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The Decade's Most Consistent Fantasy Wide Receivers

A list of the most consistently high-performing fantasy wide receivers since 2007 and its 2017 implications.

What makes a wide receiver a consistent fantasy producer? Is it his hands? His height? His speed? His route running? HIs skill after the catch? This article is a list of the most consistent, high-performing fantasy wide receivers since 2007.

Consistency can be measured a number of ways. Some use standard deviation. I prefer creating tiers based on the average value of fantasy production (fantasy points per game). Tiers don't punish players for production well above their average the way that standard deviation can.

My consistency tiers based on the span of seasons measured in a 12-team league:

  • Elite: Weekly performances that meet or exceed the average fantasy points per game of the top two overall RBs.
  • No. 1 WR: Weekly performances that meet the average fantasy points per game of top 12 wide receivers.
  • No. 2 WR: Same as above for 13th-24th receivers.
  • No. 3 WR: Same as above for 25th-36th receivers.
  • No. 4 WR: Same as above for 37th-48th receivers (non-starters in 3-WR lineups, but useful bye-week options).
  • No.5 WR: Sames as above for 49th-60th receivers (non-starters in 3-WR lineups, but useful bye-week options).
  • Sub Par: Weekly performances that are below the average baseline of the lowest-ranked starter spot in a league.

In this article, I'm measuring wide receivers in 12-team PPR leagues that field three starters. It means the No.1 WR tier spans the averages of the top-12 receivers, the No. 2 WR tier spans receivers in the range of 13-24, and the No. 3 WR tier includes options ranked 25th-36th. The Sub-Par tier begins with performances below the 36th-ranked starter's average.

For those of you willing to do the extra work to customize consistency data for your league format that starts additional option, I'm including average tiers for WR4 and WR5. When I focus on consistency specifically for this season (later this summer), I will adjust the Sub Par Tier to the average production of the 49th ranked WR because many leagues that readers tell me about (and I participate in) start four receivers.   

The averages at the bottom of the table below are the fantasy points that define each tier.

 Baseline PPR Fantasy Point Averages By Wide Receiver Tier Type (2007-2016)

YearElite#1#2#3#4#5Subpar
2007 19.13 15.31 12.25 10 8.69 7.19 10
2008 17.69 14.63 12.31 9.63 8.06 6.81 9.63
2009 17.81 15 11.75 9.44 8.13 7.38 9.44
2010 17.69 15 11.88 10.25 8.56 7.13 10.25
2011 18.13 14.5 12.19 10 9 7.19 10
2012 18.88 16.19 12.25 10.44 9.25 8 10.44
2013 19.31 16.81 12.63 10.5 9 7.25 10.5
2014 20.50 16 13.06 11.19 10.06 8.06 11.19
2015 21.44 16.06 13.19 10.81 9.25 7.06 10.81
2016 18.75 14.81 12.38 11.25 9.63 7.94 11.25
Average 18.93 15.43 12.39 10.35 8.96 7.40 10.35
 


With the process explained, here's the quickest way to think of this information:

  • The Elite tier measures the percentage of a wide receiver's games between 2007-16 where he scored at least 18.93 fantasy points.
  • The #1WR Tier measures the percentage of a wide receiver's games between 2007-16 where he scored between 15.43-18.92 fantasy points.
  • The #2WR Tier range is between 12.39-15.42 fantasy points.
  • The #3WR Tier range is between. 10.35-12.38 fantasy points.
  • The #4WR Tier range is between 8.96-10.34 fantasy points.
  • The Sub-Par tier measures the percentage of a wide receiver's games between 2007-16 where he scored less than 10.35 fantasy points.

The players below are sorted by the following priority:

  • The lowest percentage of Sub Par games. 
  • The highest percentage of No.1 games. 
  • The highest percentage of Elite games. 

