Now five weeks into the season, almost all wide receivers have topped the 150-route mark, and we're getting close to having a trustworthy sample size to draw conclusions from. 350 is the number of routes I typically use as a qualifier if examining a full season's worth of data, but there is a notable dropoff in volatility around the 150-route mark as well. Making dubious speculations based on the initial month's worth of data is fun, but the sample size isn't yet large enough to feel any confidence that the data we have will be in any way predictive.
And we're still not yet to the point where we can feel as if the data we have is predictive.
But we are getting closer to having a more trustworthy data set! Chris Godwin leads the league with 224 routes run, and 55 players are already over the 150-route mark. With just another week or two, we will have enough data to feel reasonably confident in our understanding of the types of roles these receivers are playing. Surprisingly stellar usage for players like Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, and Marquise Brown becomes more and more likely to stick with each passing week. The elevated rates we've seen from budding superstars like DK Metcalf, Justin Jefferson, D.J. Moore, and Terry McLaurin are beginning to look like legitimately trustworthy trends that support the upward trajectory most expected their careers to continue to follow in 2021.
After evaluating the data and sharing What We Learned in Week 5, I'm ready to lay out my rest-of-season rankings at the wide receiver position heading into Week 5. Here's where I'm ranking each WR going forward, given the data we have through three weeks.
Tiered rest of season WR rankings
1. Davante Adams
2. Tyreek Hill
3. Justin Jefferson
4. DK Metcalf
5. Stefon Diggs
6. Calvin Ridley
7. D.J. Moore
8. DeAndre Hopkins
9. Cooper Kupp (+1)
10. Terry McLaurin (+2)
11. Keenan Allen (-2)
12. Diontae Johnson (-1)
After a massively underwhelming first month, DeAndre Hopkins finally was targeted like Arizona's alpha WR in Week 5. Check out his full Week 5 Usage Report here.
Even in the force-it-to-Robert Woods game, Cooper Kupp still saw stellar usage. He's currently blowing his previous career-high target per route run rate of 24 percent out of the water, demanding a target on 32.6 percent of his routes through five games with Matthew Stafford at QB. For reference, only three players have sustained a target per route run (TPRR) rate above 32 percent in the eight seasons I have the data available for.
His Week 5 production didn't match the awesome display we saw from Terry McLaurin in Week 4, but he again dominated all of the important usage metrics that I track. I tweeted this about McLaurin last week, and as you'll find in his Week 5 Usage Report, McLaurin's lack of production was not for any lack of volume.
The list of receivers who hog their team's target and air yardage distribution in the way that McLaurin does is a short one:
I'm not quite ready to overreact to it, but there are several concerning data points developing for Keenan Allen. Overall, things seem fine -- he's drawn at least eight targets in every game, and he ranks as the WR23 in Fantasy even while scoring just one touchdown.
But, if you dig a bit deeper, you'll find that Allen's 1.78 yard per route run rate is down from 1.91 last year, which was the first year his rate was below 2.00 since 2014. Allen made up for it with a spectacular 28.3 percent target per route run rate in 2020, which resulted in a career-high 7.1 catches per game.
Well, Allen's target per route run rate is down to 25.6 percent in 2021, which seems to be tied to the massive increase in Mike Williams' role. Williams was targeted on just 17.5 percent of his routes in 2020, but that rate is up to a team-high 27.3 percent in 2021.
One reason Allen's yard per route run rate is down is that he hasn't created yards after the catch at the rate we have grown accustomed to. His 3.24 yards after the catch per reception is lower than he's ever finished a season with and is a full 26 percent lower than his rate from 2020. The Chargers have drastically shortened Allen's route tree over the past two seasons (more on that here), and if he isn't able to create yardage after the catch, he's simply going to be a far less efficient player than we know him to be.
Big Mike has pushed his way into Tier 4 with his unbelievable start to the season, and the gap between his and Allen's respective rankings will grow smaller with each consecutive week we see of L.A. splitting the volume evenly between the two. Because of the types of routes they run, Allen needs to see a significant edge in the target share to be a more valuable receiver than Williams.
Which WRs jumped up the rankings with great Week 5 performances? And which WRs are moving out of startable territory? ... Join SportsLine here to see Jacob Gibbs' rest of season Fantasy Football Rankings, all from one of the nation's most accurate experts as graded by FantasyPros!