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The Stategist


As many of you know, there is a group of Footballguys, myself included, that take great pleasure in the use of statistical analysis as a means to succeed in fantasy football. Traditionally, we do much of our work leading up to the draft, using historical trends analysis and number crunching to help fine tune our annual projections for players and teams. But statistical analysis can, when used in conjunction with logical reasoning and sound football acumen, be useful during the season, as well. With that in mind, I will attempt to address some relevant in-season issues each and every week, with a statistical slant of course…


Boldin & Fitzgerald: Can They Keep It Up?

Someone on our message boards started a thread this week to foster a discussion of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona Cardinals' dynamic duo. Through five weeks, Boldin and Fitzgerald rank 3rd and 4th in passing targets, respectively. More importantly, they both find themselves among the top 12 at their position (Boldin = 11th and Fitzgerald = 9th), which translates into "starting caliber" in any fantasy league.

Ultimately the question became: Can both of these guys keep up their torrid pace? With 32 teams and at least two starting WRs per team, wouldn't it seem unlikely that two receivers from the SAME TEAM finish among the top 12 of their position?

As some of you already know, it's far more common than casual observers may believe.

Looking back over the last ten seasons (1995-2004), I compiled a list of all the WRs who ranked among the top 25 (using Footballguys scoring) at year end and queried instances where two (or more) receivers from the SAME TEAM made the cut.

In the last 10 years, 53 such instances occurred, including two trios.
*** Note: For those interested, I have appended the entire data set at the end of the article

  • 2004 Indianapolis Colts - Marvin Harrison (5th), Reggie Wayne (8th) and Brandon Stokley (11th)
  • 1995 Atlanta Falcons - Eric Metcalf (11th), Terance Mathis (17th), and Bert Emanuel (23rd)

Some notable tandems include:

  • Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, Jacksonville Jaguars (Five times among the top 25 in the same year) - At the peak of the Jaguars dominance during Tom Coughlin's coaching run, Smith and McCardell were arguably the most consistent fantasy duo in the AFC. From 1996 to 2001, the duo delivered top 25 years five of six seasons.
  • Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, St. Louis Rams (Five consecutive times among the top 25 and counting…) - In every season since 2000, Torry Holt and Ike Bruce have both enjoyed top 25 fantasy seasons year in, year out. With Bruce's injury this year that streak may be in jeopardy, but their accomplishment remains remarkable. To Bruce's credit, he also was part of the 1996 Rams tandem (with Eddie Kennison) that both ended up in the top 25.
  • The Minnesota Vikings WR Corps (Seven years with a top 25 tandem) - The names may change, but the productivity remains excellent. Cris Carter and Jake Reed rattled off three "tandem 25" seasons (1995-1997) before Reed gave way to a certain young receiver named Randy Moss. From there, Moss and Carter delivered three such seasons (1998-2000) and then Moss rejoined the "tandem 25" crew in 2004 with Nate Burleson as his partner.

Crunching some numbers…

Looking at the percentages:

  • 51 tandems = 102 players
  • 2 trios = 6 players
  • Total = 108 players who fit our search criteria

The total available data set was 250:

  • 10 seasons (1995 - 2004)
  • 25 players per season (i.e., the top 25 fantasy WRs)
  • Total = 250 players

108 players out of 250 possible slots = 43.2% of the potential data set were filled by WR tandems (and trios) from the same team.

Hardly as uncommon as one might think, right?


But let's be honest, there's a HUGE difference between two receivers finishing among the top 25 at year end and having a duo both finish among the top 12. A receiver who ends up ranked 24th or 25th at season's end probably wasn't an ideal every week starter assuming they stayed healthy, whereas in any size league a receiver who finishes among the top 12 was likely a great- to above-average option. And since Boldin and Fitzgerald are both "on pace" for top 12 seasons this year, let's narrow down our query a bit.

Looking back over the last ten seasons (1995-2004), I compiled a list of all the WRs who ranked among the top 12 (using Footballguys scoring) at year end and queried instances where two (or more) receivers from the SAME TEAM made the cut.

In the last 10 years, 17 such instances occurred.
*** Note: For those interested, I have appended the entire data set at the end of the article

Some notable duos include:

  • Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, St. Louis Rams (Two seasons among the top 12 together) - It should come as no surprise given their status in the "tandem 25" crew, but notable nonetheless that twice in their careers Bruce and Holt both finished among the top 12 at their position. In 2000, at the Rams peak, Bruce finished 6th and Holt 7th, a season for the ages.
  • Randy Moss and Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings (Three consecutive seasons among the top 12 together) - From 1998 through 2000, there was no better WR tandem in the league. Carter finished 7th, 3rd, and 10th while Moss finished 1st, 2nd and 1st.
  • Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey, Denver Broncos (Two seasons among the top 12 together) - Smith and McCaffrey were quite the tandem, having both put up top 12 numbers in 1998 and 2000.

