So far in this series I’ve looked over the ADP/Reality ratio of quarterbacks and running backs. As you might have guessed, quarterbacks are the more stable, i.e. overly protected, of the two and live up to their Average Draft Positions more readily. This week I’m going to look at wide receivers and how well their ADP holds up.
Calvin Johnson – ADP 1 (Finish 1) – Megatron lived up to his number one ADP quite well in 2012. He now holds the record for the most receiving yards in a season and was able to lead all receivers in fantasy points with a measly five touchdowns! Yes, I think that deserves an exclamation point.
Megatron caught a touchdown every 12 receptions in '07, 6.5 in '08, 13.4 in '09, 6.4 in '10, 6.0 in '11, and a whopping 24.4 in '12. For his career, including last season’s numbers, Johnson has caught one touchdown per nine receptions. If you give him that ratio for last season, he ends up with 13.5 touchdowns instead of five. That kind of season puts his fantasy numbers into Carl Sagan territory.
So, the touchdowns should go back up, but of course the career highs in yardage and receptions should fall back to human-like numbers. For us fantasy players, those touchdowns are important. As you’ll see further down, another receiver almost knocked Megatron out of the top spot, but had 400+ fewer receiving yards.
Larry Fitzgerald – ADP 2 (Finish 41) – Oh, so was Fitzgerald hurt in 2012? He must have played half a season to finish as the 41st best fantasy wide receiver, right? No and no. Fitzgerald had career lows in about every possible way last season and played in all 16 games. Of course we can look at the horrid quarterback play to shed some light on last year, but even with awful quarterbacks in 2011, Fitzgerald caught 80 passes for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns on 153 targets. In 2012, on exactly the same amount of targets, he had 71 receptions for 798 yards and 4 TDs.
Amazingly the quarterback play declined from 2011 to 2012. I know it’s hard to believe, but looking at Pro Football Focus’ catchable target numbers would make any Cardinals’ fan run in horror. According to Pro Football Focus’ data, since '08 Larry Fitzgerald has caught 40 of 42 catchable passes of 20 yards or more. That is awesome. He is awesome. It would be hard not to put him as 1-2 with Calvin Johnson in ability. But here is the opposite of those awesome numbers; in 2012 he only had two catchable targets over 20 yards. He went ahead and caught those two, but had 24 non-catchable targets over 20 yards, that yes, he did not catch. Twenty-four!
If you get the ball where he can catch it, he will go ahead and catch it. Carson Palmer isn’t going to make the Cardinals great, but it’s hard not to believe he can’t help Fitzgerald at least return to top 10 status, which isn’t saying that much, since Fitzgerald is a top 3 receiver.
Andre Johnson – ADP 3 (Finish 7) – Last season A.J. had his second highest reception total and highest yardage total for his career. But of course that didn’t coincide with a high in touchdown receptions when he finished with a paltry four. Much like Calvin Johnson, Andre had a career low in touchdowns per receptions with one for every 28 receptions. And for Johnson to have a career low in a stat that he’s always lagged in, you know it was bad.
The Texans were a run first and run in the red zone team and it hurt Johnson’s touchdown numbers. His career high is only nine touchdowns in 2009, but that would have been a huge boost to his fantasy numbers, elevating him to the third best fantasy receiver in the league, right at his ADP.
Johnson will be 32 before the start of next season and he has had injury issues in the past, so there are some warning flags to heed, but after a close to career year at 31 and a Texans team that will still be without a viable option in the passing game outside of Johnson, he’ll be on my radar once again.
Julio Jones – ADP 4 (Finish 9) – Jones was one of the most explosive and inconsistent wide receivers of 2012. For some reason he did the bulk of his damage on the road, with 119 of his 173 fantasy points away from Atlanta. More than anything, that just shows his inconsistency from game to game rather than a fear of domes.
The demise of Roddy White and ascension of Jones is what many thought would allow him to be a top 5 receiver, but it was a battle all season as to which of the two would be the top dog. Jones found the end zone more, but White was the yardage and reception leader once again. But just because that switch didn’t completely take place in ’12 doesn’t mean it isn’t inevitable and happening. Jones will be in my top-5 this year.
Greg Jennings – ADP 4 (Finish 74) – When Jennings isn’t hurt, he still has some juice, as seen in the last two weeks of the season when he caught 15 passes and three touchdowns, but one thing he hasn’t been lately is healthy.
His 2013 outlook will be contingent on Christian Ponder taking a step up, but as long as he’s healthy, he will be the main target in Minnesota.
Roddy White – ADP 5 (Finish 10) – Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, but the uptick in production from the Falcons passing game was the main reason White was able to stay a top-10 fantasy receiver. With the increase in production for Matt Ryan, Jones and White were able to both finish top-10, but if there was a bigger disparity between the two we would have seen more of a top 5 and top 15 split. It seems inevitable that Jones will widen that gap next season, but White is still a top receiver, especially in PPR leagues.