7/29 - Must Own Wide Receivers in 2019 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano August 07, 2019

7/29 - Must Own Wide Receivers in 2019 Fantasy Football

Don't fall asleep on me here. Running backs get you hard, but wide receivers make your fantasy football season easy.

JuJu Smith-Schuster - Pittsburgh Steelers

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.

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…..

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*

JuJu Smith-Schuster 2019 fantasy

His individual game lines without AB:

  • 10-5-37-1
  • 7-6-75-1
  • 10-9-143-1

The Public: YeAh WeLl oBviOuSlY hE’s gONnA do bEtTer aNd gET MoRe VoLuMe wItH Ab oFF tHe FiElD!!!

ME:

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.juju smith schuster 2019 fantasy

Also, the fake news narrative of guys getting double-teamed? That happens at such a low-rate in the NFL, you can’t afford to have two cornerback cover one wide receiver, just think about how stupid that is. Is a safety going to watch him over the top? Maybe. But JuJu doesn’t win on deep routes, he’s a YAC machine, ranking inside the TOP-2 in the category in both of his inaugural NFL seasons. Quick hits, strong hands, yards after the catch. Again. and again. And again.
111 times last year, to be exact.
The better argument and one I can actually get behind is one of the Pittsburgh pass offense will take a drastic dip in volume. Big Ben attempted the most passes in the NFL last year (675). He had basically a game’s worth more of attempts then Andrew Luck (639) the next highest volume passer. Will be there less volume in the passing game overall? Probably, but the public act as if this is about to go from being the most pass-heavy offense in the NFL, to the least. Like, AT WORST, they’ll be middle of the pack. Last year, the Steelers threw a pass on68% of their plays, an outlier even for them. They’re typically around the 60% rate, in almost all of the last 5 years. They typically run about 65 plays/game, over that same five-year time span, so their typical year is closer to 625 pass attempts than the 675 in 2019, which is still good for top 3-5 volume yearly. So, while we can predict passing volume to fall, we have a steady baseline projection of this offense’s pace and overall play volume, which is still very pass-heavy. Assuming they hover around 625 passing attempts in 2019 – JuJu saw 24% of the targets in 2018, I think it’s safe to say that his target market share goes up in 2019 with Antonio Brown gone, right? If he jumps up the 27% which is where most high-end WR1s finish, if not higher, we’re looking at an easy 170 targets for JuJu, with pass volume decrease. It’s no surprise that WRs that tally 170+ targets do pretty fucking good in fantasy football:

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.

 

***PLUG DRAFT WEEKEND or MonkeyKnifeFight***

 

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.

brandin cooks 2019 fantasy

This is facts ^. Cooks is arguably the most underrated (non-elite) wide receiver in football today.
So why is he going at WR16 when his worst fantasy finish over the last four seasons was WR14? I’ve heard people complain about Cooks’ consistency. I get why people get that notion. When you think of Cooks you think of speed. When you think of speed you think of deep balls. When you think of deep balls you think of boom-or-bust, thus, his fall in ADP. Last year, Cooks had two bad games, at Denver and at Chicago, Goff was awful in those. You thought I was going to use Gawful and fuck you for thinking that. Outside of those two games, sure Cooks wasn’t elite week-over-week, but he scored double-digit fantasy points in 9-of-15 (60%) of the games, including 5 games of 19+ points. The remaining four were between 7.7 and 9.8 fantasy points, not week killers. At WR16, you’re not finding a guy that doesn’t have at least a handful of bad games every season. With Cooks, you’re not banking on hypothetical upside, the guy has gone for 1,100 yards in 4 straight seasons, including a career-year in 2018 with 80 receptions and 1,204 receiving yards, and best of all he finished with only 5 receiving touchdowns which are bound for positive regression in 2019 based on the volume and his 8 touchdowns/season in the previous three years. You might think Cooper Kupp coming back will lower Cooks’ ceiling. 1. Kupp tore his ACL in Week 11 of last year and won’t be full health until weeks into the season. 2. It’s just fake news:brandin cooks 2019 fantasy

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.

Tyler Boyd - Cincinnati Bengals

Boyd is currently a 6th/7th round pick per ADP. I'm not sure how much this A.J. Green news will boost him up, but it's probably not high enough.
You can go all the way back to the very first video I put out this off-season. It's my top WR sleepers for this next year:tyler boyd 2019 fantasy

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.

tyler boyd 2019 fantasy

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.

  • 4-3-65
  • 11-4-71
  • 8-7-85-1

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:tyler boyd 2019 fantasy

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.\

Honorable Mentions

Tyler Lockett -  

Christian Kirk - Starting to go really high.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling - 

Keke Coutee

DeSean Jackson



Nick Ercolano
Nick Ercolano

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