Crunching some numbers…

Looking at the percentages:

  • 16 tandems = 32 players
  • 1 trio = 3 players
  • Total = 35 players who fit our search criteria

The total available data set was 120:

  • 10 seasons (1995 - 2004)
  • 12 players per season (i.e., the top 12 fantasy WRs)
  • Total = 120 players

35 players out of 120 possible slots = 29.2% of the potential data set were filled by WR tandems (and trios) from the same team.


Conclusion: So can Boldin and Fitzgerald keep it up?

As we've hopefully shown, it's not all that uncommon for multiple receivers from the same team to excel. When one considers the less-than-daunting odds combined with their pedigree (Fitzgerald the "can't miss" prospect and Boldin the "all world" rookie season), and the undeniable success of Dennis Green's passing offenses through the years, it's quite possible that both Fitzgerald and Boldin could end the season as solid fantasy starters. Given the sorry state of their running game, and a defense that is banged up and has already lost arguably its two best players for the season, the team is going to HAVE to keep throwing the ball. Furthermore, both Kurt Warner and Josh McCown have proven capable of getting them the ball. In other words, while it's no sure bet they'll continue apace, it's absolutely within the realm of possibility.


Appendix A: Multiple Top 25 Fantasy WRs from the Same Team (1995-2004)

  • Note: "Top-12" Tandems in BOLD
  • Sorted by Year by Team by Fantasy Rank
Last Name First Name
Yr
Team
Rank
Rec
Yards
YPC
TDs
FFL Pts
Holt Torry
2004
ram
7
94
1372
14.6
10
197
Bruce Isaac
2004
ram
12
89
1292
14.5
6
165
Bennett Drew
2004
oti
6
80
1247
15.6
11
197
Mason Derrick
2004
oti
17
96
1168
12.2
7
159
Burleson Nate
2004
min
16
68
1006
14.8
9
160
Moss Randy
2004
min
19
49
767
15.7
13
156
Walker Javon
2004
gnb
2
89
1382
15.5
12
210
Driver Donald
2004
gnb
10
84
1208
14.4
9
175
Smith Rod
2004
den
15
79
1144
14.5
7
160
Lelie Ashley
2004
den
23
54
1084
20.1
7
151
Harrison Marvin
2004
clt
5
86
1113
12.9
15
201
Wayne Reggie
2004
clt
8
77
1210
15.7
12
193
Stokley Brandon
2004
clt
11
68
1077
15.8
10
168
Holt Torry
2003
ram
2
117
1696
14.5
12
242
Bruce Isaac
2003
ram
18
69
981
14.2
5
133
Mason Derrick
2003
oti
7
95
1303
13.7
8
179
McCareins Justin
2003
oti
22
47
813
17.3
7
125
Harrison Marvin
2003
clt
5
94
1272
13.5
10
188
Wayne Reggie
2003
clt
20
68
838
12.3
7
126
Johnson Chad
2003
cin
3
90
1355
15.1
10
196
Warrick Peter
2003
cin
16
80
833
10.4
7
140
Holt Torry
2002
ram
15
91
1302
14.3
4
156
Bruce Isaac
2002
ram
16
79
1075
13.6
7
151
Ward Hines
2002
pit
3
112
1329
11.9
12
219
Burress Plaxico
2002
pit
8
78
1325
17.0
7
175
Moulds Eric
2002
buf
4
100
1287
12.9
10
189
Price Peerless
2002
buf
7
94
1252
13.3
9
178
Holt Torry
2001
ram
8
81
1363
16.8
7
178
Bruce Isaac
2001
ram
17
64
1106
17.3
6
149
Brown Tim
2001
rai
9
91
1165
12.8
9
174
Rice Jerry
2001
rai
10
83
1139
13.7
9
168
Smith Jimmy
2001
jax
6
112
1373
12.3
8
185
McCardell Keenan
2001
jax
19
93
1110
11.9
6
147
Owens Terrell
2000
sfo
3
97
1451
15.0
13
224
Rice Jerry
2000
sfo
25
75
805
10.7
7
122
Bruce Isaac
2000
ram
6
87
1471
16.9
9
202
Holt Torry
2000
ram
7
82
1635
19.9
6
200
Toomer Amani
2000
nyg
13
78
1092
14.0
7
166
Hilliard Ike
2000
nyg
22
55
787
14.3
8
129
Glenn Terry
2000
nwe
20
79
963
12.2
6
136
Brown Troy
2000
nwe
24
83
944
11.4
4
123
Moss Randy
2000
min
1
77
1437
18.7
15
234
Carter Cris
2000
min
10
96
1274
13.3
9
181
Smith Jimmy
