By Tyler Dell

Listen, even I would agree that in most redraft formats, your best chance to win (depending on the draft slot) is to go RB-RB with your first two picks and attack WR in the later rounds. The volume that comes with most elite fantasy RB’s in the short term is probably the best weapon one can yield in almost any format on a year to year basis. Volume Is king, this is news to no one. It’s also BORING. I mean, seriously how awful are RB’s to debate…. it’s fairly straight forward.

“Will this RB X get the majority of his team’s carries?”

“How involved in the passing game is he?”

“How good is his offense/how often is he facing a loaded box”

“How athletic is he?”

…Blah blah blah, GOT IT! Do you know what’s a real Rubik’s cube? Freakin Wide receivers man….

During this two-part breakdown, we will focus on how to be more successful when drafting or acquiring young WR talent when it comes to dynasty football. 

Full disclosure, I have 0 years of NFL RB or WR experience. I’m a guy on the internet watching film on YouTube and scanning lines and lines of numbers trying to find a pattern of success. All during a lunch break from my IT help desk job.

…Clearly I’m an expert and I’d like to share some of my findings from the few years I have been playing dynasty and developed a specific appreciation for the WR position. Some would go as far as to use the term “Hard on.”

What is it about the WR position that makes them so damn groovy? For starters they actually EARN the touches they get on a regular basis. Not that many RB’s around the league don’t deserve the ball but throughout the course of a fantasy season many running backs find themselves with 15-20 touches a game falling in their lap because of an injury. Most teams just have to run the ball for 35-50% of the plays they execute because well…that’s football.

It is much rarer for the same to happen with the Wide Receiver position. Do good WR’s get hurt resulting in lesser WR getting temporary boosts throughout the year? Of course. But to get dependable volume you have to be open, and to get open you have to be good.

What is the point of all this? Why is this important? It’s important because when you are drafting Wide receivers as rookies or buying/selling them based on what happened their rookie year, you have to get it right. At no point throughout that Receivers career are 10 touches a game just going to fall into their lap. Is David Montgomery good? Does anyone actually know? Does it matter? Don’t be silly OF COURSE it doesn’t matter. The Bears have chosen to endow him with 250 carries next year. He was drafted top 3 in most dynasty rookie drafts last year. He was awful, I mean hot garbage. I bet most owners of David Montgomery if they held on could probably still get a 1st round rookie value of some kind back for him in return. Even if he goes out an average 3 yards a carry next year. He will still likely see a role in 2021. 

How about the Corey Davis owner? How about the Laquon Treadwell owner? Maybe even the Parris Campbell or John Ross owner? What are they getting for their players falling flat on their face early in their career? Is it 250 more touches? Don’t get me wrong there are epic busts at all positions. But in my experience, the WR position is the ultimate double-edged sword when it comes to evaluating them coming into the league. Which is why they are the most fun!

So how do you know who is good? What does a good NFL WR look like before he’s hatched? This overview will cover the two main areas of WR evaluation, the analytical approach and what to look for when watching film.

Let’s start by looking at this question from a metrics standpoint.

BREAKOUT AGE

Anyone who has been looking into dynasty WR metrics for 10 minutes has probably come across an article or website that sites breakout age as a huge indication for future success. As Han Solo once said before Disney ruined Star Wars…”It’s true., all of it.” 

You like to see a breakout age somewhere at 20 or under. Context should also always be involved in viewing this metric. If someone has a breakout age of 18 but they played at Montana…maybe take that breakout age with a grain of salt. On the flip side of the coin, if a player has a breakout age higher than 20 its not an automatic death sentence. If this player went to a school that cranks out NFL caliber prospects every year like USC or Alabama then it’s possible he simply had to wait his turn because the pipeline was stuffed with guys who will be playing on Sunday. It’s a tool, not an end-all-be-all. 

It should be weighted by giving the highest praise to players with the lowest breakout age that played with the best teammates/competition and giving no praise to players with the highest breakout age that played with the lower caliber teammates/worse competition.

^^ *Hakeem Butler has entered the chat* ^^

YARDS PER CATCH/YARDS PER ROUTE RUN

This stat is one that I personally vouch for. The idea of evaluating college players is to obviously pick out the guys who are pros playing amongst the amateurs. Well in my opinion that looks like someone who is averaging between 15-20 yards every time they catch the football. Guys like AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Chris Godwin, Even the almighty Diontae Johnson floated on his cloud for 16.4 yards per catch in college. And an Elite yards per route run is somewhere around 3-4 yards. For context Ceedee Lamb has 3.99 (6.11 from the slot). Jerry Jeudy had 3.31.

The whole idea is essentially how often am I getting the ball and how much am I doing for the team when I get it. Simple enough. Again, context and what play style the prospect embodies should also be taken into account. Someone who can stretch the field and is known as a speed merchant is going to likely have a higher yard per catch naturally. In contrast, someone whose game is more centered around volume and screen or slants might have a lesser yard per catch. Usually, players who make a living in the slot suffer in this metric as well but doesn’t mean there isn’t a place in the NFL for them. Players like JuJu, Cooper Kupp, Michael Thomas all had sub 15 yards per catch.

TARGET SHARE/COLLEGE DOMINATOR RATING

In terms of college dominator, this is another huge one for me. For those that don’t know this is what percentage of the teams receiving yards on the year was this player responsible for. Definitely want to see something higher than 30%. Players who go to smaller schools I would like to see it at 35% or higher. It is forgivable for a player who goes to a top tier school loaded with competition and talent to have lower than 30%. But generally, if I’m going to burn any dynasty pick of value on a player I would like it to be 35% or higher. Target share is pretty straight forward as well, what percentage of the passing attempts are you forcing your way. During a prospect’s most successful season, I like to see this be above 20%. Elite prospects usually hover around 25%. The younger a player hits these marks will correlate to breakout age. Continuity is great, isn’t it?

How are we feeling so far? Enlightened? New and improved? Like the dynasty world is now your oyster? Me too. But you aren’t done! The next step in our journey will come with part two of this breakdown. You must return to Dagobah If you wish to complete your training, young Skywalker. 

Tyler Dell – Dynasty/Devy
Ride or Dynasty
Twitter: @DELL_CO_