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WR3 By Committee

Finding a Third Starting Wide Receiver by Committee for 2016

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 Player ADP Player
WR35 Tyler Lockett WR49 Markus Wheaton
WR36 DeSean Jackson WR50 Steve Smith
WR37 Michael Crabtree WR51 Michael Thomas
WR38 Marvin Jones WR52 Vincent Jackson
WR39 Sterling Shepard WR53 Devin Funchess
WR40 Corey Coleman WR54 Phillip Dorsett
WR41 Laquon Treadwell WR55 Josh Doctson
WR42 Josh Gordon WR56 Sammie Coates
WR43 Stefon Diggs WR57 Kamar Aiken
WR44 Dorial Green-Beckham WR58 Mohamed Sanu
WR45 Travis Benjamin WR59 Will Fuller
WR46 Willie Snead WR60 Breshad Perriman
WR47 Torrey Smith WR61 Terrance Williams
WR48 Tavon Austin WR67 Pierre Garcon
    WR69 Rishard Matthews
    WR77 Kenny Britt

Table 1: Wide Receivers WR35-WR60+ Based on ADP

Notice that I went past WR60, as several wide receivers in thw WR61-WR79 range had projections comparable or better than WR60, so they deserved to be included (and highlighted for your drafting benefit).  Also of note this year is that I included both WR35 (Tyler Lockett) and WR36 (DeSean Jackson) - more on that wrinkie in a bit.  

Now we have 30 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 435 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 six 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 so that 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.

There is some good news – all of the WR3BC candidates have ADPs that are after Round 7, including WR35 (Lockett) and WR36 (Jackson).  There are some wide receivers that might go in Round 8, so planning on taking two of them could leave you scrambling for your ninth pick if you wait too long for your WR3BC choice.  I will have to keep all those details in mind when we look at the WR3BC result because it would not make sense to expect two of these receivers to make it into a committee combination based on their ADP.

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 30 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:

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value
1 Michael Crabtree Josh Gordon 139.1
2 Josh Gordon Tavon Austin 137.8
3 DeSean Jackson Josh Gordon 137
4 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 136.7
5 Tyler Lockett Josh Gordon 136.6
6 Tyler Lockett Tavon Austin 136.2
7 Michael Crabtree Tavon Austin 135.9
8 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 135.1
9 DeSean Jackson Tavon Austin 135
10 Josh Gordon Willie Snead 134.6
11 Michael Crabtree Corey Coleman 134.3
12 Corey Coleman Tavon Austin 133.6
13 Josh Gordon Travis Benjamin 133
14 Willie Snead Tavon Austin 132.8
15 DeSean Jackson Corey Coleman 132.2
16 DeSean Jackson Willie Snead 131.6
17 DeSean Jackson Michael Crabtree 131.3
18 DeSean Jackson Sterling Shepard 131.1
19 Tyler Lockett Corey Coleman 131.1
20 Tavon Austin Michael Thomas 130.9
21 Tavon Austin Vincent Jackson 130.9
22 Michael Crabtree Willie Snead 130.5
23 Michael Crabtree Torrey Smith 130.4
24 Josh Gordon Stefon Diggs 130.2
25 Michael Crabtree Sterling Shepard 130.1
26 Tyler Lockett Sterling Shepard 129.8
27 Stefon Diggs Tavon Austin 129.8
28 Josh Gordon Torrey Smith 129.8
29 Tyler Lockett Torrey Smith 129.8
30 Josh Gordon Markus Wheaton 129.7
31 DeSean Jackson Michael Thomas 129.5
32 Corey Coleman Willie Snead 129.3
33 Michael Crabtree Stefon Diggs 129.1
34 Michael Crabtree Travis Benjamin 129
35 Tavon Austin Rishard Matthews 129
36 DeSean Jackson Torrey Smith 128.9
37 Michael Crabtree Vincent Jackson 128.7
38 Josh Gordon Vincent Jackson 128.5
39 Marvin Jones Josh Gordon 128.4
40 Laquon Treadwell Tavon Austin 128.3
41 Tavon Austin Terrance Williams 128
42 Tyler Lockett Vincent Jackson 128
43 Michael Crabtree Michael Thomas 127.9
44 Tyler Lockett Travis Benjamin 127.9
45 DeSean Jackson Travis Benjamin 127.8
46 Tavon Austin Phillip Dorsett 127.7
47 Travis Benjamin Tavon Austin 127.7
48 Marvin Jones Tavon Austin 127.7
49 Dorial Green-Beckham Tavon Austin 127.6
50 Tyler Lockett Marvin Jones 127.6
51 Michael Crabtree Laquon Treadwell 127.5
52 DeSean Jackson Stefon Diggs 127.2
53 Tavon Austin Mohamed Sanu 127
54 Tyler Lockett Stefon Diggs 127
55 Tavon Austin Will Fuller 126.9
56 Tavon Austin Josh Doctson 126.9
57 Michael Crabtree Mohamed Sanu 126.8
58 Tavon Austin Pierre Garcon 126.7
59 Tyler Lockett Markus Wheaton 126.7
60 DeSean Jackson Vincent Jackson 126.6
61 Michael Crabtree Markus Wheaton 126.5
62 Michael Crabtree Terrance Williams 126.5
63 Tavon Austin Devin Funchess 126.5
64 DeSean Jackson Markus Wheaton 126.3
65 Tyler Lockett Dorial Green-Beckham 126.2
66 Corey Coleman Travis Benjamin 126.2
67 Michael Crabtree Steve Smith 126
68 DeSean Jackson Laquon Treadwell 126
69 Tyler Lockett Kenny Britt 125.9
70 Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess 125.8
71 DeSean Jackson Marvin Jones 125.8
72 Michael Crabtree Dorial Green-Beckham 125.7
73 Michael Crabtree Kamar Aiken 125.6
74 Tyler Lockett Devin Funchess 125.6
75 Tyler Lockett Laquon Treadwell 125.5
76 Tyler Lockett Willie Snead 125.5
77 Tyler Lockett Steve Smith 125.4
78 DeSean Jackson Mohamed Sanu 125.4
79 Michael Crabtree Josh Doctson 125.3
80 DeSean Jackson Steve Smith 125.3
81 DeSean Jackson Terrance Williams 125.2
82 Tyler Lockett Josh Doctson 125.1
83 Tyler Lockett Phillip Dorsett 125.1
84 Tyler Lockett Kamar Aiken 125
85 Tyler Lockett Sammie Coates 124.8
86 DeSean Jackson Kamar Aiken 124.8
87 Michael Crabtree Sammie Coates 124.6
88 DeSean Jackson Sammie Coates 124.6
89 Tyler Lockett Mohamed Sanu 124.5
90 Josh Gordon Mohamed Sanu 124.4
91 DeSean Jackson Dorial Green-Beckham 124.4
92 DeSean Jackson Phillip Dorsett 124.4
93 DeSean Jackson Devin Funchess 124.2
94 Tyler Lockett Michael Thomas 124.1
95 Sterling Shepard Tavon Austin 123.4
96 Torrey Smith Tavon Austin 123.4
97 Corey Coleman Torrey Smith 123.3
98 Corey Coleman Stefon Diggs 123.3
99 Willie Snead Vincent Jackson 122.8
100 Josh Gordon Terrance Williams 122.7
101 Josh Gordon Steve Smith 122.7
102 Josh Gordon Kenny Britt 122.6
103 Corey Coleman Markus Wheaton 122.4
104 Willie Snead Torrey Smith 122.4
105 Tavon Austin Markus Wheaton 122.3
106 Josh Gordon Rishard Matthews 122.2
107 Travis Benjamin Willie Snead 122.1

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. Now, here is where I break from tradition.  In previous years of looking for WR3BC, I often took the best pairs at the top of the list and also looked for the most frequent options on the table at this point and tried to zero in on the best pairings.  I am still going to take a look at this, but what leaps off the table to me are four names - the Top 3 on the list (Lockett, Jackson and WR37 Michael Crabtree) and Josh Gordon.  Getting one of the first three guys on the list in Round 7 and then grabbing the next best available in Round 8 (preferably Gordon) should be the answer this year.  

So what makes Josh Gordon so special in 2016?  Quite simply, his four game suspension.  Gordon should be a WR1 in fantasy football this year, ro close to it, and the only thing holding him back (besides his off the field issues) is the fact that he cannot suit up and play until Week 5.  That presents a very unique opportunity for a committee WR3 this year.  Covering Weeks 1-4 with another wideout and then using Gordon most of the rest of the season creates a fantastic pairing for WR3.

