WR3 By Committee: PPR - Footballguys

Finding a Third Starting Wide Receiver in PPR Leagues by Committee for 2018

Over the past few years, there have been several very popular articles written by myself and 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, Chase 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 running back and wide receiver prospects to go after to build a great team. While there are a few studs at quarterback 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 quarterback 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 Rank
Wide Receiver
ADP Rank
Wide Receiver
WR35
WR49
WR36
WR50
WR37
WR51
WR38
WR52
WR39
WR53
WR40
WR54
WR41
WR55
WR42
WR56
WR43
WR57
WR44
WR58
WR45
WR59
WR46
WR60
WR47
WR61
WR48

Table 1: Wide Receivers WR37-WR60 Based on ADP

Notice that I went past WR60, since some wide receivers in the WR61-WR70 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 WR35 (Cooper Kupp) and WR36 (Robert Woods) as there is a reasonable chance that one or both of these receivers slides down the draft board.

Now we have 27 guys to pair up and see how they do. That makes 351 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 two or three receivers after grabbing a stud running back in Round 1. After six rounds you can have two or three running backs, two or three wide receivers and possibly even a stud quarterback or tight end, depending on your personal preference, or even to get your WR3 and then 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 in Round 7, such as Cooper Kupp (ADP 81) and Robert Woods (ADP 84) - the very reason I included these two options in Table 1 - or the rest are in Round 8 or later. 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 wide receiver 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 17 weeks based on the strength of schedule. I call this result the distributed fantasy points for each receiver.

After I had all 27 wide receivers with distributed fantasy points on a weekly basis, I just compared all of the possible wide receiver 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
201.5
2
196.2
3
196.2
4
195.8
5
194.9
6
194.6
7
194.5
8
194.4
9
194.2
10
194.2
11
193.1
12
193.1
13
193.1
14
193
15
192.8
16
192.7
17
192.4
18
192.3
19
192.2
20
192.1
21
192.0
22
191.5
23
191
24
190.7
25
190.5
26
190.3
27
190.1
28
189.9
29
189.7
30
189.5
31
189.2
32
189.1
33
188.9
34
188.8
35
188.8
36
188.3
37
188.1
38
188.0
39
187.9
40
187.9
41
187.9
42
187.8
43
187.7
44
187.7
45
187.6
46
187.3
47
187.0
48
186.8
49
186.8
50
186.7
51
186.7
52
186.6
53
186.5
54
186.5
55
186.5
56
186.4
57
186.0
58
185.7
59
185.7
60
185.5
61
185.4
62
185.2
63
185.2
64
185.1
65
185.0
66
184.8
67
184.7
68
184.6
69
184.6
70
184.3
71
184.3
72
183.9
73
183.9
74
183.9
75
183.8
76
183.6
77
183.6
78
183.6
79
183.5
80
183.5
81
183.4
82
183.4
83
183.3
84
183.1
85
182.8
86
182.8
87
182.6
88
182.6
89
182.5
90
182.2
91
182.2
92
182.1
93
181.6
94
181.5
95
181.5
96
181.5
97
181.5
98
181.4
99
181.4
100
181.2
101
180.7
102
180.7
103
180.6
104
180.4
105
180.3
106
180.3
107
180.3
108
180.1
109
180.0
110
180.0
111
180.0
112
n/a
180.0

Table 2: Wide Receiver #3 Committee Pairs

Okay, that is a really big table, but I wanted to be thorough. As you can see, we have some very good pairs to select from for WR3BC. So digging in, there are 103 pairs in Table 2 to consider, so there are a number of options. Let's also take a look at how often some of these guys show up on the table:

Wide Receiver
Frequency
Wide Receiver
Frequency
24
6
22
6
22
5
16
5
15
4
15
3
10
3
10
3
10
3
10
3
9
3
9
1
6

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

That is a pretty big result, with 10 receivers on that list with 10 or more appearances, so it is very likely that at least one or both of the WR3 committee duo will come from the top of Table 3.

