by Nick Ercolano
August 07, 2019
Don't fall asleep on me here. Running backs get you hard, but wide receivers make your fantasy football season easy.
This is the second consecutive year JJSS the gawd finds himself on this list. This time around he’s a 2nd rounder, last year he settled into the Round 4 must-draft slot. That worked out pretty well. The Steelers “number two” wideout went off for 1,426 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns on 111 receptions…..
AT THE AGE OF 21.
But yeah, he’s getting old, definitely going off the deep end, gonna regress. Past his prime. No way he can get better. Only downhill from here.
The Public: “bUt hE GeTs #1 c0veRaGe nOw, hE CaNt hAnDlE iT.”
ME: *Shows them splits of games without AB on the field*
His individual game lines without AB:
The Public: YeAh WeLl oBviOuSlY hE’s gONnA do bEtTer aNd gET MoRe VoLuMe wItH Ab oFF tHe FiElD!!!
JuJu’s played in 30 career games through two seasons. Despite being labeled a “slot WR”, there have been 13 instances (43%) in which he’s played more outside snaps in a game than in the slot, showcased in the second row of the chart below. JuJu has played more slot snaps than outside snaps in 17-of-30 (57%) career games, so while primarily a slot receiver, not exclusively. As you can see in the chart below, with Antonio Brown sidelined for 3-of-30 games, JuJu played more outside snaps than in the slot in all three, averaging a career-best split of 17.8 half PPR fantasy points/game. It’s an un-decisively small sample size, but it at least shows positive numbers contrary to the public’s fake theories.
The other thing that seems to keep flying over people’s heads is that JuJu, yes, is actually #REALLYGoodAtFootball. The Steelers top dog wins all over the field: He was top-10 in air yards, air yard market share, 20+ and 40+ yard receptions. So, he gets the deep looks.
He had the second most Redzone targets in the entire NFL last year behind only Davante Adams. This makes sense given that JuJu had the 11th best-contested catch rate (50%) among NFL WRs in 2018, after having the 3rd highest (73.7%) in 2017. The Redzone is where the defense gets tight and you need really strong hands as a receiver. JuJu only scored 7 times in 2019, on 166 targets (4.2%). In 2017, he scored 7 times on less than half (79) of the target volume.
Why? Because he was tackled on the 2-yard line FIVE separate times in 2018.
Brandin Cooks - Los Angeles Rams
WR13. WR12. WR8. WR14. Those are Brandin Cooks’ fantasy finishes over the last four seasons. He’s currently the 16th WR being taken off the board.
Cooks was AWESOME with Kupp on the field.
The Rams superstar is also just 25 years old… and we know his floor, which is quite high. But are we sure we’ve seen his ceiling? The age apex for wide receivers usually starts around 24-25 and lasts through 29. Cooks could very well be on his way up statistically, in an offense that’s poised to continue its McVay-led domination. With Gurley’s knee unlikely to hold up or at least push him to the type of carry volume he’s seen in recent years, I’m betting the Rams aerial assault is in full force come 2019, led by alpha Brandin Cooks.
The best part about Cooks’ price is that he’ll be your WR2 in Round 4, quite possibly your WR3 if you only take one RB early on.
My love for Boyd has gone nowhere. If you've been following the big dogs, you knew to stay away from Green anywhere near where he was getting drafted back since like March. Now we get the news that A.J. Green tears some ligaments in his foot. Yeah rough timetable of 6-8 weeks, my guess is that he might even start on the PUP. Week 3 at best - he needs to literally be off your draft board in single-digit rounds. Don't get cute. A saying I like to use - Don't FIND INJURIES in fantasy football - THEY WILL FIND YOU. If you're choosing A.J. Green, that's what you're doing - finding an injury.
Leading us to somewhat of a shitshow down in Cincinnati. John Ross pulled his hamstring, he'll be sidelined a few weeks - it's full-on the Tyler Boyd show and deservedly so. And the Bengals knew this - they just signed him to a 4-year, $43M extension last week.
Yes, I know you're all gonna get cute - but Boyd was worse with A.J. Green off the field. Yeah, we've all seen the splits. Such good research you guys are doing, so proud of you.
What looking at these splits doesn't do is take literally anything into context.
So, Green played from Weeks 1-8. Over that span, Boyd was the WR12 in PPR, WR14 in half ppr, so a legitimate borderline WR1. Green initial gets hurt, missed Weeks 10, 11 & 12, comes back Week 13 re-injures himself after seeing 1 target in that game. What people don't want to acknowledge is that Andy Dalton also missed a lot of the end of the season. Dalton played froms Weeks 1-12, missed 13-17. So, we have a 3 game sample-size of Boyd playing without Green but with Andy Dalton and NOT Jeff Driskel at QB. Context u fucks, context.
Those are great numbers for how people talk about Boyd. Nearly 8 targets/game, 75 receiving yards per. Come on now.
Also, what that initial split doesn't take into account because it's just a machine, in Week 13 when Green came back to see one target, so basically he didn't play, Boyd went 8-6-97. If the splits app put that game into the calculator they'd look less skewed. So, yes, when we get down to context, Boyd may be a bit worse of a fantasy player when Green is off the field and Jeff Driskel is the QB - and we're literally only working on a 2-game sample size to prove that. In those three games with Dalton, Boyd saw nearly 30% of the offenses targets - give me volume over efficiency in small sample sizes all day. So, throw the shitty context-less argument you hear every lazy fantasy analyst throwing out about Boyd out the fuckin window.
And, nevertheless, here we are.
What else do we have about Boyd. Let me guess, he can't be a true #1 - I know. Boyd graded out as PFF's 11th best WR last year. A.J. Green was number 12. From Week's 9-17 specifically, he was 14th. He didn't get any worse. He had the 8th highest QB rating when targeted last year amongst all NFL WRs.
BuT He CaN'T Be a #1. Sure he's a slot guy, but the way the NFL is going, if you believe that, you're looking at the wrong things. Firstly, him running from the slot gives him a great floor, but he has plenty of monster games on his resume that tell you his ceiling is there, too. He was tied for the first highest catch rate on deep passes last year in the entire NFL - Tyler Lockett, Corey Davis and then Tyler Boyd tied with Keenan Allen and Michael Thomas. So it's not just short routes he excels at.
Think about the guys that success in the NFL today, in the slot. It's the bigger slot wide receivers - Adam Thielen, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp:
Look at this chart. All of them are tall, 6-1 or 6-2. They're all the same weight, JuJu's a bit bigger. And look at their 40-yard dash times. None of them are sub 4.54, that's not impressive unless you're 6-2, 225. As a slot receiver, you don't need elite straight-line speed, you have way more cushion, and finding the holes in a zone are far more valuable.
They have two new coaches coming over in Zac Taylor (from the Rams) and Brian Callahan. Zac Taylor coming from the Rams makes me think Boyd will be used like Cooper Kupp. This offense has been anemic under extra-medium Marvin Lewis, ranking dead last in plays run in 2017 and 29th last year. At worst, they will have a lot more volume in this offense at a higher tempo.
Also, his position didn't change whatsoever when Green was gone. He stayed in the slot - so if you think he's getting the opposing team's CB1, he's not, he's still getting mismatches in the slot whether or not Green is on the field.\
Tyler Lockett -
Christian Kirk - Starting to go really high.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling -
Keke Coutee -
DeSean Jackson -
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