The passing game has taken over the Fantasy Football world, and the 2012 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings should show it.
But here’s the thing – it still shouldn’t change much in how you should approach your Fantasy draft. While quarterbacks are blowing up, throwing for more yardage and more touchdown passes, the wide receiver position really hasn’t become this insane points factory that everyone believes it is.
Sure, running backs are a little crazy these days with committees and two-headed RB systems, making it tougher to land a reliable, workhorse running back.
And while you’d think that the top receivers have become so valuable that several of them deserve a first-round selection, but that’s not the case.
History Suggests a Little Change
We can learn a lot from the past 20 years that might affect the 2012 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings. Last season, there were four wide receivers that scored more than 200 Fantasy points (1 pt per rec yard, 6 pts per TD), including Victor Cruz, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson and Wes Welker. In this pass-happy world we live in, you’d think there would be a few more wide receivers with that many points, but in reality, four is just about average for the past 20 years.
Can you believe there were seven 200-point receivers back in 2000, led by Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens? And in 1995, there were eight! Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce and both Lions receivers (Herman Moore and Brett Perriman) were some of the best that year.
Two WRs Spread the Wealth
Two running backs take carries away from each other. They take touches and TD opportunities away from their counterpart, making it very tough for two running backs to excel in the same backfield (Arian Foster drafters beware!) But the NFL has been turning WR2s into stars over the past few years, more so than ever before. There weren’t many Brett Perrimans around in the past 20 years, including Brett Perriman! I wrote a piece on the emergence of WR duos in Fantasy on SportsIllustrated.com detailing the seven sets of WR pairs that are tearing up the league. Those duos have definitely affected how we perceive these 2012 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings.
But has that changed much about the position from a Fantasy perspective? In other words, are the second wide receivers getting all these extra passing points, making them that much more valuable than in the past? While they’ve definitely increased their production, there aren’t necessarily more second-tier point scorers.
In the ‘90s, an average of 36 wide receivers that scored 100 points or more each season. In the following decade, that number rose to a little over 39 wide receivers that hit the century mark. Granted, in 2010 and 2011, there was an average of 43 wide receivers to score 100 points. Sure, that’s a nice jump, but over the past 22 seasons, we’ve seen similar bumps. In 2002, 47 receivers scored 100 points in the season – followed up by a 2003 that had 12 fewer WRs with that many points.
Tight ends Stealing Some Thunder
In the ‘90s, tight ends were scoring more than 100 Fantasy points at an average of about three times a year (no TE scored 100 pts in either 1991 or 1992). In the 2000s, an average of five tight ends eclipsed 100 points.
And last year? Well, I think we found our culprit in the Case of the Missing Passing Points, led by a Patriots tight end. Rob Gronkowski’s 247 points stole some production from several wide receivers, although, I’m still of the belief that Gronk is not worth a second-round pick this year. There were 11 tight ends with at least 100 Fantasy points. And that one stat alone might be why you should temper your expectations of wide receivers when reviewing the 2012 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings.
In conclusion? Let’s not get too crazy about drafting wide receivers like they’re Fantasy gold.
2012 Rookies: Top 30 Overall | QB | RB | WR | TE
2012 Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings
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