Fantasy Football Stat of the Day: WRs and first downs


(Leading up to the 2021 NFL season, FTN’s Tyler Loechner will dive into the fantasy football numbers to bring you his Fantasy Stat of the Day, five days a week.)

The Scott Fish Bowl (SFB11) has several unique scoring rules, one of which is that RBs, WRs and TEs get an extra 0.5 points per first down. Monday, we look at which RBs stand to benefit the most from this rule. Today’s Stat of the Day will examine the WRs that should rise to the top with 0.5 points per first down (in addition to 0.5 points per reception).

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Mike Evans (97%) and A.J. Brown (89%) catch a first down on almost every reception

The chart below shows the WRs who had the most first-down receptions in 2020. 

player pos Targets Receptions 1st Downs
DeAndre Hopkins WR 176 118 86
Stefon Diggs WR 181 132 82
Davante Adams WR 155 117 77
Allen Robinson WR 157 104 73
Calvin Ridley WR 153 90 72
DK Metcalf WR 137 84 68
Mike Evans WR 122 69 67
Keenan Allen WR 155 102 66
Tyler Lockett WR 139 101 65
Justin Jefferson WR 132 89 64
A.J. Brown WR 113 70 62
Tyreek Hill WR 139 90 59

For starters, the correlation between receptions and first downs among WRs is extremely high. It has an R-squared of 0.97 on a scale of 0-1, with 1 being a perfect match. This means you could sort by receptions and get a similar list.

But looking a little closer at the data tells us which players are above or below average when it comes to collecting enough yards to get a first down. Here are some key items:

  • DeAndre Hopkins was a monster last year, catching 86 first downs (four more than Stefon Diggs) despite catching 14 fewer passes.
  • Mike Evans (97%) and A.J. Brown (89%) gained first downs on nearly every reception they had last season. Their reception totals are significantly lower than some others on the list, but they certainly made the most of them.
  • Justin Jefferson, not possession receiver Adam Thielen, had the most first downs among Vikings WRs last season.
  • There are many deep threats on this list, so it’s not surprising to see Tyreek Hill’s name as well. But it is a little surprising not to see him higher. There are many close-to-the-line-of-scrimmage gadget-type plays in Hill’s playbook, however.
  • DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both made the list, the only teammates in the top 12 to do so.
  • Keenan Allen is forever underrated.

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