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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
Chiefs have no plans to cut ties with ILB Derrick Johnson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Chiefs have just $2.8 million of cap space with the NFL draft less than one month away, and while the team needs to find a way to make more room beneath the camp, the Chiefs will not part ways with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Kansas City Star reports.

"Derrick is obviously one of the greatest inside linebackers to ever play for the club and there are some pretty good ones, if you go back in time," team chairman Clark Hunt said. "In terms of the modern era of the Chiefs, it’s hard to think about the club without thinking about Derrick at inside linebacker. He’s a great leader, he’s a tremendous person, represents the club well on and off the field. We’re looking forward to having him back this year, hopefully good as new. You mentioned that his contract is up this year. There will be a point in time where we address that. But it just hasn’t been germane to this point."

Johnson missed last season due to a torn Achilles tendon and has a cap number of $5.2 million this season.


Report: 49ers to sign LB Desmond Bishop
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:12 pm ET) The 49ers will sign inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Bishop joined the 49ers last December and recorded two tackles in two games. He emerged as a starter with the Packers in 2010 and racked up more than 100 tackles for two straight seasons before missing the 2012 season and becoming a free agent. He could win significant playing time in the 49ers' base set after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.


Eagles announce one-year deal with WR Miles Austin
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) The Eagles announced Tuesday that they have signed wide receiver Miles Austin to a one-year contract. The deal was reported Monday and became official Tuesday after Austin, who caught 47 passes for 568 yards with two touchdowns in 2014, passed his physical.

Report: Ravens sign QB Matt Schaub
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 pm ET) The Ravens have signed quarterback Matt Schaub, Sports Illustrated reports.

Schaub threw just 10 passes after joining the Raiders before last season but has extensive experience as an NFL starter, having made 90 starts, mostly with the Texans. He's completed 63.9 percent of his passes in his career while racking up 130 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Schaub will serve as a backup to starter Joe Flacco next season.


Report: Seahawks' Russell Wilson won't land fully-guaranteed deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(1:40 pm ET) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been in talks to land a contract extension this offseason, and while a large portion of the deal will be guaranteed, the quarterback will not receive a fully-guaranteed contract, NFL.com reports.

CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on March 21 that Wilson and the Seahawks were not close to an agreement. La Canfora also said during the NFL combine that it's possible Wilson plays out his rookie deal with the team. He has a cap hit a little less than $1.7 million in the last year of his rookie contract.


Report: Stevan Ridley visiting Dolphins Tuesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:57 pm ET) Free-agent running back Stevan Ridley is visiting the Dolphins Tuesday, the Miami Herald reports.

Ridley spent his first four seasons with the Patriots but struggled in 2014, rushing for just 340 yards and two touchdowns on 94 carries. He did rack up a career-high 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. The running back underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in November.


Pagano: Andre Johnson brings a 'big, physical presence' to Colts
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) Colts coach Chuck Pagano sees wide receiver Andre Johnson as a big presence underneath for the team's offense, adding a complementary piece to the speed of T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, ESPN.com reports.

"He's a big body guy that can still separate, create separation," Pagano said. "He's got a big catch radius. But again, the contested catches that you see on tape. It's very difficult to match up. There are few corners in the league that have length and size to match up but most are aren't on that size and they get pushed around a little bit. He's going to be able to bring that big, physical presence to us."

Johnson managed just 936 yards and three touchdowns on 85 receptions in 15 games in 2014, marking the first time he's played at least 10 games but not reached 1,000 yards since 2005. However, Pagano doesn't think Johnson has taken a step back.

"You don't see a huge dropoff numbers-wise," Pagano said. "Maybe in touchdowns. But you still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who an opponent can't just line up and say, 'Don't worry about Andre Johnson.' They're still going to have to tend to him if you will. If they choose to double [Hilton] and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He's a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic. He's got a big catch radius. A big body. Those guys are hard to defend."


Report: Ravens interested in TE Rob Housler
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) The Ravens and tight end Rob Housler have mutual interest, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The two sides have held contract discussions and while a deal has yet to be reached, both the Ravens and Housler will continue working toward a compromise. He could serve as an athletic pass-catching tight end in new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's offense if signed.

Housler posted career lows in 2014, grabbing just nine passes for 129 yards.


Saints to start Jahri Evans, Tim Lelito at guard in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 pm ET) Saints coach Sean Payton said at the annual NFL meeting that he doesn't think the moves the team has made this offseason have opened any holes in the starting lineup, indicating specifically that Tim Lelito would join Jahri Evans as the team's starting guards after the departure of Ben Grubbs, Saints.com reports.

"Those aren’t holes," Payton said about losing Grubbs and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. "We’re not moving a player if we feel like there’s no…we feel like we have a pretty good idea of how everything is lining up. We’ve got a center we know that starts in this NFL, we’ve got a guard, (Tim) Lelito will play left guard, Jahri Evans is the right guard. The same way at receiver. So we weren’t looking to make a move that created another 'must'."

Lelito played 294 snaps on offense last season, per Pro Football Focus, and graded out positively as a run blocker and negatively as a pass blocker.  He was an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State in 2013.


Lions' Caldwell expects Theo Riddick to have large role in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:19 pm ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell expects running back Theo Riddick to help boost a rushing attack that ranked 28th in 2014 and cut Reggie Bush after the season, MLive.com reports.

"We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."

Riddick rushed for 51 yards on 20 carries in 2014 and added 316 yards and four touchdowns on 34 catches.

"I can't tell you he's going to carry the ball 50 more times, or I can't tell you he's going to get the ball thrown to him 30 more times, until we have a chance to work through this gauntlet. Know what I mean?" Caldwell said. "When we get to the end of the gauntlet, then maybe I can give you a little more of a view. But I'm never going to tell you, 'Hey, we expect this guy to do this or that.' What role he plays, how much he's going to get it, kind of depends on how well we move the ball and how many opportunities we get, what kind of game it is, are we playing great defense, that kind of thing.

"But I will say that he's going to improve. He has all the qualities. Here's the thing -- if you're smart, if you're tough, if you're disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there's improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he's going to improve, and I think he's going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations."


 
 
 
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