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WRs unlikely to repeat their 2015 top-20 fantasy season

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) catches a pass in front of Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby (29) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Wide receiver can be a tough position to predict when it comes to fantasy success. Not only is the pool of players deeper than any other offensive position, but a receiver’s success is not entirely contingent on his own skill set. The end result of that is that wide receivers can see wild swings in their productivity from one season to the next despite minimal changes in their ability and/or health.

In an effort to identify some trend, I looked at one of the simplest statistics to use when making your fantasy draft picks — actual fantasy points. I looked at the number of guys who made the position’s top 20 in a given year; below is a chart of how many of those repeated the next.

Year 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 Average
% of New WRs to Top-20 60% 55% 57% 48% 55% 55%

It’s true that some guys go from inside the top 20 to just outside (the Colts’ T.Y. Hilton was tied for 10th in 2014, 24th in 2015), while others see more precipitous falls (Mike Wallace was 18th in 2014, Crying Jordan in 2015), but the simple truth is that every year, roughly half of the league’s top 20 wide receivers repeat. Which means roughly half of them don’t repeat.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the prime candidates to fall off the list this year.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Oakland Raiders (2015 positional ranking: 20th)

If we look at the first half of 2015, Michael Crabtree was a bona fide WR1. He was re-born after signing with Oakland and tallied 47 catches for 591 yards and five touchdowns through his first eight games, making him the 12th-ranked fantasy receiver. However, the second half was much poorer for Crabtree, as he totaled just 38 catches for 331 yards and four touchdowns in his last eight games and finished the season as the 20th fantasy receiver (he was 34th over that eight-game stretch).

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