Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

The National Football League (NFL) holds its annual entry draft each season where teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters. The draft enables teams to acquire new players, intending to strengthen rosters and address areas of need. Dynasty fantasy football leagues operate similarly. The rookie draft can be a key component of building your roster. League participants manage their rosters year-round and keep all of their players from one season to the next. This setup allows for long-term team building and player development strategies.

There is a phenomenon in Dynasty leagues I call Rookie Fever. Rookie Fever is the overvaluing of rookie picks, driving up their perceived value. Dynasty managers should have a more realistic expectation of what value their rookie picks hold, but as a rule, we overvalue youth and like shiny new toys. Some rookies will have an immediate impact, more will take time to develop, and even more likely will never reach the fantasy value we had planned for them when we added them to our rosters. This article defines the level of success a player may or may not achieve during their career as their Hit Rate.

Since joining RotoHeat, I have utilized historical data annually to estimate the expected hit rates of drafted prospects. In this 4-part series, I dive into the drafts over the past twenty-four seasons to identify trends and help set a level of expectation for this upcoming rookie class. 

I began this process in 2018 having compiled the results of every skill player drafted since 2000. With many players drafted in the early years of my data collection no longer playing, and the game changing over the past 24 years, I have reduced the data measured to the last four draft classes. Data from 2000-2009 and 2010-2019 are referenced to give us a larger sample size.  

The third installment of this four-part series covers the Wide Receiver position. When reviewing hit rates, defining what a hit is is important. I define Wide Receiver Hit as a season in which a WR delivers a top-12, top-24, or top-36 season at any point in their career. In addition, I have crunched the data and determined which WRs accomplished the feat as rookies and how many have done it on more than one occasion. 

Since the 2020 NFL draft, there have been 130 wide receivers drafted. 21 were selected in Round One, 23 in the Second, 18 in the Third, 13 in the Fourth, and a total of 55 were selected in Rounds Five through Seven. Both Quarterback and Running Back positions highlighted the importance of draft capital. The trend continues with the Wide Receivers, due to the volume selected in the later rounds, it’s slightly less impactful than the previous positions studied.

The lackluster output in rounds 5 through 7, previously studied at other positions continues with the Wide Receivers. This is to be expected this deep in the draft. This collection of 55 pass catchers has played 104 seasons and produced 2 hits, one top-12 season, and 2 top-24. Darnell Mooney put up a WR23 finish in 2021, and Los Angeles Ram rookie WR Puka Nacua finished last season as WR5.

The 136 WRs drafted between 2010 and 2019 produced 31 hit seasons – 16 WR1, 7 WR2, and 8 WR3 in 371 seasons. These hit seasons came from 7 different WRs. The odds of you drafting a wide receiver that brought you a hit season in this era was 5.14%. Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, and Antonio Brown are responsible for 22, (71%) of the hit seasons, 14 of which were WR1 finishes. In addition to these three, Marvin Jones Jr., is the only other multi-hit WR in this group, and Tyreek Hill was the only one to do it as a rookie.

156 wide receivers were drafted between 2000 and 2009. They combined to play in 386 seasons, producing 23 hit seasons. Interestingly enough 21 came from Round Seven selections. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Kevin Walter, and Marques Colston were the only three to deliver hit seasons on more than one occasion and none of these WRs did it in their rookie season.

Since the 2000 NFL Draft, 347 WRs were selected in rounds five through seven. They have produced 56 hit seasons in 861 seasons of play, (6.50%) Those 56 hit seasons come from 21 WRs, (10.19%). For those keeping score at home, the breakdown of the hit seasons is 26 – Round Five, 8 – Round Six, and 22- Round Seven.

Round 4

The results in Round Four are similar to those in Rounds Five through Seven. The 2020-2023 group provides us with 13 WRs that have played in 17 seasons to date. Three receivers have collectively contributed to a total of 5 hit seasons. Amon-Ra St. Brown leads this trio, and has a perfect hit rate thus far in his career, delivering 2 WR1 seasons and 1 WR2 season.

