Advanced Targets - WR3 Tier in Review
Throughout the offseason, PFF Fantasy will be using the advanced statistical splits generated by Advanced Targets and Advanced Touches to review the accomplishments of wide receivers and running backs from 2012. Last week, we looked at wide receivers ranked 11 through 20 in terms of fantasy points. Today we tackle numbers 21 through 30.
Most target analyses must focus on the big picture and make guesses at future sustainability. Due to the ridiculous depth of information provided by PFF game charters, we can search for regression red flags across a wide variety of metrics. As we did during the season, our Year in Review will focus on target rate, route rate, and yards per route to find future breakout candidates.
The table that follows shows receivers 21-30 in terms of their advanced target splits. To see their splits in terms of fantasy points, scroll to the bottom of the article.
No. 21 Lance Moore was well down in my personal rankings for 2012 due to a study I put together on possession receiver unsustainability. Moore responded by morphing into a vertical receiver. Following the loss of Robert Meachem, his slot percentage dropped and his yards per catch skyrocketed from 12.1 to 16.0. Moore is still a little scary because he plays so few snaps, but when he’s on the field you can pretty much count on a pass (77 percent route percentage).
No. 22 Jeremy Maclin is surviving on volume alone. In 2012 he averaged fewer fantasy points per target than players like Titus Young, Donald Jones, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. He averaged fewer fantasy points per route than Jeremy Kerley, Leonard Hankerson, and Mario Manningham. Maclin has always been overrated and is a strong sell in dynasty formats.
No. 23 (tie) Mike Wallace pouted his way into a mega-contract with the Dolphins. His peripherals are solid but unspectacular. To put his season in contrast, Cecil Shorts scored one less point on 188 fewer snaps despite playing with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne.
No. 23 (tie) Miles Austin tied with Mike Wallace in fantasy points and posted nearly identical numbers all across the board. Although no longer possessing WR1 upside, his hamstring concerns should have him available at a discount to his low-end WR2 status.
No. 25 Cecil Shorts’ breakout was less expected and more spectacular than Randall Cobb’s, especially when you consider their relative quarterback situations. His advanced stat line is elite without being unsustainable, exactly what you want in sifting for 2013 values. Unfortunately, Shorts’ concussions and the continued presence of Blaine Gabbert are factors that tend to swamp his peripherals.
No. 26 I postulated before the season that Brandon Lloyd would be overvalued due to Tom Brady’s inability to throw deep. It’s still shocking to see him average fewer yards per snap than oft-disinterested rookie Justin Blackmon (0.88 to 0.87).
No. 27 Brian Hartline has garnered little praise for his 2.08 yards per route, in part because he caught only one touchdown. Based on their 2012 performances and projected 2013 roles, there are plenty of scenarios in which Hartline outscores his new receiving teammate at a fraction of the ADP.
No. 28 (tie) Justin Blackmon put together a thoroughly disappointing rookie season from an efficiency perspective, but his 982 snaps, 642 routes, and 129 targets can’t be dismissed out of hand. If the Jaguars follow through on their plan to give Gabbert one more chance, Blackmon’s total numbers will be hurt but his value related to ADP might actually improve.
No. 28 (tie) Only Denarius Moore caught a lower percentage of his 2012 targets than Torrey Smith. Combine that with the lowest target percentage among a player in the top 30, and it’s easy to understand why Smith’s breakout never materialized. He’ll be an interesting risk/reward candidate next season. If he could finish No. 28 with such terrible peripherals, imagine what he might do if he expands his receiving repertoire?
No. 30 (tie) Anquan Boldin scored four touchdowns during the 2012 regular season and four during the playoffs. The Super Bowl performance puts an optimistic spin on what was a disappointing season. Boldin has never possessed speed to separate, but his 12 percent target rate suggests a player whose physicality no longer overcomes those limitations.
No. 30 (tie) T.Y. Hilton’s rookie season was one of many great stories emanating from Indianapolis last year. It’s led to a lot of buzz for his potential encore. Unfortunately, his line holds multiple red flags. Hilton ran routes on 70 percent of his snaps, yet was targeted on only 18 percent of those patterns. He averaged 17.2 yards per reception, but the Colts plan to de-emphasize the long pass. Unless you’re comfortable with a pure vertical receiver as your WR3, consider avoiding Hilton in 2013.