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2013 Consistency Breakdown: Wide receivers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Consistency Breakdowns: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs

It might seem like receivers are becoming a bigger part of Fantasy Football, but it's not really happening.

Example: In 2012 there were 407 times where a wideout posted 10 or more Fantasy points in a standard league. That number dipped to 386 in 2013 -- and sure, that is a big number when you think about it, but also think about every team having (at least) four receivers and playing 16 games. Scores of opportunities for receivers to put up points and it's not happening often enough.

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Maybe that's unfair to say. It's happening enough -- just not in a consistent manner. Consistency is an issue at every position and it's what makes the studs so great. Of the 386 times a receiver had 10-plus Fantasy points, they repeated the feat in their very next game just 112 times, a 29 percent rate. That's ugly, but it comes with a silver lining: 54 of the 112 back-to-back 10-point performances were done by Top 12 receivers and 79 of the 112 two-fers -- a cool 70.5 percent -- were done by Top 24 receivers. Those percentages are on par with what players had, be it in the Top 12, Top 24 or overall in 2012.

Studs being studs. It just might be the evidence you need to take two receivers with your first four picks ... if not first three picks ... if not first two picks.

In Fantasy there's always the allure of the boom-or-bust player, a guy who can dominate a game and score 20-plus points or collapse with a two-catch, 24-yard game. Some believe a Fantasy team full of boom-or-busters can help propel them to victory week after week just on the strength of three of four players coming through. Others gravitate toward consistent receivers who can deliver a nice amount of Fantasy points from week to week.

However you want to slice it, we're taking a look back at the wideouts who were consistent and those who might have earned the stigma of boom-or-bust types.

Consistent: Larry Fitzgerald

Fantasy point average: 9.1 over 16 games / 10+ points: 9 of 16 games (56.3 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 20 3 6 12 4 15 1 10 bye 2 12 17 13 15 4 1 11 146

Fitzgerald didn't quite match expectations in 2013 given where he was drafted (30th overall on average) but still was among the Top 10 receivers in terms of consistency (yes, really). That's pretty much the only positive Fitzgerald has -- even with nine games over 10-plus Fantasy points, he averaged less than 10 points over the season and really bombed out in the seven games he didn't get double digits in, gaining no more than six points in them. It's been a tough two years for Fitzgerald -- he didn't even have 100 points total in 2012 because of the Cardinals quarterback woes and got only a mild bump this year because of Carson Palmer, who played behind a mediocre offensive line all season. He has just 20 plays of 20-plus yards in his last two seasons and doesn't have 1,000 yards in each of his last two years. Time might be running out on him to return to elite form in Fantasy.

Consistent: Wes Welker

Fantasy point average: 13.0 over 13 games / 10+ points: 7 of 13 games (53.8 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 16 9 14 19 10 12 9 14 bye 2 7 3 3 12 DNP DNP DNP 130

It was very much a tale of two halves for Welker in 2013 as he averaged 12.9 Fantasy points per game in his first eight, 5.4 in five games in his last five with three missed games. A pair of concussions really did in his season -- the first one in Week 11, the second in Week 14. And after scoring eight touchdowns in his first six games, Welker had two in his last 10. The combination of two concussions and his declining role following the Broncos bye week suggests he won't be as big a hero to Fantasy owners again in 2014. That's a tough pill to swallow since Welker has finished as a Top 24 receiver in each of the last six years.

Consistent: Julio Jones

Fantasy point average: 13.0 over 5 games / 10+ points: 4 of 5 games (80.0 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 11 24 11 10 9 bye DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 65

Josh Gordon might have been the receiver Fantasy owners fell in love with in 2013 but one guy, and only one guy, was more consistent in the games he played. That would be Jones, who had at least nine Fantasy points in every game and 10-plus in four of five. Would Jones have kept it up if he played all 16 games? Probably not, but one could reason he would pick up double digits in the 71 percent of games Gordon had, particularly with his red-hot start. Jones is on track to rejoin the Falcons long before the start of training camp and should be considered a cinch Top 30 pick.

