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NFL Daily Fantasy Strategy: WR Injury Impact Depends On The Quarterback

The fantasy impact of injuries is an important factor to consider in NFL fantasy, especially because injuries are so common each week in the NFL. The NFL is probably the least individual sport of the big 4, so injuries can have strong ripple effect on player performance throughout a whole team. In this article, I want to focus on injuries to the WR core, and what different factors to look for to predict who will receive the biggest bump because of them.

With Elite Quarterbacks, Target The Backups

Emmanuel Sanders, a guy who never had more than 750 receiving yards in a season, is currently on pace for 1600 yards. For most players, that screams reversion. But Sanders should actually keep pace with his production, mostly because he has the best QB in the league throwing to him, Mr. Peyton Manning. With elite QBs, the yards and TDs are largely going to come regardless of his receiving core, the WRs just have to be lucky enough to be the ones running the routes.

Always target the guy who is going to get more playing time due to a WR injury when that injury comes on a team with a really good QB. A good example would be Harry Douglas, who managed 1000 yards receiving last year filling in for Julio Jones and Roddy White throughout the year. Douglas is not an elite talent, but since the Falcons have a good passing attack, he managed to have great production. With Jimmy Graham possibly out after the bye, a guy like Josh Hill (backup TE) or Brandin Cooks should get huge bumps.

With Bad Quarterbacks, Target The Best WR

When Mike Evans went down at the end of Week 4, fantasy players had a dilemma. Does this make Louis Murphy, the teams new WR2, a great fantasy play? Or does this mean we should target Vincent Jackson, the teams best WR?

Both guys ended up having a good game, but Murphy did so with only 3 catches and 35 yards, luckily managing a TD where he was left wide open. On the other hand, Jackson had a 8 catches for 144 yards, a monster game that would’ve been even better if he one of those catches went for a TD.

Mike Glennon is not a great QB, he’s not going to make anyone mediocre into a great WR like we see with Manning. So when it comes to Jackson, we can expect a continued increase in production because he is the only remotely good option at WR for the Buccanneers. Same can be said about Golden Tate, who has benefited greatly from a hobbled Calvin Johnson.

Playing A Bad Starting WR or TE Is A Common Error

It’s likely we see Calvin Johnson out next week, and you will hear fantasy pundits say Jeremy Ross, the teams WR2 without Johnson, is a good fantasy play. Stafford is a good QB, but not a great one, so the real beneficiary is going to be Golden Tate, a guy who is far more talented than Ross and has already shown elite production without Johnson.

Just getting 90%+ snaps is not a production guarantee. Levine Toilolo, the Falcons TE filling in the shoes of Tony Gonzalez, has played nearly every snap but has failed to have more than 25 yards receiving in any game. It feels like Toilolo should produce, because he’s running a ton of pass routes. He just… well… sucks, so he’s not getting open. Same goes for Jermaine Gresham, who lots of people said would get a bump because of an injury to Tyler Eifert (To be fair, I was one of those people). Gresham has played nearly 100% of snaps since Eifert went down, but he’s failed to produce whatsoever. The Chiefs have had WR injuries all year, but guys like Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, and A.J. Jenkins don’t have any good fantasy games this year.

The truth is there are only a handful of QBs in this league that can turn a bad WR into a productive one. For 90% of NFL teams, a WR or TE who comes into more playing time is only going to produce if he is a talented player. And backups, by definition, don’t tend to be.

Summary

  • How injuries to the WR core impact other players production depends on team makeup.
  • On teams with elite QBs, players who receive more playing time because of a teammates injury are very likely to produce at a high level.
  • On teams with bad QBs, the most talented pass catchers on the team should produce more because there is less talent around them.
  • Backups are backups for a reason, they don’t tend to be very good. If you are playing a guy who you expect to have a lot of playing time on a bad team, make sure you’ve done your research and really think the guy is talented.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
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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