Before I present the plan for 2016 for WR3BC, allow me to compare Table 2 with the projections for the Top 36+ wide receivers to see how a WR3BC lines up against the best wide receivers.  Remember our goal - find a pair of wideouts that can combine for WR3 (or better) fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for WR10 through WR36 (and beyond), sorted by projected fantasy points:

ADP WR Rank Player Team FPs
1 1 Antonio Brown Pit/8 218.6
4 2 Julio Jones Atl/11 208.7
2 3 Odell Beckham Jr NYG/8 202.2
10 4 A.J. Green Cin/9 184.3
5 5 DeAndre Hopkins Hou/9 178.5
12 6 Dez Bryant Dal/7 169.6
13 7 Allen Robinson Jac/5 164.9
32 8 T.Y. Hilton Ind/10 164.6
18 9 Alshon Jeffery Chi/9 161.6
16 10 Jordy Nelson GB/4 158.6
22 11 Amari Cooper Oak/10 153.1
30 12 Sammy Watkins Buf/10 152.5
20 13 Brandon Marshall NYJ/11 150.5
31 14 Demaryius Thomas Den/11 150.3
24 15 Mike Evans TB/6 150
41 16 Jarvis Landry Mia/8 144.3
47 17 Jeremy Maclin KC/5 142.6
26 18 Keenan Allen SD/11 140.5
40 19 Randall Cobb GB/4 139.2
27 20 Brandin Cooks NO/5 138.9
51 21 Golden Tate Det/10 131.6
57 22 Eric Decker NYJ/11 129.7
45 23 Doug Baldwin Sea/5 129.6
44 24 Julian Edelman NE/9 129.4
72 25 John Brown Ari/9 129.4
58 26 Larry Fitzgerald Ari/9 129.2
65 27 Donte Moncrief Ind/10 128.2
63 28 Jordan Matthews Phi/4 127.3
68 29 Allen Hurns Jac/5 124.5
33 30 Kelvin Benjamin Car/7 124.3
56 31 Michael Floyd Ari/9 121.8
114 32 Tavon Austin LA/8 121.6
61 33 Emmanuel Sanders Den/11 121
87 34 Michael Crabtree Oak/10 120.3
85 35 Tyler Lockett Sea/5 120.1
67 36 DeVante Parker Mia/8 119.2
86 37 DeSean Jackson Was/9 119.1
84 38 Kevin White Chi/9 113.6

Table 3: Projected Fantasy Points for WRs 10-36+

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Based on Table 4, we see that WRs beyond the Top 15-20 are really bunched as far as projections.  Golden Tate (WR21) is projected for 131.6 points, while Michael Floyd (WR31) and Emmanuel Sanders (WR33) are only 10-11 points lower.  This screams opportunity for a strong WR3BC this season.  If we can identify a pair of receivers that can get in this range, we are nearly there.  Taking the 119.2 point target for a Top 36 WR based on projections and adding five points for a bye week filler, we next look at our possible pairs to see how many exceed 124.2 projected points for 2016, and the answer is an incredible 93 pairs.  Raising the bar even further to a lower-end WR2 - Golden Tate once again at 131.6 - plus five points for a bye week WR and we see that the Top 5-6 pairs in Table 2 all hit that mark.  That is a remarkable result, and strongly suggests that 2016 is a great year to go after a WR3BC option.  Choosing the correct pair can give us the result we wanted – high end WR3 production (and borderline WR2) on the cheap.  

Considering all of the results, there are four distinct plans that make sense for 2016:

Plan A:  Draft Tyler Lockett in Round 7.  Lockett is WR35 on the ADP list, but his ADP puts him right in the sweet spot window of Round 7-8 (ADP of 85 overall).  Lockett represents 50% of the Top 8 pairs in Table 2, all projected for 135-137 points, putting any of these duos in the WR2 range.

Plan B:  Draft Michael Crabtree in Round 7.  Crabtree is WR37 on the ADP list, but his ADP also puts him in the window of Round 7-8 (ADP of 87 overall).  Note that I am taking Crabtree ahead of DeSean Jackson (WR37, ADP 86) because Crabtree is first on Table 2 and appears four times in the Top 11 on the list while Jackson appears just twice.  

