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Boom or Bust Report: Wide Receivers (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 23, 2022
Tee Higgins

One of the best and underutilized tools on the FantasyPros website is the Boom or Bust Report. I was recently re-introduced to the tool while conducting research for the launch of the 2022 FantasyPros Draft Kit.

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Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

It’s an invaluable tool for regular 2022 redraft fantasy football leagues and a topic that was covered in great depth by the late Mike Tagliere in his terrific “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between” series.

The focus will be leveraging this terrific report to identify the players with the most spiked week potential and provide context behind players’ up-and-down performances from 2021.

And as a reminder for this report and the ones to follow for each position — the boom/bust thresholds on the Boom or Bust Report are calculated based on the weekly averages from that year.

For QBs and TEs, a boom week is when the player was at or above the average weekly QB3/TE3 points total. For RBs/WRs, it’s the RB6/WR6 points total.

For QBs and TEs, a bust week is when the player was at or below the average weekly QB18/TE18 points total. For RBs and WRs, it’s the RB40/WR56.

Wide Receivers

Initial Quick Takeaways (Full-Point Per Reception Scoring)

  • Only one WR is being drafted outside the top two rounds and posted four top-six “boom” finishes last season — Tyler Lockett.
  • Lockett also busted (six) more than any other WR in that group of Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Deebo Samuel and Ja’Marr Chase. Hill was second with four bust performances.
  • Cooper Kupp finished as a top-12 WR in 81% of his games last season. The next closest was Davante Adams at 47%.
  • Tua Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill is a projection. Tua Tagovailoa to Jaylen Waddle is a reality we saw unfold last season. Waddle posted nine top-24 PPR finishes — eighth-best at the position and more than Hill did in KC with Patrick Mahomes. Hill’s 50% WR2 rate was also dramatically different from his 80% WR2 rate in 2020. 
  • Brandin Cooks finished as a WR2 or better in 53% of his games played last season. That was better or equal to the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Tyreek Hill, Hunter Renfrow, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams, Ja’Marr Chase, DK Metcalf, Michael Pittman, Tee Higgins and Amari Cooper.
  • Keenan Allen never finished a week last season as a top-six WR. He is the most expensive wide receiver who falls into that category at WR11 average draft position (ADP). But he also busted just once in 15 games played.
  • Jerry Jeudy is next in that category, followed by Allen Robinson. Both are being drafted just outside the top-27 WRs after failing to finish in that position at any point last season.
  • The cheapest WRs who flashed top-six overall upside include Christian Kirk (WR41) and Elijah Moore (WR34). Both did it twice in 2021.
  • Courtland Sutton — although not as cheap — also finished as a top-six scorer twice in 2021. He also busted (10) more than any other WR with a top-24 ADP. The next closest were Terry McLaurin (six) and A.J. Brown (five).
  • Sutton also posted an equivalent boom rate (13%) to DK Metcalf. Russell Wilson is now Sutton’s quarterback. It was also 1% lower than Amari Cooper, who played in the NFL’s highest-scoring offense in 2021.
  • In 2021, 12 WRs posted a boom rate of 20% or higher. Three of them were Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ WRs.

  • Diontae Johnson‘s weekly ceiling in 2021 was nearly identical to Courtland Sutton’s: two top-six and three top-12 finishes. But Johnson owned a much safer floor in a pass-heavy offense with the second-most top-24 finishes (12).
  • McLaurin’s fantasy ceiling was high — 19% boom rate — but his bust rate was third-highest among top-24 WRs (38%).
  • List of WRs that finished as a top-12 WR exactly twice or more with ADPs past WR30: Adam Thielen, Tyler Lockett, Hunter Renfrow, Tyler Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins, Kendrick Bourne, Cole Beasley, Elijah Moore, DeVonta Smith, Christian Kirk, Russell Gage, Robert Woods, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Corey Davis, KJ Osborn and Emmanuel Sanders.
  • Elijah Moore finished as a top-12 WR in 27% of his games — superior to Metcalf, McLaurin, Pittman, Brown and Diggs.
  • Michael Gallup never finished as a WR1 last season, and he finished as a WR2 at a lower rate (22%) than ex-Cowboys’ WR Cedrick Wilson (23%).
  • Boyd (WR51 ADP) finished as a top-36 receiver last season as many times as Tee Higgins (nine).
  • Valdes-Scantling and Boyd finished as WR1s in 20% and 19% of their games last season; both have ADPs outside the top 50.
  • MVS’ 20% top-12 rate was identical to Marquise Brown, Diontae Johnson and CeeDee Lamb.

