Finding the Odds of a Wide Receiver Falling to You on Draft Day

A look at the pick probability distributions for wide receivers to help you make more sound decisions on draft day.

NOTE: The Google Doc associated with this article was updated August 17th to reflect fluctuations in ADP. I'd recommend using that for best info. Click here to access that.

So you wanna wait a few rounds to take a running back in your upcoming fantasy draft, eh? Everyone's draft strategy is different, and that one is just as valid as any of the other ones. The possible problem with this is that it carries a whole lot of risk that you may or may not want to inherit.

Last week, we published the pick distribution probabilities for each of the top 50 fantasy running backs. In less nerdy terms, it's the probability that running back X will fall to pick Y.

Now, the original reason for doing this was because of the uncertainties involved with using game theory to navigate your fantasy draft. In case you didn't read that (can't blame you - the author sucks), here's the explanation of the game theory angle:

Basically, there are three players you can draft: Best, Okay, and Meh (incredibly convenient last names). Best has the greatest value in your mind with Okay being second and Meh being a last resort. However, Okay has a lower ADP than Best. So, you have a dilemma: should you take Okay first in the hopes that Best will fall to your next pick? Or should you go with Best and settle for Meh in the next round?

Obviously, the best case scenario here is that you take Okay with your first pick and hope Best is there next time around. However, how can you know whether or not he'll be there? Odds are extremely difficult to calculate on the fly, and you don't have time to do so in most drafts. So, I have made charts to try to help ease that pain.

Because I enjoyed doing that for running backs, I thought it might be fun to do the same with wide receivers. In doing so, it really demonstrated how critical it is to scoop up your rushers early.

Below, you can see the same charts that I had for the running backs, except for the wide receivers. The probabilities are based on the awesome data from Fantasy Football Calculator under the assumption that it is a 12-team, non-PPR, standard-scoring league, and that the probabilities are normally distributed. The average draft positions (ADP) and standard deviations are based on mock drafts from August 4th and 5th.

Scroll down there quickly and check out where some of the receivers are and are not available. If you prefer, you can check out a Google doc with all of the info in a readable format by clicking here. I'll try to keep the doc updated throughout August to account for changes in ADP.

The thing that sticks out to me is how late you can get quality receivers. Michael Crabtree is numberFire's 12th-ranked wide receiver, but there's a 78.92 percent chance you can get him 45th overall. That's the same area where Shane Vereen, the 33rd-ranked running back is going. Other receivers going in that area are Roddy White, Percy Harvin and DeSean Jackson. If you can grab two of those guys in the pick 40-50 area, your team is probably going to be a'ight.

Then consider this. As JJ Zachariason wrote back in July, running backs selected late rarely finish as top fantasy backs. This seems to be in-line with this data below. Who do you think has more upside: Frank Gore or Roddy White? Give me Roddy, baby.

So while it may be tempting to pass on a running back early to snatch up Calvin Johnson or Demaryius Thomas early, you can get quality receivers in the fourth round on. While that's true for running backs as well, those good gems are few and far between. It's not bad to rely upon these mid-round receivers to make your team thrive.

Now, lets' get to the charts. Again, if you'd rather, here's all of the picks in Google doc form. I prefer the doc because I can see all of the probabilities, but that might just be me. Like I mentioned in the running back article, these distributions will be highly variable depending on with whom you're drafting and on which site you're doing it. However, this should help with the unknowns of a fantasy draft at least a little bit. Enjoy, y'all.

Calvin Johnson55.68%0.03%0.00%0.00%0.00%
Demaryius Thomas97.72%26.38%0.06%0.00%0.00%
Dez Bryant99.60%68.38%4.50%0.01%0.00%
A.J. Green99.95%91.69%29.51%0.69%0.00%
Julio Jones99.99%98.36%67.96%11.51%0.21%
Brandon Marshall100.00%99.13%74.38%14.25%0.26%
Jordy Nelson100.00%100.00%99.18%76.83%17.53%

Antonio Brown92.52%48.83%6.68%0.15%0.00%
Alshon Jeffery95.87%60.44%11.39%0.37%0.00%
Randall Cobb99.73%88.85%36.55%2.83%0.03%
Keenan Allen99.91%97.31%76.98%32.55%5.02%
Vincent Jackson99.98%99.06%88.22%50.93%12.72%
Pierre Garcon100.00%99.76%95.06%68.74%25.00%
Victor Cruz100.00%99.76%95.90%74.29%33.19%

Larry Fitzgerald89.25%59.48%22.36%3.92%0.29%0.01%
Wes Welker90.88%63.79%26.52%5.39%0.48%0.02%
Andre Johnson95.15%74.54%36.69%9.01%0.96%0.04%
Cordarrelle Patterson93.54%74.38%41.80%14.25%2.67%0.26%
Roddy White96.76%81.18%46.93%14.95%2.28%0.15%
Michael Crabtree99.52%95.51%78.92%46.44%16.30%3.04%
Percy Harvin99.21%94.73%79.54%51.27%22.31%5.99%
DeSean Jackson99.79%97.72%87.24%60.87%27.89%7.38%
Michael Floyd99.96%99.39%95.16%79.21%48.65%18.91%
T.Y. Hilton99.95%99.53%96.92%87.39%66.29%38.04%

Jeremy Maclin56.52%28.03%9.20%1.90%0.24%
Torrey Smith70.20%41.01%16.23%4.07%0.62%
Emmanuel Sanders76.77%49.40%22.33%6.58%1.21%
Mike Wallace91.39%75.46%50.54%25.39%9.05%
Julian Edelman90.26%75.14%52.46%28.93%12.04%
Sammy Watkins95.91%86.94%69.36%45.58%23.32%
Marques Colston97.72%91.29%76.36%53.07%28.63%
Terrance Williams99.31%96.69%88.73%72.16%48.50%

Golden Tate60.10%37.24%6.83%1.92%0.40%
Kendall Wright68.52%45.78%9.99%3.07%0.70%
Reggie Wayne67.81%47.00%12.50%4.57%1.30%
Eric Decker84.95%67.72%24.52%10.30%3.30%
Brandin Cooks89.08%75.22%33.81%16.68%6.47%
Riley Cooper91.77%81.33%45.62%27.09%13.35%
Dwayne Bowe98.35%94.32%68.56%47.37%26.92%
Rueben Randle98.47%94.78%70.83%50.43%29.91%
Hakeem Nicks98.41%95.43%77.95%62.25%44.16%

Tavon Austin70.07%50.00%29.93%14.63%5.72%1.76%
Mike Evans81.27%66.30%48.14%30.36%16.32%7.37%
DeAndre Hopkins88.19%73.93%53.90%32.79%16.13%6.27%
Danny Amendola91.56%81.09%65.03%45.66%27.29%13.59%
Anquan Boldin91.56%81.09%65.03%45.66%27.29%13.59%
Cecil Shorts95.48%89.31%78.61%63.40%45.70%28.82%
Kenny Stills96.98%92.01%82.48%67.81%49.62%31.52%
Kelvin Benjamin97.78%93.79%85.68%72.39%54.88%36.35%
Marvin Jones98.93%96.64%91.28%81.24%66.10%47.74%