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Is Wes Welker the Most PPR Receiver Ever?

by Chase Stuart on August 1, 2013

in Fantasy, History, Random Perspective On, Receiving

If you don’t play fantasy football, you probably have no idea what this title means. Of course, it’s 2013, so if you don’t play fantasy football, you’re now the oddball. “PPR” stands for points per reception. About half of all fantasy leagues do not give any points for receptions, while the other half includes some sort of PPR format. And while the value of every player is dependent on each league’s scoring system, few players see their value fluctuate between scoring systems quite like Wes Welker. Or, at least, that’s how it seems. Is there a way to measure this effect?

First, a review of Welker’s numbers since he joined the Patriots:

Games Receiving
Rk Player Year Age Draft Tm Lg G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Y/G
1 Wes Welker 2012 31 NWE NFL 16 12 118 1354 11.47 6 84.6
2 Wes Welker 2011 30 NWE NFL 16 15 122 1569 12.86 9 98.1
3 Wes Welker 2010 29 NWE NFL 15 11 86 848 9.86 7 56.5
4 Wes Welker 2009 28 NWE NFL 14 13 123 1348 10.96 4 96.3
5 Wes Welker 2008 27 NWE NFL 16 14 111 1165 10.50 3 72.8
6 Wes Welker 2007 26 NWE NFL 16 13 112 1175 10.49 8 73.4

Welker doesn’t get many touchdowns, and while he has respectable yardage totals, he is only exceptional when it comes to piling up receptions. Welker has 672 receptions over the last six seasons, easily the most in the NFL (in fact, it’s the most ever over any six-year stretch). Brandon Marshall (592) and Reggie Wayne (578) are the only two players even within 100 catches of Welker. Over that same time frame, he ranks 4th in receiving yards, but only tied for 17th in receiving touchdowns.

Giselle approves of Welker's form

Giselle approves of Welker's form.

So how can we measure how much more valuable Welker is in PPR-leagues than non-PPR leagues? One way is to use VBD, which is a measure of how much value a player provided over the worst starter (or some other baseline). For example, Welker scored 173 fantasy points and ranked as WR12 in non-PPR leagues last season. If you are in a start-three wide receiver league, the worst starter would be WR36, who scored 111 fantasy points. That means Welker provided 62 points of VBD.

But in a PPR scoring system, Welker ranked 7th with 291 fantasy points. And since WR36 in a PPR system (Malcom Floyd) scored only 167 fantasy points, that gives Welker 124 points of VBD. By this measure, he was twice as valuable to fantasy players in PPR leagues than he was in non-PPR leagues.

As it turns out, Welker has been twice as valuable in PPR leagues over the course of his career. Since he entered the league in 2004, Welker has produced 683 points of VBD in PPR leagues and just 339 VBD points in non-PPR leagues. That means Welker has been only 49.6% as valuable in non-PPR leagues as he is in PPR formats. The table below lists the top 100 wide receivers (in terms of VBD in PPR leagues) since 19701: Welker is the only player to be half as valuable in non-PPR leagues:

