Wide receivers dominate 2015’s most valuable players

Kevin Cole uses his adjusted VORP calculation to identify wide receivers who performed better than we thought in 2015, and those who are likely overvalued.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Wide receivers dominate 2015’s most valuable players

Earlier this week, introduced by adjusted value-over-replacement (VORP) calculation as a way to put fantasy performance into proper context. That first installment focused on running backs, and included details on the calculation rationale and methodology.

It isn’t necessary to restate everything from the first article, but these paragraphs will help readers understand exactly the adjustments I made to the traditional VORP calculation.

Everything in my analysis views performance through the weekly lens, so the weekly VORPs are then added up into seasonal stats.

I also filtered out weekly performances with a snap rate (percentage of total offense snaps) is less than 30 percent. This should filter out weeks where players weren’t actually being used.

A Rotoworld study by Frank Dupont calculated better baselines for all the positions, and I used the 12-team, two-RB starter baseline of RB33 in my analysis. I made this the weekly baseline and all VORP calculations are based on how much a running back scored in relation to that baseline.

I’m using that same Rotoworld study as the baseline for wide receivers, the focus of this article. The 12-team, three-WR starter baseline is WR49. My calculations are based on PPR scoring, which also gives a boost to wide receivers relative to other positions.

I layered the wide receiver results (red) on top of the running back scores from the last analysis (blue) to give you perspective on how the positions stack up versus each other. The circle sizes still indicate the number of games included in the analysis for each player.


There are a couple big-picture takeaways before we get into the individual names. You can see that there are many more wide receivers above the 150 total VORP line than running backs (6-to-1), and this was at least partially driven by the relative health of the position. Right after the regular season wrapped up, I visualized how poor early round running back performance had been in 2015 vis-a-vis what we’ve seen the last several years. We can see from this graph that the poor relative performance of running backs was mostly driven by bad injury luck. There are several running backs in the 10-15 VORP per game range that just didn’t play a whole lot, versus their healthy wide receiver peers at the top of the chart.

Let take a look at some of the individual wide receiver names to see who were actually winning weeks for their fantasy teams.


Starting at the top, you can see that Julio Jones and Antonio Brown added more total VORP to their teams than breakout running back Devonta Freeman (he’s the highest blue running back dot). Freeman does have the edge in VORP per game, so a couple more healthy games could have pushed him to the top.

After Jones and Brown, there is a decent gap before Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and DeAndre Hopkins. Everyone was expecting big things from Beckham after he was the league’s most impressive rookie wide receiver since Randy Moss the prior year. You can make a credible claim that either Marshall or Hopkins was the most valuable fantasy pick this year, especially in PPR leagues. Hopkins as an improving 23 year old is a no-brainer top-10 pick next year, but where the soon-to-be 32 year old Marshall goes is more up in the air.

What you’ll also notice about the Beckham/Marshall/Hopkins cohort is that there are a handful of running backs who performed better on a per-game basis, but fell short due to health issues. Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Arian Foster would have been top-10 players in total VORP if they could have stayed on the field. Again, don’t be too quick to count out the fantasy running back.

Moving down the trend line we see a healthy Allen Robinson topping 150 total VORP, but Julian Edelman and Keenan Allen actually had higher VORP on a per-game basis. While Allen profiles as more of a possession receiver than Hopkins, both are 23 years old and have had similar career per-game numbers, but Allen should be had at a great discount in redraft and dynasty.

You can see more interesting names in the rest of the graph, but I’ll again focus on those who didn’t play a full season of games and could be undervalued. Steve Smith, Alshon Jeffery, Martavis Bryant, and Sammy Watkins all had great per-game stats, but were negatively affected by injury or suspension. I’m not sure anyone knows the prospects for a 36 year old coming off of an Achilles tear, but Smith has defied odds before. Jeffery and Watkins were all great in stretches this year, and are both logical breakout candidates for 2016. Both receivers were in the top-5 for yards-per-route-run, and were held back more by the lack of passing volume than production.