2000
jax
12
91
1213
13.3
8
169
McCardell Keenan
2000
jax
17
94
1207
12.8
5
151
Freeman Antonio
2000
gnb
18
62
912
14.7
9
146
Schroeder Bill
2000
gnb
23
65
999
15.4
4
125
Smith Rod
2000
den
4
100
1602
16.0
8
224
McCaffrey Ed
2000
den
8
101
1317
13.0
9
186
Westbrook Michael
1999
was
9
65
1191
18.3
9
177
Connell Albert
1999
was
14
62
1132
18.3
7
156
Mayes Derrick
1999
sea
22
62
829
13.4
10
143
Dawkins Sean
1999
sea
24
58
992
17.1
7
141
Moss Randy
1999
min
2
80
1413
17.7
11
212
Carter Cris
1999
min
3
90
1241
13.8
13
202
Crowell Germane
1999
det
8
81
1338
16.5
7
180
Morton Johnnie
1999
det
21
80
1129
14.1
5
143
Jeffers Patrick
1999
car
7
63
1082
17.2
12
182
Muhammad Muhsin
1999
car
10
96
1253
13.1
8
173
Owens Terrell
1998
sfo
3
67
1097
16.4
14
205
Rice Jerry
1998
sfo
8
82
1157
14.1
9
170
Johnson Keyshawn
1998
nyj
5
83
1131
13.6
10
185
Chrebet Wayne
1998
nyj
13
75
1083
14.4
8
156
Moss Randy
1998
min
1
69
1313
19.0
17
234
Carter Cris
1998
min
7
78
1011
13.0
12
173
Smith Jimmy
1998
jax
10
78
1182
15.2
8
166
McCardell Keenan
1998
jax
25
64
892
13.9
6
125
McCaffrey Ed
1998
den
11
64
1053
16.5
10
165
Smith Rod
1998
den
12
86
1222
14.2
6
165
Sanders Frank
1998
crd
20
89
1145
12.9
3
133
Moore Rob
1998
crd
24
67
982
14.7
5
128
Ismail Raghib
1998
car
14
69
1024
14.8
8
155
Muhammad Muhsin
1998
car
21
68
941
13.8
6
130
Mathis Terance
1998
atl
6
64
1136
17.8
11
179
Martin Tony
1998
atl
16
66
1181
17.9
6
154
Brown Tim
1997
rai
8
104
1408
13.5
5
173
Jett James
1997
rai
14
46
804
17.5
12
152
Carter Cris
1997
min
4
89
1069
12.0
13
185
Reed Jake
1997
min
16
68
1138
16.7
6
150
Smith Jimmy
1997
jax
11
82
1324
16.1
4
156
McCardell Keenan
1997
jax
17
85
1164
13.7
5
146
Freeman Antonio
1997
gnb
2
81
1243
15.3
12
198
Brooks Robert
1997
gnb
19
60
1010
16.8
7
145
Moore Herman
1997
det
7
104
1293
12.4
8
177
Morton Johnnie
1997
det
18
80
1057
13.2
6
145
Moore Rob
1997
crd
1
97
1584
16.3
8
206
Sanders Frank
1997
crd
24
75
1017
13.6
4
126
Jackson Michael
1996
rav
1
76
1201
15.8
14
204
Alexander Derrick
1996
rav
12
62
1099
17.7
9
164
Bruce Isaac
1996
ram
8
84
1338
15.9
7
176
Kennison Eddie
1996
ram
17
54
924
17.1
9
146
Carter Cris
1996
min
7
96
1163
12.1
10
176
Reed Jake
1996
min
9
72
1320
18.3
7
174
Smith Jimmy
1996
jax
11
83
1244
15.0
7
166
McCardell Keenan
1996
jax
23
85
1129
13.3
3
131
Moore Herman
1996
det
6
106
1296
12.2
9
184
Perriman Brett
1996
det
20
94
1021
10.9
5
133
Carter Cris
1995
min
4
122
1371
11.2
17
239
Reed Jake
1995
min
13
72
1167
16.2
9
171
Fryar Irving
1995
mia
21
62
910
14.7
8
139
McDuffie O.J.
1995
MIA
25
62
819
13.2
8
131
Moore Herman
1995
det
3
123
1686
13.7
14
253
Perriman Brett
1995
det
8
108
1488
13.8
9
208
Conway Curtis
1995
chi
12
62
1037
16.7
12
183
Graham Jeff
1995
chi
19
82
1301
15.9
4
154
Metcalf Eric
1995
atl
11
104
1189
11.4
8
186
Mathis Terance
1995
atl
17
78
1039
13.3
9
158
Emanuel Bert
1995
atl
23
74
1039
14.0
5
134

Have a Great Week!


Notes:
1) All fantasy point production assumes the Footballguys Scoring System:

  • 1 point per 25 yards passing
  • 1 point per 10 yards receiving or rushing
  • 4 points per passing TD
  • 6 points per rushing or receiving TD
  • -1 per interception thrown

2) Special thanks to Doug Drinen for providing the relevant statistical databases

3) Feel free to contact me (wood@footballguys.com) if you wish to discuss this column further or share other ideas for future issues

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