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WR3 By Committee: PPR

Finding a Third Starting Wide Receiver in PPR Leagues 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 WR51 Michael Thomas
WR36 Michael Crabtree WR52 Vincent Jackson
WR37 DeSean Jackson WR53 Phillip Dorsett
WR38 Marvin Jones WR54 Sammie Coates
WR39 Corey Coleman WR55 Kamar Aiken
WR40 Sterling Shepard WR56 Devin Funchess
WR41 Josh Gordon WR57 Mohamed Sanu
WR42 Laquon Treadwell WR58 Josh Doctson
WR43 Travis Benjamin WR59 Chris Hogan
WR44 Stefon Diggs WR60 Breshad Perriman
WR45 Willie Snead WR61 Pierre Garcon
WR46 Dorial Green-Beckham WR63 Terrance Williams
WR47 Markus Wheaton WR67 Rishard Matthews
WR48 Torrey Smith WR73 Bruce Ellington
WR49 Tavon Austin WR78 Robert Woods
WR50 Steve Smith WR79 Kenny Britt

Table 1: Wide Receivers WR37-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 (Michael Crabtree) - more on that wrinkie in a bit.  

Now we have 32 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 496 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.

There is some good news – all of the WR3BC candidates have ADPs that are either just in Round 7, such as WR35 (Lockett) and WR36 (Crabtree), or barely after it (WR37, DeSean Jackson).  There are some other 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 32 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 213.1
2 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 210
3 Michael Crabtree Corey Coleman 207.3
4 Tyler Lockett Josh Gordon 206
5 Josh Gordon Willie Snead 205.5
6 DeSean Jackson Josh Gordon 205.1
7 Josh Gordon Tavon Austin 203.3
8 Michael Crabtree Tavon Austin 202.9
9 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 202.7
10 Michael Crabtree Willie Snead 201.9
11 Tyler Lockett Tavon Austin 201.7
12 Michael Crabtree Sterling Shepard 201.6
13 Michael Crabtree DeSean Jackson 200.6
14 Josh Gordon Travis Benjamin 200.1
15 Michael Crabtree Stefon Diggs 199.9
16 Michael Crabtree Torrey Smith 199.4
17 Tyler Lockett Corey Coleman 199.4
18 DeSean Jackson Willie Snead 199.1
19 DeSean Jackson Corey Coleman 199
20 Michael Crabtree Travis Benjamin 198.8
21 Corey Coleman Willie Snead 198.8
22 Michael Crabtree Michael Thomas 198.5
23 Michael Crabtree Vincent Jackson 198
24 Tyler Lockett Sterling Shepard 197.7
25 Michael Crabtree Laquon Treadwell 197.6
26 Josh Gordon Stefon Diggs 197.5
27 DeSean Jackson Sterling Shepard 197.2
28 Michael Crabtree Mohamed Sanu 197.1
29 Corey Coleman Tavon Austin 196.9
30 Josh Gordon Markus Wheaton 196.5
31 DeSean Jackson Tavon Austin 196.2
32 Willie Snead Tavon Austin 196.1
33 Michael Crabtree Markus Wheaton 195.9
34 DeSean Jackson Michael Thomas 195.9
35 Tyler Lockett Torrey Smith 195.6
36 Michael Crabtree Steve Smith 195.4
37 Marvin Jones Josh Gordon 195.1
38 Michael Crabtree Kamar Aiken 195
39 Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess 194.8
40 Michael Crabtree Dorial Green-Beckham 194.6
41 Josh Gordon Torrey Smith 194.4
42 Michael Crabtree Pierre Garcon 194.3
43 Michael Crabtree Josh Doctson 194.1
44 Tyler Lockett Marvin Jones 193.8
45 Tyler Lockett Travis Benjamin 193.2
46 Michael Crabtree Sammie Coates 192.9
47 Tyler Lockett Stefon Diggs 192.9
48 Tyler Lockett Vincent Jackson 192.9
49 Josh Gordon Vincent Jackson 192.8
50 Tyler Lockett Markus Wheaton 192.3
51 Tavon Austin Michael Thomas 192
52 Corey Coleman Travis Benjamin 191.8
53 Tyler Lockett Willie Snead 191.6
54 Josh Gordon Mohamed Sanu 191.5
55 DeSean Jackson Torrey Smith 191.3
56 Tyler Lockett Dorial Green-Beckham 191
57 DeSean Jackson Stefon Diggs 190.9
58 Tyler Lockett Laquon Treadwell 190.5
59 Tyler Lockett Steve Smith 190.4
60 Tyler Lockett Devin Funchess 190.3
61 Tyler Lockett Kamar Aiken 190
62 Stefon Diggs Tavon Austin 189.9
63 DeSean Jackson Travis Benjamin 189.8
64 Tyler Lockett Phillip Dorsett 189.8
65 Corey Coleman Stefon Diggs 189.5
66 Tyler Lockett Josh Doctson 189.5
67 Tyler Lockett Michael Thomas 189.4
68 Tyler Lockett Bruce Ellington 189.3
69 Tyler Lockett Mohamed Sanu 189.2
70 Tyler Lockett Sammie Coates 189.1
71 Tavon Austin Vincent Jackson 188.7
72 Sterling Shepard Willie Snead 188.5
73 DeSean Jackson Laquon Treadwell 187.9
74 DeSean Jackson Markus Wheaton 187.9
75 Michael Crabtree Marvin Jones 187.9
76 DeSean Jackson Vincent Jackson 187.9
77 Corey Coleman Markus Wheaton 187.8
78 DeSean Jackson Marvin Jones 187.8
79 Travis Benjamin Willie Snead 187.8
80 Willie Snead Vincent Jackson 187.8
81 Willie Snead Rishard Matthews 187.7
82 Stefon Diggs Willie Snead 187.4
83 Tavon Austin Rishard Matthews 187.2
84 DeSean Jackson Mohamed Sanu 187.1
85 Josh Gordon Steve Smith 186.6
86 Marvin Jones Corey Coleman 186.6
87 Willie Snead Torrey Smith 186.5
88 DeSean Jackson Steve Smith 186.4
89 Michael Crabtree Phillip Dorsett 186.4
90 Corey Coleman Torrey Smith 186.3
91 DeSean Jackson Kamar Aiken 186
92 Laquon Treadwell Tavon Austin 186
93 Marvin Jones Willie Snead 185.6
94 Willie Snead Markus Wheaton 185.5
95 Josh Gordon Pierre Garcon 185.3
96 Marvin Jones Tavon Austin 185.3
97 Josh Gordon Rishard Matthews 185.2
98 DeSean Jackson Phillip Dorsett 185.1
99 DeSean Jackson Sammie Coates 185

