Selecting a WR2 Over an RB1: Ranking and Weighing the Options in 2012
 
 
 
 
Football > Commentary > Selecting a WR2 Over an RB1: Ranking and Weighing the Options in 2012

Selecting a WR2 Over an RB1: Ranking and Weighing the Options in 2012

The emotional rollercoaster of the largest free agent signing (Peyton Manning to Denver) has finally started to wane. Numerous questions have been asked in regards to the fantasy values of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker @EricDecker87, and Jacob Tamme. With Peyton Manning leading the charge, it is almost a guarantee that these individuals will out perform their 2011 fantasy output. Is a simple increase in fantasy statistics enough to garner them a roster spot on your beloved 2012 squad? What happens when you are faced with a decision on a middle round pick and need to decide if you will take Eric Decker over Player X on another team? What if Player X was that team's number one running back? Among the many decisions that face fantasy managers on draft day, the choice (in the middle rounds) between a WR2 on a team with a veteran QB and an RB1 on a squad with a young QB might be one of them. Over the last two years, these might have been common questions: Do I draft Jordy Nelson or Cedric Benson? Do I keep LaGarrette Blount or Pierre Garcon? What did you do? What should you do? Let this article be your guide to making that decision.

I used Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers as my "veteran" QBs. As for my "young" QBs, I used only first and second year QBs. All QBs must have played in at least 13 games for the season being analyzed. RBs were only analyzed if they were not consensus first or second round picks; thus the RBs analyzed would still be on the draft board when the decision to take a WR2 became relevant. Fantasy points are based upon standard PPR scoring (1 point/reception, 6 points/touchdown, 1 point/10 yards).

In 2010, the points for the entire season (in parenthesis) of each of the WR2 from the veteran QB lineup were:

Tom Brady – Deion Branch (173)

Eli Manning – Mario Manningham (202)

Peyton Manning – Pierre Garcon (176)

Drew Brees – Lance Moore (180)

Aaron Rodgers – James Jones (140)

Philip Rivers – Patrick Crayton (82)

AVERAGE = 158.8

In 2010, the RB1 points for the entire season from the young QB category were:

Josh Freeman – LaGarrette Blount (131)

Matt Stafford – Jahvid Best (not analyzed, Stafford only had 16 attempts)

Jimmy Clausen – DeAngelo Williams @DeAngeloRB (not analyzed, Williams was a consensus 1st or 2nd rounder)

Sam Bradford – Steven Jackson (not analyzed, Jackson was a consensus 1st or 2nd rounder)

Tim Tebow – Knowshon Moreno (not analyzed, Tebow only played in 9 games)

Colt McCoy – Peyton Hillis (not analyzed, McCoy only played in 8 games)

AVERAGE = 131

In 2011, the WR2 points from the veteran QB teams were:

Tom Brady – Deion Branch (144)

Eli Manning – Victor Cruz @TeamVic (280)

Peyton Manning – did not play

Drew Brees – Lance Moore (162)

Aaron Rodgers – Jordy Nelson (278)

Philip Rivers – Malcom Floyd (151)

AVERAGE = 203

In 2011, the RB1 points from the young QB teams were:

Andy Dalton – Cedric Benson (152)

Cam Newton – DeAngelo Williams (144)

Colt McCoy – Peyton Hillis (104)

Tim Tebow – Willis McGahee (156)

Christian Ponder – Adrian Peterson (not analyzed, AP was a consensus 1st rounder)

Blaine Gabbert – Maurice Jones-Drew (not analyzed, MJD was a consensus 1st rounder)

Jake Locker – Chris Johnson (not analyzed, Johnson was a consensus 1st rounder)

Sam Bradford – Steven Jackson (not analyzed, Jackson was a consensus 1st or 2nd rounder)

AVERAGE = 139

Obviously the amount of QBs in 2010 for the "young" group is a problem; however, the lower AVERAGE for RB1s holds up over the course of 2011 as well and thereby suggests that taking a WR2 on a team with a veteran QB is a better middle round pick than choosing a RB1 on a team with a first or second year signal caller. More specifically, in 2010 four WR2s outscored the highest RB1, while only one WR2 was lower and one WR2 (James Jones - 140) had roughly equal numbers to LaGarrette Blount (131). In 2011, two WR2s scored higher than the best RB1 (Willis McGahee – 156), while two had roughly equal numbers (Lance Moore – 162 and Malcom Floyd – 151), and one WR2 have less (Deion Branch – 144). If you combine these data over the last two seasons, 6 of the 11 WR2 scored higher than the highest RB1 from that respective year for a 54% rating. While 3 of 11 scored nearly similar fantasy scores (for a 27% rating), and 2 of 11 scored lower than the highest scoring RB1 from that respective year (for an 18% rating).

