Breakout Receiver Model: Week 17

Dec 30, 2021
Breakout Receiver Model: Week 17

The Breakout Receiver Model returns for Week 17. We had a third-straight 30%-plus hit rate week in Week 16, and players in the model, on average, scored a solid 70% of their expected fantasy points. And while that’s not quite as strong as Weeks 15 and 16, the model remains quite reliable as the season concludes, even as teams’ overall objectives begin to diverge. Let’s touch on some hits and misses from last week, and then dig into the week ahead.

About the Breakout Receiver Model

The 4for4 data science team, in conjunction with our award-winning projections expert John Paulsen, have recalibrated and reconfigured the receiver "buy-low" model from years past in order to better identify under-performing wide receivers and tight ends who might be on the verge of a breakout performance. For the uninitiated, the breakout receiver model utilizes historical data and recent player performance to help determine players who have received opportunity that is typically more valuable than their recent production would indicate. This particular model's features include air yards and routes-run data as a means of determining opportunity. It also utilizes a proprietary efficiency metric that looks back at the past 10 weeks of individual player performance, all to better help predict the likelihood of a bounce-back in a player's future production. The model most heavily-weights the last three weeks of data.

Last Week's Results

Hits

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 16, Hits
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Week 16 XFP-Diff.
Stefon Diggs BUF WR 13.6 18 4.4
Ja'Marr Chase CIN WR 11.4 16 4.6
Evan Engram NYG TE 9.4 9.7 0.3
DeVonta Smith PHI WR 8.4 16.5 8.1
Marvin Jones JAX WR 8.1 11.4 3.3
Jared Cook LAC TE 7.4 7.9 0.5
Tyler Conklin MIN TE 7.3 6.4 -0.9
C.J. Uzomah CIN TE 6.5 6.1 -0.4
Brevin Jordan HOU TE 6.2 7.6 1.4

Last week’s model was confident the BillsStefon Diggs had massive ceiling potential even while facing the Patriots, the number one defense via schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to opposing offenses. DeVonta Smith finished with five receptions and a score, while Ja’Marr Chase caught seven of his ten targets for 125 yards against the injury-riddled Ravens. Marvin Jones was the only other breakout candidate with double-digit fantasy points, his 13 targets and eight receptions were the most he’s had all season.

Misses

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 16, Misses
Player Team Position XFP - Last 3 Week 16 XFP-Diff.
Rob Gronkowski TB TE 16.2 2.8 -13.4
DK Metcalf SEA WR 13.9 11.1 -2.8
Robby Anderson CAR WR 12.7 8.3 -4.4
D.J. Moore CAR WR 12.5 8 -4.5
Michael Gallup DAL WR 12.2 6.3 -5.9
Donovan Peoples-Jones CLE WR 12.1 1 -11.1
Mike Gesicki MIA TE 11.7 3.7 -8
Marquise Brown BAL WR 11.6 6.9 -4.7
Kenny Golladay NYG WR 11.4 3.7 -7.7
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 11 5.3 -5.7
CeeDee Lamb DAL WR 10.8 8.4 -2.4
Darnell Mooney CHI WR 10.2 8.4 -1.8
Dawson Knox BUF TE 10.1 8.1 -2
Darius Slayton NYG WR 9.1 1.2 -7.9
A.J. Green ARI WR 9.1 3.8 -5.3
Terry McLaurin WAS WR 9 5.5 -3.5
Keelan Cole NYJ WR 8.9 3.5 -5.4
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine TEN WR 8.9 4.8 -4.1
Ricky Seals-Jones WAS TE 6 0.1 -5.9

Rob Gronkowski certainly stands out as a massive whiff in last week’s model. In a plus-matchup against the Carolina Panthers, Gronkowski was essentially a non-factor, while the running backs and Antonio Brown did most of the Buccaneers’ damage offensively. He and Donovan Peoples-Jones are the only two players from last week to under-perform expectations by more than ten fantasy points. While Kenny Golladay and Darius Slayton’s forgetful Week 16s are to be expected with the Giants’ quarterback issues, Mike Gesicki has no excuse to be under-performing his dozen-fantasy point expectation. Gesicki has been overshadowed by Jaylen Waddle nearly every time the two are on the field together this season.

Breakout Receiver Model Recommendations

Breakout Receiver Top Candidates

Note: Click the image to view the visualization in full resolution.

Insights and Takeaways

  • This week’s model only features one player who has never made the list this season, a gentle reminder of the finite number of consistent fantasy-relevant receiving options we actually have on a season-by-season basis. That player is the Patriots’ N’Keal Harry, who had run just 66 total routes this season prior to Week 15. Since that time, Harry has run an additional 51 routes, earning a target from Mac Jones on nearly 22% of them. The Patriots are 15.5-point home favorites against Jacksonville this weekend.
  • This week’s model has a weekly repeat rate of 57.7%. Over half of the players listed here were a part of last week’s version of the model, and the observed repeat rate for this week is higher than all but one week this season. This aligns with the general finding that this model not only finds under-performing players but is fairly successful in identifying under-performing passing offenses on a team level. Baltimore, Chicago, and Jacksonville continue to top the board's under-performing players per week.
  • 58% of the players listed this week have appeared in the breakout model in at least four weeks this season. Marquise Brown appears for the 10th time, while Mike Gesicki appears for the ninth week out of 14.
  • Finally, whether it’s due to quarterback changes, injuries, or end-of-season variance, we’ve noticed a slight negative trend in the efficiency score for players listed in the weekly model results. The average efficiency score of 94.3 represents the lowest average score that the model has seen by a wide margin. The previous low was 98.8, and ten of 14 weeks have seen average scores over 100. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that the players in this week’s model have a lower probability of hitting their expected fantasy points, it also indicates that the general caliber of players on this list is slightly lower than in week’s past. It might be a good week to focus on the superstars on the list, rather than the role players.

Breakout Receiver Model: Week 17

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