 "Max" and "Min" are the highest and lowest fantasy performances during their decade of play. 

top 36 High-Performing fantasy wide receivers (2007-2016, PPR, no minimum game requirement)

The best running backs of a generation often have productive careers as fantasy starters that span 8-12 years and often have a higher percentage of No. 1 and Elite performances than wide receivers. However, most fantasy leagues can start 3-5 receivers versus 1-3 backs.

The lineup numbers and consistency of performance of the non-RB positions are two big reasons why I began writing and using the Upside Down Draft Strategy. It's also why I encourage dynasty owners to begin building teams around elite quarterbacks, elite tight ends, and top-tier receivers. If during the building process, they're not fortunate enough to unearth a top running back without paying a premium through a trade, they can make the RB1 a priority once the rest of the squad is in place.

Players in bold are notable options who won't qualify in the second table because they lack the minimum game requirements.   

LastFirstGmsFpts/GSubParEliteWR#1WR#2WR#3WR#4WR#5StDevMinMax
Beckham Odell 43 21.28 18.60% 62.79% 72.09% 76.74% 81.40% 90.70% 95.35% 10.10 4.80 44.30
Thomas Michael 15 17.31 20.00% 33.33% 53.33% 60.00% 80.00% 86.67% 100.00% 7.71 8.00 31.80
Green A.J. 86 17.42 20.93% 39.53% 56.98% 68.60% 79.07% 83.72% 86.05% 9.21 0.00 44.70
Jones Julio 79 19.08 22.78% 48.10% 64.56% 67.09% 77.22% 83.54% 87.34% 10.14 0.00 48.00
Landry Jarvis 48 14.39 22.92% 25.00% 39.58% 62.50% 77.08% 79.17% 85.42% 6.76 0.00 35.90
Brown Antonio 101 17.64 23.76% 37.62% 57.43% 67.33% 76.24% 80.20% 85.15% 10.22 0.00 47.60
Johnson Calvin 135 17.88 25.19% 40.00% 54.81% 67.41% 74.81% 79.26% 85.93% 10.08 1.20 52.90
Fitzgerald Larry 157 15.95 26.75% 33.12% 49.68% 64.33% 73.25% 79.62% 81.53% 8.14 1.20 40.10
Marshall Brandon 152 17.03 26.97% 38.16% 50.66% 62.50% 73.03% 82.89% 86.84% 8.91 1.50 53.00
Thomas Demaryius 101 16.14 27.72% 37.62% 51.49% 63.37% 72.28% 74.26% 81.19% 9.09 0.00 42.60
Wayne Reggie 118 15.58 29.66% 33.05% 43.22% 55.93% 70.34% 76.27% 82.20% 8.37 1.50 40.20
Bryant Dez 97 15.73 30.93% 34.02% 46.39% 59.79% 69.07% 80.41% 81.44% 9.12 0.00 43.40
Robinson Allen 42 14.67 30.95% 26.19% 42.86% 57.14% 69.05% 71.43% 80.95% 8.75 1.00 43.30
Welker Wes 128 15.60 31.25% 32.81% 46.09% 60.16% 68.75% 70.31% 75.00% 9.41 0.00 51.60
Jeffery Alshon 63 14.74 31.75% 23.81% 42.86% 58.73% 68.25% 73.02% 80.95% 8.84 0.00 48.90
Cooks Brandin 42 15.22 33.33% 28.57% 38.10% 54.76% 66.67% 69.05% 78.57% 8.91 0.00 37.60
White Roddy 140 15.01 34.29% 27.14% 45.00% 54.29% 65.71% 72.86% 77.86% 9.00 0.00 43.10
Benjamin Kelvin 32 13.34 34.38% 21.88% 37.50% 56.25% 65.63% 71.88% 75.00% 7.62 0.00 29.80
Evans Mike 46 16.48 34.78% 34.78% 52.17% 56.52% 65.22% 76.09% 89.13% 9.03 0.00 39.90
Colston Marques 132 14.38 35.61% 28.03% 38.64% 49.24% 64.39% 70.45% 76.52% 8.52 0.00 40.10
Johnson Andre 132 15.87 36.36% 37.12% 46.97% 59.09% 63.64% 65.91% 73.48% 10.50 0.00 49.90
Hill Tyreek 16 12.56 37.50% 18.75% 31.25% 50.00% 62.50% 68.75% 75.00% 6.70 2.70 26.50
Allen Keenan 41 14.11 39.02% 29.27% 39.02% 48.78% 60.98% 63.41% 73.17% 9.91 0.00 37.30
Hopkins DeAndre 64 14.12 39.06% 21.88% 40.63% 46.88% 60.94% 67.19% 84.38% 8.66 1.40 44.80
Maclin Jeremy 102 13.66 39.22% 21.57% 32.35% 49.02% 60.78% 68.63% 77.45% 9.14 0.00 42.70
Boldin Anquan 146 13.98 39.73% 24.66% 38.36% 49.32% 60.27% 67.81% 74.66% 8.75 0.00 44.10
Blackmon Justin 20 12.96 40.00% 25.00% 30.00% 40.00% 60.00% 60.00% 60.00% 10.26 0.00 36.60
Owens Terrell 61 15.54 40.98% 32.79% 49.18% 52.46% 59.02% 63.93% 73.77% 10.49 0.00 49.30
Decker Eric 95 12.87 41.05% 25.26% 37.89% 48.42% 58.95% 64.21% 67.37% 9.80 0.00 49.40
Matthews Jordan 46 13.18 41.30% 26.09% 28.26% 45.65% 58.70% 65.22% 76.09% 8.06 0.00 32.80
Harvin Percy 74 13.65 41.89% 27.03% 43.24% 52.70% 58.11% 62.16% 71.62% 8.48 -0.10 37.50
Hilton T.Y. 78 14.70 42.31% 26.92% 43.59% 55.13% 57.69% 66.67% 76.92% 9.25 0.00 37.30
Nelson Jordy 121 13.32 42.98% 26.45% 34.71% 47.11% 57.02% 59.50% 64.46% 9.91 0.00 43.20
Jackson DeSean 127 13.50 43.31% 28.35% 41.73% 48.82% 56.69% 61.42% 69.29% 8.27 -0.90 35.50
Wallace Mike 127 12.29 43.31% 19.69% 33.07% 50.39% 56.69% 59.84% 69.29% 7.36 0.00 33.60
Cooper Amari 32 13.80 43.75% 28.13% 34.38% 46.88% 56.25% 71.88% 78.13% 8.54 0.00 35.30
 

Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill had fantastic rookie years. The fantasy community generally believes the best is yet to come for Thomas while expecting a regression for Hill.

Both players lost a productive veteran teammate in the receiving corps. The difference in the expectation is that Thomas is known as a route runner while Hill is seen as an athlete in a role where he benefits from manufactured plays that will become more predictable to defenses.  

If last year's small sample holds up, the data could be a reflection of this point. Thomas had twice as many elite games and nearly half of HIll's sub-par efforts. 

A.J. Green vs. Julio Jones

This is one of those fun debates since the Falcons passed on Green and traded for the pick that it turned into Jones. As classmates, Green has been healthier for nearly half a season longer than Jones. The Falcons superstar has averaged 2.66 points more per game, but Green has a slightly lower percentage of games in the Sub-Par Tier.

If you're playing the percentages from past years, Jones is the receiver you want if shooting for Elite and WR1 upside. If you're seeing WR1 and Elite upside but with a better track record as a starter in leagues with at least three wideouts and fewer disappointing games—including injuries—Green is your guy.

PPR-Aided: Brandin Cook Standard League Advisory Ahead

Jarvis Landry is 5th on this list with an excellent Sub-Par Percentage of 22.9 percent and averaging 14.39 points per game. However, he's 30th on this list in standard leagues with an average of 8.37 points per game and a Sub-Par Percentage of 45.8 percent. Catches can really make a difference.

