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Monday, October 6, 2003
Deceiving Receiving Numbers

by Graham Hays
ESPN Fantasy Games

David Boston and Peerless Price rewarded a handful of patient owners with huge point totals on Sunday, while frustrating a far greater number of owners who had given up hope that either receiver would live up to preseason expectations. But what do big-point performances really tell us about receivers?

What do Andre' Davis, Az Hakim, David Patten and Quentin McCord all have in common? Each player turned in a 20-point single-game fantasy performance in 2002, four of 54 20-point performances by 38 different wide receivers during the season. All four made just one appearance on the list, not surprising since just eight players managed to reach the plateau more than once. Here are the eight, with their final FFL ranking at wide receiver in parentheses.

Peerless Price
Wide Receiver
Atlanta Falcons

Multiple 20-point Games
Marvin Harrison: 5 (1)
Terrell Owens: 5 (2)
Hines Ward: 4 (3)
Peerless Price: 2 (7)
Jerry Rice: 2 (11)
Marty Booker: 2 (13)
Koren Robinson: 2 (14)
Marc Boerigter: 2 (54)

The Boerigter anomaly aside, it appears tough to repeat a 20-point performance with being a big enough part of the offense to guarantee season-long success. Unfortunately, that's not of much help yet this season, as only one of the 12 receivers with a 20-point performance -- Randy Moss -- has done it more than once. That leaves fantasy owners wondering if Santana Moss is the next Koren Robinson or the next Dennis Northcutt.

But while waiting for more numbers to role in and either validate or invalidate potential breakthrough players, fantasy owners can take at least one lesson from last season's numbers: monster performances don't make a fantasy star, and fantasy stars don't necessarily need monster performances.

Harrison, Owens and Ward combined for 14 20-point games in 2002, but consider the rest of last season's top 10 receivers combined for a total of seven.

Eric Moulds
20-point games: 0
Avg. in four best weeks: 17.8
Avg. in four worst weeks: 4.5
Single-digit weeks: 6

Randy Moss
20-point games: 1
Avg. in four best weeks: 19.0
Avg. in four worst weeks: 4.5
Single-digit weeks: 8

Amani Toomer
20-point games: 1
Avg. in four best weeks: 21.3
Avg. in four worst weeks: 2.8
Single-digit weeks: 7

Peerless Price
20-point games: 2
Avg. in four best weeks: 22.5
Avg. in four worst weeks: 3.3
Single-digit weeks: 9

Plaxico Burress
20-point games: 1
Avg. in four best weeks: 21.5
Avg. in four worst weeks: 2.3
Single-digit weeks: 9

Joe Horn
20-point games: 1
Avg. in four best weeks: 17.5
Avg. in four worst weeks: 5.0
Single-digit weeks: 7

Donald Driver
20-point games: 1
Avg. in four best weeks: 18.5
Avg. in four worst weeks: 3.0
Single-digit weeks: 7

  • Peerless Price's numbers jump out at you in the wake of Sunday's big performance. Price took a lot of flak for stinking up the joint in Atlanta's first four games, but a picture of consistency last season, ending up tied for the most single-digit point performances of any receiver in the top 10. That may suggest that owners who dumped him early are just as misguided as owners who think Sunday's performance is the first of many such outings.

  • Beyond Price, it's clear that consistency is just as important as combustibility. While only Moulds managed to make the top 10 without a 20-point performance, most of these guys built their standing on week-to-week mid-teens point production. And that means that while many owners are still too excited about players like Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson and Chris Chambers, steadier buys like Ike Hilliard, Derrick Mason and Tai Streets may be the more prudent investment.