How does this data extrapolate to the 2012 season? Keeping the six veteran QBs the same, the WR2s for their squads next season will be: Brandon Lloyd @mrblloyd (Patriots), Victor Cruz (NY Giants), Eric Decker (Broncos), Devery Henderson (Saints), Jordy Nelson (Packers), and Robert Meachem (Chargers). The RB1s for the first and second year QBs in 2012 will be: Donald Brown @Donaldb31 (Colts), Roy Helu @royhelujr29 (Redskins), DeAngelo Williams (Panthers), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Bengals), and more than likely Montario Hardesty (Browns) and Reggie Bush (Dolphins). Taking into combination the percentage ratings shown above and the average points/year of the WR2 from the same QB from 2010-2011, I project the following list for 2012.

UPPER: (60% of the 6 WR2s outscore the best RB1)

1. Victor Cruz (241 points – average of 2010 Mario Manningham and 2011 Victor Cruz)

2. Jordy Nelson (209 points – average of 2010 James Jones and 2011 Jordy Nelson)

3. Eric Decker (176 points – the output of Pierre Garcon in 2010)

4. Devery Henderson (171 points – average of Lance Moore's totals in 2010 and 2011)*

MIDDLE: (roughly 20-30% of the 6 WR2s have similar numbers to the best RB1)

5. Brandon Lloyd (159 points – average of Deion Brach's totals in 2010 and 2011)**

6. Roy Helu (146 points – average of 4 of the 5 RB1 from 2010-2011 that produced similar numbers)***

7. Reggie Bush ((146 points – average of 4 of the 5 RB1 from 2010-2011 that produced similar numbers)

8. Donald Brown (146 points – average of 4 of the 5 RB1 from 2010-2011 that produced similar numbers)****

9. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (146 points – average of 4 of the 5 RB1 from 2010-2011 that produced similar numbers)

10. DeAngelo Williams (146 points – average of 4 of the 5 RB1 from 2010-2011 that produced similar numbers)

LOWEST: (roughly 10-20% of the 6 WR2s have lower numbers compared to the best RB1)

11. Robert Meachem (117 points – average of 2010 Patrick Crayton and 2011 Malcom Floyd)

12. Montario Hardesty (104 points – lowest output of an RB1 using the current cutoffs from 2010 and 2011)

*I would not be surprised if Henderson has significantly fewer points than predicted here.

**I would not be surprised if Lloyd has significantly more points than predicted here because he has recently been reunited with Josh McDaniels, who has brought Lloyd to fantasy glory several times in the past. However, expectations are tempered due to the addition of Anthony Gonzalez and Donte Stallworth, not to mention Welker, Gronkowski, Hernandez, Branch, and Ochocinco are already on the roster.

***I would not be surprised if Helu ends up with significantly more points than predicted here because of the potential running threat at quarterback with Robert Griffin III (remember how Willis McGahee produced with Tim Tebow as a running threat last season).

****I would not be surprised if Brown has more points than expected here because he will be playing with the most highly touted rookie QB since Peyton Manning.

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    2 Comments

    Nicholas,

    Great article and very insightful. As I was reading however, I began wondering what the comparison would be if you were to include even backs who were considered consensus 1st-2nd rd. picks into the equation. You might just be a harbinger of change in fantasy draft strategy (especially PPR) if the results back up the fact that I think WR2s would do as good if not better than even 1st-2nd rd. RB1s. Could you think about adding them in a follow-up article to this one?

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    huskerkme 03/28/12 04:55 PM

    "huskerkme" - I appreciate your kind words and comments. I might just think about working another WR2 vs. RB1 article into the fold sometime in the future. I'm not sure if WR2s will ever be more valuable than true bonafide RB1s; however, with the growing population of running back by committees I think fantasy managers definately need to start considering WR2s a lot earlier in drafts than in years past. That sounds like a new topic for an article. Thanks again.

    Posted by:
    Nicholas Zumwalde 03/28/12 07:39 PM

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