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Mon Jul 26th 2021

Positional Philosophy: Wide Receivers

During the dead weeks in July before NFL training camps start on July 27th, I thought I would write about my dynasty philosophy for each position. Last week I wrote about my philosophy at the tight end. This week I share my positional philosophy with wide receivers.

Draft Early In Start-Up Drafts 

  • Wide receivers have longer fantasy careers than running backs, so I believe in drafting wide receivers in the early rounds of standard drafts. When I first started playing dynasty, I would almost always draft a wide receiver in the first round of start-up drafts. I drafted Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones in the first round of start-ups. While I still believe in drafting wide receivers early, I've adapted my strategy a bit by often drafting one anchor running back before drafting wide receivers with the next several picks. I've drafted Christian McCaffery and Alvin Kamara in more recent start-ups before hammering the wide receiver position. In superflex leagues, I aim to draft a top-tier quarterback and an anchor running back before loading up on wide receivers. It's the longevity at the position that makes me prefer to have stronger receivers on my roster more than stronger running backs, especially if I have at least one stud running back. That's is how I build my rosters in almost every league, but especially in PPR leagues.

 Draft Early In Rookie Drafts

  • While rookie running backs usually break out earlier than wide receivers, I am not afraid to draft wide receivers over running backs in rookie drafts, even early in the draft. I regularly have wide receivers ahead of the top running backs in my non-superflex rookie rankings. Ja'Maar Chase is my number one ranked rookie ahead of Najee Harris this year. I have DeVonta Smith ranked ahead of Javonte Williams too. I did draft Harris ahead of Chase in one league this year, but only because it's a salary cap and contract league, where I'm loaded at wide receiver and have Kamara and Ekeler's contract expiring at the end of this season. Last year, I drafted CeeDee Lamb ahead of Cam Akers and D'Andre Swift. In most years, there is a consensus top 2-4 running backs in the rookie class. If I'm highly confident in the NFL potential of a wide receiver, I'll gladly take one over a running back for the same reason I draft them early in start-up drafts. They have longer careers.

Patience With Rookies

  • Though many receivers have had incredible seasons in their first year in recent years, it still tends to be the exception to the rule. For every Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb, there are far more Jalen Reagors and Jerry Jeudy. I think it's wise to be patient with wide receivers and give them at least three years before considering cutting or trading them. I recently cut J.J. Arcega Whiteside after just two years in the NFL, but primarily because of the fact that the Eagles drafted back to back wide receivers in the first round since drafting J.J. Certain circumstances will cause me to cut a receiver after their second year, but I like to give receivers at least three years on my roster if at all possible. I'm still holding shares of Kelvin Harmon on several teams as he enters his third season. I have shares of KeKe Coutee, hoping he will finally earn a starting role this year. I am hanging on to Preston Williams, even though the addition of Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle is not promising. I'm not tempted to move on from Jalen Reagor, Bryan Edwards, or Quitez Cephus though they had poor rookie seasons. They will all likely be on my rosters even if they don't break out this season.

Ceilings Mixed With Floors

  • I like to keep my roster filled with wide receivers with high ceilings and high floors week to week. I love having a few high-ceiling guys that can go for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a week. Such performances can win a week for my teams. At the same time, I love having high-floor guys that I know will rarely get less than 5-7 catches and 50-75 yards. Such performances can keep my teams from losing a week. Julio Jones, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Devante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, and Mike Evans can win me weeks by themselves. Keenan Allen, Jarvis Landry, Brandin Cooks, Tyler Boyd, and Robby Anderson keep me from losing weeks most of the time. I like sprinkling my lineup with the upside and steadiness of players like these and find that it helps me win many games.

Route-Runners and Red-Zoners

  • In a similar vein, I like sprinkling my lineups with route-runners and what I'll call red-zoners. I'm not bothered by the fact that Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Jarvis Landry, and Brandin Cooks never score double-digit touchdowns because they are always open, and thus, always targeted. Wide receivers who pile up catches and yards are far more important to me than those that score touchdowns or are great red-zone targets. I am pleased to have a few red-zone targets like DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Brown, Devante Adams, and Mike Evans, who have had double-digit touchdown seasons in their careers and are great red-zone threats, but I prefer to fill my rosters with guys who just get open a lot, not to say that the red-zoners are not great route-runners too.

Target Top Targets

  • I do my best to have three to four wide receivers on my rosters that are the top target on their perspective teams. To start a lineup each week with four wide receivers who I'm positive will get the most targets on their team that week is a great relief. I have several number two options in starting lineups on my squads, too, especially if they are in pass-first offenses, like CeeDee Lamb, Robby Anderson, and Cole Beasley. But I try my best to start a lineup with top targets like DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Kennan Allen, Devante Adams, Terry McLaurin, and what once was Julio Jones and Adam Thielen. I have a lot of confidence in my team each week if I am assured that my top three receivers are all but guaranteed 30 targets combine that week, if not more.

