calvinjohnson

Trent Richardson was the shocking No. 1 when I evaluated the RB position using the RB Sim Lab. Brandon Marshall upset the champion when I used the WR Custom Cheat Sheet to create WR projections. It’s time to see if he can once again unseat Megatron.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the official RotoViz Sim Scores give you projections based on what the players did a season ago. Using the Sim Lab, I can create a hypothetical player based on the real player’s size and age but make slight modifications to his targets, yardage, and red zone efficiency.

If it seems likely 2012 was a fluke, I can create a slightly more realistic version of the player and then generate a Sim Score from that. This is especially valuable for players who are changing teams, changing coordinators, or changing quarterbacks. In the descriptions below, I’ve tried to give a quick sense of what adjustments I’ve made to each player.

1. Calvin Johnson

As I mentioned in Maybe We Should Be More Offended by Megatron’s ADP, Johnson’s back-to-back WR1 finishes put him in the mix to be the No. 1 player in WR-heavy formats. In creating Hypo Megatron, I’ve lowered his target and yardage numbers but bumped his touchdowns. Even making those adjustments, the true comps are fairly sparse.

-StandardHalf PPRPPR
Low9.211.714.2
Median111417
High13.216.419.6

 

2. Brandon Marshall

I’ve lowered Marshall’s target numbers just slightly to accommodate the research done by Charles Kleinheksel on Chicago’s likely offense. He still projects as one of the safest picks out there. In many PPR formats his VORP was virtually identical to Peterson’s and his performance is more sustainable.

-StandardHalf PPRPPR
Low911.714.5
Median11.313.916.5
High13.216.419.6

 

3. Demaryius Thomas

Thomas is a monster. His size/age/target profile puts his value nearly in line with the top two. If you’re not playing one of the formats I’ve described as dictating a RB-RB-RB approach, then Thomas should be a foundation piece for your lineup.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low9.111.613.9
Median10.913.716.2
High1316.319.5

 

4. Andre Johnson

Johnson is being described in some quarters as a low end WR1 but his historical comps beg to differ. James Goldstein shrugs off the age issue, and I’ve featured Andre1500 as an easy choice for the 10 Most Undervalued. For a more negative look, check out his results when I created WR rankings using the other methodology.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low8.711.113.5
Median10.913.616.1
High1316.319.5

 

5. Julio Jones

Jones fails to achieve separation using the regular Sim Scores, but I’ve moved a few of White’s targets in his direction here. Despite his monster ceiling, Jones is a player for whom some drafters will seek to find later round proxies.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low8.911.313.7
Median1012.715.5
High11.714.717.8

 

6. Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald doesn’t even place in the previous Top 40 based on his abysmal 2012 season, but I’ve used his age and size with Reggie Wayne’s 2012 numbers in creating this hypothetical. This could slightly overstate his chances since the Cardinals will face a tougher schedule than what Indianapolis saw.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.910.312.8
Median10.813.115.7
High11.614.417.4

 

7. Dez Bryant

I’m sympathetic to those drafting Bryant as the No. 2 receiver. He seems more likely to reach his high projection than either Jones or Fitzgerald, and I would draft each of them accordingly.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low

7.5

9.8

12.1

Median

10

12.7

15.4

High

11.3

14.3

17.3

 

8. Marques Colston

I played with several scenarios to lower Colston’s projection including docking his targets slightly and taking a negative view of his likely touchdown percentage. Still, one has to create a hypothetical version completely unlike the real Colston in order to force his numbers much lower. His historical profile and his role in the high-powered Saints offense make him a lock for at least low end WR1 value.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low

8.7

11.1

13.5

Median

10.8

13.1

15.3

High

11.6

14.3

16.8

 

9. Roddy White

Even considering White’s age, the algorithm sees him as a very safe WR1. A previous member of my All-Trap Team, I recently upgraded him to target status.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.79.912.3
Median911.714.3
High11.114.217.7

 

