Tuesday - Jan 26, 2021

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In Non-PPR, is it a WR’s Game Yet?

After last season ended, I had a couple of fantasy-knowledgeable buddies tell me that this season will definitely be the year of the WR’s, not only in PPR leagues, but also in non-PPR leagues. And my buddies weren’t (and still aren’t) the only ones saying this. There’s been a lot of discussion in fantasy circles about WR’s versus RB’s, not only because the NFL has turned into more of a passing league in recent years than it has ever been before, but also because of the gaudy fantasy numbers that guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall and Plaxico Burress had last season in non-PPR (all finishing in the Top 25).

Because of this talk, I decided to see if the leagues I commission were interested in changing a RB slot into a flex spot, allowing managers to start two WR, one RB and two flex positions between WR’s and RB’s. I explained that allowing two flex positions allows for greater flexibility in decisions on who to start and who to bench. Most everyone seemed to like the idea. A few of the stronger managers who are pro-WR (even in non-PPR leagues) liked the idea that they only had to start one RB. I was almost giddy when they said that, and I had a hunch these guys would regret thinking like this.

In this edition of Digging Deeper, I want to analyze how WR’s have fared against RB’s so far this season with regards to pure fantasy points in non-PPR leagues with standard 10 yards per point and six points per TD scoring. I know the season is very young, but I’ll continue the analysis throughout the season. The numbers are useful because it should help you understand a few things when deciding whether to start a RB or a WR in a certain tier who have seemingly equal potential for a flex spot.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 RB’s and WR’s so far this season:

It’s quite early in the season, but RB’s are dominating the Top 10 so far, taking eight of these spots. In fact, the Top 7 are RB’s. Without looking at reception numbers, it’s say to say that RB’s still dominate the Top 10 in PPR leagues too.

However, this should be no surprise to anyone, even to people that say it’s the year of the WR. I don’t think many were making the argument that there would be a lot of WR’s in the Top 10 at the end of this season, especially when it’s clear RB’s were still the clear-cut favorite first-round picks in drafts this year (and every other year). When people said it’s going to be the year of the WR, they meant that after the RB’s not in time-shares, WR’s will dominate. And as we all know, timeshares are becoming more and more popular. I get all of that reasoning, and I think most do, but let’s see what the numbers say. Let’s take a look at the Top 11-20:

Once again, the list is led by the RB’s, taking seven of the next 10 spots. If you’re keeping track at home, RB’s own 15 of the top 20 spots so far. Interestingly, you’re already seeing RB’s like Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton who were supposed to be in timeshares. Johnson is arguably still in one and Ahman Green got some carries last week, but how much does that matter? Are RB’s in timeshares generally outscoring teams’ No. 1 WR’s? We should get a better idea of this if we continue to analyze the numbers. Now let’s take a look at the Top 21-30:

Even getting this far down into the list, there are still more RB’s than WR’s, taking six of the next 10 spots. The count is now RB’s: 21, WR’s: ninr. Here we can clearly see RB’s in supposed timeshares (whether projected to be in one before the season or are currently in one) like Brandon Jacobs, Earnest Graham, LeRon McClain and DeAngelo Williams fairing quite well in the rankings. Quite frankly, I see this trend continuing throughout the season, as it has in the past. On to the next 31-40:

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