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  • Bourne finished as a top-24 receiver the same number of times as Jakobi Meyers (five) but busted six more times (seven vs. one)
  • Beasley and Sanders (five) combined for more top-12 finishes than Stefon Diggs last season (four)
  • Diggs’ 6% boom rate was a far cry from his 31% boom rate in 2020. The Bills’ No. 1 WR is primed for positive regression.
  • Adam Thielen’s bust rate (33%) was nearly identical to that of Julio Jones’ last season. We all saw out that turned out. 
  • Osborn posted one fewer top-24 finish than Thielen (seven vs. six). However, his 38% WR2 finish rate is extremely high for a real-life WR3. 
  • In a similar ilk, Van Jefferson finished as a WR2 at a 31% rate operating as the clear No. 3. Both guys are free based on current ADPs. 
  • Kirk finished as a WR3 (top-36) or better in 63% of his games last season. Same as Michael Pittman and Tyreek Hill. 18th-best mark among WRs. Kirk’s current ADP is WR41.
  • Rookie WRs to post a boom rate of at least 20% since 2014: Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jaylen Waddle, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews.
  • Kadarius Toney and Rondale Moore flashed similar boom upside in a small sample last season. I’d be targeting them in the later rounds for this reason.
  • Corey Davis (ADP WR73) might be a value. With a 22% WR1 rate in nine games played last season. There should be passing volume in the Jets’ offense amid a brutal first-half schedule. If anything, it does bode well for Moore or rookie Garrett Wilson to be productive.
  • Jakobi Meyers finished as a WR4 or better in 80% of his games last season.
  • DeAndre Hopkins was a top-36 receiver in half of his games last season. It was 63% the year prior.

  • Sterling Shepard is living proof that a Giants’ WR should be productive this season. In seven games played last season as the primary slot receiver, he was a WR24 or better in 43% of them. Wan’Dale Robinson szn anyone?
  • Despite looking like a clear “boom” candidate, Mecole Hardman finished as a top-24 WR in just 6% of his 16 games last season.
  • D.J. Moore is often viewed as a WR2, but he finished as a top-24 WR in just 31% of his games last season. Worse than Russell Gage and DeVonta Smith.
  • McLaurin — viewed in a similar light to Moore — only finished as a top-24 WR in 25% of his games. But all of his top-24 finishes were also top-12. Ergo bad QB play = volatile WR production. It’s just the good WRs have bigger booms.
  • As the Rams’ No. 2 WR, Robert Woods finished as a top-24 receiver in 54% of his games (12th) and as a top-36 receiver in 78% of his games (10th). Sean McVay’s track record of supplementing multiple fantasy WRs every week bodes well for Allen Robinson and Van Jefferson to provide super secure floors. Just an 11% bust rate for Woods in 2021 before his injury. Kupp never busted last season.