Consistent: Randall Cobb

Fantasy point average: 11.8 over 6 games / 10+ points: 4 of 6 games (66.7 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 16 18 5 bye 10 5 DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 17 71

Like Jones, an injury cut down Cobb's chances to be a dominant Fantasy contributor in 2013. But also like Jones, he was very helpful when he was healthy. Cobb ranked in the Top 5 in consistency with 10-plus points in four of the six games he played in. He had 49 targets on the year, including the postseason. It actually branches out to an average of 1.9 targets per quarter played (he played nearly one half in the game he got hurt in Week 6 vs. Baltimore). That's up there with the elite target receivers in football. Now is not a bad time to remind you he led the Packers in targets last year with 112, catching 76.8 percent of them (he caught 67.4 pct. in 2013). Cobb should be on your wish lists next year and might even come at a bargain price in drafts and auctions.

Inconsistent: Eric Decker

Fantasy point average: 11.7 over 16 games / 10+ points: 6 of 16 games (37.5 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 3 8 19 8 12 5 21 4 bye 5 7 0 41 17 4 25 8 187

Decker posted career highs in catches (87) and yards (1,288) while landing double-digit touchdowns for the second year in a row. Not bad for a guy headed for a pay day. But you'd think a guy who averaged 11.7 Fantasy points per game would be more reliable in standard leagues. But he had just six games with double-digit Fantasy points in 2013, down from eight in 2012. Games like the ones he had in Weeks 7 and 13 when he combined for five touchdowns and 324 yards along like the ones he had in Weeks 1 and 12 (three grabs for 37 yards total) basically cemented him as a boom-or-bust type rather than a steady choice. Decker's an easy pick to make as a second receiver, even with the inconsistency, if he stays in Denver. But if he moves on and doesn't have the brainac quarterback and multiple teammates to draw coverage away from him, I don't see Decker as even a Top 20 option.

Inconsistent: T.Y. Hilton

Fantasy point average: 8.3 over 16 games / 10+ points: 5 of 16 games (31.3 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 2 12 1 4 26 4 2 bye 30 13 4 3 4 0 7 5 15 132

Man, we really missed the boat on this guy. A preseason favorite for just about everyone, Hilton had just five games with 10-plus Fantasy points and only one instance of back-to-back double-digit games. He especially seemed lost when the Colts lost Reggie Wayne to a torn ACL -- once Wayne was out of it Hilton had just two starts with 10-plus Fantasy points. It took until the end of the year and into the postseason for Hilton to really break out as a fantastic stand-alone threat. Getting at least 100 yards in each of his last three including two playoff games, Hilton totaled 28 catches on 39 targets for 482 yards and two touchdowns. So which guy will we get in 2014: The one who struggled for much of 2013 or the one who was a post-Christmas miracle for the Colts? You'll hear plenty about how Hilton looks great in camp and how the Colts offense will branch out this offseason, but if we really see it in practices and the preseason then Hilton's draft status will come close to mirroring what we saw in 2013, when he was taken 79th overall on average.

Inconsistent: Torrey Smith

Fantasy point average: 8.3 over 16 games / 10+ points: 4 of 16 games (25.0 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 9 8 9 22 12 1 6 0 7 10 9 7 15 3 6 6 2 132

Smith had his opportunity to grab the spotlight in Baltimore and even had the targets to shine, but he didn't deliver. Finishing with a 16th-best 138 targets, Smith continued a disappointing trend in catching less than half of them -- only he and Vincent Jackson were among the Top 30 receivers who caught 50 percent or fewer of their targets in 2013. That lack of production meant only four games with double digits in Fantasy points. But he still had a career-high 1,128 yards even with two games over 100 yards and five games under 60 yards. Maybe there's some optimism here since Smith had three games with nine Fantasy points (almost 10), but even if you gave him credit for those he still had only 13 occurrences over his last 32 games. For a receiver in his second and third seasons, that's not so good. Smith might not be the stud receiver we hoped he'd become.

Inconsistent: Marques Colston

Fantasy point average: 7.9 over 15 games / 10+ points: 4 of 15 games (26.7 pct.)
Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 TOTAL
FPTS 12 6 7 9 1 1 bye 1 DNP 16 8 4 2 24 15 6 6 118

Before this year, Colston was considered one of the most consistent receivers in Fantasy. He had posted 1,000 yards in each of the six seasons where he played at least 12 games and had eight or more scores in five of those years. But in 2013 he took a step back statistically, posting some of his worst numbers. Catching 75 of 110 targets (68.2 pct., second-best among receivers), Colston had just five touchdowns and 943 yards. He had only 13 plays of 20-plus yards and none for 40-plus yards, the first time in his career he didn't record at least one 40-yard catch. If you watched Colston play you could tell he was slower than in the past and really couldn't separate from defenders much. Worst of all, he proved to be among the least consistent big-name receivers, posting 10-plus points four times and doing so in back-to-back games only once. He had six Fantasy points or less eight times. Disappointing stuff for a guy you might have targeted in past drafts.