Wide Receiver PickSeasonsWR1WR2WR3WR1%WR2%WR3%
Gabriel Davis 12840010%0%25%
Antonio Gandy-Golden14210000%0%0%
Dez Fitzpatrick10910000%0%0%
Amon-Ra St. Brown112321067%33%0%
Jaelon Darden12930000%0%0%
Tylan Wallace 13130000%0%0%
Jacob Harris 14100000%0%0%
Erik Ezukanma12520000%0%0%
Romeo Dobbs13220010%0%33%
Calvin Austin13810000%0%0%
Derius Davis12510000%0%0%
Charlie Jones13110000%0%0%
Tyler Scott13310000%0%0%
Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

Between 2010 and 2019, 50 wide receivers entered the NFL via the draft in the fourth round, collectively producing 8 hit seasons. These hit seasons were distributed as follows: 0 WR1, 2 as WR2, and 6 WR3, covering 164 seasons played. Mike Williams, (Tampa Bay), and Jamison Crowder are the only multi-hit WRs in the group. Williams is the lone rookie to do so with his top-24 season in 2010. The probability of drafting a wide receiver who would achieve a hit season during this timeframe was 8%.

The Round Four group from 2000-2009 comprised 38 wide receivers that combined to appear in 154 seasons. They produced 25 hit seasons: 8 WR1, 6 WR2, and 11 WR3. Brandon Marshall led this group with his 7 WR1, 1 WR2, and 1 WR3 seasons in his 13 seasons. The probability of drafting a wide receiver who would achieve a hit season during this timeframe was 16%.

Since the 2000 NFL Draft, 101 wide receivers have been chosen in the fourth round. Together, these players have amassed 335 seasons of play, resulting in 38 hit seasons, comprising 11 WR1, 9 WR2, and 19 WR3 performances. These hit seasons are courtesy of 13 wide receivers. 3 different players achieved the 11 WR1 finishes. Over the past 24 seasons, the probability of acquiring a WR1 talent drafted in the fourth round stands at 2.97%.

Round 3

Since 2020, 18 wide receivers have been chosen in Round Three of the NFL Draft, with only one achieving a hit season. Nico Collins posted a WR12 finish in his third season last year. Among the remaining 17 selections, the most notable performance came from Josh Palmer, who attained WR37 status with 167.3 PPR points in 2022. However, if we broaden the criteria to include top-48 seasons, Palmer, Tank Dell, and Josh Downs would also be considered hit seasons.

Regrettably, thirteen of the wide receivers selected in this round have yet to hit 100 PPR points in a single season. Describing this Round Three group collectively as a bust would be an understatement.

Wide Receiver PickSeasonsWR1WR2WR3WR1%WR2%WR3%
Lynn Bowden8020000%0%0%
Bryan Edwards8130000%0%0%
Devin Duvernay9240000%0%0%
Josh Palmer7730000%0%0%
Dynami Brown8230000%0%0%
Amari Rodgers8530000%0%0%
Nico Collins89310033%0%0%
Anthony Schwartz9120000%0%0%
Velus Jones Jr.7120000%0%0%
Jalen Tolbert8820000%0%0%
David Bell9920000%0%0%
Danny Gray10510000%0%0%
Tank Dell6910000%0%0%
Jalin Hyatt7310000%0%0%
Cedric Tillman7410000%0%0%
Josh Downs7910000%0%0%
Michael Wilson9410000%0%0%
Tre Tucker10010000%0%0%
Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

The 45 wide receivers drafted in Round Three from 2010-2019 restore one’s faith in this round. In 237 total seasons, this group has delivered 60 hit seasons – 16 WR1, 23 WR2, and 21 WR3. Standouts here include Eric Decker, TY Hilton, Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, and Cooper Kupp. 29%, (13) are multi-hit WRs, and 13%, (6), reached hit status in their rookie campaign.

47 wide receivers heard their name called in Round Three from 2000-2009. In a combined 250 seasons of play they gave their fantasy managers 45 hit seasons – 9 WR1, 20 WR2, and 16 WR3. Steve Smith and Mike Wallace stand out. They combined for 7 WR1 seasons and 16 hit seasons total.

Since the 2000 NFL Draft, 110 wide receivers have been chosen in the third round. These players have collectively participated in 523 seasons, resulting in 106 hit seasons – 26 WR1, 43 WR2, and 37 WR3 performances. These hit seasons come from 29 different wide receivers.

