The NFL's 10 Best Deep-Ball Wide Receivers in 2017

Tyreek Hill helped propel Alex Smith to a career year in 2017 thanks to his insane abilities down the field. Who else excelled on deep passes this past year?

If you're curious about the value of a deep ball in fantasy football, talk to Alex Smith. I'm sure he'd have a take or two on the topic.

Smith was re-born in 2017, slinging the ball deep like he never had before. And he did so effectively, too, helping him earn a fat, new contract with Washington. Deep balls got him paid.

It's not as if Smith just magically developed this ability to throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield. Rather, the Kansas City Chiefs had the assets necessary to attack a defense deep, and Smith took advantage. If your receivers are incapable of winning on deep balls, why on Earth would you take those risks?

Having the right personnel matters in the NFL, and it helped take Smith's career to a whole new level in his age-33 season. That makes it critical to know which assets are capable of shredding a defense down the field. So, let's try to get a grasp of that today.

Using numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), we can see which players added the most expected points per deep target this year. We'll be defining a "deep" target as any throw that travels at least 16 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. This includes deductions for negative outcomes such as interceptions and incompletions, which means the quarterback's abilities will also come into play here. That is absolutely something to consider when looking at the list.

Target NEP per target will be our focal metric, showing the expected points added on each deep target, but we'll also include each player's Success Rate. This is the percentage of deep targets that increased the team's expected points for the drive, which essentially equates to a completion percentage in this instance. We'll be limiting the list to only players who had at least 20 deep targets on the year.

We know how important it is to have guys who can go up and get it when you're chucking the ball deep. Which wide receivers did so the best this year? Let's check it out.