Consistency Rankings
Rank Player GP FPTS/gm 10+ Consistency Rank Player GP FPTS/gm 10+ Consistency
1 Julio Jones 5 13.0 4 80.0% 11 DeSean Jackson 16 11.4 8 50.0%
2 Josh Gordon 14 15.8 10 71.4% 11 Jordy Nelson 16 10.8 8 50.0%
3 Demaryius Thomas 16 13.8 11 68.8% 11 Justin Blackmon 4 11.5 2 50.0%
3 A.J. Green 16 12.7 11 68.8% 16 Andre Johnson 16 10.1 7 43.8%
5 Randall Cobb 6 11.8 4 66.7% 17 Keenan Allen 14 10.1 6 42.9%
6 Calvin Johnson 14 15.1 9 64.3% 18 Marvin Jones 15 8.5 6 40.0%
7 Brandon Marshall 16 12.4 9 56.3% 18 Michael Crabtree 5 6.4 2 40.0%
7 Dez Bryant 16 12.1 9 56.3% 20 Eric Decker 16 11.7 6 37.5%
7 Larry Fitzgerald 16 9.1 9 56.3% 20 Vincent Jackson 16 9.8 6 37.5%
10 Wes Welker 13 10.0 7 53.8% 20 Pierre Garcon 16 9.6 6 37.5%
11 Antonio Brown 16 11.9 8 50.0% 20 Anquan Boldin 16 9.6 6 37.5%
11 Alshon Jeffery 16 11.6 8 50.0% 20 Julian Edelman 16 8.6 6 37.5%

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

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Player News
Gavin Escobar a threat to Jason Witten?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:13 am ET) Cowboys rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, who entered the day with just four catches all season, wasn't highly targeted Week 7 against the Giants, but he made the three targets he did get count, scoring two touchdowns, including one on an impressive 26-yard grab between two defenders in the third quarter.

In all, he had three catches for 65 yards -- numbers that would be easier to overlook if not for the two touchdowns and the fact that fellow tight end Jason Witten, to this point a mainstay in Fantasy, had only two catches for 27 yards. And it's not like he and quarterback Tony Romo were just failing to connect. Witten was targeted only twice the whole game.

Witten's production hasn't been up to his usual standards this season -- in seven games, he's averaging 3.3 catches for 38.0 yards -- but just based on their history together, you figured Romo would have a need for him sooner or later. Now with the emergence of Escobar, it's no longer so clear.

Escobar himself isn't worth adding except in deep leagues of 16 teams or more that don't have enough tight ends to go around. In those formats, he's the new Timothy Wright. But in leagues of 12 teams or fewer, Witten may be on the outs. He deserves a couple more weeks given his history, but keep an eye out for the next big thing at the position.


Larry Donnell here to stay?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:55 am ET) After catching just one pass in his previous two games combined, Giants tight end Larry Donnell got back on track Week 7 at Dallas, catching seven passes for a season-high 90 yards.

Considering it was the Giants' first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, Donnell was expected to play a bigger role in the passing game, but a resurgence of this magnitude should remind us all how he came to be owned in 83 percent of Fantasy leagues in the first place. Over the first four weeks, he averaged 6.3 catches for 59 yards, scoring four touchdowns.

One potential pitfall for Donnell is that he lost two fumbles in Week 7, giving him three fumbles lost for the season, but with so few tight ends capable of his kind of production in a given week, the Giants would have to suggest his playing time is in jeopardy for me to pass on Donnell in Fantasy.

His production fell when rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham entered the mix in Week 4. Now that Cruz is out of the mix, Donnell's production figures to rise again.


Odell Beckham shows he's worth adding
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:42 am ET) Only three games into his career, Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham has emerged as one of quarterback Eli Manning's favorite red-zone targets, which is especially good news with another one of his favorite red-zone targets, Victor Cruz, lost for the season with a knee injury.

Beckham didn't have a lot of chances Week 7 at Dallas, but he made the most of the ones he got, scoring on catches of 9 and 5 yards. In all, he had four catches for 34 yards. His six targets were third-most on the team, behind wide receiver Rueben Randle's nine and tight end Larry Donnell's seven.