Rk
Wide Receiver
First
Last
Reg VBD
PPR VBD
Diff
Ratio
1Wes Welker20042012338.7682.9344.249.6%
2T.J. Houshmandzadeh20012011218419.2201.252%
3Al Toon19851992184.8346.6161.853.3%
4J.T. Smith19781990201370.4169.554.3%
5Art Monk19801995415.1738.5323.456.2%
6Keenan McCardell19922007289.9511.6221.756.7%
7Laveranues Coles20002009219.9381.916257.6%
8Pat Tilley19761986224.4387162.658%
9Keyshawn Johnson19962006307528.6221.658.1%
10Haywood Jeffires19871996224.4384.5160.158.4%
11Brandon Marshall20062012373.4637.6264.258.6%
12Dwight Clark19791987353.8588.723560.1%
13Hines Ward19982011422.2698.5276.360.4%
14Ahmad Rashad19721982330.5545.2214.760.6%
15Derrick Mason19972011394.6648253.460.9%
16Anquan Boldin20032012372.2601228.861.9%
17Eric Moulds19962007299.2474.217563.1%
18Rod Smith19952006477.4756.1278.763.1%
19Andre Johnson20032012493.5780.7287.263.2%
20Reggie Wayne20012012605.8956.1350.363.4%
21Muhsin Muhammad19962009302.2473.7171.563.8%
22Terance Mathis19902002274.6425150.464.6%
23Jimmy Smith19922005532.3819.4287.165%
24Reggie Rucker19701981316.6485.2168.765.2%
25Roddy White20052012442.1677.3235.265.3%
26Rob Moore19901999243.8373.4129.665.3%
27Cris Collinsworth19811988341515.8174.866.1%
28Cris Carter198720027761171.6395.666.2%
29Tim Brown19882004649.1979.8330.766.2%
30Bob Chandler19711982304.3458.1153.866.4%
31Donald Driver19992012335.9505.5169.666.4%
32Herman Moore19912002474.4707.3232.967.1%
33Charley Taylor19701977301.4448.1146.767.3%
34Charlie Joiner19701986526.3778.4252.167.6%
35Andre Reed19852000484.2715.2231.167.7%
36Carl Pickens19922000305.5450.514567.8%
37Larry Fitzgerald20042012569.9838.926967.9%
38Torry Holt19992009675.6992.7317.168.1%
39Michael Irvin19881999535784.1249.168.2%
40Ernest Givins19861995285.8418.2132.468.3%
41Drew Pearson19731983383559.9176.968.4%
42Steve Smith20012012503.3731.6228.368.8%
43Eric Martin19851994270.9393.8122.868.8%
44Fred Biletnikoff19701978416.5604.9188.568.8%
45Drew Hill19791993386.5560.6174.169%
46Sterling Sharpe19881994549.8795.3245.569.1%
47Marvin Harrison19962008947.61369421.469.2%
48Santana Moss20012012283.3408.312569.4%
49Marques Colston20062012355.7511.8156.169.5%
50Tony Hill19771986375.2538162.869.7%
51Chad Johnson20012011530.9756.3225.470.2%
52Wes Chandler19781988519.6730.8211.271.1%
53Amani Toomer19962008244.6343.398.771.2%
54Isaac Bruce19942009639.8894.3254.571.5%
55Joe Horn19962007386.7540.4153.771.6%
56Tony Martin19902001268.2374.6106.471.6%
57Steve Largent19761989889.21241.8352.771.6%
58Gary Clark19851995506.2706.6200.471.6%
59Steve Watson19791987308.3430121.771.7%
60Andre Rison19892000487.7679.6191.971.8%
61Harold Carmichael19721984643.5895.1251.671.9%
62Otis Taylor19701975229.5316.687.172.5%
63Irving Fryar19842000373.4514.1140.772.6%
64Nat Moore19741986321.1441.6120.572.7%
65Jerry Rice198520041640.32253.3612.972.8%
66Jake Reed19912002227.6311.483.873.1%
67Carlos Carson19801989244333.389.373.2%
68Ken Burrough19701981391532.2141.273.5%
69Henry Ellard19831998447.9607.916073.7%
70Calvin Johnson20072012482.8651.9169.174.1%
71John Stallworth19741987500.7674.1173.474.3%
72Sammy White19761985389.8521131.274.8%
73John Jefferson19781985360.6481.9121.374.8%
74James Lofton19781993690.7918.822875.2%
75Alfred Jenkins19751983365.5485.6120.275.3%
76Charlie Brown19821987242.7320.577.875.7%
77Lynn Swann19741982320.7422101.476%
78Roy Green19791992401.8528.1126.376.1%
79Mark Clayton19831993557.1724.7167.676.9%
80Darrell Jackson20002008245.6317.171.577.5%
81Harold Jackson19701983598.7772.8174.177.5%
82Anthony Miller19881997385.2490.9105.778.5%
83Cliff Branch19721985589.3750.6161.478.5%
84Terrell Owens19962010995.71265.6269.978.7%
85Plaxico Burress20002012302.6382.68079.1%
86Antonio Freeman19952003337.2424.687.479.4%
87Mike Quick19821990427.6537.1109.579.6%
88John Gilliam19701977421528.5107.479.7%
89Randy Moss1998201211161396.7280.779.9%
90Anthony Carter19851995279.3348.669.380.1%
91Gene A. Washington19701979541.8669.7127.980.9%
92Greg Jennings20062012312.2385.773.580.9%
93Gary Garrison19701977328.940576.181.2%
94Isaac Curtis19731984366.2447.581.381.8%
95Joey Galloway19952010391.7474.182.482.6%
96Mark Duper19821992389.1469.980.882.8%
97Stanley Morgan19771990458.4549.390.983.5%
98Mel Gray19711982370.1443.17383.5%
99Wesley Walker19771989439.352181.784.3%
100Paul Warfield19701977324.8362.938.189.5%

I’ve written a lot about Paul Warfield, so I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see him as the Least PPR Receiver since 1970. You could probably write two or three posts just about the 98 names in between Welker and Warfield, but I’ll leave that to you guys in the comments.

How low do we need to change the threshold (of top 100 in PPR VBD) to find a more PPR-y receiver than Welker? If we lower the threshold to 150 points of PPR VBD, number one on that list is the man who used to occupy Welker’s role in the Patriots offense. Troy Brown stays #1 even if we lower the threshold to 50 points of PPR VBD.

Wide Receiver
First
Last
Reg VBD
PPR VBD
Diff
Ratio
Troy Brown1993200766.5173.9107.438.2%
Frank Sanders1995200354.8135.580.740.4%
Ken Payne1974197832.678.646.141.4%
Bobby Engram1996200968.2157.789.543.2%
Percy Harvin2009201247.7106.658.944.7%
Billy Johnson1974198858.4128.169.745.6%
Mike Furrey2003200942.191.949.845.8%
Reggie Langhorne1985199354.1117.763.646%
Jerricho Cotchery2004201268.8149.680.846%
Eddie Royal2008201230.465.935.546.1%
Mike Pritchard1991199948.7100.651.948.4%
Matt Bouza1981198929.159.530.449%
Don Herrmann1970197729.459.430.149.4%

One name not on the list: Danny Amendola, who may or may not be a suitable replacement for Welker in 2013. In standard leagues, Amendola has never ranked in the top 45, so he has 0 points of VBD in non-PPR leagues. His only season above the baseline in PPR leagues came in 2010, when he finished as the 30th best fantasy wide receiver (with 85 catches and 689 yards).

Previous “Random Perspective On” Articles:
AFC East: Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets
AFC North: Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers
AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans
AFC West: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers
NFC East: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
NFC North: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams

  1. Wide receivers who entered the league prior to 1970 are included, but only their post-merger seasons are included for this study. []

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Demetris Prewitt August 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm

Simply Answer: No. Marvin Harrison is. Welker doesn’t have a single state better than him and I don’t think he will when his carrer is done.

Reply

Arif Hasan August 5, 2013 at 6:17 am

So I am to gather that Wes Welker is the opposite of Wes Walker?

Reply

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