10. A.J. Green

I was down on Green coming out of college based on his weight, speed, and good-but-not-great college production. I’ve since found that position untenable, but the computer still trails me in that realization. It’s still difficult to land Green since his upside appears priced into his ADP.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.810.212.1
Median9.511.914.4
High1113.916.6

 

11. Vincent Jackson

It will be interesting to see if Jackson’s career high in yardage was an aberration or the new normal. He’s a clear cut player to target and playing in the fantasy-friendly NFC South should help balance Josh Freeman’s inconsistency.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low8.510.412.4
Median10.112.314.9
High1113.516.1

 

12. Danny Amendola

Amendola’s projection was fun to play with since he obviously has far more value in New England than he did in St. Louis. While the first eleven receivers were high floor/high ceiling, Amendola’s projection represents a huge range of possibilities. The computer loves the number of targets he should see in the Welker role, but it worried about his size and injury problems. I think this result encapsulates the risk/reward with Amendola nicely.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low4.86.78.4
Median7.910.212
High11.315.418.3

 

13. Eric Decker

Decker owns the lowest ceiling we’ve seen so far, and drafters seem to be valuing him entirely on that ceiling and not on the high floor. I think the presence of Peyton Manning makes him one of the receivers who is a good bet to finish near the top of his range of potential outcomes.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.59.812
Median9.111.313.7
High1012.215

 

14. Hakeem Nicks

I used a Nicks amalgam that was similar to the 2011 model, not the dominant 2010 version and not the injury-impaired guy we saw in 2012. I also set the Sim Lab to punish him for his strong likelihood of re-injury. Nicks is only a good investment for those going with the Combustible Lineup.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.69.711.9
Median8.51113.4
High10.512.815.6

 

15. Victor Cruz

Drafters seem to be valuing Cruz perfectly.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.59.511.7
Median8.710.913
High10.813.516.3

 

16. Torrey Smith

The version of Smith I’m using is similar to the one described by Bryan Fontaine a couple of months ago. In my hypothetical, Smith succeeds in the Red Zone and sees a flurry of targets in an offense suddenly lacking any other threats. I did retain his low catch rate. I could see Smith finishing as high as WR5 or as low as WR40 this season.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low78.510.7
Median8.510.412.5
High10.813.415.9

 

17. Jordy Nelson

Nelson and Bowe come in with a photo finish. I’ve given Nelson the edge due to his quarterback play, but you might do the opposite considering his injury situation.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low4.96.78.4
Median8.511.113.5
High10.712.415.1

 

18. Dwayne Bowe

I find concerns about Bowe’s fit with Alex Smith to be almost comical. This is a player who managed impressive yards per route numbers with guys like Tyler Palko at the helm. Arguments referencing Smith’s limiting effect on Michael Crabtree ignore the strong probability that Bowe is a better player, while also forgetting Reid’s is a different offense.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low5.67.59.2
Median7.910.112.5
High1113.115.9

 

19. Antonio Brown

In putting together the hypotheticals, I tried to create very positive versions of players about whom I’m skeptical. This helps balance my ingrained biases. Brown doesn’t have the size/speed profile I’m looking for, and he doesn’t project as a good Red Zone threat. So his strong projection may seem surprising until you factor in Ben Roethlisberger’s unappreciated stardom and the avalanche of targets Brown should see this season.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.38.310.3
Median8.31113.2
High9.812.615.4

 

20. Pierre Garcon

Garcon is hard to accurately project because he moved to a new offense and then missed most of the season. Washington’s 2013 offense might be quite a bit different than the run-heavy 2012 model, which further complicates matters. Drafting a relative enigma who enters the season with serious injury questions is definitely for risk-takers.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low68.110.4
Median7.49.711.9
High111416.6

 

21. Randall Cobb

You can make an argument that Welker’s projection is better, but Cobb seems so head-and-shoulders ahead of Denver’s No. 3 that I’ve given him the edge. I’ve been down on Cobb all offseason, and his inability to stay healthy in training camp is a red flag. Please understand, I think Cobb is a fine player who’s likely to have a good season. I just don’t like his value related to ADP.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.58.410.4
Median7.69.512
High9.812.315

