Wide Receiver #3 By Committee
By Jeff Pasquino
August 25th, 2011

Over the past few years, there have been two very popular articles written by our very own Chase Stuart that look at an interesting approach to building a fantasy team with late value picks. Based upon the theory of using both Strength of Schedule ("SOS") and taking two players as a combination to build one very good player, he has discussed both Team Defense by Committee ("TDBC") and Quarterback by Committee ("QBBC") as a general fantasy league strategy. In general I think that this is a wise move because very early on in fantasy drafts there are a ton of RB and WR prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at QB and also a few choice defenses, I do not see a huge need in leagues to pursue either too hard in the beginning stages of a fantasy draft.

So with this in mind, I started to think about what else can be done with the committee approach. Tight end? Perhaps. Running back? Maybe. Wide receiver? Hmmm, that's really intriguing, but we should probably look at say the third starting option - "Fantasy WR3". What if you could grab two wide receivers later in the draft that could combine to perform on a WR3 - or even WR2 - level, based solely on their current projections and their schedule? Now we're talking. This really got my attention, so I went after this. Let's take a look at how I went about this and then we can digest and discuss the results.

Eligible Receivers

So how to begin? Defenses and quarterbacks are relatively easy to "committee" together. There's usually only one QB and certainly only one team defense per NFL club, so the approach is pretty simple as far as picking out which players / teams to try and pair up. When it comes to wide receivers, the line is not quite so easy to draw, but I needed some basis to pick which players it made sense to try and combine for a decent committee. I decided that I would use the following criteria to decide which players to start with for evaluating:

Criteria #1 - WR37 and Beyond

This seems pretty simple. If we want to have a duo that puts up WR3 numbers, that means we want WR36 or better production - else we would just draft WR36 or higher and forget the whole idea. So here is the list of players with which I started, based on their Average Draft Position (ADP):

ADP
Wide Receiver
ADP
Wide Receiver
WR34
Johnny Knox
WR47
Robert Meachem
WR35
Michael Crabtree
WR48
Steve Smith
WR36
Mike Thomas
WR49
Danny Amendola
WR37
Braylon Edwards
WR50
Davone Bess
WR38
Jacoby Ford
WR51
James Jones
WR39
Malcom Floyd
WR52
Roy Williams
WR40
Mike Williams (Sea)
WR53
Jerome Simpson
WR41
Hines Ward
WR54
Steve Breaston
WR42
Mike Sims-Walker
WR55
Greg Little
WR43
Jordy Nelson
WR56
Donald Driver
WR44
Deion Branch
WR59
Derrick Mason
WR45
Plaxico Burress
WR60
Emmanuel Sanders
WR46
Lance Moore
 
 

Table 1: Wide Receivers WR34-WR60 Based on ADP

Note that this year is a little different, so I had to expand the list a little (WR34-60 instead of the usual WR37-60) but I glossed over both Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Now that there are 25 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 300 potential committees, so there had better be a decent one (or several, we hope) out of all of those couplets. Now, before I go over the method of how to pair them up and the results, we need one more rule:

Criteria #2 - No more than one WR from Round 7 and one from Round 8.

This could get tricky here, but understand the overall goal. The point of WR3BC is to "free up" the first 6 rounds of your fantasy draft to pursue 2-3 receivers after grabbing a stud RB in Round 1. After six rounds you can have 2-3RBs, 2-3 WRs and possibly even a stud QB or TE, depending on your personal preference, or even to get your WR3 have the "WR3BC" be your WR4. Flexibility is the name of the game here. We all want value in our drafts, and having the ability to grab two WRs in Rounds 7 and 8 to act as our WR3BC gives us that ability.

The good news this year is that most of the players that will be under consideration for WR3BC will have ADPs that are not prior to Round 7. That should make life much easier to grab two wide receivers in Rounds 7-10 and not have to worry about them not being there when we make our move.

So what do we do now to figure out some WR pairs?

Criteria #3 - Use Footballguys' WR Strength of Schedule

This sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Just take the WR Strength of Schedule to figure out when certain players are more likely to score well. What I did is similar to what the Projections Dominator and Draft Dominator do for you - take the projected fantasy points and slice them up over 16 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the "distributed fantasy points" for each receiver.

After I had all 25 wide receivers with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible WR pairs to find the best duos for WR3BC. So here we are - time for some results.