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, Crabtree and WR37 DeSean Jackson) 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/8 335.4
3 2 Julio Jones Atl/11 316
2 3 Odell Beckham Jr NYG/8 295.8
7 4 A.J. Green Cin/9 272.1
5 5 DeAndre Hopkins Hou/9 272
11 6 Dez Bryant Dal/7 249.8
18 7 Alshon Jeffery Chi/9 246.1
12 8 Allen Robinson Jac/5 242.3
27 9 T.Y. Hilton Ind/10 242.3
15 10 Jordy Nelson GB/4 238
19 11 Brandon Marshall NYJ/11 230
35 12 Jarvis Landry Mia/8 229.4
29 13 Demaryius Thomas Den/11 228.9
21 14 Amari Cooper Oak/10 228
20 15 Keenan Allen SD/11 227.1
28 16 Sammy Watkins Buf/10 224.7
22 17 Mike Evans TB/6 220.4
43 18 Jeremy Maclin KC/5 220
33 19 Randall Cobb GB/4 214
23 20 Brandin Cooks NO/5 212.9
39 21 Julian Edelman NE/9 209.9
50 22 Larry Fitzgerald Ari/9 207.1
45 23 Golden Tate Det/10 203.1
47 24 Doug Baldwin Sea/5 199.8
53 25 Eric Decker NYJ/11 199.8
59 26 Donte Moncrief Ind/10 198.4
56 27 Jordan Matthews Phi/4 198.1
60 28 Emmanuel Sanders Den/11 187.5
81 29 Michael Crabtree Oak/10 186.7
71 30 John Brown Ari/9 185.7
67 31 Allen Hurns Jac/5 184.2
32 32 Kelvin Benjamin Car/7 183.7
78 33 Tyler Lockett Sea/5 181.9
66 34 DeVante Parker Mia/8 180.9
85 35 DeSean Jackson Was/9 177
54 36 Michael Floyd Ari/9 175.4
77 37 Kevin White Chi/9 174.6

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

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

ased 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 Michael Crabtree in Round 7.  Crabtree is WR36 on the ADP list, but his ADP puts him in the window of Round 7 (ADP of 81 overall).  Note that I am taking Crabtree ahead of Tyler Lockett (WR35, ADP 78) because Crabtree is in the Top 3 pairs on Table 2 and appears seven times in the Top 12 on the list while Lockett appears just four times.  

Plan B:  Draft Tyler Lockett in Round 7.  Lockett is WR35 on the ADP list, but his ADP also puts him right in the sweet spot window of Round 7 (ADP of 78 overall).  Lockett represents 50% of the Top 4 pairs in Table 2, all projected for 206-210 points, putting any of these duos in the WR2 range.

Plan C:  Draft DeSean Jackson in Round 7.  Jackson is WR37 on the ADP list, but his ADP also puts him in the window of Round 7-8 (ADP of 85 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 99 overall).  If Gordon is not available (although he should be, Tavon Austin (ADP of WR49, 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 11 combination.  Not bad at all.

