100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 53: How Much Does Speed Matter for WRs?
I got into a Twitter debate today on the value of speed for wide receivers, and it reminded me of a chapter from my book Fantasy Football for Smart People: What the Experts Don’t Want You to Know:
Take a look at the top 10 wide receivers in fantasy football in 2012 (standard scoring): Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Vincent Jackson, Andre Johnson, Eric Decker, Julio Jones, and Roddy White. Every single one of those players stands at least 6-1 and weighs a minimum of 201 pounds. The average (the average!) is 6-3 and 220 pounds. Some of them ran outstanding 40-yard dashes, but others (Marshall, Bryant, Jackson, Decker, White) didn’t light it up.
Thus, it isn’t that being fast doesn’t help receivers, but rather that the speed “cutoff” isn’t as stringent as it is for running backs. Receivers also need two things to maximize their chances of success in the NFL. The first is size (especially height). The second is at least a moderate amount of speed (ideally under 4.55). A bunch of big receivers with moderate speed have succeeded of late—Marshall (4.52), Kenny Britt (4.51), Jordy Nelson (4.51), Dwayne Bowe (4.51), Hakeem Nicks (4.50)—but they’re all very large.