Other PPR-Aided receivers include Brandon Cooks (16th on this PPR leagues and No. 28 on the standard list), Keenan Allen (23rd for PPR and 52nd for standard), and Jordan Matthews (30th for PPR and 45th for standard). The rest of the receivers are 5-7 spots higher/lower than their PPR/Standard ranking. 

It means these options aren't truly consistent in all formats and it's important to adjust their projections for the two league types unless you believe these options will increase their red zone production. This is where I think Brandin Cooks advocates could be in danger of getting tripped up. 

One of the marks of great quarterbacking is red zone performance. The compressed field forces quick decision-making and a strong handle on pre-/post-snap adjustments. 

Athletic quarterbacks can lean too hard on buying time with their legs and miss the quick windows of opportunity that come from effective film study and a fast processor of information-to-action. The best quarterback-receiver combinations in the red zone aren't just great rebounders (which Cooks hasn't shown consistently enough at Oregon State or New Orleans), they also have a strong rapport based on game planning and defensive recognition.

The Patriots offense has been a difficult scheme for free agent receivers because of the extensive checks and hot route calls that Tom Brady demands of them. I don't expect Cooks to excel in this range of the field when Brady already has Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, and the zone-savvy Dwayne Allen. Keep this in mind when projecting Cooks' value in standard leagues.

Mr. Elite

Odell Beckham's 63.79 percent Elite figure is 14 percent better than Julio Jones, the next best option. And Jones is eight percent better than Calvin Johnson, the third option on this list. A.J. Green's 39.5-percent Elite performance mark is fourth. 

Beckham's 43 games are roughly half the amount or less than each of the three options trailing him, but it's still a remarkable level of consistency. As good as Antonio Brown has been, he needed three seasons to emerge as a consistent superstar. Beckham has been great from the beginning.

Well-Traveled

Most of the players on this list have played for the same team. However, DeSean Jackson, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Maclin are beginning the 2017 season with their third teams and they are 34th, 29th, and 25th on this list, respectively. If you're seeking some assurance that this trio will produce in a new system, they've done it once before.  

History

Filter this list with a minimum requirement of 128 games (8 seasons worth of football) and here's what the top of this consistency list looks like in every sense of the word: 

  1. Calvin Johnson 
  2. Larry Fitzgerald
  3. Brandon Marshall
  4. Wes Welker 
  5. Roddy White 
  6. Marques Colston
  7. Andre Johnson 
  8. Anquan Boldin 
  9. Greg Jennings 
  10. Pierre Garcon 
  11. Vincent Jackson 
  12. Steve Smith 

Half of this list either started in the slot or often moved to the slot to help their teams. At least seven of these options were red zone specialist and were excellent at winning 50/50 balls. At least eight of these receivers were excellent after the catch.

Nine of these receivers were consummate route runners against man coverage. All 12 were strong zone players. Most of these guys were reliable even while playing with an injury.  

  

top 36 High-Performing fantasy Wide receivers (2007-2016, PPR, minimum of 32 games played)

