A week for the second string receivers.
We all had it, that lonely feeling of being picked last for the game of ball. The gut wrenching agony of being the last player picked that nobody wanted on their team. At some point or other, this I’m sure, has happened to everyone, deep within though there was always a feeling of “I’m going to show you”. Sure the jocks would always be the best on the field, that's part and parcel of school sports life. Even so, there we were, putting in the performance of a lifetime, gaining whoops and hollas from team mates as we streaked past the ‘cool’ kid after burning him on a 9 route. For those few seconds the feeling of belonging in the echelons of school yard folk law was something to behold, which would soon be forgotten by all but ourselves. The perfect feeling of being the lead dog in the pack, contributing to the teams scoring and becoming cool.
Week 3 in the NFL was no exception to this rule as it was time for the wide-receiver 2’s to shine and take in the glory. It wasn’t even a couple of them either, the list is extensive and not surprising given the the number one team in power rankings, the Los Angeles Rams are currently making 3 wideouts and one running back viable receiving options all at once. The Rams and Sean McVay have proven with an outside-zone ground game, where your offensive line moves in unison. Here, a defense typically flows with the zone blocking, which makes the scheme particularly conducive to play-action thus helping all receivers on the field get open. This approach i think is being followed slowly by all teams and although there are still studs in the position the game flow and use of second and their receivers is increasingly being used to greater effect.
In week 3 the number of wr2’s out scoring their wr1 counter parts was extensive. All points discussed in this article are 6 point per touchdown and Point-per-reception.
Starting with perhaps the biggest gulf in points scored lets head to the saints falcons game. One the Saints side of the ball Michel Thomas was the clear one and is the target king there, nothing new in New Orleans. However the on the Falcons side of the ball it was a different story. Calvin Ridley had 2 more targets, 2 more receptions, 50 more total yards and 3 touchdowns thanJulio Jones did. Jones has in recent weeks been targeted an almost an absurd amount and with Marshon Lattimore shadowing him the Falcons turned to rookie Ridley to be the man, to the point where Lattimore started following Ridley not Jones. Ridley finished the game with 37 fantasy points compared to Jones’s 12.1.
Moving on to the battle of L.A the Rams and Chargers both had WR2’s playing as 1’s. Mike Williams of the Chargers outscored Keenan Allen. Although they both had 7 targets, Williams had one more reception, 37 more yards and 2 more touchdowns than Allen. Williams scored 22.1 fantasy points compared to Allen’s 3.1 fantasy points. On the Rams side of things Robert Woods had a day. He had 3 more targets than Brandin Cooks, 3 more receptions and 2 more touchdowns. Woods scored 28.7 fantasy points compared to Cooks’s 12.5.
The Chiefs followed the trend with Sammy Watkins overshadowing Tyreek Hill. Watkins had 3 more targets and receptions. 2 more yards (not much i'll grant you) one more touchdown.Watkins scored 16 fantasy points compared to Hill’s 6.6. The Chiefs are actively trying to get the ball into Watkins hands and even providing him with carries.
Over to Carolina where the Bengals played the Panthers. Although A.J. Green got dinged up in this one Tyler Boyd balled out. He one less target than Green at 7 to Green’s 8 but one more reception than Green. He totalled 74 more yards and one touchdown than Green did. With Greens injury status up in the air then Boyd could be the one next week. John Ross anyone? Boyd finished his stellar afternoon with 22.7 fantasy points compared to a banged up 8.3 for Green.
Down to the Lone Star State now and DeAndre Hopkins was Nuked this week by Will Fuller V. Fuller is continuing to make waves in the fantasy world whilst he is fit and he makes Deshaun Watson a viable fantasy quarterback. Fuller had one more target than Hopkins with 11 but 1 less reception with 5. He had 15 more yards than Hopkins did and notched a touchdown too. Whilst Fuller is fit he needs to be rostered in all leagues as Watson continues to look his way and Hopkins draws stud defensive coverage. Fuller filled his boots with 18.6, 7 more than Hopkins 11.6.
In Miami time was turned back to 2015 briefly as the Jordy Nelson of old was on full display. Sure his 2 long receptions added to his days total nicely but we saw the stud that used to be briefly. Jon Gruden did say he wanted to run the offence of old but surely Nelson isn't a fantasy option again? Going into the season Amari Cooper was obviously the one in Oakland but he was completely shut out of this game by Xavien Howard. Nelson had 3 more targets, 4 more receptions, 2 touchdowns and 156 more yards than Cooper! Nelson had a day an racked up 26.3, whilst Cooper only managed 2.7.
Whilst i don't expect this trend to be so obvious again this season i do think teams are starting to follow the Rams model. Why feed one mouth constantly with chicken wings when you can get greater success by feeding many mouths with popcorn chicken bites to greater effect. The Rams seem to have found the recipe for success by doing so. Sure having a genius in the headset on the sidelines helps, along with a running back that can beat almost anyone to the outside or blast through the d-line it all works perfectly. Coaches will adapt to this over time but whilst it takes them time to do great fantasy value is out there on waivers all over the world just waiting to be snatched up. With that said, if teams continue to develop this method of play style and use more receivers it means taking a running back early in next years start up drafts or trading up to get the 101 in rookie drafts to get the next stud rookie could be even more important.
Food for thought.