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ADP vs. Actual: Wide Receivers
David Dorey
July 5, 2010
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Other Positions:  Quarterback  |  Running Back  |  Wide Receiver

Every summer there is conventional wisdom that is expressed in the average draft positions (ADP) that you see on the internet and in magazines. They are merely the collections of numerous drafts to see where, on average, players are taken. Certainly every draft has at least the team owners to make them unique and there are plenty of scoring systems out there as well. You cannot take anything too finite from the results of averaging but comparing that to what actually happened last year using a standard fantasy scoring system gives an interesting view. It shows how well, on average, we all drafted against what happened to those players.

Just to see if there is anything in past history to help us not repeat a bad season, I've taken the liberty of assembling the Average Draft Positions from the last three years for quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers and compared each to what happened that season. For ease of viewing, I have highlighted in green or red which players were respectively very good or very bad draft picks.

2009 2008 2007
ADP Actual    Diff    Player ADP Actual    Diff    Player ADP Actual    Diff    Player
1 2 -1 Larry Fitzgerald 1 19 -18 Randy Moss 1 16 -15 Steve Smith
2 4 -2 Andre Johnson 2 8 -6 Terrell Owens 2 7 -5 Chad Ochocinco
3 6 -3 Randy Moss 3 18 -15 Reggie Wayne 3 na Inj Marvin Harrison
4 24 -20 Calvin Johnson 4 15 -11 Braylon Edwards 4 3 1 Terrell Owens
5 1 4 Reggie Wayne 5 4 1 Larry Fitzgerald 5 2 3 Reggie Wayne
6 17 -11 Greg Jennings 6 2 4 Andre Johnson 6 11 -5 Torry Holt
7 22 -15 Steve Smith 7 44 -37 Marques Colston 7 5 2 Larry Fitzgerald
8 11 -3 Roddy White 8 14 -6 T. J. Houshmandzadeh 8 30 -22 Roy Williams
9 21 -12 Anquan Boldin 9 63 -54 Plaxico Burress 9 6 3 T. J. Houshmandzadeh
10 9 1 Marques Colston 10 17 -7 Steve Smith 10 8 2 Marques Colston
11 7 4 Wes Welker 11 40 -29 Chad Ochocinco 11 na Inj Javon Walker
12 54 -42 Dwayne Bowe 12 6 6 Wes Welker 12 1 11 Randy Moss
13 33 -20 Terrell Owens 13 23 -10 Torry Holt 13 19 -6 Anquan Boldin
14 29 -15 T. J. Houshmandzadeh 14 1 13 Brandon Marshall 14 33 -19 Lee Evans
15 15 0 Chad Ochocinco 15 16 -1 Anquan Boldin 15 27 -12 Andre Johnson
16 43 -27 Roy Williams 16 26 -10 Santonio Holmes 16 23 -7 Donald Driver
17 8 9 Brandon Marshall 17 5 12 Calvin Johnson 17 13 4 Plaxico Burress
18 13 5 Vincent Jackson 18 49 -31 Roy Williams 18 29 -11 Hines Ward
19 38 -19 Braylon Edwards 19 33 -14 Marvin Harrison 19 na Inj Deion Branch
20 12 8 DeSean Jackson 20 10 10 Greg Jennings 20 38 -18 Calvin Johnson
21 NA x Anthony Gonzalez 21 28 -7 Jerricho Cotchery 21 34 -13 Reggie Brown
22 93 -71 Eddie Royal 22 20 2 Hines Ward 22 39 -17 Laveranues Coles
23 16 7 Santonio Holmes 23 35 -12 Lee Evans 23 37 -14 Santana Moss
24 36 -12 Bernard Berrian 24 24 0 Laveranues Coles 24 61 -37 Darrell Jackson
25 59 -34 Antonio Bryant 25 3 22 Dwayne Bowe 25 4 21 Braylon Edwards
26 14 12 Hines Ward 26 7 19 Roddy White 26 28 -2 Chris Chambers
27 45 -18 Lee Evans 27 65 -38 Chris Chambers 27 59 -32 Vincent Jackson
28 34 -6 Santana Moss 28 25 3 Donald Driver 28 26 2 Joey Galloway
29 102 -73 Lance Moore 29 12 17 Santana Moss 29 51 -22 Donte' Stallworth
30 26 4 Jerricho Cotchery 30 na Inj Nate Burleson 30 24 6 Bernard Berrian
31 42 -11 Devin Hester 31 116 -85 Joey Galloway 31 70 -39 Mark Clayton
32 20 12 Donald Driver 32 36 -4 Bernard Berrian 32 25 7 Santonio Holmes
33 46 -13 Laveranues Coles 33 60 -27 Patrick Crayton 33 65 -32 Jabar Gaffney
34 50 -16 Donnie Avery 34 54 -20 Anthony Gonzalez 34 20 14 Jerricho Cotchery
35 56 -21 Kevin Walter 35 71 -36 Kevin Curtis 35 na Inj Terry Glenn
36 58 -22 Torry Holt 36 88 -52 Donte' Stallworth 36 18 18 Greg Jennings
37 18 19 Derrick Mason 37 38 -1 Ted Ginn Jr. 37 73 -36 D.J. Hackett
38 77 -39 Ted Ginn Jr. 38 98 -60 Reggie Brown 38 78 -40 Devery Henderson
39 31 8 Steve Breaston 39 21 18 Derrick Mason 39 17 22 Kevin Curtis
40 25 15 Percy Harvin 40 34 6 Vincent Jackson 40 41 -1 Isaac Bruce
41 112 -71 Domenik Hixon 41 107 -66 Javon Walker 41 44 -3 Jerry Porter
42 103 -61 Chris Henry 42 53 -11 Bobby Engram 42 60 -18 Muhsin Muhammad
43 10 33 Steve Smith 43 13 30 DeSean Jackson 43 10 33 Wes Welker
44 55 -11 Josh Morgan 44 112 -68 Jerry Porter 44 12 32 Bobby Engram
45 61 -16 Michael Crabtree 45 68 -23 Reggie Williams 45 64 -19 Anthony Gonzalez
46 44 2 Chris Chambers 46 39 7 Devin Hester 46 80 -34 Matt Jones
47 51 -4 Earl Bennett 47 106 -59 Sidney Rice 47 72 -25 Drew Bennett
48 32 16 Jeremy Maclin 48 30 18 Isaac Bruce 48 9 39 Brandon Marshall
49 47 2 Patrick Crayton 49 56 -7 Bryant Johnson 49 36 13 Patrick Crayton
50 39 11 Hakeem Nicks 50 123 -73 Robert Meachem 50 42 8 Ronald Curry
58 5 53 Miles Austin 57 9 48 Eddie Royal 51 31 20 Nate Burleson
62 3 59 Sidney Rice 58 31 27 Muhsin Muhammad 55 14 41 Derrick Mason
71 27 44 Mike Sims-Walker 69 11 58 Antonio Bryant 62 22 40 Dwayne Bowe
75 28 47 Devery Henderson 79 29 50 Donnie Avery 72 15 57 Roddy White