Plan C:  Draft DeSean Jackson in Round 7.  Jackson is WR36 on the ADP list, but his ADP also puts him in the window of Round 7-8 (ADP of 86 overall).

Taking any of these three wideout in Round 7 sets you up to secure a Top 5 WR3BC with Josh Gordon (taking Gordon in Round 8, ADP of 105 overall).  If Gordon is not available (although he should be, Tavon Austin (ADP of WR48, 114 overall) makes for a reasonable fallback to complete the "disaster scenario" WR3BC.  Even in this worst of all cases, the WR3BC is still a Top 10 combination.  Not bad at all.

For completeness, I have included Tables 4-9 below, showing the best combinations of WR3BC with each of Tyler Lockett, Michael Crabtree and DeSean Jackson, and the suggested weekly usage for each receiver.  Note that any combination that is highlighted is not suggested due to a shared bye week.

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value ADP1 ADP2
4 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 136.7 35 37
5 Tyler Lockett Josh Gordon 136.6 35 42
6 Tyler Lockett Tavon Austin 136.2 35 48
8 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 135.1 35 36
18 Tyler Lockett Corey Coleman 131.1 35 40
26 Tyler Lockett Sterling Shepard 129.8 35 39
29 Tyler Lockett Torrey Smith 129.8 35 47
42 Tyler Lockett Vincent Jackson 128 35 52
44 Tyler Lockett Travis Benjamin 127.9 35 45
50 Tyler Lockett Marvin Jones 127.6 35 38
54 Tyler Lockett Stefon Diggs 127 35 43
59 Tyler Lockett Markus Wheaton 126.7 35 49
65 Tyler Lockett Dorial Green-Beckham 126.2 35 44
69 Tyler Lockett Kenny Britt 125.9 35 77
74 Tyler Lockett Devin Funchess 125.6 35 53
75 Tyler Lockett Laquon Treadwell 125.5 35 41
75 Tyler Lockett Willie Snead 125.5 35 46
77 Tyler Lockett Steve Smith 125.4 35 50
82 Tyler Lockett Josh Doctson 125.1 35 55
82 Tyler Lockett Phillip Dorsett 125.1 35 54
84 Tyler Lockett Kamar Aiken 125 35 57
85 Tyler Lockett Sammie Coates 124.8 35 56
89 Tyler Lockett Mohamed Sanu 124.5 35 58
94 Tyler Lockett Michael Thomas 124.1 35 51

Table 4: Tyler Lockett WR3BC Options for 2016


Wk Suggested Player Opponent
1 Tyler Lockett Miami
2 Tyler Lockett at Los Angeles
3 Tyler Lockett San Francisco
4 Tyler Lockett at New York Jets
5 Josh Gordon New England
6* Tyler Lockett Atlanta
7 Josh Gordon at Cincinnati
8 Josh Gordon New York Jets
9 Josh Gordon Dallas
10 Josh Gordon at Baltimore
11 Josh Gordon Pittsburgh
12 Josh Gordon New York Giants
13 Tyler Lockett Carolina
14** Tyler Lockett at Green Bay
15 Josh Gordon at Buffalo
16 Josh Gordon at San Diego
*Week 6 = Close call with Gordon at Tennessee
**Week 14 = Close call with Gordon vs. Cincinnati

Table 5: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Tyler Lockett and Josh Gordon

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value ADP1 ADP2
1 Michael Crabtree Josh Gordon 139.1 37 42
4 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 136.7 35 37
7 Michael Crabtree Tavon Austin 135.9 37 48
11 Michael Crabtree Corey Coleman 134.3 37 40
17 DeSean Jackson Michael Crabtree 131.3 36 37
22 Michael Crabtree Willie Snead 130.5 37 46
23 Michael Crabtree Torrey Smith 130.4 37 47
25 Michael Crabtree Sterling Shepard 130.1 37 39
33 Michael Crabtree Stefon Diggs 129.1 37 43
34 Michael Crabtree Travis Benjamin 129 37 45
37 Michael Crabtree Vincent Jackson 128.7 37 52
43 Michael Crabtree Michael Thomas 127.9 37 51
51 Michael Crabtree Laquon Treadwell 127.5 37 41
57 Michael Crabtree Mohamed Sanu 126.8 37 58
61 Michael Crabtree Markus Wheaton 126.5 37 49
61 Michael Crabtree Terrance Williams 126.5 37 61
67 Michael Crabtree Steve Smith 126 37 50
70 Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess 125.8 37 53
72 Michael Crabtree Dorial Green-Beckham 125.7 37 44
73 Michael Crabtree Kamar Aiken 125.6 37 57
79 Michael Crabtree Josh Doctson 125.3 37 55
87 Michael Crabtree Sammie Coates 124.6 37 56