LastFirstGmsFpts/GSubParEliteWR#1WR#2WR#3WR#4WR#5StDevMinMax
Beckham Odell 43 21.28 18.60% 62.79% 72.09% 76.74% 81.40% 90.70% 95.35% 10.10 4.80 44.30
Green A.J. 86 17.42 20.93% 39.53% 56.98% 68.60% 79.07% 83.72% 86.05% 9.21 0.00 44.70
Jones Julio 79 19.08 22.78% 48.10% 64.56% 67.09% 77.22% 83.54% 87.34% 10.14 0.00 48.00
Landry Jarvis 48 14.39 22.92% 25.00% 39.58% 62.50% 77.08% 79.17% 85.42% 6.76 0.00 35.90
Brown Antonio 101 17.64 23.76% 37.62% 57.43% 67.33% 76.24% 80.20% 85.15% 10.22 0.00 47.60
Johnson Calvin 135 17.88 25.19% 40.00% 54.81% 67.41% 74.81% 79.26% 85.93% 10.08 1.20 52.90
Fitzgerald Larry 157 15.95 26.75% 33.12% 49.68% 64.33% 73.25% 79.62% 81.53% 8.14 1.20 40.10
Marshall Brandon 152 17.03 26.97% 38.16% 50.66% 62.50% 73.03% 82.89% 86.84% 8.91 1.50 53.00
Thomas Demaryius 101 16.14 27.72% 37.62% 51.49% 63.37% 72.28% 74.26% 81.19% 9.09 0.00 42.60
Wayne Reggie 118 15.58 29.66% 33.05% 43.22% 55.93% 70.34% 76.27% 82.20% 8.37 1.50 40.20
Bryant Dez 97 15.73 30.93% 34.02% 46.39% 59.79% 69.07% 80.41% 81.44% 9.12 0.00 43.40
Robinson Allen 42 14.67 30.95% 26.19% 42.86% 57.14% 69.05% 71.43% 80.95% 8.75 1.00 43.30
Welker Wes 128 15.60 31.25% 32.81% 46.09% 60.16% 68.75% 70.31% 75.00% 9.41 0.00 51.60
Jeffery Alshon 63 14.74 31.75% 23.81% 42.86% 58.73% 68.25% 73.02% 80.95% 8.84 0.00 48.90
Cooks Brandin 42 15.22 33.33% 28.57% 38.10% 54.76% 66.67% 69.05% 78.57% 8.91 0.00 37.60
White Roddy 140 15.01 34.29% 27.14% 45.00% 54.29% 65.71% 72.86% 77.86% 9.00 0.00 43.10
Benjamin Kelvin 32 13.34 34.38% 21.88% 37.50% 56.25% 65.63% 71.88% 75.00% 7.62 0.00 29.80
Evans Mike 46 16.48 34.78% 34.78% 52.17% 56.52% 65.22% 76.09% 89.13% 9.03 0.00 39.90
Colston Marques 132 14.38 35.61% 28.03% 38.64% 49.24% 64.39% 70.45% 76.52% 8.52 0.00 40.10
Johnson Andre 132 15.87 36.36% 37.12% 46.97% 59.09% 63.64% 65.91% 73.48% 10.50 0.00 49.90
Allen Keenan 41 14.11 39.02% 29.27% 39.02% 48.78% 60.98% 63.41% 73.17% 9.91 0.00 37.30
Hopkins DeAndre 64 14.12 39.06% 21.88% 40.63% 46.88% 60.94% 67.19% 84.38% 8.66 1.40 44.80
Maclin Jeremy 102 13.66 39.22% 21.57% 32.35% 49.02% 60.78% 68.63% 77.45% 9.14 0.00 42.70
Boldin Anquan 146 13.98 39.73% 24.66% 38.36% 49.32% 60.27% 67.81% 74.66% 8.75 0.00 44.10
Owens Terrell 61 15.54 40.98% 32.79% 49.18% 52.46% 59.02% 63.93% 73.77% 10.49 0.00 49.30
Decker Eric 95 12.87 41.05% 25.26% 37.89% 48.42% 58.95% 64.21% 67.37% 9.80 0.00 49.40
Matthews Jordan 46 13.18 41.30% 26.09% 28.26% 45.65% 58.70% 65.22% 76.09% 8.06 0.00 32.80
Harvin Percy 74 13.65 41.89% 27.03% 43.24% 52.70% 58.11% 62.16% 71.62% 8.48 -0.10 37.50
Hilton T.Y. 78 14.70 42.31% 26.92% 43.59% 55.13% 57.69% 66.67% 76.92% 9.25 0.00 37.30
Nelson Jordy 121 13.32 42.98% 26.45% 34.71% 47.11% 57.02% 59.50% 64.46% 9.91 0.00 43.20
Jackson DeSean 127 13.50 43.31% 28.35% 41.73% 48.82% 56.69% 61.42% 69.29% 8.27 -0.90 35.50
Wallace Mike 127 12.29 43.31% 19.69% 33.07% 50.39% 56.69% 59.84% 69.29% 7.36 0.00 33.60
Cooper Amari 32 13.80 43.75% 28.13% 34.38% 46.88% 56.25% 71.88% 78.13% 8.54 0.00 35.30
Crabtree Michael 112 12.56 43.75% 16.07% 33.04% 46.43% 56.25% 64.29% 73.21% 7.46 0.00 37.20
Bowe Dwayne 125 12.18 44.00% 13.60% 30.40% 44.80% 56.00% 64.00% 71.20% 8.29 0.00 48.00
Jennings Greg 129 12.86 44.19% 23.26% 34.88% 48.84% 55.81% 65.89% 72.09% 8.13 0.00 40.20
 