Top-10 Takeaways

  1. Christian Kirk is a screaming value as a proven commodity who flashed big-time playmaking a season ago and projects to be the No. 1 receiver on his offense.
  2. Allen Robinson’s newfound situation in L.A. all but guarantees he bounces back in some capacity in 2022.  
  3. Tyler Boyd is #toocheap across all formats. Buy.
  4. Keenan Allen is a floor/safe play. Mike Williams is the ceiling/league-winning play. In best ball, that means Williams is more often than not the guy you want. Especially in half-point scoring or standard leagues. They both finished as WR1s at the same rate (33%) last season in PPR.
  5. You need to get exposure to the Buccaneers’ passing attack somehow. Tom Brady made it look easy fueling WR1 fantasy weeks. Russell Gage looks slated for that upside from the get-go if Chris Godwin is sidelined. Evans, Godwin and Antonio Brown finished as top-36 WRs in more than 71% of their games played last season.
  6. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle will have plenty of up-and-down performances, making them less appealing. Both busted in more than 25% of their games last season, despite playing in uber-aggressive pass-heavy offenses. With a heavier run approach expected in Miami, that’s a cause for concern.
  7. Marques Valdes-Scantling is so clearly obvious the Chiefs’ WR to target for spiked weeks. He’s either a top-24 finisher (30%) or a bust (70%). I bet that gap closes in KC without a true alpha on the outside.
  8. K.J. Osborn (and the Vikings’ offense in general) is such an easy selection in a new-look, pass-happy offense. He was already cracking lineups as a WR3 at 44% last season, which seems like it can only go up in 2022.
  9. Buy the Gabriel Davis breakout. Even after running 200 or fewer than Sanders and Beasley, Davis had the second-highest WR3 finish rate on the Bills. More playing time should increase his floor, and his fantasy ceiling is sky-high.
  10. Even if Amon-Ra St. Brown doesn’t replicate his earth-shattering fantasy numbers from a season ago, he likely offers a pretty solid WR3 floor with the proven upside for more. In 47% of his games, he finished as a fantasy WR3 in 2021. And it’s all gravy after that should he roll over even 80% of his production, or should injuries hit the Lions’ receiving corps.
  11. Extra one for Courtland Sutton. Because despite how bad he was at times last year, he still flashed the upside with three 23-point-plus performances in the first six weeks of the season. Metcalf only had two — albeit two he scored just under 22 fantasy points. Either way, Wilson should further unlock Sutton’s fantasy ceiling while stabilizing his floor.

Other Insights

Wide receiver ADP aligns linearly with how these players posted top-12 performances last season. For example, the WR1-13 range were players who finished as top-12 options in 38% of their games last season, identical to Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase.

From WR14-WR24, the top-12 return was 25%, followed by 16% by the WR25-WR40 group and 9% among the WR40-60 cluster.

Based on the graph above, I hypothesized we’d see a closer gap between the WR14-WR24 and WR25-WR40 groups. Still, the total zeroes from the likes of Allen Robinson, Jerry Jeudy, Rashod Bateman and JuJu Smith-Schuster bring the average down substantially.

If they are removed from the sample, the remaining WRs generate a 24% top-12 rate — nearly identical to the WR14-WR24. Obviously, I can’t just remove those players to make my case, but the findings tell that the upside of guys who can have WR1 weeks doesn’t fall off dramatically when we go past the top-24 per ADP.

Although the floor becomes much shakier.

Of the top-12 fantasy WR1 hit rates from the ranges combined (WR14-WR40), seven are from the first group, while five come from the second group.

The first seven guys are Chris Godwin (36%), Mike Williams (33%), Jaylen Waddle (27%), Brandin Cooks (27%), Michael Pittman (25%), Terry McLaurin (25%) and DK Metcalf (25%).

The last five WRs are Adam Thielen (38%), Tyler Lockett (33%), DeAndre Hopkins (30%), Amon-Ra St. Brown (27%) and Elijah Moore (27%).

Simply put: a string of WR1 fantasy weeks come not only from the WRs in the top-24 ADP but outside the range at a decent rate. So you can go 50 WRs deep (just outside the top-100 overall picks approximately) until you start to reach players who have very little chance (sub-10%) of ever putting up a top-12 week.

After that, it’s probably wise to hit on other positions with WR production stagnant outside the top-50.



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