Below is a table with all the 2015 wide receiver VORP data, including rankings for 2015 ADP, seasonal total PPR points, total VORP, and VORP per game. Look through the data and you’ll find many players where their VORP-based ranking differs significantly from season-long total fantasy points, and then you can identify values and fades.

Julio Jones315224.415111
Antonio Brown115217.514.5222
Odell Beckham Jr.414190.513.6533
Brandon Marshall2615190.112.7344
DeAndre Hopkins1315186.412.4455
Allen Robinson2815160.110.7668
Larry Fitzgerald3615140.29.37711
A.J. Green715135.298812.5
Doug Baldwin6815132.58.89914
Jarvis Landry2415127.78.5101017
Demaryius Thomas515121.68.1111118
Eric Decker4314121.38.7131215.5
Brandin Cooks1215119.48121319
Jeremy Maclin2514109.47.8151420
Calvin Johnson615106.97.1141522
Allen Hurns7514102.87.3161621
Julian Edelman20898.312.332176
Sammy Watkins221195.78.7261815.5
Keenan Allen18894.611.840197
Emmanuel Sanders1614946.7182023
Michael Crabtree611593.36.2172124
Martavis Bryant301090.1935.52212.5
Amari Cooper171585.25.7192327
Alshon Jeffery10984.89.4412410
Mike Evans111482.55.9242525
John Brown391480.75.8232626
Jordan Matthews151580.25.3202728
Golden Tate191577.25.1212830.5
Ty Hilton91574.24.9222932.5
Randall Cobb81571.84.8253034
Steve Smith40770.21050319
Willie SneadNA1363.64.9313232.5
Tavon Austin861560427.53338
Travis BenjaminNA1558.53.927.53439.5
Kamar Aiken10315583.9293539.5
Ted GinnNA1557.43.8303641.5
Michael Floyd421357.14.4373735
Rishard MatthewsNA1051.65.2493829
Stefon Diggs9412494.1443936.5
Danny Amendola891246.23.8454041.5
James Jones741544.12.935.54145.5
Donte Moncrief581543.72.93342.545.5
Pierre Garcon501543.72.93442.545.5
DeSean Jackson29841.15.1614430.5
Rueben Randle651539.82.7384549
Anquan Boldin461339.33424643
Marvin Jones6715382.5394750
Steve Johnson60936.84.1554836.5
Nate WashingtonNA1235.42.9464945.5
Vincent Jackson32925.52.8625048
Tyler Lockett691522.31.5435155
Cecil Shorts841020.72.1605251
Brian Hartline1071117.51.6585354
Dez Bryant2916.71.9775453
Leonard Hankerson90714.228655.552
Markus Wheaton561414.214855.558
Marques Colston511311.70.9525760
Kendall Wright441011.41.1695856
Dontrelle InmanNA1010.21705958
Jermaine Kearse117158.30.6476063
Brandon LaFell47107.10.780.561.562
DeVante Parker4577.119061.558
Percy Harvin6454.10.81076361
Davante Adams27113.90.4726464.5
Terrance Williams52153.20.2516566
Jeremy KerleyNA520.41106664.5
Robert Woods100140.70536769
Jaelen Strong6640.50.11206867.5
Jeremy ButlerNA60.40.1986967.5
Brice ButlerNA3-0.6-0.21317071
J.J. NelsonNA3-0.8-0.31037173
Jamison Crowder11913-2.4-0.2597271
Darrius Heyward-BeyNA6-2.5-0.49973.574
Malcom Floyd8812-2.5-0.26473.571
T.J. JonesNA3-3.1-11307584
Ty Montgomery735-4.1-0.81117679
Kenbrell ThompkinsNA5-4.9-11257784
Jerricho CotcheryNA12-5.7-0.5747875.5
Cody Latimer593-5.8-1.9152.57998.5