 

22. Wes Welker

Similar to the situation with Antonio Brown, I tried to make sure I didn’t undercut Welker’s projection just because I think he’s one of the most overvalued players. When entering his targets, I used a number halfway between what the beat writers have been suggesting and what his ADP represents. I’ve become a lot more bullish on his chances with Von Miller’s suspension. Peyton Manning could attempt 700 passes and throw for 5,500 yards.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.189.7
Median7.810.513.2
High9.11215.4

 

23. Stevie Johnson

With Buffalo’s quarterback situation falling into further disarray, I’m backing off of Stevie Johnson just slightly. However, the injury to Stephon Gilmore makes the prospect of huge Buffalo deficits more likely. Once Manuel returns, Johnson’s target numbers could rival anyone in the league.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low7.1910.8
Median8.310.713
High9.512.114.7

 

24. Reggie Wayne

The overvaluing of Reggie Wayne has been one of the offseason’s more predictable and yet still somehow surprising developments. Drafters do realize Wayne is old, the offense is changing, and T.Y. Hilton is emerging. Right?

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.89.111.6
Median7.810.513
High9.211.714.3

 

25. Josh Gordon

This ranking docks Gordon for the games he will miss at the beginning of the season. Gordon also isn’t receiving much of a discount to the multiple types of risk he represents. But considering how many big names are still to come, and you can see why the Fantasy Douche is targeting him in all drafts.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.17.89.6
Median8.510.512.3
High10.913.315.8

 

26. Mike Williams

Williams probably starts the beginning of a new tier. Unless you expect his target rate to jump – which does seem possible – then his upside is limited simply by a lack of opportunity. Of course, my disappointment in Williams’ projection is offset by the fact that he remains significantly undervalued in all formats.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low5.67.59.3
Median7.810.112.4
High8.811.313.7

 

27. Cecil Shorts

I took a conservative view of Shorts’ likely target rate and that combined with his lack of elite size to put a lid on his high projection. If Jacksonville successfully follows through on rumors they’ll move in the direction of a warp offense . . . well, Shorts just becomes even more undervalued.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.27.89.5
Median7.69.511.5
High8.811.313.5

 

28. James Jones

I spiked Jones’ target numbers in order to get here. His 2012 season was incredibly fluky, but with Jennings gone and the rest of the gang dealing with various nicks, he should find himself on the receiving end of more Aaron Rodgers passes.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low5.37.18.9
Median7.59.812
High9.312.214.8

 

29. T.Y. Hilton

I’m no more immune to the Great T.Y. Hilton Genuflection than the next person. Even though I don’t logically expect Hilton’s touchdown rate to be sustainable, I entered a very high TD number in creating Hypo Hilton. In a limited number of regular season and preseason contests he’s seemingly scored at will. Maybe that’s who he is. As you can see, even if you expect him to keep scoring, a situational deep threat has a low ceiling.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low67.78.9
Median8.310.712.8
High8.911.213.5

 

30. Mike Wallace

We’re about to find out whether all those Mike Wallace touchdowns were a function of Wallace’s elite speed or Ben Roethlisberger’s arm brilliance. In creating this projection, I assumed it was an attribute of Wallace’s skillset (even though I doubt it is). I want to know what Wallace will look like if I’m wrong.

- Standard Half PPR PPR
Low6.2810.1
Median7.49.211.4
High8.71113.4

 

In Part 2, I’ll look at receivers in the 31-60 range. If you’re following Matthew Freedman’s morbidly spectacular RBx5 strategy, deep research into this secondary tier will be more important than the high profile guys. Stay tuned.

Shawn Siegele is the creator of the contrarian sports website Money in the Banana Stand and Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy.

Subscribe for a constant stream of league-beating articles available only with a Premium Pass.