Fanball Best-Ball Win Rates: Wide Receivers
If you enjoy fantasy football, you probably enjoy competition. In this current stretch of social distancing where no professional sports are being played, there's no better time to draft some best-ball teams, and if you've never tried one, it's a great way to experience the entertainment and competition of a draft without needing to commit to roster management during the season. Fanball's Bestball10s are a great format, especially if you want to draft a large volume of teams without spending a fortune.
Last week I wrote about the top 2019 wide receiver win rates in leagues at FFPC, and here I'll focus on the top wide receiver win rates for 2019 Fanball best-ball leagues and how they can inform us about the wide receiver landscape for 2020. Fanball's Bestball10s use PPR scoring like FFPC, but don't use TE-premium scoring. That along with different user bases made for slightly different wide receiver ADPs, which also differentiated Fanball's top 12 wide receiver win rates a bit from FFPC's.
Highest WR Win Rates
Target rate had a far better correlation to win rates for wide receivers than touchdown rates did, as Cooper Kupp was the only player in this group with a top-10 touchdown rate among wide receivers with at least 50 targets, while eight of these wide receivers ranked among the top 24 target rates at the position using the same target minimum.
It's also interesting that many of the wide receivers above were available at ADP to drafters with a top-3 pick. Jennifer Eakins recently wrote about the win rates for running backs and touched on Christian McCaffrey's gargantuan 36.7% win rate, which was the highest number among all positions by a significant margin. McCaffrey's 1.02 ADP meant that teams drafting him often had Mike Evans available at 2.11, or Keenan Allen at 3.02, or Chris Godwin at 4.11, or any among the trio of Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, or D.J. Moore at 5.02. Drafting McCaffery along with just one of these wide receivers would have given your team a significant advantage over the field.
Fanball's Bestball10s drafts are 20 rounds, so for the purposes of looking at the draft in stages, we'll use the first six picks for the early stage. Below you'll see the wide receivers with a 2019 ADP in the first six rounds who finished last season among the top 12 in win rate at the position.
Rounds one through six were prime territory for wide receivers with the highest win rates in 2019, as eight of the top-12 were taken in this range. The fifth round was a treasure-trove of wide receiver value, offering up half of the members of the table above. If you cheat a little and consider Chris Godwin's 4.12 ADP as fringe-5th-round, it makes this round even more notable. Half of all league-winning Bestball10 teams took their fourth wide receiver by the end of the eighth round, and the most popular roster construction included drafting seven total wide receivers to go along with six running backs. Hitting on one of these fifth-round wide receivers as your WR3 would have allowed a lot of flexibility in draft choices elsewhere in the first six rounds.
Michael Thomas was the lone wide receiver with a first-round ADP among this group, while five total wide receivers had first-round ADPs. Fanball's scoring setup awards one point per reception, and Thomas averaged 24.5 fantasy points per game in this format, which was a per-game average that no other wide receiver managed to achieve. Chris Godwin's 19.6 fantasy points per game ranked second, nearly five points per game less than Thomas. Thomas' ADP has unsurprisingly risen to 1.05 in 2020, but he remains a worthy target with his number-one ranked target rate of 19.4% along with Drew Brees re-signing in New Orleans.
The second round returned a top-12 wide receiver win rate just once, in the form of Mike Evans. Evans had a 14.6% target rate that ranked fourth among all wide receivers with 80-plus targets, and his 15.3 average depth of target (aDOT) equated to targets that came further downfield on average than all but two other wideouts. Evans will be on the receiving end of throws from Tom Brady in 2020 instead of Jameis Winston, which for Evans likely means trading a high rate of risky deeper targets for a higher rate of safer-but-shorter targets. His ADP has moved down just one spot from 2.09 in 2019 to 2.10 so far in 2020, and while he could certainly return another top-12 win rate, his price is a bit high relative to the significant game-script changes and accompanying unknowns that Evans faces.
Round three was the draft territory that Keenan Allen found himself in this past offseason, and he was the lone wide receiver from the round to make this list. Allen posted the second-highest target rate at 15.9%, but the third-lowest touchdown rate at 4.0%. The latter figure could certainly improve with better luck in 2020, but Allen is another wide receiver with a lot of unknowns moving forward. He could be the primary wide receiver for Tyrod Taylor, a free agent addition like Cam Newton, a rookie from the 2020 class, or some combination of that group. Allen is an extremely consistent performer, posting three straight seasons of 16 games played, 1,100-plus receiving yards, and 130-plus targets, but there are many potential land mines here. Allen's ADP has dropped a full round from 3.01 in 2019 to 4.04 in 2020, making him neither a glaring value nor an obvious player to avoid this season.
The aforementioned Chris Godwin is the only fourth-round-ADP wide receiver among this elite-win-rate crew, and he just went ahead and posted the highest win rate of any player at the position. He may have received a bump from his availability to Christian-McCaffery-drafting fantasy owners, but he certainly held his own with his performance. Finishing as the PPR WR2, Godwin posted a career-high 92% snap share in 2019, with a 7.4% touchdown rate that was second-highest out of this group. Godwin's 2019 10.8-yard aDOT was quite close to Julian Edelman's 9.8-yard aDOT, who's been new teammate Tom Brady's longtime-favorite target, while Godwin ran for 6.07 yards after the catch (YAC) to Edelman's 3.3 YAC. Godwin's ADP has risen to 2.06, but if you believe that Tom Brady has something left in the tank, legitimate surrounding offensive talent, and something to prove, Godwin could easily return a top win rate at a second-round cost.
That brings us to the 2019 fifth-round wide receivers by ADP, the meat and potatoes of the win rate wide receiver kings of 2019. D.J. Moore, Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson were all most frequently drafted in this round, and they all proved to be excellent investments.
