Fantasy Football: Updated Wide Receiver Equity Scores

Kelvin Benjamin
Kelvin Benjamin
Jeremy Brevard USA TODAY Sports

Preseason fantasy football values aren’t carved in make-believe stone until that final weekend before the madness begins: Week 1 kickoff, when all our best laid plans are put to the test.

But we live in an imperfect world with drafts scheduled weeks before that first real kickoff spins through the air. A lot will change between now and then — injuries, depth chart machinations — making picks today seem silly in the light of early September.

And because you’re set to embark on the construction of your various fake teams this coming weekend, I’m updating my fantasy equity scores over the next week. Equity scores, for a refresher, are designed to give us a better idea of a player’s fantasy floor and ceiling.

I’ve assigned two equity scores to each of the top-60 receivers (according to Fantasy Football Calculator average draft positions): the median score, indicating a very conservative projection, and the high score, reflecting a guy’s top-end prospects. I used the RotoViz similarity score app as a baseline for every median and high projection, with tweaks where needed.

Equity scores, I hope, can help us exploit inefficiencies in players’ ADPs as we approach the 2014 season.

If a guy’s median score puts him very near his current ADP, it means he’s been valued appropriately. If his median score is well beyond his current ADP, it means he’s being undervalued. Negative median scores should be taken as a big, waving red flag outside of the top-20 receivers.

High equity scores matter most for receivers outside the top-30 or so. I think it’s important — and sensible — to target guys with nice, high ceilings in the eighth, ninth, tenth rounds and beyond. Perhaps that’s not for everyone, but that’s how I approach those picks.

I’ve included commentary after each 10-player section below. I’ve indicated which receivers I’m targeting throughout.

Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Calvin Johnson WR1 -4 (WR5) 0 (WR1)  Yes
Demaryius Thomas WR2 -3 (WR5) 1 (WR1)  Yes
Dez Bryant WR3 -4 (WR7) 1 (WR2) Yes
A.J. Green WR4 -4 (WR8) 0 (WR4)
Julio Jones WR5 -4 (WR9) 3 (WR2) Yes
Brandon Marshall WR6 -1 (WR7) 4 (WR2) Yes
Jordy Nelson WR7 0 (WR7) 5 (WR2) Yes
Antonio Brown WR8 -3 (WR11) 0 (WR8)
Alshon Jeffery WR9 -3 (WR12) 3 (WR6)
Randall Cobb WR10 -3 (WR13) 0 (WR10)


  • Nelson and Marshall serve as the anchors for my all-star equity score squad, with both pass catchers capable of finishing as a top-2 fantasy option in 2014. Remember: Nelson was fantasy’s second highest scoring receiver in 2011, behind only Calvin. He was WR7 before Aaron Rodgers went down to injury last season.
  • The similarity score app hates Cobb, though I think he’s a guy who can thrive with massive target volume. The Packers, for the third straight offseason, are talking about Cobb as a 100-catch candidate, so I suppose he could blow through that high equity score if that came to pass.
Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Keenan Allen WR11 -4 (WR15) 1 (WR10)
Vincent Jackson WR12 -6 (WR18) 1 (WR11)
Pierre Garcon WR13 2 (WR11) 6 (WR7) Yes
Victor Cruz WR14 -3 (WR17) 2 (WR12)
Larry Fitzgerald WR15 -4 (WR19) 0 (WR15)
Wes Welker WR16 -6 (WR22) 4 (WR12)
Cordarrelle Patterson WR17 -8 (WR25) 7 (WR10)
Andre Johnson WR18 3 (WR15) 9 (WR9) Yes
Roddy White WR19 2 (WR17) 6 (WR13) Yes
Michael Crabtree WR20 -4 (WR24) 4 (WR16)


  • I find this group to be generally unappealing if you like value. I’ve offered four reasons to believe Patterson can exceed his ADP, along with eight reasons he won’t prove worth of  his draft day price. Garcon is a creature of volume who won’t see nearly as much of it come his way in Jay Gruden’s offense, and Welker’s median score reflects the natural regression Denver is likely to face in 2014 after essentially running up the score on the way to an historic 2013 campaign. Welker’s high score isn’t high enough for me to target him unless he fell to the WR19-20 range.
  • Andre Johnson’s holdout, the dumpster fire that is the Texans, and the receiver’s old age is likely holding down his ADP. I would recommend taking advantage of this while you can. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a marked upgrade over Case Keenum, Houston could be forced to throw quite a bit this year, and Johnson is a shoe-in for 130 targets (he saw 176 targets last season). Crazily enough, he can be your WR3.
Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Percy Harvin WR21 0 (WR21) 6 (WR15)
DeSean Jackson WR22 -1 (WR23) 8 (WR14)
Michael Floyd WR23 4 (WR19) 11 (WR12) Yes
T.Y. Hilton WR24 1 (WR23) 10 (WR14)
Jeremy Maclin WR25 3 (WR22) 5 (WR20)
Torrey Smith WR26 10 (WR16) 13 (WR13) Yes
Emmanuel Sanders WR27 3 (WR24) 4 (WR23)
Mike Wallace WR28 8 (WR20) 16 (WR12) Yes
Julian Edelman WR29 4 (WR25) 6 (WR23)
Sammy Watkins WR30 -3 (WR33) 4 (WR26)


  • The Floyd love is well reasoned, and in casual drafts, he can be drafted as your flex. That qualifies as a crime against your league mates in 19 states.
  • Edelman’s equity scores reflect 16 games with Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots’ lineup. That may be a pie-in-the-sky scenario, but it’s what I’m working with as training camp reports say Gronk is running fine on that once-annihilated knee. With Gronkowski in the lineup last season, Edelman averaged five receptions for 80 yards. Without the hulking tight end, Edelman posted an average of 7.8 catches for 124 yards.
  • I’m ending up with Torrey Smith in almost every draft due in part to Rich Hribar’s convincing case for Smith as a guy who could go bonkers in Gary Kubiak‘s offensive system, which gives No. 1 receivers ample opportunity to do football things. I view Smith as a very high-end WR2 at a WR3 price.
  • I think you should stand up and cheer when your league mate invests in Watkins at his going price. Clap politely, sit down, and draft someone who can reasonably exceed their cost.


Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Marques Colston WR31 6 (WR25) 15 (WR16) Yes
Terrance Williams WR32 -8 (WR40) 8 (WR24)
Golden Tate WR33 4 (WR29) 16 (WR17) Yes
Kendall Wright WR34 9 (WR25) 12 (WR22)
Reggie Wayne WR35 6 (WR29) 14 (WR21)
Eric Decker WR36 8 (WR28) 16 (WR20) Yes
Brandin Cooks WR37 4 (WR33) 15 (WR22)  Yes
Riley Cooper WR38 -3 (WR41) 3 (WR35)
Rueben Randle WR39 -2 (WR41) 12 (WR27)
Dwayne Bowe WR40 6 (WR34) 15 (WR25) Yes


  • I’m targeting Bowe and letting someone else draft Williams. Does that mean I think Bowe will outscore Dallas’ No. 2 receiver by a boatload? Well, no, but Bowe is going two rounds after Williams and has a much higher ceiling. Regression could be Bowe’s best friend in 2014, as Kansas City won’t be able to sit on giant leads for three quarters and the offense will have to ease on the gas here and there. Plus, Bowe will be a lot less fat headed into 2014.
  • I think it’s a tad on the lazy side to say Cooks will simply take on the Sprolesian role in the New Orleans offensive machine, but Sproles’ departure from the Saints leaves about 100 targets (Sproles saw 107 targets in 2011 and 93 targets in 2012) up for grabs. Will Cooks be a touchdown machine? Of course not. He could be a PPR cheat code though, as Drew Brees and Sean Payton rave about the rookie, his understanding of the offense, and his dominance of defenders in training camp. It wouldn’t shock me to see Cooks crack fantasy’s top-24 receivers.


Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Hakeem Nicks WR41 -17 (WR58) -1 (WR42)
Tavon Austin WR42 -4 (WR46) 9 (WR33)
Mike Evans WR43 2 (WR41) 8 (WR35)
DeAndre Hopkins WR44 3 (WR41) 15 (WR29)
Danny Amendola WR45 0 (WR45) 5 (WR40)
Anquan Boldin WR46 11 (WR35) 18 (WR28)
Cecil Shorts WR47 11 (WR36) 18 (WR29) Yes
Kenny Stills WR48 8 (WR40) 16 (WR32)
Kelvin Benjamin WR49 13 (WR36) 24 (WR25) Yes
Marvin Jones WR50 14 (WR36) 20 (WR30) Yes
  • Benjamin has been a training camp all-star thus far — not necessarily a great thing — and at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds in an offense without legit pass-catching targets not named Greg Olsen, he could certainly grab double-digit scores as a rookie. Cam Newton has utilized Benjamin as a primary target in summer practices, according to Panthers beat reporters. The now-departed Steve Smith recorded 103 targets in 2013 — more than any Carolina receiver. Give those looks to Benjamin and I don’t see a reason why he couldn’t post top-25 receiver numbers. For a little perspective: Mike Wallace, who hauled in 73 balls and five scores in 2013, was last year’s WR25.


Player ADP Median equity score High equity score Target?
Jarrett Boykin WR51 4 (WR47) 14 (WR37) Yes
Jordan Matthews WR52 -6 (WR58) 17 (WR35)
Steve Smith WR53 -2 (WR55) 11 (WR42)
Justin Hunter WR54 0 (WR54) 22 (WR32) Yes
Aaron Dobson WR55 10 (WR45) 19 (WR36) Yes
James Jones WR56 8 (WR48) 19 (WR37)
Greg Jennings WR57 19 (WR38) 30 (WR27) Yes
Markus Wheaton WR58 1 (WR57) 8 (WR50)
Odell Beckham, Jr. WR59 -4 (WR63) 8 (WR51)
Kenny Britt WR60 4 (WR56) 29 (WR31) Yes


  • No player should be dead to you — even a guy like Britt who has shattered your fantasy heart year after year after year. He’s running with the St. Louis starters, along with Brian Quick, and at that low, low price, I can’t ignore the once-dominant pass catcher. This is the guy who in 2010 scored an unholy .71 fantasy points every single time he ran a pass route. Not a shred of Britt’s upside is priced into his ADP, and with Dobson now in some doubt thanks to a lingering foot injury, I don’t see any reason not to swing for the fences here and invest in Britt.
  • Jennings is a key to the Zero Wide Receiver approach — however risky that might be — and someone who could certainly lead his team in receptions. Jennings notched 12.2 fantasy points per game with Matt Cassel under center last year while proving unusable with Christian Ponder heading the Minnesota offense. I don’t think Jennings will turn into an every-week fantasy starter, but I’m going to take him every time over similarly priced receivers like Wheaton, Smith, and OBJ.
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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.