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Looking Back - Wide Receivers
by David M. Dorey
July 17, 2003
 
Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Kicker Defense

Receivers are the deepest position, but they are also the most inconsistent and difficult to predict. Let's see see how an average draft went in 2002.
Drafted Actual Wide Receiver NFL PPG
1 5 Moss,Randy MIN 11.1
2 1 Owens,Terrell SF 15.5
3 2 Harrison,Marvin IND 14.6
4 38 Boston,David ARI 7.0
5 17 Holt,Torry STL 9.3
6 26 Smith,Rod DEN 7.9
7 10 Horn,Joe NO 10.6
8 23 Johnson,Keyshawn TB 8.5
9 19 Bruce,Isaac STL 9.1
10 4 Moulds,Eric BUF 11.4
11 48 Brown,Tim OAK 6.3
12 20 Smith,Jimmy JAX 8.8
13 22 Mason,Derrick TEN 8.8
14 9 Burress,Plaxico PIT 10.6
15 24 Jackson,Darrell SEA 8.2
16 60 Glenn,Terry GB 5.8
17 59 Johnson,Kevin CLE 5.8
18 46 Chambers,Chris MIA 6.5
19 34 Brown,Troy NE 7.4
20 81 Morton,Johnnie KC 4.0
21 52 McCaffrey,Ed DEN 6.2
22 16 Booker,Marty CHI 9.4
23 14 Rice,Jerry OAK 9.9
24 21 Gardner,Rod WAS 8.8
25 35 Thrash,James PHI 7.3
26 11 Coles,Laveranues NYJ 10.4
27 6 Toomer,Amani NYG 11.0
28 41 McCardell,Keenan TB 6.8
29 74 Ismail,Qadry IND 4.3
30 32 Muhammad,Muhsin CAR 7.5
31 8 Conway,Curtis SD 10.7
32 7 Price,Peerless BUF 10.8
33 27 Galloway,Joey DAL 7.8
34 3 Ward,Hines PIT 13.6
35 66 Freeman,Antonio PHI 4.8
36 58 Dyson,Kevin TEN 5.9
37 NA Robinson,Marcus CHI ---
38 30 Taylor,Travis BAL 7.8
39 NA Alexander,Derrick MIN ---
40 37 Schroeder,Bill DET 7.2
41 51 Warrick,Peter CIN 6.2
42 15 Robinson,Koren SEA 9.5
Actual Drafted Wide Receiver NFL PPG
1 2 Owens,Terrell SF 15.5
2 3 Harrison,Marvin IND 14.6
3 34 Ward,Hines PIT 13.6
4 10 Moulds,Eric BUF 11.4
5 1 Moss,Randy MIN 11.1
6 27 Toomer,Amani NYG 11.0
7 32 Price,Peerless BUF 10.8
8 31 Conway,Curtis SD 10.7
9 14 Burress,Plaxico PIT 10.6
10 7 Horn,Joe NO 10.6
11 26 Coles,Laveranues NYJ 10.4
12 NA Johnson,Chad CIN 10.1
13 57 Driver,Donald GB 10.1
14 23 Rice,Jerry OAK 9.9
15 42 Robinson,Koren SEA 9.5
16 22 Booker,Marty CHI 9.4
17 5 Holt,Torry STL 9.3
18 71 Morgan,Quincy CLE 9.1
19 9 Bruce,Isaac STL 9.1
20 12 Smith,Jimmy JAX 8.8
21 24 Gardner,Rod WAS 8.8
22 13 Mason,Derrick TEN 8.8
23 8 Johnson,Keyshawn TB 8.5
24 15 Jackson,Darrell SEA 8.2
25 NA Northcutt,Dennis CLE 8.0
26 6 Smith,Rod DEN 7.9
27 33 Galloway,Joey DAL 7.8
28 52 Chrebet,Wayne NYJ 7.8
29 45 Stallworth,Donte' NO 7.8
30 38 Taylor,Travis BAL 7.8
31 NA Pinkston,Todd PHI 7.6
32 30 Muhammad,Muhsin CAR 7.5
33 NA Porter,Jerry OAK 7.5
34 19 Brown,Troy NE 7.4
35 25 Thrash,James PHI 7.3
36 56 Finneran,Brian ATL 7.2
37 40 Schroeder,Bill DET 7.2
38 4 Boston,David ARI 7.0
39 46 Hilliard,Ike NYG 6.9
40 51 Hakim,Az-Zahir DET 6.8
41 28 McCardell,Keenan TB 6.8
42 72 Patten,David NE 6.6

Randy Moss had a slow start, but he still managed a respectable fifth in points per game. David Boston was injured early on, struggled with it before finally bowing out for the season and eventually his career since he moves to San Diego in the Great Arizona Receiver Escape.

Other than Joe Horn, all the receivers taken from fourth to ninth in the draft were major disappointments. And to think those teams passed on solid quarterbacks or upside runningbacks when they made the pick.

