Should You Stay Away From Kendall Wright in Fantasy Football This Year?

Even though he had the seventh-most receptions among wide receivers in 2013, Kendall Wright only scored two touchdowns. Should you stay away in 2014?

If you've suffered through many sleepless nights trying to figure out how Kendall Wright only finished the 2013 season with two touchdown catches, I may be able to help your insomnia.

From his 67.4 receiving yards to his 5.8 receptions per game average, Wright should have found a spot as a top-20 receiver in fantasy football. Instead, he finished 29th in standard-scoring leagues. Fantasy owners loved the yards and looks he was receiving, but his touchdown performance, or lack thereof, earned him a seat on fantasy benches more often than not.

I think most fantasy football players are either completely avoiding him because of his poor touchdown production and a potential emergence of Justin Hunter, or drafting him with the hope that his two touchdown catches were an outlier last season. I want to completely take out the guess work behind this, so I compared Wright's advanced data to other high-volume receivers from last season to see if Kendall Wright is top-notch wideout, or one who's truly overvalued.

Comparing Targets

To show Wright's overall efficiency, I took a look at the top-25 wide receivers in terms of targets last year, and analyzed their advanced metrics in terms of Net Expected Points (NEP). The results can be found in the table below:

PlayerTargetsReceptionsReception NEPReception NEP per Target
Pierre Garcon182113109.620.60
Andre Johnson181109106.550.59
A.J. Green17898127.490.72
Antonio Brown166110120.200.72
Brandon Marshall164100122.820.75
Vincent Jackson16078115.340.72
Josh Gordon15987138.640.87
Dez Bryant15993107.910.68
Calvin Johnson15684143.560.92
Julian Edelman15110576.560.51
Alshon Jeffery14989117.410.79
Demaryius Thomas14292130.030.92
Mike Wallace1417367.230.48
T.Y. Hilton1398389.170.64
Kendall Wright1399480.090.58
Torrey Smith1376597.730.71
Eric Decker13687112.590.83
Larry Fitzgerald1358285.590.63
Brian Hartline1347681.970.61
Harry Douglas1328580.680.61
Anquan Boldin12985120.570.93
Jordy Nelson12785117.070.92
DeSean Jackson12682109.750.87
Cecil Shorts1236662.430.51
Victor Cruz1227376.230.62

The Reception NEP data shows us that, among receivers with high-reception totals, Wright was extremely unproductive. He had the fifth-worst Reception NEP among the group above, and even Harry Douglas, who had never seen more than 40 receptions in his previous four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, was more productive than Wright when he caught the ball last year. Wright, on the other hand, was able to mainly accumulate his fantasy points only because of the amount of receptions he received, as Reception NEP is a cumulative statistic. In fact, among top-25 receivers last year according to our data, Wright ranked 22nd in efficiency.

Some may not consider the passing attack of Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick as a powerhouse, but the duo was more productive last season than people think or realize. Our Adjusted Passing NEP data, which shows the number of points added or lost from a passing game adjusted for strength of schedule, actually showed that the Titans' offense performed better than Dallas, Carolina and Indianapolis through the air. Let's not pretend that Wright was inefficient simply because his offense was bad.

Wright Versus His Teammates

So Wright isn't the brightest star in the sky when you compare him to players from other teams, but let's take a look at his data compared to his teammates.

PlayerRec NEPRec NEP/Target
Nate Washington82.570.79
Kendall Wright80.090.58
Delanie Walker55.360.64
Justin Hunter39.340.94

Poor Kendall. He can't produce better data than anyone, can he? Nate Washington finished the year with 160 fewer receiving yards than Wright, but he did it on 36-fewer receptions. Even with fewer receptions, you can see that Washington was actually the more productive receiver when he caught the ball. And on a per target basis, both Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter outperformed Wright.

A lot of this had to do with his lack of big-play and touchdown-making ability. At 5'10'', 191 pounds, Wright doesn't have the size of a top-tier red zone target, and his 4.61 40-yard dash doesn't lend itself to burning defenders down the field. The NFL Combine Profile for Wright actually posted a perfect analysis of this: "He's the type of receiver who needs to be involved in the game to be a factor at all."

There's not a ton of reason to believe this efficiency will change. During his rookie season, Wright was actually even more inefficient than he was this past year, seeing a Reception NEP per target average of 0.48. That ranked second worst among all wide receivers.

Wright's 2014 Outlook

You may completely be turned off by Wright at this point, but as an early eighth-round selection in standard scoring leagues, you aren't throwing away a draft pick. Hunter may cut into his receiving totals this season and he may see little improvement on his touchdown total, but depending on your league settings, Wright is a serviceable option as a WR3 or a WR4.

And our projections like him even more. He's currently listed as the 23rd ranked receiver, which isn't a bad spot to be in.

Just keep an eye on his touchdown production, and know that when you draft Kendall Wright, you're getting a generally inefficient receiver. That's not a bad thing, but volume will have to be there for him to really succeed.