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2019 Wide Receiver Profiles

by Hayden Winks

Before we start looking at the 2019 wide receiver prospects, what is the obsession with SPARQ? It’s the go-to baseline of athletic performance, but the r-square between SPARQ and PPR points per game in NFL seasons one through four for wide receivers is just 0.015, meaning only 1.5% of the variation in fantasy points can be explained by SPARQ. It’s essentially meaningless because the formula doesn’t change from position to position when the specific athletic traits necessary to win in the NFL drastically change from position to position. If you want to see an example, check out this thread on Alex Barnes and his 99th-percenilte SPARQ score. Alex Barnes is a perfect example of why I’m using position-adjusted SPARQ from this point forward.

To calculate wide receiver adjusted SPARQ, I simply ran a regression with NFL PPR points per game and the variables calculated in traditional SPARQ. The r-squared of that relationship is 0.056, which still isn’t great but it’s certainly an improvement since it puts less weight on the bench press and more weight on speed and agility. Here’s the formula if you care: WR-adjusted SPARQ = −17.6852 + (Height*0.195555) + (Weight*0.00194266) + (Forty*1.36177) + (TenYardSplit*−13.3143) + (Bench*0.0128136) + (Vertical*0.0750963) + (Broad*0.0499102) + (ShortShuttle*−3.36748) + (ThreeCone*4.22345)

But there are much better ways to calculate athleticism than even the above formula, which is already better than SPARQ. One quick way to improve results is to separate the big receivers from the small ones. There is a weak-to-moderate relationship between NFL success and the agility drills (short shuttle and three-cone) for shorter wide receivers, and almost zero relationship between NFL success and those two tests for larger wide receivers. But SPARQ doesn’t re-calibrate the coefficients in its formula, so it’s spitting out an athletic score that is meaningless. My “Athletic Scores” hold more predictive power than SPARQ -- the under 6’0 model has an r-squared of 0.105, the 6’0 to 6’2.49 model has an r-squared of 0.085, and the 6’2.5 or taller model has an r-squared of 0.125 -- but they are still much worse than the on-field stats, so I’m omitting the “Athletic Scores” from the player profiles to focus on things that are the most predictive. However, athleticism is accounted for in the other parts of the player profile.

 

2019 Wide Receiver Prospects:

The wide receivers are listed in alphabetical order by first name. You’ll see where each of these prospects rank historically by looking at the percentiles in the prospect profile, which includes these categories:

  • Proj. PPR Points: The percentile rank of my model that is projecting NFL PPR fantasy points per game.

  • Yardage Score: The percentile rank of my model that is projecting NFL receiving yards per game.

  • Touchdown Score: The percentile rank of my model that is projecting NFL receiving touchdowns per game.

  • High YPR Score: The percentile rank of my model that is projecting NFL yards per reception. Deep threats tend to have a higher score.

  • Catch Rate Score: The percentile rank of my model that is projecting NFL catch rate. Slot receivers tend to have a higher score.

 

 

Career Stats: 189 - 2,984 - 19

YPT Versus Team: +2.4

TD% Versus Team: +0.3%

Marginal Efficiency: 10.4% (22nd)

Marginal Explosion: 0.52 (14th)

250 Characters or Less: A.J. Brown had two-straight 75-catch, 1,250-yard seasons and tested well at the Combine (4.49 at 226), so there aren’t many holes in his profile. While not as flashy as D.K. Metcalf, Brown offers a high floor and is a no-brainer pick in Round 2. Draft Over/Under: 40

 

Career Stats: 231 - 3,526 - 30

YPT Versus Team: +4.5

TD% Versus Team: +3.3%

Marginal Efficiency: 12.1% (18th)

Marginal Explosion: 0.61 (9th)

250 Characters or Less: Andy Isabella led the FBS in receiving (1,698) and then ran a 4.31-second forty, enough to earn a 2nd round grade after adjusting for size. Isabella can get vertical with Brandin Cooks-level upside. Worst case, he’s a returner and explosive role player. Draft Over/Under: 80
 

 

Career Stats: 133 - 2,367 - 25

YPT Versus Team: +4.1 (6th)

TD% Versus Team: +6.5% (5th)

Marginal Efficiency: 9.7% (28th)

Marginal Explosion: 0.78 (8th)

250 Characters or Less: I’m waiting for Anthony Johnson’s forty time to finish his profile, but he tested poorly in the vertical (32) and 3-cone (7.12). Johnson was productive (2,367 yards in last two seasons), but he was also 22 and 23 years old doing so. He’s a Day 3 player. Draft Over/Under: 175

 

 

Career Stats: 98 - 1,547 - 9

YPT Versus Team: +3.8

TD% Versus Team: +2.3%

Marginal Efficiency: 14.9% (14th)

Marginal Explosion: 0.45 (25th)

250 Characters or Less: I’m waiting for Antoine Wesley’s forty time to finish his profile, but I remain optimistic on Wesley as a 3rd-rounder after a huge 2018 season as 20-year old, especially since he added a few pounds to his slender frame. Wesley is WR2/3 play-maker. Draft Over/Under: 100

 

 

Career Stats: 67 - 1,228 - 14

YPT Versus Team: +4.9

TD% Versus Team: +8.1%

Marginal Efficiency: 20.2% (4th)

Marginal Explosion: 0.86 (6th)

250 Characters or Less: D.K. Metcalf is off the charts in terms of on-field efficiency and size-speed, but he also missed lots of games at Ole Miss and has really bad agility scores. The negatives move Metcalf closer to the 20-30 overall range, but he’s a scary vertical threat. Draft Over/Under: 14

If you don't see a player listed that you are curious about, please reach out to me on Twitter (@HaydenWinks) and I can pull up the player profile for you.

I'll also be updating the page with pro day testing results filtering in.

Hayden Winks