What Can We Learn?

Wide receivers are always the most interesting since there are so many more of them and they naturally have the most amount of transition for players. Starters get benched, underlings get their shot and almost every year some no-name shows up as a must-start fantasy star. This may be the most interesting group to analyze because there is so much going on each year and if doesn't often match up with conventional wisdom. One of the biggest problems is that so many have their first big season and then slip back instead of continuing to progress.

Those early picks have their flops as with any position and really fewer than seen in running backs. In this case, most of the players who suffer dramatic drops in fantasy points are because of either their own injury or that of their normal quarterback. Consider Randy Moss who was #1 with Brady, then 18th with Matt Cassel and then back to #6 with Brady.

Last year we over-valued what Calvin Johnson would do with a rookie quarterback. Steve Smith (CAR) continued to be drafted too early and now gets a new quarterback this year while recovering from a broken arm. But what is notable is that while running back flops in the first round tend to drop way back in the rankings, wideouts who disappoint in the first round only drop back maybe one tier to be more of a WR2 instead of a WR1. It doesn't help you much but it also doesn't kill you like getting a first round running back too often does.

There is obvious movement each year, but all things considered most wideouts perform roughly to expectations. At the bottom of each year the best four picks after 50th are shown and there has been some great value there. Guys like Austin, Rice and Sims-Walker all were in the breakout range in experience but had offensive situations that made it hard to believe. Eddie Royal had a huge rookie year and then flopped as a sophomore. Seems almost all of those 50+ picks that really panned out were players in the range for a breakout or in a new situation. Good to keep in mind when you are taking your own wideout depth.

The other helpful fact is that when a veteran possession receiver has a bad season, he's often too devalued the next year. Witness names like Hines Ward, Donald Driver and Derrick Mason showing up last year as nice values.

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