This equates to 26% of the selected players achieving a hit season in their careers, while 74% have not. The hit rates for each tier of performance are as follows: WR1 seasons have a hit rate of 4.97%, WR2 seasons come in at 8.22%, and WR3 seasons at 7.07%.

Round 2

The second-round wide receivers drafted between 2020 and 2023 have largely underperformed. Despite playing 57 seasons, none of these 23 players have achieved a top-12 season. They have collectively produced 11 hit seasons, ranking as WR2 or WR3, with 6 WR2 and 5 WR3 finishes. Michael Pittman and Tee Higgins stand out, each recording three hit seasons. The remaining 21 receivers have produced 1 WR2 finish and 4 WR3 finishes. No rookies have put up a hit season, and the odds of drafting a WR here that will produce a hit season thus far is 26%.

Wide Receiver PickSeasonsWR1WR2WR3WR1%WR2%WR3%
Tee Higgins 3340210%50%25%
Michael Pittman3440300%75%0%
Laviska Shenault4240000%0%0%
K.J. Hamler4630000%0%0%
Chase Claypool4940100%25%0%
Van Jefferson5740010%0%25%
Denzel Mims5930000%0%0%
Elijah Moore3430000%0%0%
Rondale Moore4930000%0%0%
D’Wayne Eskridge5620000%0%0%
Tutu Atwell5730000%0%0%
Terrace Marshall5930000%0%0%
Christian Watson3420000%0%0%
Wan’Dale Robinson4320000%0%0%
John Metchie III4410000%0%0%
Tyquan Thornton5020000%0%0%
George Pickens5220010%0%50%
Alec Pierce5320000%0%0%
Skyy Moore5420000%0%0%
Jonathan Mingo3910000%0%0%
Jayden Reed5010010%0%100%
Rashee Rice5510010%0%100%
Marvin Mims6310000%0%0%
Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

Looking back on wide receivers added to the league between 2010 and 2019, this group of 43 collectively contributed 241 seasons of play. Among them, 22 players have generated 81 hit seasons – 28 WR1, 23 WR2, and 30 WR3 finishes. Of the 22 players who contributed to the 81 hit seasons, 18 have achieved multiple-hit years. Additionally, 9 of these players attained their first hit season during their rookie campaign. The odds of a hit season here sit at 33.6%

Standouts among this group include; Davante Adams, Michael Thomas, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, and Robert Woods. Together they have combined for 17 WR1, 6 WR2, and 3 WR3 seasons.

There were 45 wide receivers to hear their name called in Round Two from 2000-2009. These 45 receivers appeared in a combined 300 seasons, 67 hits – 19 WR1, 24 WR2, and 24 WR3. These results were driven by Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Vincent Jackson, Greg Jennings, and Jordy Nelson. These receivers are responsible for 35 of the 67 hit seasons, (14 WR1). There are 12 multi-hit wide receivers and four to reach hit status as a rookie.

Since the 2000 NFL draft we have seen 111 wide receivers drafted, with 45, (41%) of them delivering a hit season at some point in their career. 22, (20%) have finished as a WR1, and 13, (12%) had a rookie hit season.

Round 1

In a combined 53 seasons this group of 21 have produced 29 hit seasons. The 29 hit seasons come from 12, (57%) of the 21 selected. Eight, (38%) have done it on multiple occasions and 11, (53%) gave their fantasy manager a top-36 or better performance as a rookie.

Wide Receiver PickSeasonsWR1WR2WR3WR1%WR2%WR3%
Henry Ruggs1220000%0%0%
Jerry Jeudy1540100%25%0%
CeeDee Lamb17422050%50%0%
Jalen Reagor2140000%0%0%
Justin Jefferson 22430175%0%25%
Brandon Aiyuk2540220%50%50%
Ja’Marr Chase 53300100%0%0%
Jaylen Waddle 6311133%33%33%
DeVonta Smith10311133%33%33%
Kadarius Toney2030000%0%0%
Rashod Bateman2730000%0%0%
Drake London820010%0%50%
Garrett Wilson 1020110%50%50%
Chris Olave 1120110%50%50%
Jameson Williams1220000%0%0%
Jahan Dotson 1620000%0%0%
Treylon Burks1820000%0%0%
Jaxon Smith-Nigba2010000%0%0%
Quintin Johnston2110000%0%0%
Zay Flowers2210010%0%100%
Jordan Addison 2310100%50%0%
Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

