Thursday, October 9

Stat Boy Saturday: A Closer Look at Wide Receiver Targets

Another week with our honorary stat boy, Zach Fein of Fein Sports. A contributor with as much stat muscle as anyone in the business. You may not understand what he's says and use it for you fantasy leagues, but if you're in the mood to be baffled and confused, then boy does he have you covered. Because life is one big spreadsheet. This week he looks at the amount of targets receivers get based on their quarterback's attempts. I've simply been amazed at how often Matt Ryan throws to Roddy White. Half of Ryan's yards and touchdown passes have gone to White. In comparison, the leader in reception yards, Greg Jennings, only has 45 percent of Aaron Rodger's passing yards and a third of Rodgers' nine touchdowns. A more appropriate statistic is targets. The main principle of targets is that wide receivers can't create their own opportunities; instead, they can only perform with the passes thrown to them. A player with 20 catches and 50 targets is more valuable than one with the same amount of receptions but half the targets. Thus, I looked at not the amount of targets a receiver has received, but the amount of targets divided by his quarterback's amount of pass attempts. This creates a balance for pass-heavy and run-heavy teams, and can also judge how a player's targets fluctuate with his current quarterback and backup quarterback (with the condition that the WR's team has employed more than one QB this year). There are two provisions here, however. For teams who changed QBs mid-game, I did my best to count the amount of targets a player had through's play-by-play data with both QBs. But I didn't check the play-by-play if a team used two quarterbacks in a game, and one had very few attempts (Kerry Collins in week one and Kevin O'Connell in week three, for example). In that case I just counted the backup's attempts as the starter's. Please note that I only counted attempts in games that the receiver played. This way, Bobby Engram doesn't get counted with only 12 targets in Matt Hasselbeck's 100-plus attempts. I included the top 50 receivers in targets per games played, and also a few notable ones that didn't make the cut (Chris Chambers, Donald Driver, etc). I kept Dwayne Bowe separate from the other receivers, because he was the only one to have three quarterbacks. (And yes, I know Brian Griese is now the backup in Tampa Bay, but I left him as the starter for simplicity.)

Percent of QB Attempts = Targets
Player QB_current %current QB_backup %backup
Dwayne Bowe KC - - Huard 39.3
- - - Croyle 36.8
- - - Thigpen 31.6
Brandon Marshall DEN Cutler 51.5 - -
Bobby Engram SEA Hasselbeck 44.4 - -
Steve Smith CAR Delhomme 41.3 - -
Roddy White ATL Ryan 33.6 - -
Eddie Royal DEN Cutler 32.8 - -
Wes Welker NE Cassel 32.7 Brady 45.5
Justin Gage TEN Collins 32.1 Young 20.8
T.J. Houshmandzadeh CIN Palmer 31.5 Fitzpatrick 20.0
Derrick Mason BAL Flacco 31.1 - -
Muhsin Muhammad CAR Delhomme 28.9 - -
Calvin Johnson DET Kitna 28.8 Orlovsky 8.7
Santana Moss WAS Campbell 28.8 - -
Hines Ward PIT Roethlisberger 27.6 - -
Larry Fitzgerald ARI Warner 27.0 - -
Greg Jennings GB Rodgers 26.8 - -
Andre Johnson HOU Schaub 26.4 Rosenfels 25.6
Plaxico Burress NYG E.Manning 26.2 - -
Braylon Edwards CLE Anderson 25.6 - -
Brandon Stokley DEN Cutler 25.6 - -
Santonio Holmes PIT Roethlisberger 25.4 - -
Matt Jones JAC Garrard 24.8 - -
Reggie Wayne IND P.Manning 24.7 - -
Justin McCareins TEN Collins 24.6 Young 12.5
Anquan Boldin ARI Warner 24.5 - -
Bernard Berrian MIN Frerotte 24.3 Jackson 18.6
Terrell Owens DAL Romo 24.1 - -
Amani Toomer NYG E.Manning 23.3 - -
Greg Camarillo MIA Pennington 23.2 Henne 8.3
Laveranues Coles NYJ Favre 22.5 - -
Bobby Wade MIN Frerotte 22.4 Jackson 15.3
Antonio Bryant TB Griese 21.8 Garcia 25.9
Vincent Jackson SD Rivers 21.7 - -
Billy McMullen SEA Hasselbeck 21.7 - -
Roy Williams DET Kitna 21.6 Orlovsky 39.1
Randy Moss NE Cassel 21.2 Brady 27.3
Antwaan Randle El WAS Campbell 20.9 - -
Brandon Lloyd CHI Orton 20.7 - -
Lee Evans BUF Edwards 20.5 Losman 23.8
Marvin Harrison IND P.Manning 20.1 - -
DeSean Jackson PHI McNabb 20.1 - -
Kevin Walter HOU Schaub 20.0 Rosenfels 9.3
Isaac Bruce SF O'Sullivan 20.0 - -
Jerricho Cotchery NYJ Favre 19.4 - -
Torry Holt STL Bulger 19.1 Green 21.9
Chris Chambers SD Rivers 17.4 - -
Chad Johnson CIN Palmer 16.9 Fitzpatrick 20.0
Anthony Gonzalez IND P.Manning 16.9 - -
Donald Driver GB Rodgers 16.7 - -
Reggie Brown PHI McNabb 16.7 - -
Steve Breaston ARI Warner 16.2 - -
Lance Moore NO Brees 16.0 - -
Patrick Crayton DAL Romo 15.4 - -
Joey Galloway TB Griese 12.9 Garcia 31.7
Ike Hilliard TB Griese 10.9 Garcia 17.2
  • Jeff Garcia will start this week. All of the Bucs receivers in the table had their target percentage improve with Garcia as QB; upgrade the three of them this week as the Bucs play the Panthers. Don't forget that the Panthers have a stout run defense, so the Bucs will be passing all day long.
  • I have been saying that Gage is a someone to pick up for some time now. Going back to week 10 of last year and this year (11 games total), Gage has had under 40 yards just twice and 60 yards just four times, and almost all of those game were with Vince Young under center. In his two games with Kerry Collins this year, Gage has ten receptions for 150 yards and a score.
  • I love Bobby Engram. He's the only guy left in the Seahawks' receiving core—seriously—and Matt Hasselbeck should be targeting him all day long. That was shown last week as Engram had the fourth-most targets, with 12.
  • Dan Orlovsky is rumored to be the starter in Detroit for this week as Kitna's back heals. In just one half last week, Orlovsky targeted Roy Williams nine times, compared to just two to Calvin Johnson. Williams is a top-15 receiver for this week, while I don't see Johnson as a starter in standard leagues, which start a total of 24 receivers and a flex.
  • Muhsin Muhammad is a top-25 receiver for the rest of the year. I said it. He has 220 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games, and his schedule (TB, NO, ARI, bye, OAK, DET, ATL, GNB) in the next eight weeks is extremely easy.
  • If you're in a points-per-reception league and have Kevin Walter, don't worry. Sage "Hey Mom, look! No hands!" Rosenfels rarely targeted him, but that should change with Matt Schaub taking back the job this week.

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