As Jacob Rickrode has shown, year after year the same Wide Receivers finish in the top 24 in PPR scoring. Largely, they do at least. I promise to stop stealing Jacob’s hard work shortly. But he’s also shown that on average there are 3 receivers that fall out of the top 24 every season. In 2015 that number spiked to 7.
With that in mind, fatalist that I am, I decided to determine who exactly from last season’s top 24 scorers will not repeat the feat in 2017. One item of note: Because this is based on total scoring and not based on per-game scoring, A.J. Green finished outside of the top 24 last season.
Because I am very creative, I came up with some amazing designations for last years top 24 and if they’ll finish in the top 24 this season. (Please don’t try this at home I am a professional)
- Locks to Repeat
- Likely Safe
- The Patriot Way
- Last in
- Outside of the Top 24
We’ve already discussed my “Locks” and “Likely Safe” group of wide receivers. We also covered the New England receivers and the last group of receivers that will repeat as top 24 wide receivers. I continue my sad duty of naming the receivers that will not be able to make it two seasons in a row with top 24 finishes. Yesterday we covered Rishard Matthews, and today we move on to Tyrell Williams.
Finishes Outside of Top 24 in 2017
Tyrell Williams was fun last season, wasn’t he? It’s very likely he was a waiver wire pickup for you. He went on to put up 1,059 yards on 69 receptions and 7 touchdowns. Williams has more than respectable measurables boasting an 82nd percentile SPARQ-x score. His college dominator rating and breakout age weren’t very impressive. But still, going from an undrafted free agent to a 1,000-yard receiver is still a nice story. Here’s the thing about Williams though. Everything he needed to break his way to put up a career season broke his way in 2016.
Keenan Allen was on pace for a 224 target season before his season ending injury in 2016. Yes, he went down with an injury in the 1st half of the first game, so there’s a 1000% chance Allen would not have sustained his 7 targets per half pace, but still, it’s fun extrapolating sometimes. If Keenan Allen can somehow break whatever voodoo hex that’s been placed upon him and manages to play a full season, he will immediately resume his role as Philip Rivers security blanket. During the first four seasons of his career, Allen has averaged 8.5 targets per game.
In his injury shortened 2015 season (not be confused with his injury shortened 2016 season) Allen was cruising along with a 25.4% target share. Even in his disappointing sophomore season, Allen garnered a 21.1% target share. Allen is the alpha, and when he’s getting targeted, other wide receivers are going to lose out.
In addition to not having to compete with Keenan Allen outside of 1 half of football last season, Williams was the beneficiary of other teammates dealing with injury. If you can remember all the way back to the first few weeks of the 2016 season, Travis Benjamin was on fire. He then proceeded to sprain his PCL and was hobbled for the final 12 weeks of the season.
And this wasn’t one of those injuries everyone seems to have after struggling. No this was an honest to goodness real injury that resulted in surgery. Looking at Benjamin’s splits from last season (he injured his knee week 6 against the Bronco’s) his production nose-dived after his injury.
Melvin Gordon missed three games and averaged 4.4 targets per game.
I won’t mention Antonio Gates dealing with injury because frankly even when he isn’t injured, he still moves around like he is. Gates missed 3 games in 2016 and in those games, Williams increased his receiving yards, targets, receptions and fantasy scoring.
None of this is to say Tyrell Williams is a bad receiver. I still consider him to be a valuable asset. This simply shows Williams needed a perfect confluence of events in order to become a top 24 wide receiver. One note of optimism for Williams is that Mike Williams appears more and more likely to be a non-factor, with it now being reported he will not practice at all during training camp.
Mike Williams Not Expected To Practice All Summer https://t.co/fTJkGV7jsS
— FootballDiehards.com (@FFDiehards) July 30, 2017
Ken Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator for the Chargers, has an extensive coaching history. Looking at the last five seasons of his coaching career, he’s led offenses that have finished 15th, 21st, 24th, 22nd and 9th in pass attempts. Unless Melvin Gordon is lost to injury there’s been no indication that the Chargers are suddenly going to become overly reliant on Rivers. Without a substantial increase in available targets from last seasons 580, I don’t see a path for Williams to repeat as a top 24 wide receiver. To the contrary @MikeTagliereNFL recently researched the phenomenon of teams with new head coaches running the ball more. What he discovered is teams with new HCs, like the Chargers, average 40 fewer pass attempts than the season prior.
Tyrell is going have to compete with a healthy Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin in 2017. Antonio Gates still hasn’t retired (he may never do so); Hunter HenryHunter Henry has already shown himself to be an offensive weapon, and Melvin Gordon is an adept receiver out of the backfield. As I said, Tyrell Williams was a nice story.
As always thank you for reading. If you want to discuss this further please leave a comment or get at me @DFF_Shane.