Whether it be DFS or season long, fantasy football is a decision-making game. We try to use the best processes possible to arrive at weekly lineup decisions, then watch the games to see the results. Although there are sure to be bumps in the road, over the course of time we should see positive results if our decision-making processes are positive.
I've collected data on top weekly fantasy scorers at each position, dating back to 2013. For each position in this series, I'll use a 51-game sample size derived from No. 1 fantasy finishers over the last three seasons. I wanted to come up with a data-driven profile for top weekly scorers at every position of fantasy significance. The hope is that these profiles will increase my chances of identifying candidates to score a lot of -- or ideally, the most -- fantasy points at their positions in a given week.
Weekly WR1 Overall Profile (PPR Scoring):
Accounted for multiple touchdowns: 35/51 (68.6%)
Played on team that won the game: 35/51 (68.6%)
Played on team that was favored: 33/51 (64.7%)
Played at home: 28/51 (54.9%)
Faced pass defense ranked 15th or worse in DVOA: 32/51 (62.7%)
Faced pass defense ranked 10th or better in DVOA: 13/51 (25.5%)
Played in game with Vegas total of 47 points or more: 22/51 (43.1%)
Played in game that went over the Vegas total: 37/51 (72.5%)
The PPR scoring format used here slightly lessens the importance of touchdowns for wide receivers, but they obviously still play a big role in overall WR1 scoring. Nearly 70% of overall WR1 point scorers have hit pay dirt twice in the same game. Because touchdown scoring is volatile, this statistic is a reminder that top-scoring performances are not easily predicted on a consistent basis, even when our decision-making process is sound.
Favorites and Winners
As alluded to in the Quarterback piece, in the past I have tried targeting passing-game members who project to play from behind and should theoretically see more passing opportunities. Passing opportunities remain crucial, but quarterbacks and wide receivers who lead their position in weekly scoring are much more often than not imposing their will offensively, and not necessarily trailing and trying to erase deficits. Nearly 65% of overall WR1s played on teams that were favored, and nearly 70% played on teams that won.
Whereas the percentage of top scorers at both quarterback and running back who played at home was 60.8%, the percentage dips to 54.9% at wide receiver. A slight edge still goes to home-game receivers, but targeting wideouts at home should probably be less of a priority than targeting quarterbacks and running backs who are playing at home. This is the percentage breakdown of overall WR1s playing at home versus on the road, and as favorites versus dogs:
Favored at Home: 21/51 (41.2%)
Favored on the Road: 12/51 (23.5%)
Underdogs on the Road: 11/51 (21.6%)
Underdogs at Home: 7/51 (13.7%)
The "Favored at Home" category maintains an advantage, but keep in mind teams that are playing at home tend to be favored in the first place, and these percentages are more spread around than they are for other positions. Most notable is running back, where nearly 53% of top weekly fantasy scores have been recorded by home favorites.
When targeting overall WR1 fantasy scorers, opponent-performance matchups matter less than they do for quarterbacks and running backs. The pool that encompasses receivers facing top-ten pass defenses according to Football Outsiders' DVOA is 10/32 (31.3%). Yet a robust 25.5% of overall WR1 scorers have done their damage against top-ten DVOA pass defenses. Whereas the percentage of overall QB1s was 66.7% against pass defenses rated 15th or worse by DVOA, and the percentage of overall RB1s was 74.5% against run defenses rated 15th or worse, only 62.7% of overall WR1s faced pass defenses rated 15th or worse by Football Outsiders. This is not to suggest that matchups don't matter for wide receivers. Just that they don't matter as much as they do at quarterback and running back.
The findings here were similar to those in the Quarterback writeup. Too often in the past, I've pursued receivers who were underdogs and therefore seemed likely to pile up targets while playing from behind. I'd go as far as to say I've aggressively sought receivers I thought would be on losing teams. There are certainly instances when that kind of process pays off, but shying away from receivers who project to play on winners because their team theoretically may not "need to pass" is a mistake. More appropriately, we should be looking for receivers playing in games wherein that player's team has high-scoring potential and is facing an opponent with the necessary means to retaliate. Nearly 73% of overall WR1s have played in games that went over Vegas' projected total, and nearly 73% of overall WR1s have faced opponents that scored at least 20 points.