Table 6: Michael Crabtree WR3BC Options for 2016

Wk Suggested Player Opponent
1 Michael Crabtree New Orleans
2 Michael Crabtree Atlanta
3 Michael Crabtree at Tennessee
4 Michael Crabtree at Baltimore
5 Josh Gordon New England
6* Michael Crabtree Kansas City
7** Michael Crabtree at Jacksonville
8 Michael Crabtree Tampa Bay
9 Josh Gordon Dallas
10 Josh Gordon at Baltimore
11 Josh Gordon Pittsburgh
12 Michael Crabtree Carolina
13 Michael Crabtree Buffalo
14 Josh Gordon Cincinnati
15 Josh Gordon at Buffalo
16 Michael Crabtree Indianapolis
*Week 6 = Close call with Gordon at Tennessee
**Week 7 = Close call with Gordon at Cincinnati

Table 7: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Michael Crabtree and Josh Gordon

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value ADP1 ADP2
3 DeSean Jackson Josh Gordon 137 36 42
8 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 135.1 35 36
9 DeSean Jackson Tavon Austin 135 36 48
15 DeSean Jackson Corey Coleman 132.2 36 40
16 DeSean Jackson Willie Snead 131.6 36 46
17 DeSean Jackson Michael Crabtree 131.3 36 37
18 DeSean Jackson Sterling Shepard 131.1 36 39
31 DeSean Jackson Michael Thomas 129.5 36 51
36 DeSean Jackson Torrey Smith 128.9 36 47
45 DeSean Jackson Travis Benjamin 127.8 36 45
52 DeSean Jackson Stefon Diggs 127.2 36 43
60 DeSean Jackson Vincent Jackson 126.6 36 52
64 DeSean Jackson Markus Wheaton 126.3 36 49
68 DeSean Jackson Laquon Treadwell 126 36 41
71 DeSean Jackson Marvin Jones 125.8 36 38
78 DeSean Jackson Mohamed Sanu 125.4 36 58
80 DeSean Jackson Steve Smith 125.3 36 50
81 DeSean Jackson Terrance Williams 125.2 36 61
86 DeSean Jackson Kamar Aiken 124.8 36 57
88 DeSean Jackson Sammie Coates 124.6 36 56
91 DeSean Jackson Dorial Green-Beckham 124.4 36 44
91 DeSean Jackson Phillip Dorsett 124.4 36 54
93 DeSean Jackson Devin Funchess 124.2 36 53

Table 8: DeSean Jackson WR3BC Options for 2016

Wk Suggested Player Opponent
1 DeSean Jackson Pittsburgh
2 DeSean Jackson Dallas
3 DeSean Jackson at New York Giants
4 DeSean Jackson Cleveland
5 Josh Gordon New England
6* DeSean Jackson Philadelphia
7 Josh Gordon at Cincinnati
8 Josh Gordon New York Jets
9 Josh Gordon Dallas
10 Josh Gordon at Baltimore
11 Josh Gordon Pittsburgh
12 Josh Gordon New York Giants
13 DeSean Jackson at Arizona
14** DeSean Jackson at Philadelphia
15 Josh Gordon at Buffalo
16 Josh Gordon at San Diego
*Week 6 = Close call with Gordon at Tennessee
**Week 14 = Close call with Gordon vs. Cincinnati

Table 9: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - DeSean Jackson and Josh Gordon

The committee approach is not a perfect one, but having this knowledge prior to your fantasy draft can prove to be invaluable if you decide to adopt this approach.  If all the players on your starter list are gone, goiong with a committee can save your team and help you deal with the loss of bigger names.  The method is also a big help in "Best Ball" leagues, where lineup decisions are not necessary every week.  That's exactly where a committee can do the best, as either player can count for you each week.

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