 2011 PFF Overall Grade, dividing it by his snaps, and multiplying by 100. By dividing a player’s overall production by his snap count, we can get a better sense of his efficiency while on the field.

The ultimate goal of creating an Efficiency Rating is to figure out which players are the most valuable to their teams, and thus might garner the most touches in the future. All things being equal, it’s always smart to stock your fantasy team with talented players whose coaches have no choice but to get them the football. Players who produce see the field, and players who see the field have about infinity percent higher odds to rack up fantasy points than players on the bench. For dynasty owners, Efficiency Ratings could be the deciding factor between two comparable players.

Today, I’m going to take a look at wide receiver efficiency and average draft position (per My Fantasy League). There are limitations to this study, including that time spent on the field doesn’t correlate as strongly to fantasy points for wide receivers as it does for running backs. When teams run the ball, there’s one guy on the field who is very likely to touch the football. When they pass, the ball could go to a number of different players.

Nonetheless, I think acquiring receivers with high PFF grades is superior to not analyzing the grades at all. While there will always be short-term fluctuations in fantasy points from receivers, sustaining a high level of play for an NFL team can lead to greater long-term value for fantasy owners. For this study, note that I considered the top 30 receivers in terms of overall 2011 PFF grade. Let’s get to the results. . .

Player                        Efficiency Rating        Rank           ADP

1. Jordy Nelson

2.8

1

14

2. Marques Colston

2.72

2

18

3. Calvin Johnson

2.71

3

1

4. Malcom Floyd

2.62

4

43

5. Percy Harvin

2.3

5

15

6. Antonio Brown

2.27

6

25

7. Larry Fitzgerald

2.23

7

2

8. Jerricho Cotchery

2.17

8

NA
9. Wes Welker

2.13

9

5

10. Lance Moore

1.63

10

45

11. Doug Baldwin

1.56

11

57

12. Dez Bryant

1.55

12

13

13. Andre Johnson

1.39

13

4

14. Greg Jennings

1.35

14

8

15. Hakeem Nicks

1.3

15

6

16. Denarius Moore

1.2

16

30

17. Steve Smith

1.19

17

21

18. Dwayne Bowe

1.13

18

22

19. Michael Crabtree

1.11

19

35

20. Mike Wallace

1.03

20

12

21. Brandon Lloyd

0.98

21

27

22. Nate Washington

0.92

22

53

23. Laurent Robinson

0.9

23

49

24. Victor Cruz

0.8

24

10

25. Josh Cribbs

0.71

25

NA
26. Reggie Wayne

0.71

26

32

27. Robert Meachem

0.71

27

33

28. Jabar Gaffney

0.65

28

96

29. Steve Johnson

0.65

29

24

30. Vincent Jackson

0.51

30

23

 

Notes

  • The top receiver on this list is no surprise, as Jordy Nelson’s 2011 efficiency was unprecedented. Despite a probable decline in 2012, I still think his ADP of 14 among receivers is a bit too low.
  • With the way the Saints spread around the ball, Marques Colston has always been a very low-risk receiver without incredible upside. With Robert Meachem out of town, perhaps Colston will see a slight jump in targets that could propel him into stable WR1 territory.
  • The efficiency of Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald is remarkable. Notice that the majority of the receivers around them (Nelson, Antonio Brown, Percy Harvin, Jerricho Cotchery) didn’t play nearly as many snaps in 2011.
  • Currently getting selected as the 57th receiver, perhaps Doug Baldwin is worth the risk. He had a highly-efficient rookie campaign, has a path to increased targets, and possesses a potentially legitimate quarterback in Matt Flynn.
  • Perhaps most surprising on this list is Michael Crabtree, who totaled the 17th-highest PFF grade in 2011 despite playing only 693 snaps. With free agent acquisitions Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, rookies A.J. Jenkins and Chris Owusu, and a necessarily limited offense, however, it’s tough to like Crabtree’s long-term potential.
  • Even in Denver and St. Louis, Brandon Lloyd garnered a top 20 receiving grade from PFF. He has serious WR1 upside in 2012.
  • Vincent Jackson was already a bigger name than fantasy producer in San Diego, and I think that trend will continue in Tampa Bay. With the 30th-worst efficiency as the Chargers’ No. 1 option last year, Jackson’s production figures to decrease with the Bucs.

Jonathan Bales is the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft. He also writes for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Times

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