The six targets were a season high for Beckham. He has yet to catch more than four passes for more than 44 yards, but because he keeps getting looks in the end zone, he's worth adding in Fantasy even if it's just to stash him on your bench until you're ready to put your trust in him.


An encouraging performance for Eli Manning
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:34 am ET) Playing his first game without star wide receiver Victor Cruz, who's out for the season with a torn patella tendon, Giants quarterback Eli Manning still managed to bounce back from arguably his worst game of the season with one of his best Week 7 at Dallas, completing 21 of 33 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.

It was his fifth game in six with multiple touchdown passes and his second with at least three. And he did it against a defense that had generally kept quarterbacks out of the end zone, recording nearly as many interceptions (seven) as it had allowed touchdown passes (eight) prior to Week 7.

Though two of his touchdown passes went to rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, who wasn't even available to him the first four weeks, Manning did a nice job of spreading the ball around. None of the touchdowns went to his two leading receivers, Larry Donnell and Rueben Randle.

Judging by this performance, Manning knows how to make use of the weapons the Giants have and doesn't need Cruz to remain successful in Fantasy. His bad games can be really bad, but his good games have been frequent enough for you to give him another shot when he returns from a bye Week 9 against Indianapolis.


Andre Holmes comes back down to earth
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:26 am ET) Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, who blew up for 121 yards and two touchdowns Week 6 against San Diego, took a long time to get going Week 7 against Arizona, catching his first pass about midway through the fourth quarter. Not surprisingly, he finished with just three catches for 34 yards. 

It's not like he was invisible before then. He nearly had a great catch on a long pass along the sidelines in the second quarter, but it was ruled incomplete. He did have only two targets apart from his three receptions, though.

Clearly, it was a disappointing showing, but it's not like quarterback Derek Carr forgot about him. Only James Jones and Darren McFadden had more targets, tying for the team lead with eight. Holmes spent much of the game covered by Patrick Peterson, who remains one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. Holmes still has incredible play-making ability and will have better days.

But this performance shows why you can't trust him on an every-week basis yet. His matchup Week 8 against Cleveland is another tricky one because of cornerback Joe Haden, who has struggled at times this season but limited the Jaguars' Cecil Shorts to three catches for 12 yards in Week 7. You might want to leave Holmes on your bench for this one.


49ers' Phil Dawson makes 1-of-2 field-goal attempts in Week 7
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) 49ers knicker Phil Dawson made only one of his two field-goal attempts in Week 7, adding two extra points in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos.

Dawson couldn't deliver from 51 yards out in the first quarter, pushing the attempt wide left, but was true from 22 yards out in the second quarter. He's 13 of 16 on field-goal attempts this season but had been 10-for-10 in his previous three games coming into Week 7. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers TE Vernon Davis catches two passes in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) 49ers tight end Vernon Davis caught just two of his five targets for 21 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Davis was coming off an ugly Week 6 performance in which he dropped two passes, and he didn't fare much better in the team's blowout loss against the Broncos. He has 14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns heading into the team's Week 8 bye. The 49ers will face the Rams after the week off.


49ers WR Michael Crabtree held to 27 yards in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught four of his seven targets for just 27 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

While the 49ers averaged 11.1 yards per reception as a team Sunday, top options Crabtree (6.8 YPC) and Anquan Boldin (7.1 YPC) could find no room to work, leading to disappointing performances despite the offense dialing up 46 passes in the loss. Crabtree hasn't topped 50 yards in any of his last four games, and he owns 32 receptions, 322 yards and three touchdowns in seven games this year. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


Anquan Boldin catches seven passes in 49ers' Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:13 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught seven of his 10 targets for 50 yards in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Boldin had at least one bad drop in the game and was unable to find much room to work downfield. He came into the week average 12.4 yards per reception but managed just 7.1 YPC against the Broncos. Boldin has collected 39 receptions for 447 yards and one touchdown in seven games. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


49ers WR Steve Johnson scores touchdown in Week 7 loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:10 am ET) 49ers wide receiver Steve Johnson caught five passes for a team-high 79 yards and one touchdown in his team's 42-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 7.

Johnson hauled in a four-yard score in the back of the end zone with only 11 seconds left in the first half to send the 49ers into halftime with a 21-10 deficit. The Broncos took over from there, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter. Johnson has reached the end zone in three of his last four games, and he's up to 25 receptions, 315 yards and three scores on the season. The 49ers have a bye in Week 8 before facing the Rams the following week.


 
 
 
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