6 Wide Receiver Studs & Duds for 2021

Jun 24, 2021
6 Wide Receiver Studs & Duds for 2021

In the first two parts of this series, I uncovered potential studs and duds at the quarterback and running back positions based on how players performed against scoring expectation in 2020. The full methodology can be found in the introduction to the quarterback article. The premise is straightforward—players who over-performed in the touchdown column could disappoint against inflated price tags and those that under-performed could have surprisingly big seasons if they realize their scoring equity.

More Studs & Duds: QB | RB | TE

Each position carries a different scoring expectation for every play type. The following table outlines scoring rates for wide receiver targets from various starting points on the field:

WR TD Rates Based on Field Position, 2018–2020
Line of Scrimmage Touchdown Rate
1–49 0.9%
50–41 2.8%
40–31 4.1%
30–21 7.7%
20–16 15.0%
15–11 18.8%
10–6 30.3%
5–1 46.2%

This system has been extremely predictive and actionable, uncovering 34 wide receiver touchdown regression candidates—15 candidates were expected to see an uptick in scoring, and 19 stood out as players that could see a dip in production. Of the 15 players expected to revert positively to the scoring mean, 13 saw an increased touchdown rate the following season with an average change of +1.6% and median change of +1.1%. In the group of 19 receivers that were due for a decline in scoring, 17 saw their touchdown rate drop, going down by a whopping average of 3.8% with a median change of -3.1%.

After compiling every target for all wide receivers from last season (minimum 50 targets), I calculated each receiver’s touchdown expectation and compared that number to the actual touchdowns that they generated. The differential in those numbers will serve as an indicator for wide receivers who scored more often or less often than they should have and, in turn, potential studs or duds in 2020.

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