Notes:

2017 Fantasy Implications

  • Odell Beckham has been great with or without top-end production opposite him, and Brandon Marshall functions well as the primary or co-primary. If the offensive line isn't horrific, Eli Manning could have a fantastic year. I realize he has one top-5 fantasy to his credit during his 13-year career, but I don't know if he's ever had better weapons in the passing game. I'm having a difficult time keeping Manning outside my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks, and the top 12 is still a value-driven outcome. 
  • Alshon Jeffery has been a good producer in "tandem" with a strong player opposite him. Will Jordan Matthews, Torrey Smith, and/or Nelson Agholor qualify? Can Carson Wentz improve his footwork and the sync of his upper and lower body during his release so he's not spraying the ball everywhere? Jeffery is one of those pivot-point players who could help you, but I'll be hyper aware of who else is available at his ADP and how much weight Jeffery's selection carries with my lineup before investing right now. Even if the potential is high, there are too many ifs to get carried away. 
  • Allen Robinson has may not be a safe WR1, but he's a safe starter with huge upside based on his skills and past success with (the prepared version of) Blake Bortles. If I had to choose between Jeffery or Robinson, I'd probably go with Robinson because the potential downside isn't as likely to cause a blackout as it will with Jeffery.  
  • If Brandon Marshall has truly lost something with age (I don't believe so), Evan Engram struggles, or Eli Manning becomes the first quarterback to support five fantasy starter options (hitting the Powerball), Sterling Shepard will have deserved your attention. Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill earned the rookie headlines, but Shepard was a WR2 for 50 percent of the year and a WR3 for 56 percent of the season.   
  • If you can stomach the possibility of another injury-ridden year, Keenan Allen's time on the field is a tantalizing illustration of what he can offer fantasy owners. His 29 percent Elite games figure is 15th on the list despite his overall ranking of 23rd.
  • Robinson, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, and Demaryius Thomas are all great reasons why you should mentally scream "HE WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT LAST YEAR. GET. HIM. NOW." When you scan your list and see them with lower ADPs than what they had last year. Many of your competitors will be thinking the first sentence as they scan their lists and let them drop too far. They are all consistently strong performers at bargain ADPs. Don't overthink it.   
  • Mike Evans has a 34 percent Sub Par figure, which puts him 19th on this list, but his 52 percent of his career has been WR1 performances, 7th overall. There's a boom-bust element to his game, but I suspect some of that has been a combination of his youth, Jameis Winston's youth, and injuries to the receiving corps. The reinforcements to Tampa Bay's receiving corps could make Evans a more consistent option.  

Stay Tuned

In late July-August, I will create a tiered cheatsheet that factors consistency data where I think it makes sense. It won't be an attempt at a predictive system as much as an added weight to a player's value within a tier based on how little has changed with the player and his supporting talent.