100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 85: How to Draft WRs
Today’s tip comes from my first book Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft (updated for 2013):
For years, fantasy owners have been searching for the wrong traits in dominant wide receivers. Here’s what you should covet.
Size Over Speed
Speed obviously matters for every position, but many owners seem to value long speed for wide receivers way more than they do for running backs. They shouldn’t. From 2005 to 2009, the fastest wide receivers at the Scouting Combine—those who ran in the top third of their class—have been just barely more successful than the receivers in the middle third in terms of approximate value. Compare that to running backs, most of whom simply haven’t produced if they’ve run slower than 4.55.
Instead of emphasizing speed for receivers, concern yourself with size. It’s the tall, physical wide receivers who tend to dominate in today’s NFL. Actually, the average height and weight of the top 10 fantasy receivers in 2012 is 6-3, 220 pounds. Every single one of them stands at least 6-1 and 201 pounds.
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 need two things to maximize their chances of success in the NFL: size and at least adequate speed (ideally under 4.55). A bunch of big receivers with moderate speed have succeeded of late—Brandon 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.