Eric Moulds was the best surprise of the draft, along with Hines Ward and Peerless Price. Moulds was a known quality that finally received a bigtime passer in Drew Bledsoe. Peerless Price decided to breakout during the leather hailstorm in Boston last season. Hines Ward went from a respectable, solid receiver to being a stud almost overnight. With the lack of a formidable rushing game, along with Tommy Maddox showing what a pocket passer could do, the Steelers found themselves finally getting the payoff from having drafted so many first round receivers in the past few years.

Plaxico Burress also broke out in Pittsburgh though he needed Maddox at the helm to do it.

Lavernues Coles also turned in his first great season and was rewarded with Bruce Snyder's riches in the offseason.

Lastly Curtis Conway had a good season going but missed three games and Koren Robinson ended the year at Mach speed as he too broke out for the first time.

It was an unpredictable season for receivers, unlike quarterbacks and runningbacks that showed surprising stability. Of the first 21 receivers drafted, over half of them did not play worthy of a #2 fantasy receiver. That's just brutal. But that is about normal too.

The actual numbers favored the top three as is almost always the case each season. Considering the large number of disappointments in the position, after the top three are taken tread lightly unless you are certain your pick has more upside than risk.

What is amazing is that a fantasy team could have built a monster set of receivers and never had taken any before about the sixth round. Hines Ward, Amani Toomer, Peerless Price and Curtis Conway all could be had cheaply considering they all ended with top eight numbers for the season. Throw in Donald Driver and Lavernues Coles and the mid-round selections of receivers provided a bonanza.

After the top three, the points per game dropped noticeably and the decline in points was very gradual. Peerless Price was a nice sleeper, but in reality his 7th place performance was only two points per game better than the 22nd best season. Each point matters to be sure, but in a position that is so unpredictable, getting those picks right is a challenge.

The season also witnessed very nice years turned in by Chad Johnson, Todd Pinkston and and Jerry Porter who were not often drafted in many leagues. Not surprisingly, they were all around 25 years old and entering their second or third seasons.

Receivers are showing that the old three year rule is being changed to a two year transition period. In their second season, we saw encouraging performances by Brian Finneran, Rod Gardner, Chad Johnson, Pinkston, Porter and Dez White.

It is notable that within the best 24 receivers, those first two starting fantasy receivers on teams in your league, that only Price, Burress and Bruce made it there and yet were the #2 receiving option for their team. The #1 wideout for a team is much more likely to perform better than the #2 from another team as is shown each season. Let's look at the last three and see who the busts and undervalued players.

In a position as deep as receivers, there is no sense in listing out all the busts and undervalued players and this look should be considered more about the position than any single player. I have highlight the undervalued players in yellow and the busts in red though a bit subjective on my part.

