With Fantasy Football season right around the corner, I thought I would dedicate my next couple of blog posts to breakdown some well-respected statistical trends. In this blog post I will analyze the trend of the 3rd year wide receiver. Most fantasy football owners will tell you that, when breaking down the wide receiver position, one of the first areas that they look at is the 3rd year WR. The idea is that it takes an NFL wide receiver two seasons to adjust to the league and that in their third season; they are most likely to produce their best offensively. In studying this trend, I looked back at wide receivers that were drafted in the first four rounds since 2003. Here are some of the informational nuggets that I uncovered.
Each time a quarterback throws the football in the wide receiver's direction, it is categorized as a target. Targets help a fantasy football owner understand how involved the wide receiver is in the offense. Since 2003, players drafted in the first round have had an average increase of 4% in targets from season two to season three. Second rounders saw an average increase of 29%, third rounders 19% and fourth round draft picks saw an average increase of 24%. The chart below illustrates this:
Each time a wide receiver catches a pass from the quarterback, it is recorded as a reception. In a perfect fantasy football world, this number would match the number of targets. Since 2003, wide receivers drafted in the first round have on average actually seen a small 2% decrease in receptions from year two to year three, second rounders, however, have seen an average increase 23%, third rounders 16%, and fourth rounders saw an average increase of 22% . The chart below illustrates this:
This statistic is the total number of yards accumulated by a wide receiver when completing a reception. Since 2003, wide receivers drafted in the first round have again, on average, seen a small 3% decrease in receiving yards from year two to year three, second rounders have seen an average increase 25%, third rounders 17%, and fourth rounders saw an average increase of 14% . The chart below illustrates this:
This statistic is the total number of touchdowns scored by a wide receiver. Since 2003, wide receivers drafted in the first round have again, on average, seen a small 1% decrease in receiving touchdowns from year two to year three, second rounders have seen an average increase 3%, third rounders 16%, and fourth rounders saw an average decrease of 8%. The chart below illustrates this:
So what does this mean to this year’s batch of third year wide receivers? Based on the average increases/decreases outlined above, I projected what each of the wide receiver’s stats might look like this season. It looks like Terrance Williams (3rd round draft pick), DeAndre Hopkins (1st round draft pick), Keenan Allen (3rd round draft pick) and Robert Woods (2nd round draft pick) look like the best bets.
Also, in the chart below, you can see how each of the wide receivers from 2003 through 2013 fared in his first three seasons.
In the comments below, tell me which 3rd year wide receiver you think will have the best season.
Photo credit: Navin75 / Foter / CC BY-SA