The Round One group from 2010-2019 totals 34. In a combined 225 seasons played they have 91 hit seasons – 35 WR1, 34 WR2, and 22 WR3. The 91 hit seasons come from 24, (67%) of the 34 selected. Sixteen, (47%) have done it on multiple occasions and 11, (32%) gave their fantasy manager a top-36 or better performance as a rookie. This group is led by Demarius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones, A.J Green, DeAndre Hopkins, and Mike Evans.

The Round One group from 2000-2009 had 43 WRs drafted in Round One. In a combined 332 seasons played they have 122 hit seasons – 47 WR1, 34 WR2, and 41 WR3. The 122 hit seasons come from 29, (67%) of the 43 selected. Tewnty-one, (49%) have done it on multiple occasions and 10, (23%) gave their fantasy manager a top-36 or better performance as a rookie. This group is led by Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Calvin Johnson.

We expect Round One drafted WRs to be successful. After all, they are perceived to be the best of the best. Talent earns targets in the NFL. When teams spend this high of draft capital on a receiver, that WR tends to play a significant role in their offense. The hit rate percentage from this group compared to other rounds highlights this.

Wide Receiver Summary

This 2024 wide receiver class is deep and has the potential to rival the 2014 class for one of the best in recent memory. Standouts from the 2014 class include Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Cooks, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson, and Jarvis Landry. These six WRs in 58 combined seasons have produced 40 hit seasons, (68.97%). The 40-hit seasons break down as 21 WR1, 16 WR2, and 3 WR3. Evans, OBJ, and Cooks were Round One selections, and Adams, Robinson, and Landry came off the board in Round Two. If you have rostered one of these pass catchers on your roster, you have likely been a happy fantasy manager.

Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2014

Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Marquise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson, and Cody Latimar, were also part of this elite 2014 draft class. Watkins and Benjamin were selected in Round One and Lee, Matthews, Richardson, and Latimar in the second. These six WRs in 36 combined seasons have produced 6 hit seasons, (16.67%). The 6-hit seasons break down as 0 WR1, 3 WR2, and 3 WR3. If you have rostered one of these pass catchers on your roster, you likely dropped them before the end of their careers.

My top six are Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Troy Franklin, Brian Thomas Jr., and Adonai Mitchell. The top three are locked in, with Nabers being closer to Harrison Jr. than Oduze is to Nabers. The next three are hard to rank and my rankings are changing minute by minute. I could argue for 6-8 different WRs ranked 3 through 6.

Round One prospects are not a sure thing for their NFL club or your dynasty squad. Since 2000, we have had 98 wide receivers drafted in the opening round, and they have collectively produced 242 hit seasons in 610 seasons played, (40%). When Fantasy managers draft one of these highly touted pass catchers they do it with visions of multiple WR1 seasons. 27, (28%) drafted since 2000 have met that expectation once, 20, (20%) twice, and 15, (15.3%) three or more times.

This annual exercise highlights the importance of draft capital. We see the difference in WRs selected in the first three rounds versus the last four. We tend to focus on the landing spot when we should be focused on where the player was selected in the draft.

Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

The intent of this article is not to deter you from selecting a wide receiver in your upcoming rookie drafts. If anything this is the year to do so! The intent is to highlight the importance of draft capital. If you plan to draft a WR in your rookie drafts, target those drafted within the first 100 picks.

When reading this article and looking back at the hit rates of previous draft classes it becomes evident that wide receivers with multiple top-12 and top-24 seasons are rare. These are the dynasty assets to covet. I am confident two or three have that upside in this year’s draft: Harrison Jr., Nabers, and Odunze. Outside of that trio, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will hit and who will miss. When you find yourself on the clock in your drafts, take a moment to canvas your league to gauge the value of your pick. I can almost guarantee you will be able to trade the pick for a more certain outcome in seasons to come.

Thank you for reading Wide Receiver Hit Rates 2020-2023

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