Daily Fantasy NFL: Is Martavis Bryant The Best Fantasy WR?

Fantasy stats are not that correlated to success in the NBA. Bad players who chuck up a ton of shots and dominate the ball will probably get a lot of points and assists. Big men standing under the rim will get a lot of rebounds, even if they aren’t very good at rebounding. Consequently, there are tons of fantasy superstars in waiting on team benches. If you look at our FP per 36 projections for NBA, the absolute top players are the best, but there are tons of names you’ve probably never heard of, like Dwight Powell and Joffrey Lauvergne, who have greater fantasy point efficiency than star players like Damian Lillard and Chris Bosh.

In the NFL, running backs are close to the same. You see scrub running backs all the time filling in for injured starters and being the top fantasy plays of the week or becoming instant superstars. We saw this with Devonta Freeman in Week 3, and we have seen this more recently with Charcandrick West and Jeremy Langford. Fantasy production of running backs has a lot to do with the quality of their offense and offensive line.

However, if you look at the highest points per snap for everyone else, the list is basically a who’s who of the best players at each position. You can look at this data over at Rotocurve. For QB, we get a top 3 of Tom Brady, Cam Newton, and Ben Roethlisberger. At TE, we have Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert, and Greg Olsen. And at WR, we have Julio Jones, Antonio Brown.

And we have Martavis Bryant,  with 31.3 points per 100 snaps, leading every WR. A full 6.9 points over Steve Smith, who had a remarkable injury reduced season, and 7.5 points more than Bryant’s teammate Antonio Brown. He’s not just the highest FP per 100 snap WRs, he’s on his own continent.

It would be easy to right this off as a fluke. It’s just part of one season, he won’t keep this up. Except Bryant also lead the category in 2014 with an even better number, 35.3 points per 100 snaps, a full 8.8 points over second place Odell Beckham Jr.  This is why Martavis Bryant may be the best fantasy WR in the NFL, because he simply has got way more fantasy points given his workload than anyone other WR in the NFL.

I watched Bryant for the first time last Sunday, and his talent was obvious. His speed is crazy. He blew by Colts CBs on deep routes routinely, scoring on a 64 yard bomb. His size and length is up there with any WR in the league. He’s 6’4″ and rangy, he reminds me a lot of Randy Moss, and he plays a lot like Moss.

Martavis Bryant came onto the fantasy scene strongly in 2014. After a 40 yard, one TD debut, Bryant had a top fantasy performance, 5 catches for 83 yards and 2 TD, and he was close to minimum salary. After those games, I looked into Bryant to see if this performance could continue. As a rule of thumb, I rarely play anyone who doesn’t play 80% or more snaps at WR. Bryant was getting way less than that, under 35%. He would need to be an extremely talented WR to continue to be a fantasy point force with that little playing time. Bryant was a rookie out of the 4th round, so the chance of his high fantasy production continuing seemed small.

I decided to fade him in the next week matchup against the Ravens. He ended up with 3 catches for 44 yards and 2 TDs. I couldn’t believe he managed 2 TDs on that little receptions and yardage. Even with incredibly high expected ownership, I faded him a second time against the Jets the following week. Bryant again punished me with 4 receptions for 143 yards and a TD. Somehow, Bryant looked like he was actually going to continue his torrid rate of fantasy point efficiency.

Bryant was mostly quiet for the rest of 2014, but he’s started 2015 out again with a bang. His stats look great at first look. He has 623 yards and 7 TDs in seven games. That’s a full season pace of 1424 yards and about 16 TDs, close to the top of the league. But when you consider he’s averaged about 65% of snaps this season, the numbers are truly remarkable. He is 9th in the league this year among WRs in yards per game, and third in receiving TDs per game, but he’s competing against players who have played 50% more than him.

For Week 10, Bryant had a career high 83% of snaps. His 6 catches for 178 yards and a TD was made him the 4th best fantasy WR that week. For the past 3 weeks, he’s averaged about 75% of snaps, as well as 5 catches for 120 yards and a TD. That’s top WR stats, but Bryant is still a middling salary on FanDuel and DraftKings.

Martavis Bryant has been an interesting fantasy WR since his rookie debut last year. His statistics were great, but his fantasy production given his playing time was off the charts. Now that he’s getting closer to a full time player, we should only expect things to get better and better for someone who doesn’t even have a full season of playing time under his belt. Playing opposite of Antonio Brown, Bryant will continue to benefit from soft coverage. With Ben Roethlisberger playing like one of the best QBs in the league, the Steelers passing game is scary good.


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Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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