Before I present the plan for 2018 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:

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now that we have 111 possible pairs to consider, what exactly does that mean? Should we just take one of the best options on the list and call it a day? Well, yes and no. Remember our goal - find a pair of running backs that can combine for WR3 (or better) fantasy production. To figure that out we need a better metric, so here are the projections for WR1 through WR36 (and beyond):

ADP
WR Rank
Wide Receiver
Team
FanPts
5
1
PIT
304.4
7
2
HOU
290.1
9
3
NYG
263.1
16
4
LAC
255.3
12
5
ATL
258.6
13
6
NO
251.7
17
7
CIN
231.3
18
8
GB
230.6
22
9
TB
229.0
26
10
MIN
226.4
30
11
ARI
226.5
27
12
IND
222.9
24
13
SEA
220.4
29
14
KC
217.9
34
15
MIN
207.0
38
16
DEN
204.0
47
17
LAR
204.3
31
18
OAK
206.2
41
19
DET
204.7
43
20
PIT
199.4
44
21
CHI
195.1
62
22
BAL
195.0
54
23
DET
191.5
45
24
CLE
187.6
48
25
PHI
187.2
91 (WR38)
26
CAR
180.0
97 (WR41)
27
SF
177.8
39
28
CLE
177.0
79
29
DEN
175.6
90 (WR37)
30
NYJ
176.2
65
31
KC
173.2
72
32
SF
170.9
81
33
LAR
171.6
95 (WR39)
34
GB
171.1
96 (WR40)
35
MIA
169.2
78
36
WAS
167.9
73
37
NE
167.6
84 (WR36)
38
LAR
165.4

Table 4: Projected Fantasy Points for WRs 10-36+

Based on Table 3, we see that WRs beyond the Top 10-14 are really bunched as far as projections. The Top 19 are all projected for 200+ points this season, with seven more in the 180-200 range. Exactly at the bottom of that range it really starts to get interesting. Based on projections, five receivers that are expected to be outside of the Top 35 draft picks at the wide receiver spot all project to finish as WR38 or better. This combination of uncertainty in ADP and projections, mixed in with a veteran wide receiver who is suspended in September (Julian Edelman), one who could miss time (Josh Gordon) and still another receiver that has yet to find a home (Dez Bryant) and there is plenty of room to find a strong committee to form not just a solid WR3BC but have the potential to compete as a WR2. If we can identify a pair of receivers that can get in this range, we are nearly there. Taking a typical number projected for a Top 36 (WR3) of 170 points based on the projections listed in Table 3 and adding 8-12 points for a bye week filler, we next look at our possible pairs to see how many exceed 180 projected points for 2018, and the answer is an incredible 111 pairs - or every single WR3BC combination in Table 2. Raising the bar even further to an upper tier WR3 such as Emmanuel Sanders (projected for 175.6 points) and adding 11.4 points for a bye week replacement once again gives a higher target of 187 points. Looking at our earlier data, we find 50 duos in Table 2 that all meet or exceed that mark. That is a remarkable result, and strongly suggests that 2018 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.

Rank
Wide Receiver 1
Wide Receiver 2
Value
ADP1
ADP2
My Top 6 WR3BC
1
201.5
38
41
2
196.2
38
40
3
196.2
37
38
4
195.8
35
41
5
194.9
38
43
6
194.6
35
37
1
7
194.5
38
47
8
194.4
35
38
4
9
194.2
38
42
10
194.2
39
41
11
193.1
38
39
12
193.1
41
42
13
193.1
37
39
3
14
193.0
41
43
15
192.8
36
38
5
16
192.7
36
41
17
192.4
36
37
2
18
192.3
38
46
19
192.2
37
43
6
20
192.1
37
45
21
192.0
38
45
22
191.5
37
42
23
191.0
41
45
24
190.7
39
40
25
190.5
38
49
26
190.3
41
49
27
190.1
38
53
28
189.9
38
44
29
189.7
38
51
30
189.5
41
53
31
189.2
35
39
32
189.1
37
53
33
188.9
41
50
34
188.8
38
50
35
188.8
35
40
36
188.3
41
51
37
188.1
37
49
38
188.0
41
57
39
187.9
38
54
40
187.9
38
52
41
187.9
40
45
42
187.8
38
58
43
187.7
37
51
44
187.7
35
43
45
187.6
37
44
46
187.3
41
44
47
187.0
41
55

Table 5: Top PPR WR3BC Choices for 2018

PLANNING FOR SUCCESS

Considering all of the results, there are four distinct plans that make sense for 2018:

Plan A: Draft either Cooper Kupp (preferred) or Robert Woods of the Rams in Round 7. This gives you one of the top options to use for the WR3BC plan with one of the starting three receivers for the Rams, Kupp or Woods. Many drafters are going to wonder how the ball will be spread amongst these two and Brandin Cooks, but the Rams love to use three wide receivers to open up the field for Todd Gurley and Josh Goff. Both Kupp and Woods are strong options that can easily slip into Round 7. If you snap up Kupp, take Robby Anderson with your next pick if he is still there, or just settle for Devin Funchess. Both options give you a Top 10 WR3BC, either of Kupp-Anderson (my top choice and projected as sixth-best WR3BC) or Kupp-Funchess (projected as the #8 WR3BC). If you happen to miss out on Kupp, take Woods then Anderson. That projects as the #17 WR3BC on the table, but it is just two points lower than the #8 WR3BC, or roughly a 1 percent difference. Not a big drop at all.

