Fantasy Football Mailbag: Monday 7/11/16

Where should you draft Philip Rivers this year? And does receiver height tell us about production?

Fantasy football research never stops, and offseason news can really complicate things, especially when coaches talk up second- and third-string players. That's why we're starting up a fantasy football mailbag.

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Now, let's answer some questions.

To begin with, let's start with Philip Rivers' current draft cost to get an idea of how late he can be had in fantasy drafts.

According to, Rivers is being drafted as the 11th quarterback off the board and is lasting until the late eighth round (pick 8.11 in 12-team leagues, on average). That sounds about right. Rivers has finished as the QB12 in the past two seasons, as the QB6 in 2013, and -- aside from being QB21 in 2012 -- as a top-10 fantasy passer between 2008 and 2011.

Based on 12-team leagues that reward four points for passing touchdowns (and negative two points for interceptions), we rank Rivers as the 11th-best fantasy football option at quarterback.

If we use FireFactor, which indicates how valuable a player is compared to a replacement-level option at the same position based on your league settings, Rivers is the 123rd-most valuable fantasy football asset entering the year, but you'll have to draft him around 100th overall to ensure you can use him as your fantasy signal caller.

Unfortunately, there's not much value to be had there given his average draft cost.

So, you would likely have to spend an eighth-round pick on Rivers, but we're projecting less than a fantasy point between Rivers' year-end total and that of Tony Romo's, who is being drafted at the beginning of the 10th round (10.01). Romo isn't the only option who presents a better value, either.

Andy Dalton (11.02) is projected to outscore Rivers by about half a point, and Tyrod Taylor (12.01) is being drafted as the 18th quarterback but finds himself 9th, one spot above even Dalton, according to our initial rankings. Yet another option in this range is Matt Ryan (11.05). We project him to finish as the 13th-best fantasy passer, roughly four points behind Rivers over the full season.

Rivers has been a reliable fantasy option for eight of the past 10 seasons, and he's got a new deep threat in Travis Benjamin and a healthy Keenan Allen to work with. But right now, you'd be better off targeting a cheaper fantasy passer rather than paying top-dollar for Rivers.

This one seems intuitive, but as we sometimes find when actually digging into the numbers, there might not be a ton of merit to this idea.

As for the actual relationship between hight and yards per catch, we'll have to grab a sample and figure out the correlation coefficient. The results will range from -1 to 1, with 1 being a perfect correlation. That would mean that as the height goes up, the yards per catch goes up. If it's a -1, the height goes up, but the yards per catch goes down. If it's a zero or close to it, there's little suggesting the variables are related.

I grabbed receivers with at lest 16 targets and 1 touchdown from the past three seasons -- 2013 through 2015 -- and ran the numbers.

We got this.

Correlation Between Height Weight BMI
Yards per Reception 0.259 0.102 -0.169
Yards per Target 0.134 0.103 -0.011
Touchdowns per Target 0.173 0.161 0.037

The strongest relationship we see here with height is with yards per reception, but the 0.259 is weak at best. However, even by other measures of "size," that's the strongest relationship we see here.

Even if we reduce this to only players with at least 100 targets, things stay pretty much the same.

Correlation BetweenHeightWeightBMI
Yards per Reception0.2760.146-0.125
Yards per Target0.073-0.007-0.123
Touchdowns per Target0.1730.1980.121

There's really no clear-cut, definitive relationship between height and usage if we view it over a large sample of players.

Touchdown-scoring types do tend to skew taller and heavier, but there are still the Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham players who ruin that a bit, too.

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