Greater Depth In PPR and Multi-Flex Leagues

  • I prefer to start wide receivers over running backs in PPR leagues and multi-flex leagues, especially in half or full PPR leagues. As a result, I roster far more wide receivers in those types of leagues than running backs. I have one league with three flex spots, and I start wide receivers in all of them. In my leagues that are all flex or 1-RB minimum, it's common for me to start one running back and the rest of the roster with wide receivers or tight ends in tight end premium leagues. Again, wide receivers have longer careers, so I fill my roster with wide receivers in leagues like this. In more standard roster leagues, I usually roster about the same amount of running backs and wide receivers, about 33% of my roster. Whereas in PPR and multi-flex leagues, wide receivers comprise more like 40% of my roster.

Ride Them Until They Die

  • I rarely trade an aging wide receiver to get younger or to acquire draft picks. I tend to ride them until they die. When running backs fall off the cliff, the data is much more steady, in my opinion, than it is at wide receiver. Receivers can have top twelve to twenty-four seasons well into their lower to mid-thirties. For right or wrong, I've not been one willing to trade players like DeAndre Hopkins, Adam Thielen, Julio Jones, and Keenan Allen, even though they're approaching or over the age of thirty now. I never seem to find the right price for selling them, and most of the time, I see a player like this sold, they are sold at a discount by rebuilding teams that rarely get back what they lost in production in their rookie drafts because it's rookie picks are somewhat of a crapshoot, and the team that acquires the older receivers usually makes a great playoff runs, and the old receiver is one of their starters for the next two to three years. I know I am likely an exception when it comes to this conviction, but I ride receivers until they die on my teams, which is why my teams, as you will see, tend to have a lot of older wide receivers.

Quarterback Bump

  • Two weeks ago, I mentioned how I don't pay attention to the team or scheme at the running back position because of my belief that running backs can thrive no matter the condition of their teams or schemes. That's not true for me at the wide receiver position. Receivers, naturally, are forever tied to their quarterback. While there are the occasional Allen Robinsons of the world who can produce over several years without excellent quarterback play, more often than not, good quarterbacks elevate the play of their wide receivers. That's why the team's quarterback is a huge factor in what players I draft, acquire in trades, or pick up off the waiver wire. If Aaron Rodgers does not play for Green Bay this year, my team with Devante Adams will suffer immensely. My confidence drafting CeeDee Lamb last year was significantly raised by the fact that he'd be paired with Dak Prescott. I dropped Keenan Allen, one of my all-time favorite receivers, down considerably in my dynasty rankings last year after Phillip Rivers left for Indianapolis, but once Justin Herbert proved himself, Keenan moved back into my top ten. Wide receivers, more than any other position, have their dynasty value and rankings changed based on the men they have passing them the ball. My ranking change considerably from year to year as the quarterbacks shuffle from team to team, especially over this last offseason!

Don't Diversify My Portfolio

  • As you'll see here in a moment when you look at the wide receivers I have rostered, I don't believe in diversifying my portfolio very much. I have a lot of the same players on many of my teams. They are the wide receivers I like and trust, so I have found ways to add them to my teams over the years, even if I already have them on other teams. I have Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, and Robby Anderson on four of my teams (50%), Keenan Allen, DeVante Parker, and Sterling Shepard on three of my eight teams, and ten other receivers on two of my teams. I drafted Dyami Brown and Josh Palmer in three or four leagues this year. My teams look a lot alike, and I'm perfectly fine with that reality.

Wide Receivers On My Rosters

  • Dynasty Diagnostic Champions League (12-team, PPR): Tee Higgins, Brandin Cooks, Robby Anderson, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Cole Beasley, Sterling Shepard, Tyron Johnson, and Kelvin Harmon.
  • All-Flex League (14-team, Half PPR): Kenny Golladay, Brandin Cooks, Adam Thielen, Robby Anderson, DeVante Parker, T.Y. Hilton, Randall Cobb, Keke Coutee, and Preston Williams.
  • FFPC (12-team, PPR): Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks, Rashod Bateman, Robby Anderson, Jarvis Landry, Jamison Crowder, Cole Beasley, and Sterling Shepard.
  • Reality Sports Online (12-team, PPR): Devante Adams, CeeDee Lamb, Terry McLaurin, Brandon Aiyuk, Robby Anderson, Dyami Brown, Josh Palmer, Quintez Cephus, Breshad Perriman, and Devin Duvernay.
  • Diehards (12-team, Half PPR): Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, Robert Woods, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, Sterling Shepard, Josh Reynolds, Keke Coutee, DeSean Jackson, and Kelvin Harmon.
  • Freeks (10-team, Half PPR): A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Deebo Samuel, Josh Reynolds, Marquez Callaway, and Kelvin Harmon.
  • Good Times (10-team, Half PPR): Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, Laviska Shenault, Deebo Samuel, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Dyami Brown, Josh Palmer, Sterling Shepard, Sammy Watkins, Quintez Cephus, Keke Coutee, and Frank Darby.
  • Keeper (10-team, Half PPR): Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Tyler Lockett, Tyler Boyd, Jarvis Landry, Jalen Reagor, Bryan Edwards, Dyami Brown, Josh Reynolds, Keke Coutee, Tyrell Williams, and Kelvin Harmon.

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