Draft Actual 2000 PPG Draft Actual 2001 PPG Draft Actual 2002 PPG
1 4 Harrison,Marvin 1 6 Moss,Randy 1 5 Moss,Randy
2 2 Moss,Randy 2 1 Harrison,Marvin 2 1 Owens,Terrell
3 7 Bruce,Isaac 3 2 Owens,Terrell 3 2 Harrison,Marvin
4 18 Robinson,Marcus 4 9 Holt,Torry 4 38 Boston,David
5 16 Freeman,Antonio 5 20 Bruce,Isaac 5 17 Holt,Torry
6 8 Smith,Jimmy 6 3 Smith,Rod 6 26 Smith,Rod
7 13 Moulds,Eric 7 33 Carter,Cris 7 10 Horn,Joe
8 Dud Westbrook,M 8 35 Moulds,Eric 8 23 Johnson,Key
9 11 Carter,Cris 9 46 Alexander,D 9 19 Bruce,Isaac
10 23 Johnson,Key 10 8 Horn,Joe 10 4 Moulds,Eric
11 Dud Galloway,Joey 11 Dud McCaffrey,Ed 11 48 Brown,Tim
12 17 Muhammad,M 12 10 Brown,Tim 12 20 Smith,Jimmy
13 12 Brown,Tim 13 24 Johnson,Key 13 22 Mason,Derrick
14 37 Crowell,G 14 7 Smith,Jimmy 14 9 Burress,Plaxico
15 6 Holt,Torry 15 4 Boston,David 15 24 Jackson,Darrell
16 14 Toomer,Amani 16 37 Freeman,Antonio 16 60 Glenn,Terry
17 9 McCaffrey,Ed 17 29 Toomer,Amani 17 59 Johnson,Kevin
18 Dud Mayes,Derrick 18 52 Westbrook,M 18 46 Chambers,Chris
19 24 Glenn,Terry 19 51 Muhammad,M 19 34 Brown,Troy
20 76 Johnson,Kevin 20 Dud Crowell,Germane 20 81 Morton,Johnnie
21 32 Connell,Albert 21 50 Chrebet,Wayne 21 52 McCaffrey,Ed
22 Dud Jeffers,Patrick 22 17 Jackson,Darrell 22 16 Booker,Marty
23 Dud Pickens,Carl 23 5 Mason,Derrick 23 14 Rice,Jerry
24 39 Warrick,Peter 24 61 Warrick,Peter 24 21 Gardner,Rod
25 1 Owens,Terrell 25 18 McCardell,K 25 35 Thrash,James
26 22 Chrebet,Wayne 26 21 Thrash,James 26 11 Coles,L
27 3 Smith,Rod 27 Dud Robinson,Marcus 27 6 Toomer,Amani
28 44 Mathis,Terance 28 54 Taylor,Travis 28 41 McCardell,K
29 51 Ismail,Raghib 29 47 Galloway,Joey 29 74 Ismail,Qadry
30 38 Ismail,Qadry 30 12 Rice,Jerry 30 32 Muhammad,M
31 Dud Burress,Plaxico 31 14 Johnson,Kevin 31 8 Conway,Curtis
32 Dud Scott,Darnay 32 45 Gadsden,Oronde 32 7 Price,Peerless
33 19 McCardell,K 33 13 Conway,Curtis 33 27 Galloway,Joey
34 25 Schroeder,Bill 34 70 Terrell,David 34 3 Ward,Hines
35 Dud Moore,Rob 35 11 Schroeder,Bill 35 66 Freeman,Antonio
36 Dud Dyson,Kevin 36 Dud Glenn,Terry 36 58 Dyson,Kevin
37 60 Taylor,Travis 37 40 Stokes,J.J. 37 Dud Robinson,Marcus
38 80 Engram,Bobby 38 69 Robinson,Koren 38 30 Taylor,Travis
39 50 Price,Peerless 39 19 Ismail,Qadry 39 Dud Alexander,D
40 45 Morton,Johnnie 40 65 Mathis,Terance 40 37 Schroeder,Bill
41 5 Alexander,D 41 15 Brown,Troy 41 51 Warrick,Peter
42 10 Horn,Joe 42 22 Morton,Johnnie 42 15 Robinson,Koren
43 15 Boston,David 43 68 Hakim,Az-Zahir 43 Dud Green,Jacquez
44 36 Dawkins,Sean 44 27 Jackson,Willie 44 100 Stokes,J.J.
45 73 Martin,Tony 45 43 Scott,Darnay 45 29 Stallworth,D
46 31 Hayes,Donald 46 Dud Minnis,Marvin 46 39 Hilliard,Ike
47 27 Rice,Jerry 47 49 McKnight,James 47 77 Randle El,A
48 77 Reed,Jake 48 66 Connell,Albert 48 76 Moss,Santana
49 69 Moore,Herman 49 28 Burress,Plaxico 49 50 Bates,D'Wayne
50 35 Sanders,Frank 50 Dud Hatchette,M 50 Dud Jackson,Willie
51 20 Hilliard,Ike 51 23 Coles,L 51 40 Hakim,Az-Zahir
52 72 Dwight,Tim 52 36 Hilliard,Ike 52 28 Chrebet,Wayne
53 33 Johnson,Charles 53 32 Dyson,Kevin 53 65 Pathon,Jerome
54 70 Thigpen,Yancey 54 80 Stokley,Brandon 54 61 Terrell,David
55 47 Hakim,Az-Zahir 55 44 Gardner,Rod 55 95 Westbrook,M
56 29 Conway,Curtis 56 83 Wayne,Reggie 56 36 Finneran,Brian
57 56 Wilkins,Terrence 57 26 Graham,Jeff 57 13 Driver,Donald
58 Dud Bradford,Corey 58 74 Mitchell,Freddie 58 63 White,Dez
59 Dud Edwards,Troy 59 Dud Moss,Santana 59 97 Ferguson,Robert
60 41 Jefferson,Shawn 60 Dud Mayes,Derrick 60 43 Bryant,Antonio

What the past three drafts have shown is a surprising number of flops or overvalued players being taken in the 4th to 11th receiver taken in each draft. Of the 24 players in that grouping over the past three years, there has been only six of them perform to expectations and sixteen of them were a waste of an early pick.

Another bad area has been the 16th to the 21st receiver taken which has been almost all bad picks as the starting receivers were filled out on teams. These players were either receivers coming off good years that the average person was a little leery about or they were players that were admittedly risky but seemed worthy of the pick. They weren't as it ended up.

It is also notable that difference making receivers rarely ever came after the 44th one was selected unless they were never drafted. This means that the #2 receivers on teams that are not commonly good passing teams are rarely worth the pick. Taking a shot with second or third year player that could emerge was the only way to make a difference to your starting lineup.

And then there was Donald Driver, who last season broke so many rules that considering him only confuses what is true for all other receivers.

The position does not score well beyond the top players and the sleepers more likely come from nowhere than deeper in the draft. With receivers, always look for upside players with good quarterbacks to increase your odds.

Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Kicker Defense