Yeah, we need good performances out of quarterbacks and running backs, defenses and kickers, but any one of four wide receivers on any one of 32 teams could go for 200 and 3 TDs on a given week.
Maybe 48 running backs can go big enough to make a difference. Maybe 40 tight ends. You only have to sift through 32 quarterbacks, kickers and defenses.
But we’ve got 128 wide receivers to worry about. So, how do we find the player with the right combination of salary, value and skill?
I have no idea. But I’m going to try to get us there. I’m starting at Rotogrinders. If you play daily fantasy sports and you’re not a member there and not using their tools you’re missing out.
One of their many useful tools is a player consistency page. On that page you can look at players ranked by the number of times they’ve reached their floor (avoided busting) and ceiling (far exceeded expectations). I’ll go more into detail on floors and ceilings on a later post, but for now, just go with those parenthetical explanations.
However, those statistics provide information about what has already happened. It can help you post a lineup this week, but if we can dig a little deeper we can figure out which wide receivers are primed to erupt.
Before I get to the list, I’m going to go through the methodology a bit because it’s important. If you don’t care about the how or the why, scroll to the subhead, Mr. Impatient.
Finding a wide receiver who is ready to bust through the ceiling is about pairing skill and opportunity. The bonus is that these players likely will have deflated salaries because they haven’t had their breakout game yet.
So, I first sorted the table by highest standard deviation. This will give me a list of wide receivers who have had at least one good game and one bad game. Next I scrolled down the page while keeping an eye on the right for any player with a 0.0% in the ceiling column.
Bingo. Easy. Skeptical? Check out this list and tell me you’re still skeptical.
Michael Crabtree, 19.4 max, 3.5 min, 8.73 standard deviation
That 19.4 max is just under the ceiling mark, which indicates to me he has high ceiling potential this season. He is getting WR1 targets too. The deviation and min tells me that his salary probably isn’t representative of his potential value. Crabtree has a fantastic matchup this week against Philadelphia.
Victor Cruz, 19.2 max, 3.4 min, 8.06 standard deviation
I know this post is a few days late to capitalize on his six catches for 108 yards this week, but that still only netted him 13.8 fantasy points. However, that is two 100-yarders in a row and the Giants offense might be getting on track. Let’s see how the sites price him after this week, but if his salary doesn’t jump too much he should be an essential part of the Millionaire Maker tournament at Draft Kings next weekend.
Eddie Royal, 18.2 max, 2.4 min, 7.90 standard deviation
You know which San Diego wide receiver is going to be completely underowned this week going up against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Yep, the diminutive Royal, who had two touchdowns among his four catches for 42 yards last week. Not enough? The Jaguars have allowed an average of 10 catches and 85 yards to opposing No. 3 wide receivers in 2014.
Roddy White, 15.7 max, 0.0 min, 7.80 standard deviation
White will play this week. It’s not a great matchup. Minnesota’s defense isn’t great against WR2s, but it’s not awful either. White is a talented but aging player who still has a number of big performances left in him. Coming off Atlanta’s big win at Tampa Bay, the Vikings may put extra effort into stopping Julio Jones and Devin Hester, leaving White to make trouble.
Randall Cobb, 19 max, 4.4 min, 7.52 standard deviation
Green Bay’s offense is a bit rickety so far this season, but they have faced some tough defenses. Things should open up this week against Chicago. Cobb is, arguably, one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. The Packers tend to get a lot of receivers into the game — they run a ton of 3- and 4-wide receiver sets. One of these weeks, Cobb will turn a couple short passes into long touchdowns. Chicago has allowed No. 2 WRs to average 6.3 catches and 72.2 yards per game against them in 2014. This week is as good a time as any for Cobb.
John Brown, 19.2 max, 4.5 min, 7.44 standard deviation
Brown is the first true sleeper on this list. Unfortunately he is on bye this week. But this is one to stash for Week 5.
Jason Avant, 13.9 max, 0.5 min, 7.30 standard deviation
I’m a huge fan of Kelvin Benjamin this season, but I’ve started Jason Avant in a couple daily fantasy tournaments. Avant will have a 2-TD performance before this season is over. In the last two weeks he has 13 targets, trailing only Kelvin Benjamin (19) and Greg Olsen (15). Rotoworld says Avant is off the radar. So take my suggestion with a grain of salt. However, he had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown against Detroit. Teams are going to have difficult time covering Benjamin and Olsen, that should give Avant opportunity for a sneaky breakout.
Hakeem Nicks, 13 max, 0.1 min, 7.20 standard deviation
Like Rodgers, Andrew Luck likes to feed multiple receivers. That doesn’t bode well for owners of Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton who would prefer more regular contributions. However, it means the Colts’ No. 3 receiver could go for two TDs on any given week. Nicks is only 26, which means he is really just entering his prime. If Hilton aggravates an ankle injury he suffered in Week 3 (he’s probably for Week 4), Nicks would be in line for a pile of opportunities.
Greg Jennings, 14.8 max, 0.9 min 7.01 standard deviation
Atlanta couldn’t stop any wide receivers last season and that insane game against the Buccaneers last week is masking their true fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2014. It’s a good matchup, Jennings is cheap and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater should breathe new life into the Vikings offense.
Malcolm Floyd, 13 max, 0 min, 6.96 standard deviation
Floyd caught two passes last week. Each went for 49 yards against the Bills. Floyd, 33, is approaching the decline years, but he’s still a deep threat. And, at 6-5, 225, he’s a potential end zone threat. Like Avant, I expect Floyd will have a 2-TD game at some point this season and the Jaguars are good at providing opportunities.
Here are some other guys that fit the criteria: Marques Colston, Saints; Michael Floyd, Cardinals; Damaris Johnson, Eagles; Brandin Cooks, Saints; Devin Hester, Falcons; Steve Johnson, 49ers; Jeremy Kerley, Jets; Miles Austin, Browns; Rod Streater, Raiders; Eric Decker, Jets; Ricardo Lockette, Seahawks; Mohamed Sanu, Bengals; Allen Robinson, Jaguars; Rueben Randle, Giants; Donnie Avery, Chiefs; and Demaryius Thomas, Broncos.