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  • Mo Money, Mo Problems: Notorious' NFL Strategy Guide

Wide Receivers

Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

-Ron Swanson, Parks & Recreation

In other words, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Wide receivers are an inconsistent bunch. They gripe about not getting thrown to enough, but I suppose I would, too, when even the top wideouts are only seeing around ten throws their way per game. While we generally know what we can expect from the top tier receivers like Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas, the position as a whole is volatile week to week. Receivers are not nearly as consistent as quarterbacks or running backs because they don’t have the same number of opportunities to succeed.

Game Script

When we look at the game script and how it affects wide receivers, they obviously correlate with the game script of their quarterback, since they are a part of the passing game. If you remember from the quarterback lesson, game script doesn’t affect the passing game as much as it does the running game, but there is some stock to targeting receivers who are expected to be losing.

When a team falls behind early, they are going to employ a pass-heavy game plan in order to cut into the deficit as quickly as possible. There is nothing better than watching your quarterback or receiver rack up the fantasy points in garbage time. The game might not be as meaningful at that point, but garbage time fantasy points are worth just as much as ones that are in close games.

Anticipated Workload

When it comes to receivers, opportunity is all about targets. Targets are fairly predictable each week, although what the receiver does with those targets is not. Like running backs, looking at week-by-week targets can help you identify trends for wide receivers. Redzone targets are also important to look at, as you want your receivers to see the ball thrown his way when his team gets into scoring position.

If you want to get a little more advanced when projecting targets, you can take the total number of expected pass attempts and multiply that by the percentage of targets each receiver has seen on the season. For instance, if we expect Peyton Manning to throw the ball 45 times against the Chargers, and we know that Demaryius Thomas sees around 25 percent of Manning’s targets each week, we can project him to see 11.25 targets that week.

One statistic that is gaining more and more traction is aDOT. It stands for average depth of target. It is a little more useful than yards per reception, as that statistic can be influenced by missed tackles, etc. If they throw a bubble screen to a wideout and he takes it 80 yards for the touchdown, his yards per reception is going to be inflated by that one play. Average depth of target looks to fix that issue, as it measures the average depth of each target thrown to a receiver.

In terms of fantasy production, aDOT is a nice measure of a wide receiver’s upside. It should not be used on a stand-alone basis, but when you can find receivers who see a healthy number of targets deep down field each week, you can really increase your lineup’s upside. Conversely, a player who sees a lot of shorter targets will typically have a higher floor, as the success rate of shorter routes is much higher.

Matchup

Defense vs. Position rankings can be very useful for quarterbacks and running backs, but when it comes to wide receivers, it can be a little misleading. With receivers, it all comes down to their individual matchup. A defense may give up a decent number of fantasy points to wide receivers, but if they have a shutdown corner that routinely keeps WR1s in check, you should only target second and third wideouts against that defense.

Pro Football Focus is a great site to use to find exploitable secondary matchups. They grade every single cornerback on every single play throughout the season. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to figure out which receivers are going to match up with opposing cornerbacks.

Another key statistic that I look at each week is defensive redzone numbers. What percentage of scores is the opponent giving up to wide receivers, relative to running backs or tight ends? If you can find a receiver who sees a healthy dose of targets in the redzone and he is facing a defense that has given up a lot of touchdowns to the passing game, you have yourself an exploitable matchup.

Cash Games

When it comes to cash games, I want the offense to rely on my receivers as much as I can. For that to happen, I like to target the receivers who are both in good matchups and who see consistent targets week to week. Possession receivers are always viable cash game options because they are going to get their six to seven receptions per game, which can be huge on full-PPR sites.

That’s not to say that I never pay up for a top-flight receiver in cash games, but everything has to line up just right. The receiver has to be in a good matchup, he has to see plenty of targets thrown his way each week, and he has to have a fairly high floor. Receivers like Antonio Brown come to mind, as he has been as consistent (if not more so) than any running back over the last two seasons.

Tournaments

For tournaments, the strategy changes completely. We are concerned about maximizing our ceiling, which means we should target the volatile, high-upside receivers in tournaments. This is the time to pay up for wideouts, as well as utilize four wide receiver sets with the flex position. I also like pairing my wideouts with their quarterbacks, as their production is highly correlated, so when one has a big day, the other likely will as well.

Tight Ends

The tight end position is typically an afterthought in weekly fantasy football, unless of course you are paying up for the likes of Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. The game script for a tight end is the same as it is for a wide receiver and predicting targets is a similar process as well. I generally look for value at this position because outside of the elite tight ends in the league, this position is inconsistent to say the least. Pay up for the other position players in cash games.

“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

-Ron Swanson, Parks & Recreation

In other words, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Wide receivers are an inconsistent bunch. They gripe about not getting thrown to enough, but I suppose I would, too, when even the top wideouts are only seeing around ten throws their way per game. While we generally know what we can expect from the top tier receivers like Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas, the position as a whole is volatile week to week. Receivers are not nearly as consistent as quarterbacks or running backs because they don’t have the same number of opportunities to succeed.

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About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

Instructor

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

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