While a good running back in fantasy football often is a model of consistency. That’s rarely the case at wide receiver, even among the cream of the crop.
WRs have so many more variables to deal with on a weekly basis. Most teams have at least two receivers who can be the top target of the week, as well either an RB or a tight end that’s involved in the passing game — sometimes both. The individual covering the WR matters just as much as the defense as a whole. Plus, standard leagues don’t award points for receptions, which mostly limits the scoring opportunities to receiving yards and touchdowns.
Given how wildly weekly production fluctuates, it can be difficult to figure out what ideal levels of production look like. To shed some light on that, I’ve analyzed the first seven weeks of this NFL season to see what the statistical benchmarks look like for top five (elite), 10 (great) and 15 (good) WRs each week. Take a look.
Only 12 times have WRs tallied double-digit receptions, but even hauling in eight or more is major. Five players have caught at least eight passes in a game more than once this season: Antonio Brown (four); and Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, Jarvis Landry and Adam Thielen (two).
In terms of yardage, 100 yards or more is top-five production most weeks. Again, only five WRs have pulled this off more than once so far: Brown (four); and Keenan Allen, Fitzgerald, A.J. Green and T.Y. Hilton (two).
TDs aren’t a reliable measure, but an ideal No. 1 receiver will score at least one every other week. Of the 52 games this year with either eight or more receptions, or 100-plus yards, just 24 instances included any TDs.
Ideal top-five production: 16.5-23 standard points, 23-30 PPR points
Seven catches is a top-10 level production. Players who’ve delivered at least this many receptions in half their games or more include DeAndre Hopkins (four); and Mike Evans, Golden Tate and Michael Thomas (three).
This may sound modest, but 85 yards is the threshold for a top-10 week in that stat. Players at this level include Brandin Cooks (four); and Stefon Diggs, Evans, Julio Jones, Thielen and Thomas (three).
Again, these players are only reaching the end zone about half the time. Only Evans has scored TDs in three different games in which he tallied at least seven receptions or 85 yards.
Ideal top-10 production: 14.5-16 standard, 18.8-22.5 PPR
Expectations of WR2-level numbers should be tempered.
Six grabs is perfectly fine. Guys such as Danny Amendola, Michael Crabtree, Pierre Garcon, Jordy Nelson, and Demaryius Thomas have frequently produced in this range.
Just 74-receiving yards is plenty for a WR2. Crabtree has been a relatively steady source of that range, pulling at least that much three times. Outside of those already mentioned, few receivers have been consistent enough in terms of yardage.
In a perfect world, a player at this range is also scoring a touchdown, but the rate of success is closer to 40 percent. Consider a score to be icing on the cake, not a solid bet.
Ideal top-15 production: 11.5-14 standard, 16.3-18.5 PPR