The NFL’s Most Important Receivers
By Guest Writer Greg Gonsalves:
I spent some time today analyzing receivers by different statistics in order to determine what receiver is has the most amount of targets, and therefore can be assumed to be that quarterback’s favorite target.
What came out of this data were some surprises. For instance, Jacksonville’s (and the NFL’s) top targeted receiver so far this year is Cecil Shorts. That could be one reason why the Jacksonville’s QBs, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, have combined for only one touchdown so far this year.
Another surprise from the data comes from the effect Julian Edelman has had for the New England Patriots. Edelman, a former college quarterback who was drafted in the seventh round in 2009, was a free agent this past offseason testing the market and available to be signed. Fortunately for the Patriots, Edelman did not receive any offers and came back on a one-year deal, and as of now is the most targeted player on the Patriots, with 43 targets, catching 79% of the balls to him (one of the top rates in the league) while the Tom Brady’s completion percentage is currently at 59%. This means that Edelman’s catch percentage is 20 percentage points higher than the rest of the Patriots’ receivers, which is the best rate amongst all receivers.
On the other end of the spectrum, Rams’ rookie Tavon Austin seems to be the worst amongst the highly targeted receivers. Austin has only accounted for 11% of the Rams receiving yards and has only averaged 3.83 yards per target, by far the worst mark.
Three things can be causing for that for Austin and the Rams though, poor QB play, Austin’s lack of experience or the fact that he is a slot receiver and therefore expected to not have high average yards per target.
One more surprise for today, and that is the lack of production on a per target level for A.J. Green. Green catches about half of the balls thrown his way, a surprisingly low rate for a receiver of his quality. He’s actually catching passes at a lower rate than his teammates and averaging less than 6 yards per target. This could be because he is the safety valve for the Bengals, and when Dalton feels pressure, he may just look to throw a ball up for Green to catch.