For completeness, I have included Tables 4-9 below, showing the best combinations of WR3BC with each of Michael Crabtree, Tyler Lockett 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
1 Michael Crabtree Josh Gordon 213.1 36 41
2 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 210 35 36
3 Michael Crabtree Corey Coleman 207.3 36 39
8 Michael Crabtree Tavon Austin 202.9 36 49
10 Michael Crabtree Willie Snead 201.9 36 45
12 Michael Crabtree Sterling Shepard 201.6 36 40
13 Michael Crabtree DeSean Jackson 200.6 36 37
15 Michael Crabtree Stefon Diggs 199.9 36 44
16 Michael Crabtree Torrey Smith 199.4 36 48
20 Michael Crabtree Travis Benjamin 198.8 36 43
22 Michael Crabtree Michael Thomas 198.5 36 51
23 Michael Crabtree Vincent Jackson 198 36 52
25 Michael Crabtree Laquon Treadwell 197.6 36 42
28 Michael Crabtree Mohamed Sanu 197.1 36 57
33 Michael Crabtree Markus Wheaton 195.9 36 47
36 Michael Crabtree Steve Smith 195.4 36 50
38 Michael Crabtree Kamar Aiken 195 36 55
39 Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess 194.8 36 56
40 Michael Crabtree Dorial Green-Beckham 194.6 36 46
42 Michael Crabtree Pierre Garcon 194.3 36 61
43 Michael Crabtree Josh Doctson 194.1 36 58
44 Michael Crabtree Sammie Coates 192.9 36 54
45 Michael Crabtree Marvin Jones 187.9 36 38
46 Michael Crabtree Phillip Dorsett 186.4 36 53

Table 4: 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 5: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Michael Crabtree and Josh Gordon

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value ADP1 ADP2
2 Tyler Lockett Michael Crabtree 210 35 36
4 Tyler Lockett Josh Gordon 206 35 41
9 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 202.7 35 37
11 Tyler Lockett Tavon Austin 201.7 35 49
17 Tyler Lockett Corey Coleman 199.4 35 39
24 Tyler Lockett Sterling Shepard 197.7 35 40
35 Tyler Lockett Torrey Smith 195.6 35 48
44 Tyler Lockett Marvin Jones 193.8 35 38
45 Tyler Lockett Travis Benjamin 193.2 35 43
46 Tyler Lockett Stefon Diggs 192.9 35 44
47 Tyler Lockett Vincent Jackson 192.9 35 52
48 Tyler Lockett Markus Wheaton 192.3 35 47
49 Tyler Lockett Willie Snead 191.6 35 45
50 Tyler Lockett Dorial Green-Beckham 191 35 46
51 Tyler Lockett Laquon Treadwell 190.5 35 42
52 Tyler Lockett Steve Smith 190.4 35 50
53 Tyler Lockett Devin Funchess 190.3 35 56
54 Tyler Lockett Kamar Aiken 190 35 55
55 Tyler Lockett Phillip Dorsett 189.8 35 53
56 Tyler Lockett Josh Doctson 189.5 35 58
57 Tyler Lockett Michael Thomas 189.4 35 51
58 Tyler Lockett Bruce Ellington 189.3 35 73
59 Tyler Lockett Mohamed Sanu 189.2 35 57
60 Tyler Lockett Sammie Coates 189.1 35 54

Table 6: 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 7: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Tyler Lockett and Josh Gordon

Rank Wide Receiver 1 Wide Receiver 2 Value ADP1 ADP2
6 DeSean Jackson Josh Gordon 205.1 37 41
9 Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson 202.7 35 37
13 Michael Crabtree DeSean Jackson 200.6 36 37
18 DeSean Jackson Willie Snead 199.1 37 45
19 DeSean Jackson Corey Coleman 199 37 39
27 DeSean Jackson Sterling Shepard 197.2 37 40
31 DeSean Jackson Tavon Austin 196.2 37 49
34 DeSean Jackson Michael Thomas 195.9 37 51
35 DeSean Jackson Torrey Smith 191.3 37 48
36 DeSean Jackson Stefon Diggs 190.9 37 44
37 DeSean Jackson Travis Benjamin 189.8 37 43
38 DeSean Jackson Laquon Treadwell 187.9 37 42
39 DeSean Jackson Markus Wheaton 187.9 37 47
40 DeSean Jackson Vincent Jackson 187.9 37 52
41 DeSean Jackson Marvin Jones 187.8 37 38
42 DeSean Jackson Mohamed Sanu 187.1 37 57
43 DeSean Jackson Steve Smith 186.4 37 50
44 DeSean Jackson Kamar Aiken 186 37 55
45 DeSean Jackson Phillip Dorsett 185.1 37 53
46 DeSean Jackson Sammie Coates 185 37 54

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.