D.J. Moore overcame the lowest touchdown rate among this top-12 at 3.0% through his 14.6% target rate, sixth-highest among this cadre. Moore averaged 15.4 points per game in PPR formats in a Panthers offense helmed by Kyle Allen after starter Cam Newton succumbed to injury in Week 2, and never returned. Moore will now work with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, who's no deep-passing aficionado, but Moore's 2019 aDOT of 11.4 yards fits quite well with Bridgewater's tendencies. Moore is now a third-round pick, but he's appropriately valued between Amari Cooper and Kenny Golladay at his current ADP.
Tyler Lockett owned the sixth-best win rate at 13.8%, despite a target rate ranked dead-last out of these 12 wide receivers. Lockett finished as the WR17 overall, with a 7.3% touchdown rate that ranked third out of this top 12. Lockett led the Seahawks in snaps at wide receiver last season, and Russell Wilson isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Lockett is the only wide receiver among these fifth-rounders to see his 2020 ADP drop to 6.03, despite a 75% catch rate that ranked second behind Michael Thomas among this group.
Cooper Kupp had a career-best season, topping this group with a 7.5% touchdown rate and ranking fifth in target rate at 14.8%. Kupp ranked as the WR6 by season's end, despite an uneven offensive performance by the Rams. Kupp was the overall fantasy WR2 from Weeks 1-8 prior to his Week 9 bye, and the WR34 over the final seven best-ball-relevant weeks. His 2020 ADP has risen to 3.06, placing him in the same range as Amari Cooper, Odell Beckham, A.J. Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and while his floor is arguably lower than his third-round brethren, his target rate alone justifies his ADP.
Allen Robinson proved in 2019 that talent can overcome a less-than-ideal batterymate at the quarterback position, as he turned Mitchell Trubisky targets into a WR10 performance with the fourth-best target rate combined with the fourth-worst touchdown percentage among his win rate peers. Robinson will now see competition at the quarterback position with the acquisition of new teammate Nick Foles, and if Foles should win the job, it's hard not to see that outcome as a net-positive for Robinson. Like 75% of this 2019 fifth-round ADP group, Robinson is now a third-round fantasy prospect and the unchallenged WR1 for the Bears, making him a worthy target at ADP.
In this range, we'll look at the wide receivers drafted between Rounds 7 through 14 of 2019 best-ball drafts on Fanball. It's immediately worth noting that not a single wide receiver drafted in Round 7 through Round 11 finished among the top 12 wide receivers in win rate, which speaks to the value of drafting the position early and often, as well as the value of finding positional value in the later rounds.
John Brown was the first wide receiver to crest a top-12 win rate in this range, and he finished with the fifth-highest rate at 13.8%. His 12.09 ADP made him a screaming value, and he handily led Bills wide receivers, lining up for 91% of the team's offensive snaps, compared to teammate Cole Beasley's second-ranked 73%. Unfortunately for Brown, Buffalo went and signed Stefon Diggs to take over the team's WR1 role. Brown should move into a WR2 role, and while that remains valuable, his already-unremarkable target rate will undoubtedly take a hit. He remains a worthy target at his current eighth-round ADP, but his chances of returning a top-12 win rate in 2020 are slim.
Jamison Crowder dealt with the unmitigated disaster that was the 2019 Jets offense under Adam Gase, a group that finished dead-last in the NFL in total yards per game. Crowder was the WR33 by season's end in Fanball's scoring format, but securing your team's WR4 in the 14th round is a draft-day coup. The Jets lost Robby Anderson in free agency, their primary deep threat at the position, replaced him with free agent Breshad Perriman, and will almost certainly draft a wide receiver from an extremely talented group in the 2020 NFL draft. Crowder's slot receiver role should remain secure regardless of who the team adds to its wide receiver corps, and his 2020 ADP currently resides in the late-eighth-round. His 15.0% target rate ranked third among this group, and any overall offensive improvement by the Jets should only help to improve Crowder's efficiency.
Below, we will focus on the wide receivers whose 2019 ADPs landed in the 15 to 20 round range, but managed to finish among the top 12 wide receivers in win rate.
DeVante Parker entered the 2019 season having never scored more than four touchdowns in a season, and his career-best receiving yardage total over his first four seasons was 744 yards, so it's understandable that his ADP landed in a range where skill position players find themselves in the company of team defenses and moon shots. Parker had the fourth-highest wide receiver win rate at 14.1% and finished the best-ball season as the WR13 despite his 16.09 ADP. He retains Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback to start the season, presuming Miami drafts Tua Tagovailoa as projected. Even if Tagovailoa (or another rookie quarterback should the Dolphins go in a different direction) manages to wrest the job from Fitzmagic, Parker should benefit as the WR1 and the only Dolphins wide receiver to play in all 16 games last season. His ADP has risen a full 10 rounds in 2020 to 6.05, but he wildly out-performed every 2019 wide receiver with a sixth-round ADP, so there's little reason to think he can't repeat the feat.
Deebo Samuel had an excellent rookie season, finishing as the WR36 in PPR scoring formats with an 11.8% win rate despite being drafted in the 16th round, and despite having the second-lowest target rate and touchdown rate among these 12 wide receivers. Samuel was implemented into the 49ers offense quickly, averaging an 82% snap share over the first four weeks of the season, but he played in an offense than leaned heavily on the running game, which limited his target volume. Samuel is likely to build upon his 2019 success in his sophomore season, and Emmanuel Sanders' departure leaves a number of targets up for grabs. Unfortunately for Samuel's prospects, San Francisco's run-heavy offensive tendencies are unlikely to undergo a sea-change, potentially leaving him with a target rate that just isn't commensurate with his 2020 6.08 ADP.