Jonathan Bales, who writes for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Times has written a fantasy football book called Fantasy Football for Smart People. I asked him to assess Kendall Wright's fantasy value for this upcoming season. He wrote some really good stuff that is posted after the jump.
The Wright Pick? Assessing Kendall Wright's Fantasy Football Value in 2012 and Beyond
Jonathan Bales is the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft. He's also the founder of The DC Times and writes for the New York Times.
As the 20th overall pick by the Tennessee Titans in the 2012 NFL Draft, former Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright is certainly on the fantasy football radar this season. The 5'10'', 190-pound playmaker has outstanding career potential, particularly with strong-armed Jake Locker likely throwing him passes down the line.
In redraft leagues, however, Wright's value is minimal. That has nothing to do with Wright's skill set, which many people thought was the second-best of any receiver in the draft. Rather, there are external factors influencing Wright's lack of fantasy value in 2012. . .
- Rookie wide receivers possess little value.
In my book, I talk about the risks of drafting rookie receivers. Take a look at the top rookie wide outs from the past five seasons. Even in today's pass-happy NFL, rookie receivers simply don't make much of an impact. Going into 2012, second-year receiver A.J. Green is getting selected as high as the third round in fantasy drafts. Still, Green-2011's top rookie receiver-was just 14th in points among all receivers.
And Green is actually an outlier. In 2010, the top rookie receiver was Dez Bryant. He checked in 41st among all receivers in fantasy points, meaning he wasn't even good enough to start in three-receiver leagues. In 2009, Percy Harvin led all rookie receivers, but still managed to total only the 25th-most fantasy points at the position. DeSean Jackson led rookie receivers in 2008 at 29th place, and Dwayne Bowe set the pace the previous season at 24th. Even the great Calvin Johnson was the 35th-ranked wide receiver in his rookie year.
Simply stated, you can't rely on rookie receivers in the short-term. At best, the draft's most elite rookie receivers can be counted on as low-end third options at the position.
- Kendall Wright has competition.
Kenny Britt is obviously the man in Tennessee in 2012, but Nate Washington is coming off of a career year as well. Unless there's an injury, Wright probably won't get the targets necessary to produce suitable numbers in fantasy football. A projection of 60 targets is probably stretching it.
- You have to draft Wright to secure him.
Wright is currently getting selected in the 14th round of fantasy drafts.
You can see Wright's average draft position is remaining steady, right around the same point as James Jones, Doug Baldwin, and Rueben Randle. Unless you're in a very thin league, Wright will almost certainly get drafted, meaning you can't pick him up on waivers.
For fantasy owners, that equates to risk. A 14th-round selection isn't monumental risk, but you could acquire players like Joe Flacco, Shane Vereen, or other players with more upside in that range. Receivers Doug Baldwin and Mario Manningham have immediate breakout potential and are getting selected only a round earlier than Wright.
There are monumental differences between redraft and dynasty draft strategy, and Wright's value to dynasty owners is sensational. Here's why. . .
- Wright has a supporting cast.
One of the biggest mistakes made by fantasy owners is drafting wide receivers who play in weak offenses. Whereas running backs can benefit from an abundance of touches, receivers put up fantasy points through efficiency as opposed to bulk looks. Total carries are far more strongly correlated to running back fantasy points than targets are to wide receiver points.
Take a look at the premiere fantasy wide outs from 2011; Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker, and Victor Cruz led the league in points. The Lions had a breakout season, the Packers racked up 15 wins, the Patriots are the Patriots, and the Giants won the Super Bowl.
With Jake Locker at the helm, Chris Johnson in the backfield, Kenny Britt outside, and Jared Cook patrolling the middle of the field, Wright will always have people to take off the pressure.
- Wide receivers get selected too late in dynasty leagues.
Fantasy owners often don't deviate too much from their redraft strategy in dynasty leagues. This means they wait on rookie receivers because the first-year value isn't there. If you're willing to draft a young gun and wait it out, you can acquire great career value with rookie receivers. You'll lose a late-round pick in 2012, but Wright could begin producing starting-caliber fantasy points as soon as 2013.