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The Importance of WRs in the Top 16 of ADP

I've been debating my RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today  (11AM-2PM ET on XM 87 / Sirius 210) co-host Chris Liss the past few weeks over the merits of taking a WR early in draft. My main point is that they are safe and have a high floor. It's a very viable strategy to start WR-WR with your first two picks (outside of the top five overall). In fact, according to my previous research, it may even be the optimal strategy since my math shows wide receivers drop off in value faster than running backs.

But here's a table that drives home the point.

Performance of Wide Receivers Taken in Top 16 ADP Since 1998

Year Name
ADP VBD Position Ranking
1998 Antonio Freeman 12.77 103 2
1999 Randy Moss 7.62 97 2
1999 Antonio Freeman 14.26 24 20
2000 Randy Moss 13.4 123 1
2000 Marvin Harrison 11.06 115 2
2001 Marvin Harrison 12.87 110 1
2001 Randy Moss 7.59 55 5
2002 Marvin Harrison 15.02 119 1
2002 Terrell Owens 11.46 101 2
2002 Randy Moss 11.14 65 5
2003 Marvin Harrison 12.93 83 5
2003 Terrell Owens 15.72 60 12
2004 Marvin Harrison 15.91 74 5
2004 Randy Moss 12.24 28 19
2005 Randy Moss 13.98 32 15
2006 Steve Smith 15.63 60 8
2008 Terrell Owens 14.51 53 9
2008 Randy Moss 9.85 51 10
2009 Larry Fitzgerald 8.71 75 5
2009 Andre Johnson 12.75 100 1
2009 Randy Moss 13.26 92 2
2010 Andre Johnson 6.92 56 6
2010 Larry Fitzgerald 12.19 35 16
2010 Randy Moss 14.26 -46 67
2011 Roddy White 13.21 62 8
2011 Andre Johnson 13.56 -54 71
2011 Calvin Johnson 15.65 149 1
2012 Calvin Johnson 6.63 149 1

Only two of 28 picks since 1998 in the top 16 have been "busts" - ie. not finishing in the top 24 of their position [For a league that starts two WRs, that gives them value over a replacement player or a positive VBD].

And when you take a WR early, he's not just clearing the minimum. He's usually a top guy.

Only 7 of the 28 receivers finished outside the top 10 at the position at the end of the season. That means you had a 75 percent chance of getting a top -10 receiver by taking a pick above.

And 16 of the top 28 receivers finished in the top five overall at their position at the end of the season. That means you had a 57 percent chance of landing a top-five receiver.

That bodes well for Calvin Johnson (4),  A.J. Green (13), Dez Bryant (15) and Demaryius Thomas (16), who all have ADPs in the top 16 at MockDraftCentral.com.

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