Plan B: Draft Robby Anderson in Round 7: While I do prefer starting with Kupp or Woods, if Anderson is there in Round 7, take him and do not look back. He will be the top receiver for the Jets, who will have to throw the ball this year and Anderson showed he can overcome weak quarterback play and still be a solid fantasy option. Round 8 is then the key to lock up the best WR3BC starting with Anderson, and that is done by taking Randall Cobb. While I do like Devin Funchess, I am concerned about how the Carolina offense will play out with TE Greg Olsen back for a full season and the Panthers adding D.J. Moore as their second receiver. The Cobb (ADP of 100) should last through all of Round 8, but if he is gone just take Philadelphia's Nelson Agholor. The Anderson-Cobb pair (WR3BC #13, 193.1 projected points) is very close to to the Anderson-Agholor pair (WR3BC #19, 192.2 points), so it can also come down to a personal preference.

To make it a bit easier to follow, I have ranked my Top 6 WR3BCs in Table 5, based on my own opinion. Drafting any of these wideout duos results in a Top 20 pair of receivers for WR3BC in every case.

For completeness, I have included Tables 6-10 below, showing the best combinations of WR3BC with each of the highlighted Top 12 pairs from Table 5.

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Dallas
2
at Atlanta
Arizona
3
Cincinnati
at LA Chargers
4
Minnesota
5
NY Giants
at Seattle
6
at Washington
at Denver
7
at San Francisco
at Philadelphia
8
Green Bay
9
Tampa Bay
10
at Pittsburgh
11
Kansas City
at Detroit
12
Seattle
13
at Tampa Bay
14
at Cleveland
at Chicago
15
New Orleans
16
Atlanta
at Arizona
17
at New Orleans
San Francisco

Table 6: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Cooper Kupp and Devin Funchess

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
at Detroit
at Oakland
2
Miami
3
at Cleveland
at LA Chargers
4
Minnesota
5
at Seattle
6
Indianapolis
7
at San Francisco
Minnesota
8
Green Bay
9
at Miami
at New Orleans
10
Seattle
Buffalo
11
Kansas City
12
New England
13
at Tennessee
at Detroit
14
at Chicago
at Buffalo
15
Houston
16
Green Bay
17
at New England
San Francisco

Table 7: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Cooper Kupp and Robby Anderson

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
at Detroit
2
Miami
3
at Cleveland
4
Minnesota
5
at Seattle
6
Indianapolis
7
at San Francisco
Minnesota
8
Green Bay
9
at Miami
10
Seattle
Buffalo
11
Kansas City
12
New England
13
at Tennessee
at Detroit
14
at Buffalo
at Chicago
15
Houston
16
Green Bay
17
at New England
San Francisco

Table 8: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Robert Woods and Robby Anderson

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
Dallas
2
at Atlanta
Arizona
3
Cincinnati
at LA Chargers
4
Minnesota
5
NY Giants
6
at Washington
7
at San Francisco
at Philadelphia
8
Green Bay
9
Tampa Bay
10
at Pittsburgh
11
Kansas City
12
Seattle
13
at Tampa Bay
14
at Cleveland
15
New Orleans
16
Atlanta
at Arizona
17
at New Orleans

Table 9: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Robert Woods and Devin Funchess

Week
Suggested Starter
Opponent
Alternate Starter
Opponent
1
at Detroit
2
Miami
3
at Cleveland
at Washington
4
Buffalo
5
at Detroit
6
Indianapolis
San Francisco
7
Minnesota
8
at Chicago
at LA Rams
9
at Miami
10
Miami
11
at Seattle
12
New England
at Minnesota
13
at Tennessee
14
Atlanta
at Buffalo
15
Houston
16
Green Bay
at NY Jets
17
at New England
Detroit

Table 10: Suggested WR3BC Schedule Plan - Robby Anderson and Randall Cobb

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, going 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.