Rk
Wide Receiver 1
Wide Receiver 2
Value
1
Mike Thomas
Jacoby Ford
128.4
2
Mike Thomas
Lance Moore
126.2
3
Mike Thomas
Roy Williams
126.0
4
Mike Thomas
Robert Meachem
125.2
5
Mike Thomas
Mike Sims-Walker
124.5
6
Mike Thomas
Greg Little
124.5
7
Mike Thomas
Jerome Simpson
124.3
8
Mike Thomas
Davone Bess
124.1
9
Mike Thomas
Braylon Edwards
124.0
10
Mike Thomas
Mike Williams
124.0
11
Mike Thomas
Hines Ward
123.7
12
Mike Thomas
Danny Amendola
123.7
13
Johnny Knox
Mike Thomas
123.7
14
Mike Thomas
Malcom Floyd
123.6
15
Mike Thomas
Deion Branch
123.3
16
Mike Thomas
Jordy Nelson
123.0
17
Michael Crabtree
Mike Thomas
123.0
18
Mike Thomas
James Jones
122.9
19
Mike Thomas
Plaxico Burress
122.6
20
Mike Thomas
Steve Breaston
122.6
21
Mike Thomas
Emmanuel Sanders
122.6
22
Mike Thomas
Donald Driver
122.4
23
Mike Thomas
Derrick Mason
122.3
24
Jacoby Ford
Lance Moore
122.1
25
Mike Thomas
Steve Smith
121.3
26
Jacoby Ford
Robert Meachem
120.9
27
Jacoby Ford
Jerome Simpson
119.9
28
Jacoby Ford
Malcom Floyd
119.8
29
Jacoby Ford
Greg Little
119.3
30
Braylon Edwards
Jacoby Ford
119.2
31
Jacoby Ford
Hines Ward
119.1
32
Jacoby Ford
Davone Bess
118.8
33
Jacoby Ford
Mike Williams
118.7
34
Jacoby Ford
Mike Sims-Walker
118.7
35
Jacoby Ford
Danny Amendola
118.1
36
Michael Crabtree
Jacoby Ford
118.1
37
Mike Thomas
n/a
118.0
38
Jacoby Ford
Emmanuel Sanders
118.0
39
Jacoby Ford
Deion Branch
118.0
40
Jacoby Ford
Steve Breaston
117.5
41
Jacoby Ford
Steve Smith
117.1
42
Lance Moore
Roy Williams
116.1
43
Jacoby Ford
Roy Williams
115.8
44
Robert Meachem
Roy Williams
114.3
45
Jacoby Ford
Plaxico Burress
113.2
46
Jacoby Ford
Jordy Nelson
113.2
47
Jacoby Ford
Derrick Mason
113.2
48
Jacoby Ford
James Jones
113.2
49
Jacoby Ford
Donald Driver
113.2
50
Johnny Knox
Jacoby Ford
113.2
51
Jacoby Ford
n/a
113.2

Table 2: Wide Receiver #3 Committee Pairs

As we can see from Table 2, we have some very good pairs to select from for WR3BC. Picking a baseline wide receiver usually means going with WR36 (from projections, Robert Meachem, 97 points) but as I said before, this is not a typical year. So if I went with a typical WR3 from both projections and ADP lists and used Carolina's Steve Smith as the baseline for comparison. With that choice there is not as huge of an amount (51 sets) of pairs that are worth more than Smith (ADP WR30) by his lonesome, who is projected to come in with 111.3 points, but it is a strong sign that a solid WR3BC is possible. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Wide Receiver
Frq
Wide Receiver
Frq
Wide Receiver
Frq
Jacoby Ford
25
Deion Branch
2
Jordy Nelson
2
Mike Thomas
25
Derrick Mason
2
Malcom Floyd
2
Roy Williams
4
Donald Driver
2
Michael Crabtree
2
Lance Moore
3
Emmanuel Sanders
2
Mike Sims-Walker
2
Robert Meachem
3
Greg Little
2
Mike Williams
2
Braylon Edwards
2
Hines Ward
2
Plaxico Burress
2
Danny Amendola
2
James Jones
2
Steve Breaston
2
Davone Bess
2
Jerome Simpson
2
Steve Smith
2
Johnny Knox
2

Table 3: Wide Receiver #3 Committee Pair Appearances by Player

As we can see from Table 3, both Mike Thomas and Jacoby Ford dominate the list, but three other WRs also show up more than twice - Roy Williams, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem. As I said before, this is not a typical year so even the top names from Table 1 are suspect for a good committee. That is important to note as knowing this information can give you a decided advantage for your draft(s). It is even more important to note that very strange zero at the bottom of the column - which means that two players (Mike Thomas, Jacoby Ford) are ahead of Carolina's Steve Smith all by himself.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have 51 possible pairs that are better than Carolina's Steve Smith, what exactly does that mean? Should Smith be the basis of our comparison? Of course not. Remember our goal - find a pair of wide receivers that can combine for WR3 (or better) fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for WR13 through WR36, using non-PPR scoring, sorted by projected fantasy points:

ADP
WR Rk
Wide Receiver
FPs
FP Rk
33
12
Dwayne Bowe
147.9
12
36
13
Mike Williams (TB)
146.9
13
41
14
Dez Bryant
146.5
14
53
20
Santonio Holmes
146.0
15
52
19
Brandon Lloyd
142.1
16
61
22
Percy Harvin
138.9
17
42
15
Brandon Marshall
136.5
18
74
28
Mario Manningham
134.2
19
57
21
Steve Johnson
128.3
20
70
26
Kenny Britt
127.4
21
46
16
Marques Colston
127.2
22
68
25
Austin Collie
126.9
23
62
23
Anquan Boldin
126.1
24
47
17
Wes Welker
123.6
25
96
36
Mike Thomas
117.9
26
80
31
A.J. Green
117.1
27
84
32
Julio Jones
115.3
28
85
33
Santana Moss
114.8
29
111
38
Jacoby Ford
113.2
30
66
24
Sidney Rice
112.7
31
78
30
Steve Smith (CAR)
111.3
32
75
29
Chad Ochocinco
108.3
33
141
52
Roy Williams
104.8
34
124
46
Lance Moore
101.4
35
132
47
Robert Meachem
97.0
36

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for WRs 13-36

Based on Table 4, we see that WRs beyond the Top 16-20 are really jumbled all over the place. Some are going to early in drafts (Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Marshall) based on current projections, while others are available at what appears to be a discount. Filtering through all of this "noise", we see some players that catch our eye. Wes Welker (WR25, 123.6 fantasy points projected) is the last of the "upper tier" of wideouts that are projected to top 120 fantasy points in 2011. Looking at our possible pairs, we have 17 duos that beat 123 fantasy points, while the top pair lines up well against Steve Johnson (WR20, 128.3 points). This tells us that choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted - WR3 production (and actually low end WR2) on the cheap.

Considering all of the results, the recipe looks very clear - get Mike Thomas in Round 8 and come right back in Round 9 to pick up Jacoby Ford. Grabbing Thomas in Round 8 allows you to choose from several other WRs that will post numbers comparable to a WR3 and close to a WR2 if someone gets ambitious and selects Ford too early. That is why I am recommending Mike Thomas and Jacoby Ford as the WR3BC for 2011.

For thoroughness Table 5 should be your guide on Fantasy Draft Day if you attempt to use WR3BC. One option is to take Thomas in Round 8 and then grab the next WR on the list that you like, with a strong preference to Lee Evans.

Rk
Wide Receiver 1
Wide Receiver 2
Value
ADP1
ADP2
1
Mike Thomas
Jacoby Ford
128.4
36
38
2
Mike Thomas
Lance Moore
126.2
36
46
3
Mike Thomas
Roy Williams
126.0
36
52
4
Mike Thomas
Robert Meachem
125.2
36
47
5
Mike Thomas
Greg Little
124.5
36
55
6
Mike Thomas
Mike Sims-Walker
124.5
36
42
7
Mike Thomas
Jerome Simpson
124.3
36
53
8
Mike Thomas
Davone Bess
124.1
36
50
9
Mike Thomas
Braylon Edwards
124.0
36
37
10
Mike Thomas
Mike Williams (Sea)
124.0
36
40
11
Mike Thomas
Hines Ward
123.7
36
41
12
Johnny Knox
Mike Thomas
123.7
34
36
13
Mike Thomas
Danny Amendola
123.7
36
49
14
Mike Thomas
Malcom Floyd
123.6
36
39
15
Mike Thomas
Deion Branch
123.3
36
44
16
Mike Thomas
Jordy Nelson
123.0
36
43
17
Michael Crabtree
Mike Thomas
123.0
35
36

Table 5: Top 17 WR3BC Options for 2011

Here is a final summary of the combined schedules for Jacoby Ford and Mike Thomas, and when the committee approach suggests starting each one:

Wk
Suggested Starter
Opponent
1
Mike Thomas
Tennessee
2
Mike Thomas
at New York Jets
3
Jacoby Ford
New York Jets
4
Jacoby Ford
New England
5
Jacoby Ford
at Houston
6
Jacoby Ford
Cleveland
7
Jacoby Ford
Kansas City
8
Mike Thomas
at Houston
9
Jacoby Ford
Denver
10
Mike Thomas
at Indianapolis
11
Mike Thomas
at Cleveland
12
Mike Thomas
Houston
13
Jacoby Ford
at Miami
14
Mike Thomas
Tampa Bay
15
Mike Thomas
at Atlanta
16
Mike Thomas
at Tennessee

Table 6: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.

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