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What is a RB1 or WR1 really?


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I've always felt that looking at end of season rankings did a poor job of saying how well players actually played. The problem is that players get a huge boost for staying healthy, even if their weekly production isn't all that great (think Chris Johnson two years ago). Plus we're throwing out all the games by guys who are solid for brief moments when given opportunity, e.g. Bryce Brown and Marcel Reece don't factor in at all.

So here's what I did to try and correct the injury and partial season problem. Using the scoring leaders from nfl.com (standard scoring, not PPR), for each week I looked at the average score of the 12th best QB, 12th/24th/36th best RB, 12th/24th/36th best WR, and 12th best TE. The thought is that a RB1 is a player that, on average, will be in the top 12 players each week. Certainly they won't be top 12 every week, but they should also put up games where they are better than 12th best, so on average I think a true RB1 should be above that cutoff.

Here are the cutoffs we get: (my method /vs/ end of season rankings method)

QB1: 17.0 // 15.7

RB1: 22.1 // 19.4

RB2: 14.0 // 11.1

RB3: 8.9 // 7.3

WR1: 14.1 // 10.7

WR2: 10.1 // 8.2

WR3: 6.9 // 6.0

TE1: 10.1 // 7.1

Here is the percent change in points between the two, as well as the number of players that are a QB1/RB1/etc with my numbers (keep in mind where I say WR2 I mean WR2 or better, so you'd perhaps expect 24 WR2's and 36 WR3's):

QB1: 8.5% // 11 QB1's

RB1: 13.8% // 5 RB1's (Ray Rice is close, which would make it 6)

RB2: 25.9% // 21 RB2's

RB3: -6.3% // 37 RB3's

WR1: 32.0% // 1 WR1 (only Megatron)

WR2: 23.1% // 16 WR2's

WR3: 0.5% // 36 WR3's

TE1: 15.4% // 6 TE1's

Keep in mind that those are players that, over the course of the whole season, ended up in those range. So there were RBs like MJD who were high end RB2's while healthy, but aren't counted as a RB2 in my counts.

So what did I learn from this? Several things, keep in mind this is non-PPR:

1) End of season rankings work pretty well for QBs

2) Waiting for QB is fine if all you want is a dependable top 12 week to week guy

3) There's a lot fewer true RB1's than you think

4) However, those RB1's really are game changers if you get one

5) Megatron is a beast

6) WR's actually are inconsistent in general - even guys like AJ Green and Brandon Marshall weren't consistently top 12 week to week

7) In a flex spot, a RB2 is equal to a WR1

8) Most players considered to be WR1's are actually WR2's on a week to week basis

9) Most players considered to be WR2's are actually WR3's on a week to week basis

10) True WR3's and RB3's are even easier to get than you'd think, so they are nothing worth worrying about

11) Can be rough finding a dependable TE if you wait

Mind you some of this might change from year to year, but thought I'd share it in case anybody was interested.

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I like the research. Thanks man. The data is pretty interesting and kinda changes my mind on some things. I liked some of the so called safer guy before hand as my RB3/WR3 or lower (Lance Moore, BJGE etc.) but with them being consistent compilers I could probably go for more boom or bust type guys (Bryce Brown or Kenny Britt) and stream guys if I actually need to rely on my WR3/RB3.

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Number 11 is too true. I actually might prefer not having TEs at all, they're just annoying. They're inconsistent and its anyone's guess who's going to be a good FF TE week to week. Defenses are somewhat in the same boat, but it's not as hard to find decent ones week to week.

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