Chris HoganNA11-5.9-0.5758075.5
Nick WilliamsNA3-6.3-2.110981102.5
Dorial Green-Beckham5411-6.4-0.665.58277
Rashad Greene1083-7.7-2.611583106.5
Tim WrightNA3-8.4-2.814784110
Keshawn MartinNA8-8.7-1.1958587.5
Bryan WaltersNA9-8.9-1888684
Chris Conley815-9.1-1.81168797
Andre HolmesNA7-10.2-1.5978891.5
Eddie Royal538-10.4-1.3928990
Seth RobertsNA14-10.7-0.8639079
Marquess Wilson9711-11-1849184
Dwayne HarrisNA13-11.6-0.965.59281
Louis MurphyNA4-11.9-312893113.5
Cole Beasley8315-12.2-0.8549479
Brenton BersinNA3-12.3-4.1156.595.5127.5
Chris OwusuNA3-12.3-4.116195.5127.5
Javontee HerndonNA6-12.4-2.111797102.5
Bruce EllingtonNA3-12.6-4.213998129.5
Andrew Hawkins1128-13.5-1.71009995.5
Charles Johnson343-14.5-4.8145100.5136
Kenny Britt7815-14.5-157100.584
Corey Brown10113-15.4-1.27310289
Corey FullerNA3-15.8-5.3166103140
Andre CaldwellNA4-15.9-4129104125.5
Torrey Smith4115-16.6-1.15610587.5
Jeremy RossNA3-16.8-5.6152.5106144
Aaron Dobson1105-17.5-3.5132107117.5
Justin Hunter919-18.3-2101108100.5
Albert Wilson11513-19.7-1.57610991.5
Kevin SmithNA3-21.6-7.2175.5110151
Adam ThielenNA5-21.8-4.4135111131
Adam HumphriesNA10-22-2.296112.5104
Mike Wallace3314-22-1.671112.593.5
Roddy White3714-22.1-1.66811493.5
Devin Smith825-22.5-4.5134115133.5
Lance MooreNA13-22.7-1.780.5116.595.5
Russell ShepardNA3-22.7-7.6165116.5153
Justin Hardy856-22.8-3.8126118122.5
Phillip Dorsett634-23-5.8113119149
Josh BellamyNA7-24.5-3.5114120117.5
Chris Matthews1115-25.1-5137121138.5
Marqise Lee777-25.9-3.7119122121
Harry Douglas11613-26.2-282123100.5
Brandon Coleman709-26.6-389124113.5
Keith MumpheryNA6-26.9-4.5133125133.5
Andre Johnson2315-28.1-1.96712698.5
Bradley MarquezNA5-28.7-5.7143.5127147
Chris GivensNA10-29.1-2.994128.5111.5
Hakeem NicksNA4-29.1-7.3171128.5152
Josh Huff9211-29.6-2.787130108.5
Ryan GrantNA9-30.9-3.4106131115
Stedman Bailey988-31.4-3.9121132124
Donteea DyeNA7-31.5-4.5141133133.5
Kenny Stills5714-32.1-2.379134105
Riley Cooper12011-32.2-2.993135111.5
Andre RobertsNA6-32.3-5.4138136141
Greg Jennings1046-32.8-5.5124137142
Marlon MooreNA6-33.7-5.6146138144
Jordan NorwoodNA7-34.3-4.9123139137
Jarius Wright12113-35.2-2.785140108.5
Miles AustinNA9-36.3-4112141125.5
Bennie FowlerNA6-37.1-6.2122142150
Quincy EnunwaNA10-38.2-3.8105143122.5
Mohamed Sanu8715-38.3-2.678144106.5
Jason AvantNA7-39.1-5.6140145144
Taylor GabrielNA11-39.3-3.6104146120
Brian Quick557-39.6-5.7159147147
Devin StreetNA5-40.1-8142148154
Marc MarianiNA9-40.6-4.5118149133.5
Devin Funchess4812-42.1-3.583150117.5
Jaron BrownNA9-44.6-5127151138.5
Marlon Brown1138-45.3-5.7136152147
Quinton PattonNA14-48.4-3.591153117.5
Nelson Agholor3112-50.7-4.2102154129.5

Kevin Cole is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy. You can follow him on Twitter at @Cole_Kev

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