The rumors are true. Chicks dig the long ball. As do fantasy football players. We all like to see the big, explosive plays on Sunday. We like them more when the player(s) making them are also on our fantasy football teams.

How do we find these players most likely to provide excitement both on the field and in the boxscore? I find myself using data to help cut through the noise in the offseason. Below are some metrics that I use both individually and in unison to try and find outliers. More specifically, outliers at a discount.

Average Depth of Target or "aDOT", is a predictive tool used by fantasy football players to find potential players primed for "boom" weeks. It is calculated by dividing a player's air yards by their targets. This metric tells you how deep a receiver ran his routes and how many air yards he saw per target on average. Sorting players by their aDOT gives us an opportunity to measure their potential to break-out. When using this data in-season we can find players primed for a break-out as early as next week's action. I wanted to use the data in the off-season to find players who may be undervalued heading into 2020.

It's important to set a threshold on the number of targets to avoid skewing the data towards lower volume players. I used 3.5 targets/game as my threshold when combing through the data. Truthfully, that's a low bar in my opinion but I didn't want to completely ignore anyone who emerged later on in the year. For example, Mike Williams (LAC, WR) was the leader in depth of target for receivers with a minimum of 60 targets. His 18.1 average per target was nearly two full yards more than the Breshad Perriman's (TB, WR) 16.3. This statistic alone doesn't guarantee the player is on the brink of fantasy football stardom, however.

Thanks to the outstanding work by Josh Hermsmeyer (@friscojosh) over at airyards.com we can find additional statistics that if correlated correctly could help us find value at the position in 2020. One metric that I like to use is the Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR). Josh accounts for each player's share of their team's air yards and targets - weighted in favor of targets. Ben Gretch of CBS sports does a great job of breaking this down along with other metrics used to measure a player's success.

Notable Metric Leaders

Photo credit: Pewterreport.com

aDot: Average Depth of Target

  • Mike Williams (18.1) [1st ]

  • Breshad Perriman (16.3)

  • James Washington (15.8)

  • Mike Evans (15.3) [4th tied]

  • Curtis Samuel (15.3)

  • Kenny Golladay (15.1)

  • Stefon Diggs (15.1) [5th tied]

  • John Brown (14.7) [6th]

  • Terry McLaurin (14) [9th]

  • Odell Beckham (13.5) [12th]

Target Share:

  • Michael Thomas (.32)

  • DeAndre Hopkins (.30)

  • Davante Adams (.29)

  • Allen Robinson (.27)

  • Jarvis Landry (.26)

No real surprises in the top 5. Its when we look at the rest of the top 10 where we start to see some recurring names.

  • Odell Beckham Jr. (.25) [6th tied]

  • John Brown (.24) [7th tied]

  • Mike Evans (.23) [8th tied]

  • Terry McLaurin (.22) [9th]

  • Stefon Diggs (.21) [10th]

WOPR: Weighted Opportunity Rating

The top of the list has all the household names. It's after the initial five or so players that we see the same names pop up again.

  • Michael Thomas (.75) [1st]

  • DeAndre Hopkins (.69) [2nd]

  • Allen Robinson (.67) [3rd tied]

  • Davante Adams (.67) [3rd tied]

  • Courtland Sutton (.65) [4th]

  • Julio Jones (.63) [5th tied]

  • Odell Beckham (.63) [5th tied]

  • John Brown (.63) [5th tied]

  • Terry McLaurin (.62) [6th]

  • Stefon Diggs (.60) [7th]

  • Mike Evans (.59) [8th]

Photo credit: cbssports.com

The names highlighted green are the only receivers to rank in the top 12 of all three metrics. Using that information we can project that McLaurin, Brown, Diggs, Evans, and even Odell Beckham Jr to some degree, are players we should be adding to our dynasty teams for 2020. Furthermore, they are less expensive options in redraft leagues.

Utilizing metrics along with talent leads to success in fantasy football. Some will tout film grinding over data and vice-versa. In my opinion, it takes a little bit of both paired with some luck to find success in fantasy football.

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