Wisdom of Crowds: Projecting 2009 WR, Part I
by Bill Barnwell
With this Wisdom of Crowds, our merry band of Tweeps move onto predicting the 2009 performance of the league's wide receivers. Since we also released KUBIAK last week, I made sure to include some players about whom KUBIAK is very opinionated.
We start with a player who himself is very opinionated.
Remember that we instruct our predictors to assume that each player stays healthy and plays 16 games.
Monday: Terrell Owens
Average Prediction: 70 receptions, 986 receiving yards, 8 TD
Maximum Prediction: 96 receptions, 1344 receiving yards, 14 TD
Minimum Prediction: 37 receptions, 490 receiving yards, 6 TD
Right -- so T.O. will either be a Pro Bowl receiver or a Loser League hero. That average prediction is interesting -- it figures Owens for just over 14 yards per catch. Owens has a career average of 14.8 yards per catch, and had 15.2 yards per catch last year even after losing a step, but that's a reflection of how he'll be used in the Buffalo offense. With Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish best served way downfield, Owens has to be the underneath receiver; with that comes a lot of eight- and nine-yard catches. Perhaps Owens will be able to accrue YAC due to his strength, but he'll see more linebackers around him than most wideouts
I also need to note that a prediction of 158 receptions for 1310 receiving yards and 11 scores was ruled out as the efforts of a troll by our committee (read: me). If Terrell Owens actually does catch 158 passes this season, I'll probably quit.
Tuesday: Devin Hester
Average Prediction: 64 receptions, 922 receiving yards, 7 TD
Maximum Prediction: 81 receptions, 1250 receiving yards, 12 TD
Minimum Prediction: 30 receptions, 500 receiving yards, 3 TD
We tend to be contrarians in this line of work, but 30 receptions for Devin Hester next year seems awful low.
There's a lot of volatility in Hester's line. He's certainly gotten better as an intermediate target, but there's still questions regarding his ability to serve as an effective receiver at all levels. If he's not good underneath, he'll find it difficult to put up consistent numbers and become a viable fantasy starter. We believe that he will.
Wednesday: Torry Holt
Average Prediction: 68 receptions, 869 receiving yards, 5 TD
Maximum Prediction: 80 receptions, 1100 receiving yards, 9 TD
Minimum Prediction: 46 receptions, 649 receiving yards, 4 TD
Only one member of our esteemed panel agreed with KUBIAK's assessment that Holt would top 1000 yards, which has sort of assumed the mantle of the most controversial KUBIAK prediction for this upcoming season (with Julius Jones in the rear view).
The issue, as we've stated before, is this. David Garrard will throw somewhere in the range of 450 passes this year over a 16-game stretch. We find it impossible to construct a scenario where Torry Holt doesn't get 140 of those passes. Please construct such a scenario in the comments of this article, showing work, if you can.
Thursday: Antonio Bryant
Average Prediction: 62 receptions, 943 receiving yards, 6 TD
Maximum Prediction: 88 receptions, 1300 receiving yards, 10 TD
Minimum Prediction: 55 receptions, 800 receiving yards, 4 TD
This is what happens when you nearly get blackballed from the league for a year. Bryant was the free agent pickup of the season after winning many fantasy teams their leagues with a heroic 435 yards and four touchdowns during Weeks 14-16, but his flakiness on and off the field is scaring off many a fantasy owner.
In the case of players like Bryant, all the fantasy "expertise" in the world isn't worth a damn. Bryant should regress some thanks to the unsettled quarterback situation in Tampa Bay, but the bigger concern is whether Bryant will be in a position to consistently show off his undeniable talent because of his behavior. He is such a risky proposition that at his current ADP -- WR20, 6-62 -- he's still poor value relative to guys like DeSean Jackson, Bernard Berrian, and Lee Evans.
Friday: Santonio Holmes
Average Prediction: 70 receptions, 1129 receiving yards, 7 TD
Maximum Prediction: 94 receptions, 1450 receiving yards, 16 TD
Minimum Prediction: 52 receptions, 688 receiving yards, 5 TD
Last year's Super Bowl MVP was one of our predicted breakout stars last year, but it fell through thanks to off-the-field shenanigans (KUBIAK does not -- well, knowingly -- adjust for weed consumption). Holmes wasn't particularly great when he was on the field, either, with his DVOA and DYAR falling off the charts from its impressive levels of his first two seasons.
We're inclined to think that Holmes' junior campaign was a fluke, and that his 131-yard performance on Super Sunday was an indication of things to come. That's reflected in KUBIAK. I'd be shocked, honestly, if Holmes managed to play 16 games and only had 688 receiving yards. So would most readers -- after that prediction of 688 yards, the next-lowest figure was 980 yards. If we throw out the 688-yard prediction, Holmes' average line goes up to 77/1200/8.
One particularly inspired fan had Holmes' line at 70/1450/12, putting Holmes at 20.7 yards per catch. Wouldn't that be nice, Steelers fans?
If you want to join us this week, follow us on Twitter @fb_outsiders. We're currently predicting Andre Johnson's 2009. It apparently will involve 100 receptions.